Home Page

Minister announces revised plans for reopening schools in January

Dear parents

I hope you and your families had a happy and peaceful Christmas and I wish you a safe, healthy and prosperous new year.


This morning, Thursday 31st December, the Education Minister announced revised plans for the reopening of schools after the Christmas break. As a result of this revision, St Colmcille's arrangements for the new year are as follows.


  • Primary 1 - 7 & Rang 1 - 7 pupils will be taught remotely on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th January and will return to school for face-to-face teaching on Monday 11th January.
  • The school's Nursery and Naíscoil Cholmcille will open as usual on Thursday 7th January;
  • We will accommodate vulnerable children and the children of key workers on Thursday 7th & Friday 8th January.


The Department of Education has provided clarification about the definition for key worker and vulnerable children (see lists below this letter) and the level of support provided.

  • A child of a key worker has been defined as a child for whom at least one parent is a key worker.
  • Children who qualify as vulnerable or key workers' children will be in school for 'supervised learning'. This is not face-to-face teaching; this is being supervised and doing the same activities as children who are at home.


If you feel that you or your child falls into either of these categories and you would like to avail of support on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th Jan. please send an email to me at before 10.00 am on Monday 4th Jan outlining:

  1. Parent's name/s
  2. Child/children's names and classes
  3. Reason for applying for key worker/vulnerable children support. e.g.
  • Parent is key worker because ......
  • Child has a Statement of SEN.


We aim to ensure that children are supported with minimal disruption to their education while safeguarding our whole school community. Teachers will also be contacting you with specific information about the arrangements for their classes.

Best wishes


Peter Cush



Definition of key workers:

  • Health and Social Care.  This includes doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, home carers and staff required to maintain our health and social care sector;
  • Education and childcare.  This includes pre-school and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who will remain active during the Covid-19 response;
  • Public safety and national security.  This includes civilians and officers in the police (including key contractors), Fire and Rescue Service, prison service and other national security roles;
  • Transport.  This will include those keeping air, water, road and rail transport modes operating during the Covid-19 response;
  • Utilities, and Communication.  This includes staff needed for oil, gas, electricity and water (including sewage) and primary industry supplies to continue during the Covid-19 response, as well as key staff in telecommunications, post and delivery, banking and waste disposal;
  • Financial Services - This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure);
  • Food and other necessary goods.  This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution and sale, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (e.g. hygiene, medical, etc.);
  • Retail. This includes those workers who have been working throughout the pandemic in food retail, for example, and will now extend to those working in other retail businesses permitted to operate by the Executive  from June 2020;
  • Other workers essential to delivering key public services such as the National Crime Agency; and
  • Key national and local government including those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the Covid-19 response.


Vulnerable Children:  What is the definition of “vulnerable”?

The term “vulnerable” encompasses those children who are in need of protection, or in need, as defined by the Children (NI) Order 1995. Children in need may include those:

  • A child who has an assigned social worker because he or she is a child in need, in need of protection (or on the child protection register) or is a looked after child.
  • A child in need includes young carers, children with disabilities, and children living in families where there is domestic abuse, substance abuse, and / or mental health difficulties.

  • A child who is receiving support from, or has been referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

  • A child who has a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN), a child who is accessing EOTAS, or a child who normally accesses Education Nurture Units.

  • A child who is ‘on-the-edge’ of receiving support from children’s social services.

  • A child who is in need, including in need of protection, but whose need is not known to statutory services.

  • A child who is not known to statutory or voluntary and community support services but who is vulnerable because their family is under increased pressure due to Covid-19 related circumstances.

  • A child who has been placed for adoption.