Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that "talks are ongoing" between the Department of Education and teaching unions over the reopening of schools next month. 

Questioned on RTÉ's Claire Byrne Live about the reopening of some classes on 1 March, Mr Donnelly said it was his understanding that "concerns had been raised" and that "talks are going on". 

Mr Donnelly said that Minister for Education Norma Foley was "hopeful" that a deal could be concluded tonight or tomorrow, and that he understands parents are "frustrated" with the lack of certainty. 

"Minister Foley is still in negotiations with unions on this, and cabinet hopes to be in a position to announce something tomorrow," he said. 

"All I can say is... the talks are still ongoing, and what Cabinet wants to announce is that they will reopen," he added. 

Minister Donnelly later issued a clarification, saying meetings with the teaching unions concluded on Monday afternoon and that the Government intended making an announcement after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education has said that talks, focused on public health issues, were held with unions this afternoon, and that "at their conclusion, union delegates went to brief their executives". 

"The Department looks forward to hearing back on the government proposals in the morning."

Under the plans, the phased reopening would see a 1 March return for Junior and Senior Infants, First and Second classes, and Leaving Cert students. 

Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Class students, as well as Fifth year students would return on 15 March. 

All other classes would then return on 12 April.

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Earlier, teacher trade unions and other education partner representatives were informed that the latest public health advice supports the cautious and phased reopening of schools from 1 March. 

The education partners were attending meetings this afternoon with Minister for Education Norma Foley and officials from her department.

The latest public health advice supports a phased reopening, and trade unions have also received confirmation that other key demands of theirs to support the return will be met. 

They include the extension of provisions which allow for teachers and other school workers who are pregnant or in a high-risk health category to remain working from home for the time being. 

All this helps clear the path for the reopening of schools from 1 March, beginning with Leaving Certificate students at second level, and with the four most junior years at primary level. 

Trade union sources have said they will now scrutinise the Government proposals, which are expected to be signed-off on at Cabinet tomorrow. 

It has been suggested at talks that fifth years may be next to return, in the middle of the month. 

Additional reporting: Emma O Kelly