School Closures – Update 26 March 2020
On Thursday, 12 March, the government announced a series of measures aimed at addressing the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ireland. Effective from 6pm on 12 March, until 29 March, all primary schools in Ireland were to be closed. On Tuesday, 24 March, the Government confirmed that schools will remain closed until Sunday, 19 April.
- Click here to read the Letter from the Minister for Education and Skills to Principals and Teachers – 26 March 2020
- Click here to read the statement from the Department of Education and Skills – 24 March 2020
- Click here to read the statement from the Department of Education and Skills – 12 March 2020
Payment of salary/pension during school closure
The DES issued an information note to schools this morning regarding the arrangements for the payment of salary/pension to staff paid by the Dept. of Education & Skills during school closures due to Covid-19.
It is important to note that there is no requirement for a school to record a “school closure” on the OLCS due to this government decision. Where a substitute was scheduled to work in the period of the school closure, then the school should continue to record that claim. The substitute will be paid for that scheduled absence. Substitute claims cannot be claimed in advance on the OLCS, therefore, it is important that schools key all absences and input claims for substitutes on the On-Line Claims System (OLCS) as normal.
Please refer to the DES information note for more detail.
UPDATE – 16 March 2020 – New deadline for inputting into OLCS
INTO has been advised, that as part of the Department of Education and Skills contingency plans being implemented in relation to Covid-19, the closing date for entering and approving claims on the OLCS for the next payroll has been brought forward to 4pm on Thursday, 19 March 2020. For staff members absent on a pay affecting leave this will need to be keyed in by 5.30pm Wednesday so that any substitute payment due can be entered on Thursday.
The Department of Education and Skills (DES) has confirmed (Circular 0020/2020) that teachers who have contracted COVID-19 or those who have not contracted the virus but have been advised by the HSE to self-isolate to prevent the spread of the virus will be entitled to special leave with pay and substitute cover. It has also been confirmed that If a school is closed on the advice of the HSE, as a result of Covid-19, the DES will continue to pay the employees.
INTO is seeking further clarification from the DES on a number of other matters, including in relation to teachers with existing medical conditions, and also where a board of management instructs a teacher to absent themselves from work.
Advice in Relation to Exceptional Closures
Appendix B of Circular 0005/2020 gives guidance to schools in relation to making up for time lost due to unforeseen school closures. This guidance sets out a structured approach to be taken in determining the measures to be put in place to make up for any time lost. The guidance provides that subject to consensus at local level, any changes to normal practice that can be made to address the shortfalls should be put in place. For primary schools, these include prioritising tuition over other non-tuition activities and consideration of whether learning in the classroom should be prioritised over school tours, etc.
If this cannot be achieved, the school authority should then identify any available discretionary days that the school had planned to close that could be made available to make up for time lost.
Teachers who are already availing of other leave during an exceptional school closure
Pre-arranged or pre-existing leave will not be affected by an exceptional school closure. For instance, if a teacher has been approved for a period of parental leave, and their school must close due to Covid-19, the teacher will remain on parental leave for the agreed duration.
Resources for Schools
The Department of Education’s website contains a number of resources for schools:
- Covid-19 Information poster
- Coróinvíreas – Comhairle do Scoileanna
- Wash your hands
- Cover your cough
- Cough and sneeze
View and download the full range of DES resources here.