Back to School: Two Laois mothers give their different views
As families across Ireland adjust to children going back to school, we asked two busy Laois mothers what their opinions are on sending their children back in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"I think they should have held on for another month"
A Laois mother of five children who are in education ranging from primary school to university, believes it is not safe for them to go back to school.
The mother who wishes not to make her name public, told the Leinster Express that she believes the Covid-19 numbers are too high for going back to school.
Her eldest child is in university, with two more in the CBS secondary school, another in Holy Family Senior School and her youngest in Holy Family Junior School.
The changes in CBS include allowing the students not to wear a uniform on Wednesdays so it can be washed, a suspension of the lunch service, and the splitting of larger classes so one class is taught while the other is supervised.
“Personally I don’t think they should be going back. If they can have only six people visiting your house, how can they have 800 in a school?
“They are asking us not to use public transport yet the school buses are going ahead.
“In one way I know it’s necessary to go back to school but it’s a different thing to put children’s health at risk.
“I think they should have held on another month to see how the figures are going. They are very high again now.
“When they closed the schools in March they were not as high, yet they are willing to do everything to get kids back.
“Personally I don’t think it’s safe,” she said.
Her children are looking forward to going back.
“They don’t mind. They can’t wait to go back and see their friends. They don’t get it.
“They are excited about new runners, it’s just a normal year for them, they don’t realise the changes,” she said.
There is financial pressure on parents she said.
“There is a lot of pressure on parents getting uniforms and books.
“I think there should have been a non uniform year, just tracksuits. Their uniforms and shoes from last year are too small and they didn’t get wear out of them.
“I know of country schools opting for tracksuits or the kids own clothes, so kids won’t be growing out of expensive uniforms. Why put us to this expense again.
Online learning was not easy.
“My eldest girl helped with the technology, but it was hard, homeschooling was hard.
“The youngest did it no problem but it was a nightmare to get the next one to do it, she got the idea into her head that she didn’t have to because others weren’t.
I think it would be better if schools sent home packs rather than do online. Then just send a photo of the page done to the school app.
“They had to take turns and the wifi was lagging.
“Then we were getting notifications ‘homework not sent in’.
“It would be better if they used books and sat at the table to work the old fashioned way.
“Back to school will also force distancing of her children from their grandparents all winter long.
“They are in their 70’s.
“ They said once the kids go back that’s it, they will come to see us in the car but won’t come into the house.
“Even ourselves in our late 40’s we would be nervous. It’s just the unknown, you hear so much stories.
“For any child with underlying health conditions, it must be a nightmare for their parents.
“You don’t want to single them out and keep them at home. It is very hard on parents,” the mother said.
"It's a strange world for all of us but we have to move on and let our kids have their education"
A Mountmellick mother of two is relieved that her children’s schools are reopening, and satisfied with precautions prepared to stop Covid-19 from spreading.
The parent has one child going into Leaving Cert year in Mountmellick Community School, and another going into 4th class in St Joseph’s girls NS.
She is delighted with the guidelines released by the primary school last Wednesday.
They include asking parents not to go past the school gate with their child, but to wait in line for a daily temperature check for the child.
Each class described as a bubble will be kept apart from other classes and subdivided into ‘pods’ of four to eight children.
There will be staggered breaktimes and going home times for each year.
“I'm very happy with them. It's a strange world at the moment for us all but we have to move on and let our kids have their education. I know everyone won’t agree.
“In fairness they need an education.
“I do feel sorry for the parents and the junior infants starting off as they can’t spend any time with them when dropping off but I do understand why.
She said the school is “amazing” for how it is adjusting to bring back children.
“Nobody knows what to do, right or wrong. No-one has been through this before.
“Even the Government, we’ve never done this,” she said.
“My daughter is on cloud nine. She cannot wait to get back.
“She is fed up at this stage, it is a long time to be out. She gets extra help in school and I can’t give her that at home.
“I feel she’s missed out on so much. I was even hoping just for school two days a week.
She believes going back to school is “100% important” for her child’s development.
“We did the school at home, and I’m sure like many people it was fine for the first few weeks, then she decided to give up and we gave up a bit too.
“We all need some sort of normality.
“Kids are already well used to the new norm of washing and sanitising their hands. It’s not for me it’s for her sake.
“I understand some children have underlying health conditions which is a big worry for parents but I'm sure the schools are doing all they can in these tough times to keep them as safe as possible.
“It's now up to us as parents to help out too by getting our kids ready for the big return to school,” the mother said.
Her son is starting his Leaving Cert year but she is concerned about the work that was missed out on in 5th year.
“It will be hard for him to try to catch up, I hope he will have extra help, I am afraid he might fall behind.
“The long break didn’t bother him, he loved life, while being careful too socially distancing,” she said.