Oppositions politicians call for swift announcement on Government decision as Ministers prepare to meet

Labours education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said he believes the decision not to reopen schools on Monday has already been made and it was likely that schools would remain closed until the end of the month.
It was not an easy decision for the Government, he acknowledged on Newstalk Breakfast on Tuesday morning, but it was one that needed to be announced as soon as possible.
Schools had been given a delayed reopening date of January 11th. A proposal to close schools for another two to three weeks, due to rising Covid-19 infections, will be considered later this afternoon by the Governments Cabinet sub-committee on coronavirus.
The three Coalition leaders and at least six ministers will participate in the deliberations, with the final decision to be taken at Cabinet tomorrow.
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said the Minister for Education Norma Foley had a responsibility to set out an Education Plan for the coming weeks.
Education needed to continue, she told RTÉs Morning Ireland, especially for vulnerable children and those with special needs, along with the children of providers of essential services.
A structured programme for remote education should be implemented, she said. Decisions would need to be taken soon with regard to this years State exams as a lot of students were very concerned.
This is a very anxious time, the sooner the situation is made clear the better.
The Government should take the advice of the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan with regard to the reopening of schools, she urged.
But she wanted a decision to be taken soon so families could plan.
Meanwhile, the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) said schools were now better prepared for remote learning with a plan for continuity of learning.
General secretary Michael Gillespie said guidance on remote teaching and learning in the Covid-19 context had been agreed for post-primary schools and centres for education.
He told Newstalk Breakfast that schools were very unlikely to reopen on Monday January 11th and that the uncertainty was not helping anybody.
The closure should last at a minimum until the 18th to see if the spread of the virus had been suppressed under the current restrictions.
Were not calling for a long-term closure, were just talking for the minimum time possible to allow this. Schools will open, but theyll open in a remote context and schools have planned for that.
Schools are likely to stay closed for at least another week and possibly until the end of January due to surging Covid-19 infections, according to senior political sources.
Most Ministers privately believe that Cabinet will decide on Wednesday to delay the planned reopening of schools on January 11th, The Irish Times understands.
However, officials may be asked to examine keeping certain schools open in Level 5 for pupils with special needs.
Conversations are also taking place at a senior level about whether construction should remain open or not for the rest of the Level 5 lockdown.
New virus case numbers on Monday surged to a new daily record of 6,110, making the current wave worse than the first one last spring.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan, who spoke on Monday with Taoiseach Micheál Martin about the schools issue, said that even though incidence among schoolchildren was lower than for other age groups, it had increased very, very fast.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) was more concerned about transmission levels in this age group than it was a week ago, he said on Monday night. We are concerned about our ability to assure the continuing provision of any of the key public services we have tried to protect, and education is one of them.