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Sport to recommence at Northern Ireland schools, Weir tells principals


 Sport can now recommence in schools across Northern Ireland (Ian West/PA)

Sport can now recommence in schools across Northern Ireland (Ian West/PA)


Sport can now recommence in schools across Northern Ireland (Ian West/PA)

Sport can now recommence in schools across Northern Ireland, the Education Minister has told principals.

The guidance has been outlined in a letter to schools from Peter Weir as education moves to stage three of the pathway out of lockdown.

Breakfast and homework clubs are also permitted to resume, though sport fixtures between schools and indoor sports, apart from PE classes, remain under Covid restrictions.

Mr Weir said that schools were now allowed to provide “wrap-around care for pupils with immediate effect”.

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“This includes the provision of care both before and after school, for example the provision of breakfast clubs and after school care such as homework clubs,” he informed school principals.

Other after-school clubs and activities are still not permitted under Covid restrictions.

“In relation to the provision of extra-curricular school sports, regulations have been amended to permit the resumption of outdoor extra-curricular schools’ sports with immediate effect,” Mr Weir said.

The minister added that there was no limit to the number of players or participants in after-school sports, but there needed to be an assurance that relevant safety measures were in place.

“Both indoor and outdoor PE continues to be permitted during normal school hours, however, it is recommended this should take place outdoors wherever possible,” Mr Weir said.

The ban on indoor singing remains in place, although some restrictions on indoor music have been removed.

Singing and playing wind instruments, such as recorders or flutes, and brass instruments, such as trumpets, is currently banned indoors in schools.

Mr Weir confirmed that singing and the playing of woodwind and brass instruments could be “more likely to facilitate transmission of the virus”.

But some restrictions have been removed for pupils studying GCSE, AS or A-level music.

“Pupils taking a practical music assessment for GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications that requires singing or the playing of a woodwind or brass instrument will now be permitted to do so indoors,” said Mr Weir.

“This can be done providing suitable mitigations are in place such as ensuring suitable social distancing and that rooms are well ventilated.”

He added that the Education Authority was reviewing a decision not to allow face-to-face music tuition from its music service to take place in schools.

All pupils are now back in classrooms around Northern Ireland for the first time this year, with Years 8-11 rejoining all other year groups on Monday as the Easter holidays ended.

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