Irish schools will close for the Easter weekend after the state and council agreed to a “one-off” closure.
The schools will reopen on Monday and are to be used as classroom teaching space for the first time since March.
The state has agreed to close the schools until March 1, 2019, but schools will be closed on Wednesday to allow staff time to be reassessed.
The agreement is aimed at avoiding a repeat of last week when schools were shut as the state’s budget crisis led to the closure of schools in the north of the country.
A spokeswoman for the Education Department said: “The State has agreed a one-off closure to schools for the rest of the month of March, with schools closing in the south of Ireland in March 2019.”
There will be no further closure on Wednesday.
The decision to close schools for Easter is based on a number of factors including the economic situation, the impact on education and on the education system as a whole.
“The State recognises that, over the long term, closing schools in April is the most cost-effective way to ensure a successful and sustainable school system.”
This decision is based, in part, on the view that the cost of closure in the short term is likely to be too high and the effect on the quality of education and access to education is likely not to be as positive as the cost savings achieved through the closure in June 2019.
“The spokesman added that schools will have an additional time of 30 days to be rescheduled by the Department of Education, following an “initial assessment of the circumstances” of the schools.”
It is our view that, given the economic and financial situation that we face, the best way forward is for schools to be opened as soon as possible,” he said.”
That is our intention and we will be working closely with the Department to ensure that schools are open as soon possible.
“Schools in the west will reopen as normal on Monday.
The Government has faced criticism from the union, which said the schools could be used by pupils as early as March.
It said the closure would have a “huge” impact on children and families and the impact would be felt by all schools.
Mr Fitzgerald said schools in areas such as Galway Bay, Donegal and Waterford would remain closed, but that schools in Donegal would open in February.