Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte TD has called on the Minister for Education and his Department to clarify the status of the July Education Programme, also known as the ‘July Provision’.

Deputy Rabbitte explained, “With the curtailing of the school year announced parents now need to know from the Department of Education what is the position regarding the ‘July Provision’. I have been contacted by parents of children with special needs who are concerned without this scheme going ahead there will be no structure or routine in their children’s lives until September when schools are expected to return.  

“While I am the first to advocate that we adhere to the public health guidelines, England has set out a roadmap to some schools and children returning to classrooms in June. I believe the Department, the Government, and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) must give guidance on whether the school year can be extended to accommodate students who fall under the July Provision scheme in some way, even if this means the scheme being pushed out to August.

“If this is not feasible other considerations must be considered. I appreciate home schooling may not be suitable this summer if we cannot see schools return, but the scheme needs to be altered accordingly.

“For children with special needs routine is so important. Like almost everyone of us, routines have been broken up since March 12th when the first public health guidelines were introduced. With a final decision yet to be made – I am urging Minister McHugh to consider all alternatives which may see parents and children avail of this scheme,” concluded Deputy Rabbitte.