Fresh guidance issued surrounding possible closure of special schools amid strike action by nurses
FRESH guidance has been issued by the Department of Education (DE) surrounding possible closure of special schools in Northern Ireland amid pending strike action by nurses.
The department has added a section called 'Special Schools closure in event of Nurses Industrial Action' to address issues that schools may face.
It states that the new guidance comes in light of "unprecedented industrial action by nursing staff which took place in December 2019 and January 2020 which led to a decision by some special schools to close".
However, the department also asks special school principals "to consider the risks associated with closing a school entirely" in the event of a strike.
It comes just days after nurses in Northern Ireland backed the industrial action over pay levels and patient safety concerns.
They are set to join colleagues across the UK in taking action, with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) saying that nurses would take industrial action before Christmas that could last until May.
Not all hospitals will be affected as the required mandate for strike action was not met in some areas.
The BBC yesterday reported that new DE guidance on exceptional school closures and remote learning has been added following the announcement of the nursing strike action.
While it states that some special schools may have to consider closing in the event of strike action, it adds that "the department would encourage all special school principals to consider the risks associated with closing a school entirely and the impact on the teaching and learning of those children who do not require critical specialist nursing support".
"Where the proportion of pupils requiring critical specialist nursing support is small, exceptional closures may not be appropriate," it states.
The guidance also states that if a principal and school governors decide their school should be closed due to the strike, "the department will then consider the request in light of the evidence provided".