The Education Minister Peter Weir has suggested health advisors are being "a bit overcautious" in their advice regarding school reopenings.
Mr Weir was speaking following the comments from First Minister Arlene Foster who called for a more rapid return to the classrooms for pupils in Northern Ireland.
Speaking on BBC Talkback on Tuesday, Mr Weir suggested the health advice given to the Executive may be "overly cautious".
"There is a level of caution around taking small steps," he said.
"We’ve seen for instance last night, the approach taken by Chris Whitty in England, who indicates there is a relatively low risk [with schools].
"We want to make sure we don’t disadvantage our students in Northern Ireland. I want to make sure our students are protected. Schools themselves represent a relatively safe place.
"I think there is maybe a level of caution there. I think the approach is maybe a bit over cautious.
"What really matters with the vaccine is preventing deaths and preventing serious hospitalisations and we have seen from the study in Scotland, that it has been highly effective in being able to do that. I think that does give us an opportunity to revisit.
"I think there is a strong case we need to absolutely prioritise the education of our young people and get them back as soon as possible."