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Plans to cut vacation period to fill gaps in missed classes; about one lakh pre-school children will return to school today

DUBLIN: Indications are that the Department of Education is considering filling the gap of missed classes by reducing the vacation period. Minister Norma Foley said she was looking into the possibility of reducing school holidays because children did not have time for direct study.

The minister was responding to a question by Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill on whether she was considering restructuring school holidays to ensure that children receive more in-person learning.

There is widespread concern in education circles that the lack of face-to-face study has greatly affected students from DEIS schools and special education provision.

Students have missed several months of classes since the pandemic began last March. Classes started last week, albeit on a limited scale. In primary schools, Junior Infants, Senior Infants as well as first and second class returned to the classroom. Meanwhile, sixth year students in secondary schools returned to their Leaving Cert in three months time.

About one lakh children in pre-schools are returning to schools today. The remaining sections are also expected to return to classes by the second week of April. Discussions have also been held on reducing or changing school holidays to make up for lost days.

However, Minister Foley said that it has not been decided yet to change the school holidays. She said the emphasis now is on ensuring the school community.

Minister Foley also said that in order to enable schools to facilitate online learning for all students, appropriate guidance materials have been provided based on the understanding reached with education partners.

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