As part of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all language schools and colleges were instructed to close on March 13th 2020.
MEI began a consultation process with the Irish Government on a number of issues facing our sector. An inter-departmental ELT working group was established in order to safeguard the welfare of English language students and review protocols that will allow ELT schools to safely reopen when the time is appropriate to do so.
There is tremendous goodwill towards Ireland and the English Language industry from abroad, and the government has rightly been lauded for including international student in unemployment and wage subsidy schemes, as well as granting access to Irish hospitals and granting automatic visa extensions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The schools and colleges immediately set about establishing online teaching platforms to enable course completion. These platforms are continuing to develop and are likely to form a key component of a blended learning ( a combination of online and classroom tuition), as a long term part of the English Language Teaching infrastructure in Ireland.
Those students who returned to their native countries without completing their courses have been provided with credit notes so that they complete their courses at a future time. For those who have remained, online teaching is being provided as only available alternative.
MEI formed a sub-commitee tasked with producing a reopening protocols document for ELT Providers. Guidance from the Government of Ireland, Health Service Executive (HSE), Health and Safety Authority (HAS) and others has been reviewed to provide options for ELT providers to consider when reopening, allowing providers to deliver ELT provision while being Covid-19 secure.
The COVID-19 lock down measures are gradually being lifted in Ireland and businesses are starting to reopen. MEI schools are busy making preparations in order to open when it is safe for students to return to class.
The MEI Board of Directors are holding weekly meetings with national agency associations. It has been enlightening to hear from our partners across the world and we look forward to continuing this dialogue over the coming months.
We will continue to update agents as more information is available.