26 Jun 2022

U-turn on reopening of childcare to help restrict Covid-19 spread

U-turn on reopening of childcare to help restrict Covid-19 spread

U-turn on reopening of childcare to help restrict Covid-19 spread

The Government has decided to extend the delay in reopening of schools to childcare after earlier deciding to allow the open from next week.

Also read: Covid-19 Latest: 37 positive cases inside 48 hours in Longford and 138 new cases in region today

The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman made the announcement following consultation with the early learning and childcare sector.

It means that thee pre-school programme will be postponed until 11 January.

A statement said the reintroduction of full Level 5 COVID-19 restrictions was previously announced by Government on 30 December. Under these restrictions and in line with the Plan for Living with COVID-19, it was announced that early learning and childcare services and schools would continue to operate in Level 5 and are deemed essential, with early learning and childcare services reopening after the Christmas break as usual and schools reopening at a slightly later date of 11 January.

Also read: Health service will 'not cope' as NPHET warns of 9,000 new Covid-19 cases within days

A statement said that on 31 December, Minister O’Gorman met with the Early Learning and Childcare COVID-19 Advisory Group to discuss this matter.  It said representatives from the Advisory Group shared their concerns about the full resumption of early learning and childcare from early January. While accepting the need to maintain early learning and childcare for priority groups, the Advisory Group asked that the pre-school programme (ECCE) would be aligned with the reopening of schools on 11 January. 

The Minister has agreed with his Cabinet colleagues that the pre-school programme can resume at a slightly later date of 11 January 2021. The ECCE pre-school programme is delivered by over 4, 000 services nationwide and provides two years of State funded pre-school for all children in the eligible age cohort. Over 100, 000 children are currently enrolled on this programme. 

WATCH | Keeping the tradition alive...Longford Pipe Band ring in the New Year for 55th consecutive time

A statement said that 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. 

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth will provide funding to providers for the pre-school programme for the week of 4 to 8 January.

Also read: Longford woman wins luxury €815,000 London City Island apartment in Club Rossie draw

Under the full Level 5 COVID-19 restrictions, early learning and childcare services, including childminders that provide services other than, or in addition to, the pre-school programme, can continue to operate. These services provide an essential service which supports parents to go to work. 

The Minister is asking these services, which are private businesses, to reopen as planned from 4 January to provide childcare, particularly to priority groups.  The Department will provide guidance to services on how to prioritise demand for places in their services, if they are short staffed and unable to reopen with a full staff complement for the week of 4 to 8 January.

Then National Public Emergency Team did not recommend a delay in the reopening of schools or childcare but has warned that the spread of the virus puts education at risk.

Also read: Two county Longford families are aiming to become Ireland's Fittest Family


To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.