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Education minister must provide clarity - Mullan

15 March, 2020 - by Karen Mullan

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has called on the Education Minister to outline what steps are being taken to protect children and young people, teachers and school staff during the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Sinn Féin education spokesperson said: 

"We need urgent and decisive action on school closures, the World Health Agency has made it clear we are faced with a global health pandemic.

"Parents and teachers and school staff are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of the spread of Coronavirus and have many questions about how it will affect schools here. 

"I have written to the Education Minister, Peter Weir, and the permanent secretary of the department to reconsider his position on school closures and to provide clear advice and guidance to school leaders, students and parents in the time ahead. 

"I have asked if Boards of Governors take the decision to close a school what the impact will be and will staff continue to be paid. 

"The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have urged governments to take early, decisive, rapid, co-ordinated action. 

"It is their expert opinion that the implementation of closures is likely to be more effective in slowing the spread of the virus than a delayed implementation.

"Clarity is also needed over children who receive free school meals and what will happen to them if schools close. 

"Other projects funded by the Education Department such as SureStart could also have to close and staff at these facilities also need answers. 

"It is vitally important that parents as well as teachers and school staff are kept up to date on the latest in the changing situation.

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