Schools are to be issued with strict advice aimed at ensuring end-of-term celebrations or performances take place in line with public health guidelines
The new Department of Education guidance says celebrating Christmas is important to support positive wellbeing for pupils and students in schools.
However, it adds that current health and safety guidelines advise that gatherings or large school groups such as choirs should be avoided.
Wind and brass instruments, including tin whistles and recorders, should not be played indoors due to the additional risk of infection such activity poses, it states.
Outdoor class performances and other precautions such as moisture guards for wind instruments may be considered as alternative options.
While usual school assemblies should be avoided, it says class performances may be shared with other classes and parents using digital technologies.
Parents/guardians should not be invited to attend end-of-term celebrations this year, it says.
However, Christmas singing – while maintaining social distancing and within normal pods or groups of students – can take place outdoors.
Unfortunately, no parents / guardians will be allowed to attend these outdoor events either, it adds.
The guidance notes that students often like to share Christmas cards and small gifts.
While this is allowable, it says it needs to be undertaken in a controlled manner, such that it does not involve pupils/students moving and interacting outside of their usual pods or contacts.
Any cards or gifts, it says, would ideally be given to a staff member directly and then distributed to students in a controlled way.
There should be a strong emphasis on hand hygiene at all times, it adds.
In relation to end-of-term exams in post-primary schools, the guidance says schools should consider holding these among individual class groups in their classrooms rather than in large assembly-style groupings.
Teachers are reminded that they can continue to handle copybooks or exam papers completed by the students but there must be a strong emphasis on hand hygiene at all times, the guidance states.
In the case of exams, schools should continue to implement all public health guidelines in terms of physical distancing, wearing of masks, hand-hygiene and sanitisation to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19.

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