Remote Learning, Childcare, School Meals and Substitution

The Department of Education has written to schools to inform them that all mainstream teachers and special education teachers are required  to continue to support the continuity of learning for the next three weeks.

The letter outlines what will be expected of our members during the month of January. It includes guidance for remote learning for mainstream classes and special education settings.

Click here to access ‘Updated Guidance on Continuity of Schooling: Supporting pupils at risk of educational disadvantage for primary schools’

Click here to access ‘Updated Guidance on Continuity of Schooling: Supporting Pupils with Special Educational Needs for mainstream primary and special schools

The Departments of Education and Social Protection will work together with a view to ensuring the school meals programme will continue during this period.

The Department has also published an FAQ document for our members who are parents explaining how they, as essential workers, can access childcare.

Substitute teachers may be employed for all approved teacher absences during this period.

Those who have been contracted to cover for teachers in the very high risk category may continue their contracts, however any teacher who is newly categorised as very high risk this month will not be entitled to a substitute for the duration of the period of school closures.


Members are advised to note the following:

  • Where certain employees were recorded as absent from the workplace due to (i) restricted movement or (ii) deemed very high risk, managerial authorities could appoint a substitute to replace these employees in the classroom.  However, as these categories of employees remain available to work from home, where medically fit, substitutes will not be required during the period of remote learning. Substitutes who have already entered into a contract with the managerial authorities will continue to be paid by the Department/ETB during this period of remote learning. However, further substitutes cannot be employed to cover for employees who, during this period of remote learning, are required to restrict their movements or are identified by the OHS as very high risk.
  • During the period of remote learning, substitution will continue to be paid by the Department/ETB for employees who are granted special leave with pay due to self-isolation or Covid-19 diagnosis.
  • There should be no requirement for additional supervision for the next few weeks and as a result no such additional supervision payments should be made, unless there is a contractual obligation to do so.
  • In respect of staff employed by Boards of Management using grant funding the payment of grant funding to schools will continue as normal.
  • Any request for cancellation of leave already approved by the management authority should only be considered in exceptional circumstances in accordance with the terms of the individual leave scheme and where a substitute replacement has not been contracted to cover the leave absence.

INTO will update the Covid-19 Support Hub and FAQs early this week. We will continue to engage constructively with the Department of Education to ensure that all pupils including those who are at risk receive all necessary support in the coming weeks.