Limited, small group, in-person activity may begin to resume in English language education (ELE) from 19 July 2021, where it is safe to do so. This will be on the basis of planning by stakeholders, and subject to the conditions of this notice.
The sectoral stakeholders of the COVID-19 working group for ELE have planned extensively to prepare for the safe resumption of in-person provision, to cater for the needs of existing students.
These plans follow the publication of 'COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery: The Path Ahead', and are in keeping with the government’s objective a return to safe on-site provision in higher and further education.
English language education providers should particularly be aware of and take account of the following key factors in preparing to resume in-person activity:
that there is no deterioration in the public health situation nor changes to public health advice or measures that would impact on this activity
the resumption of this activity is exclusively to cater for the needs of existing English language education students currently in the state
this step should be taken in consultation with each provider’s staff and students
subject to conditions (detailed below), providers may choosevto remain closed, to provide blended learning or to continue operating wholly online
there is still no reason to recruit new international students who may seek to travel to the state at this time
All existing restrictions and public health guidance
, including appropriate protective measures and limited congregation, will need to be followed. These measures should be supported by the sectoral reopening protocols and adaptation framework. This will ensure the safe return to some classroom-based activity for this group of students.
The resumption of in-person activity is a key stepping stone on the pathway to recovery for the ELE sector in Ireland. The department looks forward to continued productive engagement with stakeholders, to support further plans for the eventual return of international student recruitment, and the full re-opening of the sector.
Subject to the above, resumption of limited in-person activity can begin from 19 July 2021.
COVID-19 English-language education protocols and adaptation framework
The ELE sector has developed a suite of protocols and an accompanying adaptation framework specifically tailored for ELE provision. These follow consultation with the representative bodies for staff, students and providers. The protocols and framework are aligned with public health guidelines, alongside the requirements of the government’s 'Work Safely' protocol
Any provider wishing to resume in-person provision must adopt and implement the COVID-19 protocols and adaptation framework for the ELE sector. Please note that these are living documents, and must be updated in line with changing public health advice.
Content in relation to international travel and the arrival of new students is being delveloped and is not yet ready for implementation.
Where there are concerns in relation to compliance with the requirements of the government’s 'Work Safely' protocol that cannot be resolved through the processes set out in the sectoral protocols, they may be brought to the attention of the Health & Safety Authority (HSA).
Role of online provision
Where a provider is not in a position to resume in-person activity, and wishes to continue providing classes either on a partial or wholly online basis, it may do so subject to relevant conditions.
Where a provider decides to continue online provision after 19 July, it must advise ILEP
of its plans to provide for their existing cohort of students during this time. This notification must be given no later than Friday, 30 July 2021.
Relevant ILEP criteria for minimum standards of provision for students continue to apply when delivering classes online. This includes:
requiring attendance and keeping attendance records
providing a minimum of 15 hours of student contact per week
having no more than 15 students in a class, and for that class to be led by an appropriately-qualified teacher
The period in which providers may continue to remain wholly online will be limited and will be kept under review, in light of changing public health advice and related developments. Where a provider is unable to provide a level of in-person provision, they should not enrol any new students.
The department has received a number of queries from English language education providers and sectoral representatives about impact of the resumption of in-person provision on continued eligibility for business supports, primarily the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS)
The department has raised these concerns with the Department of the Taoiseach and the Revenue Commissioners for further clarification. The department will keep the COVID-19 working group for the ELE sector informed of developments.