Our Biggest Back to School Concerns During Covid-19 in Ireland
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Our children are finally (hopefully?) returning to school after being at home since March, but this Back to School season is like no other we have experienced before. In the past we may have been preoccupied with organising school uniforms, books and bus tickets. This year we are trying to figure out which age groups need masks, how often they will be in school and how we will manage if they get sick.
Parents and children alike are feeling uncertain about the changes that are in store. Some may be anxious while others are looking forward to getting back into a routine.
I have received emails from the three different schools my kids attend which highlight some of the changes, and I still don’t really know what to expect.
I have been into our local primary school to help move furniture in preparation – even the teachers seem uncertain how teaching will pan out and are hoping to just take one day at a time.
Every school has a different set up and every parent is approaching the transition differently. Some parents can’t wait to see their little ones return to being taught by their teachers again, others are worried about what will be in store.
Some parents have even decided that homeschooling suits them well!
Parenting is not easy at the best of times, however, parenting in a pandemic throws up a whole host of new challenges.
In spite of all the uncertainty, one thing is for definite, we have a lot of questions!!
What Questions are we asking about going Back to School during Covid-19?
I have asked a whole lot of questions and it seems that I am not alone.
A list of the most common questions parents are asking was published recently on RTE.ie in Your Back to School Questions Answered (updated Tuesday, 25 Aug 2020). These include:
- Will children, and teachers, be required to wear masks?
- How will school transport work, in particular school buses?
- What happens in a small school if a teacher becomes sick and no substitute is available?
- Will primary school students be broken into pods, like in crèches?
- How are the teachers going to be protected?
Some of the questions have easy answers but many will be determined by individual schools.
However, some questions are more difficult to answer.
One of my biggest questions is how to manage if someone in our household contracts the corona virus? Will we all have to quarantine? If we all have to isolate that would mean my other kids would miss even more school.
The concern is, if one of your children is sick, you can’t isolate them from yourself entirely as you will have to care for them. And then does that mean you also have to be isolated from all your other children? Who will care for them then?
We have a large family, with six of us here, how would we manage the space in our home?
I found a few helpful guidelines in these documents:
- Managing Coronavirus at Home – HSE
- Guidance for Large or Extended Families Living in the Same Household – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- How To Stay Healthy When Your Child, Spouse Or Roommate Has COVID-19 – NPR.org
Hopefully we won’t have to face this scenario and thankfully up until now it has seemed that children are less prone to catching this disease.
Here are the HSE Guidelines on Protecting your Child from Coronavirus
Information for Irish Schools on going Back to School during Covid-19
Each country has their own guidelines for the back to school process. Here are some resources for Irish parents:
- Topics being raised on the Back to School Helpline – Gov.ie
- Irish Government back to school roadmap – Gov.ie
- Irish Primary and Special School Guidelines – Gov.ie
- Irish Secondary school guidelines – Gov.ie
- Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance – Citizen’s Information
- Covid-19 support hub – The Irish National Teacher’s Organisation
Well Being Resources
C;lick on this link to access resources and webinars on well being – Gov.ie.
Are you or your children feeling stressed? Do you know how to avoid the spread of Covid-19 in school? This piece may help you: Going to school during COVID-19 – SpunOut.ie
Some of us may be already looking forward to our next break off school, if so here are the Ireland School Holidays 2020 and 2021.
All the Latest Back to School News
If you want to keep track of all the back to school news, pop over to this page on the Journal.ie.
How do Irish schools Compare to other Countries with their Covid-19 Measures?
This interesting article Back to school: what the new classroom will look like in the Irish Times (Tue, Jun 30, 2020), compares our schools in Ireland to other countries across Europe and even New Zealand.
What are you most concerned about as your kids go back to school? If you don’t live in Ireland, and your kids have already gone back to school, how have they coped?