Contingency arrangements in the event of unforeseen school closures
The parties have recognised that there is a need to include greater flexibility and to provide for contingency arrangements within the standardised school year to deal with unforeseen school closures.
Guidance for schools in relation to making up for time lost due to unforeseen school closures is included at Appendix B of this circular. This guidance sets out a structured approach to determining the measures to be put in place to make up for time lost. The guidance provides that subject to consensus at local level, any changes to normal practice that can be made to address the shortfalls should be put in place.
Examples of how this might be achieved include:
- prioritising tuition over other non-tuition activities
- reducing where possible the length of mock/house examinations
- consideration of whether learning in the classroom should be prioritised over school tours, etc
- in the case of second level schools ensuring examination classes attend all classes to the end of May.
If necessary, the school authority should then identify any available discretionary days that the school had planned to close that could be made available to make up for time lost.
Where the above measures are not considered adequate, contingency arrangements to make up for time lost due to extensive or prolonged unforeseen school closures may now also include either or both of the following:
- The February mid-term break may be reduced by up to three days subject to the requirement that all schools must be closed on the Thursday and Friday of the week in which this break falls.
- The Easter break may be reduced by up to three days by the school remaining open up to and including the Wednesday immediately preceding the Easter weekend. All schools must be closed on the Thursday and Friday immediately preceding the Easter weekend and remain closed for the remainder of the Easter break as set out in Appendix A of this circular.
The school authority must also take into account the need to provide adequate notice of any changes to the school calendar to pupils, parents and staff. Each school authority shall also provide to parents, at the beginning of each year, a calendar which includes details of school closures. It should be made clear that the calendar could be subject to change as part of contingency arrangements to make up for time lost due to unforeseen school closures.
Source: Dept of Education Website - View the PDF