Opening of pre-schools delayed to 11 January

Pre-schools will not open until 11 January, in line with the delayed re-opening of primary and secondary schools announced over the Christmas period.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has confirmed that pre-schools will not open until 11 January, putting them in line with primary and secondary schools which also were instructed to defer the return of students by one week so that families may reduce contacts as much as possible.

Previously, Level 5 restrictions had stipulated that early childcare and learning facilities would open as normal while primary and secondary education only would be deferred. However, the Department of Children amended its policy following consultation with the early learning and childcare sector.

Representatives from this field shared their concerns surrounding the resumption of services, leading the Minister to confirm that the ECCE pre-school programme may delay re-opening.

The ECCE pre-school programme is delivered by over 4,000 services nationwide and has more than 100,000 children currently enrolled. Funding will be provided to these facilities by the Department of Children for the week that closure is mandated.

“By postponing the return of these children to the pre-school programme, social mixing will be reduced, which will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the post-Christmas period,” a statement from the department reads.

Créches and childminding services may, however, open on 4 January as planned, as these services are deemed “essential” and “supports parents going to work”.

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