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Parents cautiously welcome school closures but demand more support

Secondary and primary schools around the country look set to remain shut until the end of the month at the earliest.

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Parents cautiously welcome school closures but demand more support (Brian Lawless/PA)

Parents cautiously welcome school closures but demand more support (Brian Lawless/PA)

Parents cautiously welcome school closures but demand more support (Brian Lawless/PA)

Anxious parents have welcomed the expected decision to close schools, but have called for stronger support than was available during the first lockdown.

Mary O’Driscoll, a mother of two children attending secondary school Askea, Co Carlow, has welcomed the closure.

She said her faith in the safety of schools was shaken when her son contracted Covid.

It's very, very scary how quickly it can get into housesMary O'Driscoll

She told the PA News Agency: “With the case numbers, I do welcome the closure.

“I know that education wise and mental health wise – it’s good for the kids to be in school. But as well as that, I’m thinking about the risk factor.

“My son actually tested positive for Covid just before the October midterm.

“One of the young lads in his school – his mum had it. Then the young lad tested positive and my son had to be kept out, along with others.

“Out of the four of them that were tested, three of them tested positive, and not one symptom between them. So it’s very, very scary how quickly it can get into houses.”

Mary told PA that she will have to seek out extra support for her 15-year-old daughter, who is sitting her Junior Cert this year.

She said: “We are going to probably have to look at getting grinds for her. We’re going to have to find a way of making that time up for her, in terms of grinds and extra lessons.

“But I would rather her struggle for the few months and then hopefully get back on track once this is all over.”

Roisin McBride, from Downings in Co Donegal, has two children attending primary school, in junior and senior infants.

She had considered not sending her children back to school before news came through that they would not reopen.

She said: “To be honest, I said to the husband yesterday, even if the schools open, I’m not going to send the kids back for a couple of weeks.

“Just until we see how things pan out. I think they’ve made the right decision to close the schools with the numbers.”

But Roisin said that the level of remote learning offered to children must drastically increase from the previous school closures.

She said: “I think they would need to come out with clear guidance as to what is going to happen.

“The last time they closed the schools, I know some teachers did put a lot of effort in with their students but there were other teachers that didn’t.

I do think there should be an element of online classes.Roisin McBride

“I have a cousin based in Boston in America and his two boys haven’t been at school since March last year.

“The entire school has been remote learning, but it’s via Zoom. So their teacher is available for the lesson, they’re still being taught.

“Whereas the teachers emailing the parents work, it isn’t really the child being taught.”

She added: “I do think there should be an element of online classes. Both my children do online classes through Zoom for their extracurricular activities.

“My little girl has done her ballet class since April, for an hour, on Zoom. The teacher has managed to keep her attention at all times for that full hour, through the ballet class.

“Both of them do speech and drama online. Again, the teacher manages to keep their attention.

“Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think a Zoom call from nine to three is feasible for anybody. But even an hour a day, there should be some element of teaching.”

Roisin said she is lucky that as a stay-at-home mum, she isn’t affected by childcare issues. But she is conscious it’s a concern for many.

She said: “My brother and sister-in-law, they had to take time off work in the first lockdown. They had a child minder, but even the child minder said no, I’m not taking kids at the moment.”

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