Stormont’s education minister has insisted there are no plans to close schools early for Christmas.
Peter Weir was responding to suggestions the move might be considered as part of the executive’s efforts to suppress coronavirus.
While Mr Weir rejected the concept, health minister Robin Swann did not rule out the step, insisting the position was being kept under review.
The education minister addressed the issue in a tweet on Friday.
“I know there has been speculation about the early closure of our schools for the Christmas holidays,” he wrote.
“There are *no* plans for this to occur. I believe that schools are the best place for our children.”
I know there has been speculation about the early closure of our schools for the Christmas holidays. There are *no* plans for this to occur. I believe that schools are the best place for our children:— Peter Weir (@peterweirmla) November 20, 2020
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The Halloween mid term break was extended for an extra week in Northern Ireland as part of a circuit-break plan. A tighter lockdown that comes into force next Friday does not include any school closures.
Mr Swann said the potential for an early Christmas holiday would be kept under review.
“One of the challenges and one of the discussions that has been had around the executive is the part that schools and education plays,” he told the BBC.
“As a department of health, from the chief medical officer (Dr Michael McBride) and chief scientific adviser (Professor Ian Young), we realise the importance that schools and a child’s education actually do play.
“So that’s why we’re doing all we can to support schools staying open.
“But it’s something that will be kept under continual review.
“I think one of the things about bringing forward an early closure – we’d have to look at what else is available at this time.
“So if we were to close schools when everything else was open it increases actually the activities that those young people could actually be undertaking rather than being in the environment that the school provides.”