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Kids can teach nervy parents how to handle risks in school


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Picture posed

Picture posed

Picture posed

AT 11.25am last March 12, then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressed the Irish nation from Washington DC.

"I need to speak to you about coronavirus and Covid-19. More people will get sick and, unfortunately, we must face the tragic reality that some people will die," he said.

"So, from 6pm today, the following measures are being put in place. Schools, colleges and childcare facilities will close from tomorrow. Where possible, teaching will be done online or remotely."

So began the five-and-a-half months to where we find ourselves today, with schools reopening this week.

On that day back in March, I said to my wife that my two biggest fears regarding this pandemic were the effect it could have on the economy and on children.

To be honest, the virus itself was the least of my fears, despite the fact that so many have contracted it and it has claimed the lives of 1,777 of our citizens.

Today, though, I want to focus on the children.

Like I said, one of my biggest fears when Mr Varadkar announced the schools were to close was the long-lasting impact it would have on kids.

Getting off school unexpectedly in March might have seemed great at the time, but as it dragged on - and on, and on - the novelty wore off for parents and, more importantly, for children.

Over the past few weeks, I've never heard so many kids say, in August, that they're really looking forward to going back to school .

Anxieties

Despite this, over the past few weeks on my radio show on 98FM, I've heard so many parents speaking of their anxieties about children returning to school.

During the months since our country has slowly reopened to a new reality, children have been out and about playing with their friends.

In many cases there has been little or no social distancing - in playgrounds, housing estates and on staycations.

Parents haven't been insisting on kids staying apart during June, July and August and have, generally speaking, allowed them be kids.

With them finally being able to learn and meet up with friends and classmates they were forbidden to see during lockdown, why is the return to school becoming a cause of anxiety for so many parents?

Here's what the stats say: Of the 28,200 people in Ireland who have contracted the coronavirus since March, only 781 (2.8pc) have been aged under 14.

Even more startling is that 99pc of the 1,777 deaths have been people over the age of 35.

Children need to be allowed to be children, and even though many parents have anxieties about their return to school, as Health Minister Stephen Donnelly pointed out last week, everything in life comes with risks.

Herald