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Nearly 600 schools opened to help look after children of key workers with more expected to be available

ALMOST 600 schools in Northern Ireland stayed open yesterday, and nearly 800 will be open by the end of the week, according to the Education Minister.

Peter Weir yesterday provided an update about schools which were closed today for normal business, but other which provided limited education supervision for children whose parents are key workers and not in a position to make alternative childcare arrangements.

On Sunday, all pre-schools and schools were sent a survey to assess how many would be open yesterday. The vast majority responded, indicating that some 575 pre-school settings and schools would be open yesterday. A total of 793 indicated that they were willing to open later in the week and remain open once preparations had been made.

They are also being asked to complete a short survey each day to establish the actual numbers of children at school, so that plans can be adjusted

Mr Weir said yesterday: "Firstly, I want to thank those schools which are open today and those that intend to open in the future.

"In these extraordinary times, it is heartening that our principals and staff are showing such leadership and compassion for pupils whose parents are key to the Covid-19 response and to keeping essential services going.

"An early assessment of today's survey of schools has shown that the number of pupils attending is very small.

"My Department will continue to gather this information and monitor how schools are managing to ensure they remain safe for pupils and staff alike. Within the overall total there may be particular areas of pressure, and we will wish to address those with schools. It is important that parents and carers act responsibly and continue to do so: we must ensure that our schools are safe."

Belfast Telegraph