Covid-19 and re­open­ing schools

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters -

Sir, – Pupils and stu­dents of pri­mary and sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion need to re­turn to school in Sep­tem­ber. “Blended learn­ing” is far from the ideal sit­u­a­tion. The sug­ges­tion of a 2½-day school week is sim­ply un­work­able for the ma­jor­ity of fam­i­lies (“One-me­tre rule means all stu­dents may not re­turn to school in Sep­tem­ber”, News, July 2nd). The men­tal, so­cial and ed­u­ca­tional dam­age be­ing in­flicted on the chil­dren will be lon­glast­ing.

Through­out Europe schools have man­aged to re­open with chil­dren ac­cess­ing their ed­u­ca­tion full-time, while main­tain­ing safe­guards in the on­go­ing strug­gle against Covid-19.

The Gov­ern­ment and all stake­hold­ers in­volved must be cre­ative to take de­ci­sive ac­tion here and re­turn all chil­dren to their schools full-time by Sep­tem­ber 1st. The views of the teach­ing unions must not be taken as the only valid opin­ion in this dis­cus­sion.

I’d like to be­lieve that the new Min­is­ter will act in the in­ter­ests of school­child­ren and their par­ents. The fact that she is a teacher her­self doesn’t in­spire hope in this re­gard, but I would be happy to be proven wrong in this in­stance. – Yours, etc,

SINÉAD O’SUL­LI­VAN, Por­tar­ling­ton,

Co Laois.

A chara, – “More than 90 per cent of par­ents want schools fully open in Sep­tem­ber” (News, July 2nd).

As a teacher, I would say that 100 per cent of school staff want schools open and all stu­dents back. But it has to be done in a safe and sus­tain­able way. We are acutely con­scious of the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion for our stu­dents – we have been shout­ing about it from the rooftops for years as we tried to get schools prop­erly re­sourced.

But schools are work­places. Em­ploy­ees as well as stu­dents need to be pro­tected. We can­not wish the virus away for stu­dents or staff and have a dif­fer­ent stan­dard of pro­tec­tion for the school com­mu­nity to that of the wider com­mu­nity .

What­ever de­ci­sions are made must have pub­lic-health guid­ance as the guid­ing prin­ci­ple.

While we would all love to go back to the way things were be­fore March 2020, we have to ac­cept that may not be pos­si­ble.

But we will adapt, in­no­vate and con­tinue to pro­vide qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion to our stu­dents un­der the safest pos­si­ble ar­range­ments for all in­volved. – Is mise, CARMEL DE GRAE, Baile Átha Cliath 9.

Sir, – Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Par­ents’ Coun­cil, 91 per cent of par­ents want a com­plete re­turn to school in Sep­tem­ber.

I want many things: to meet up with my grand­chil­dren, to get back fully to sport, to go on my hol­i­days abroad, to meet my friends in the pub. How­ever, I can’t have those things be­cause, as a re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zen, I am re­quired to fol­low pub­lic-health guide­lines. – Yours, etc,

LEE HEALY, Ballincol­lig,

Cork.

Sir, – Why all the fuss about school­child­ren be­ing re­quired to so­cially dis­tance to re­open the schools? They are not prac­tis­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing out­side of school. – Yours, etc, PAUL PHE­LAN, Black­rock, Co Dublin.

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