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Leaving Cert students may not go back before March


Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said there is ‘no sense of drive’

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said there is ‘no sense of drive’

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said there is ‘no sense of drive’

Leaving Cert students may not go back to school until March, it is feared, as pressure mounts on the Government to make a decision on when the return will happen.

Another intense day of talks between education stakeholders resulted in no clear answers for parents or students.

With just four months left in the traditional school year, students still have no idea when they will be returning to class despite Tánaiste Leo Varadkar having stated on Monday that schools will reopen on a phased basis next month.

Opposition politicians have criticised the Government for failing to meaningfully engage with Nphet on what is needed to safely get children back to the classroom.

It comes as chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said Nphet has given advice, and "is available to explain what that advice may mean but it's up to the education sector to plan the resumption of activities".

The Herald put 10 specific questions to the department including whether it has sought any advice from Nphet on a phased reopening, what criteria needs to be met for Nphet to recommend the return to education and what dates students are expected to start back.

The department did not respond to the specific questions but said "confidential talks" with unions and other education partners are ongoing.

Labour education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin hit out at the department, saying: "There's no sense of partnership, there's no sense of drive, there's no sense of being in control, there's no sense of being ahead of this thing.

"It's as if the department has almost given up."

He said that if the safe return of schools is a "Government priority", Nphet should be allowed play a bigger role.

Meanwhile, talks on plans for the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert exams this year were held yesterday and will continue next week.