A phased return of schools in Northern Ireland in September is “extremely likely” according to education minister Peter Weir.

Speaking on BBC Radio Foyle, he stated that “practical measures” needed to be addressed and the reopening of schools would be criteria led, not date led.

Schools in Northern Ireland have been closed to most pupils since late March due to the Covid-19 crisis, with families across the country trying to adapt to homeschool measures. Previously, Mr Weir said there was “no planned return” for schools and said it would all depend on scientific advice.

During the interview the minister added that any decision would need to reflect the executive’s wider plans for recovery from the virus.

Among the practical measures needed he mentioned:

  • Securing PPE for staff.
  • Putting social distancing in place to allow school meals.
  • Ensuring measures are adhered to on school transport.

Mr Weir went on to deny suggestions that the executive would be guided solely by the British government’s plans and added that ministers were only getting “one bite of the cherry” to get their decisions right.

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