Education news

Schools will not close early for Christmas education minister insists as he releases funding for resilience building

DUP Education Minister Peter Weir has insisted schools will not close early for Christmas holidays

Schools will not close early for Christmas, Education Minister Peter Weir has insisted as he makes available Covid-19 funding to improve children's well-being.

The extra money is to be provided for schools to allow for counselling, the minister said, and could also be spent on extracurricular activity or improving the local environment.

It is broadly aimed at improving well-being but it will be left up to the schools how it is used.

Mr Weir told the Assembly: "There is no barrier to schools spending that money... additional counselling, support for staff in terms of their well-being."

He said the Covid recovery cash could be used for building "resilience".

Mr Weir repeated that he is not considering closing schools for an extra week over the festive period.

He said the harm to children's health of keeping them at home could outweigh any benefits.

Medical experts believe keeping schools open is responsible for a 0.2 increase in the reproductive rate of coronavirus compared with absolute lockdown.

The Halloween mid-term break was extended for a week as part of a circuit-break plan. A tighter lockdown that comes into force next Friday does not include any school closures.

Health Minister Robin Swann has said the potential for an early Christmas holiday would be kept under review.

Read more: Churches can stay open for individual prayer during two-week lockdown

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