The Government is coming under pressure to make an early decision on whether schools will reopen as planned next Monday.
Minister for Education Norma Foley is meeting opposition spokespeople today to discuss the issue but she has insisted that schools will reopen as planned on 11 January.
There is a growing sense of pessimism in Government about reopening schools as the exponential rise in Covid-19 numbers continues.
Yesterday, the Department of Health reported almost 5,000 new coronavirus cases and seven further deaths.
For now, public health officials have not advised longer closures but some in Cabinet view it as increasingly difficult to guarantee children will be back as planned.
Case numbers will be reviewed later this week, with a decision likely on Wednesday or Thursday.
Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said it is not credible now to maintain that schools can reopen and called for an early decision. Gary Gannon of the Social Democrats said that call should be taken today.
The Education Minister will also meet unions and principals this week.
All this presents a big decision for Government as it had staked a lot on the successful reopening of schools last September.

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