Keeping schools open amid rising Covid-19 cases remains a top priority, Northern Ireland Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has said.
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Schools have been advised to reopen with similar Covid-19 mitigations in place as before Christmas.
Principals and unions have called for clarity and support from the minister.
It comes as the Omicron variant continues to spread at an exceptional rate, with figures showing 30,423 Covid cases over a four-day period.
Some 50,000 cases have been confirmed in the past seven days - representing more than 10% of Northern Ireland's total number of cases throughout the whole pandemic.
Many pupils returned to school on Tuesday after the Christmas holiday.
The DUP minister, Michelle McIlveen, said she would support principals in keeping schools open but that there had been no change in Covid-19 guidance as the new term begins.
That was because there had been no change in the recommendations from the health department, she added.
Ms McIlveen said that figures up until 12 December indicated about 1,455 staff absences for 28 days prior to that date, but that this was set against "a workforce of 20,000 teachers and 28,000 support staff".
"Obviously now that we have Omicron, it has very much swept through society, we anticipate that will increase, but it is about trying to address that and ensure we have adequate workforce in place," she added.
Schools 'walking a tightrope'
One school headteacher said the situation was both fluid and contentious as pupils return to her school on Wednesday, and called on parents to be patient during a difficult time.
Maire Thompson, from Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey, said that five staff members have already phoned in sick on Tuesday and no substitute teachers are available.
"There is going to be a period of disruption but no principal will close the school or send a year group home lightly," she said.