Covid outbreak brings changes to historic Cork school attendance programme

Covid outbreak brings changes to historic Cork school attendance programme
The Lord Mayor Clr John Sheehan with students who received Certificates for 12 years Unbroken School Attendance at the City Hall last October.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CHANGES have been made to a historic school attendance certification programme in Cork city, which means that any absences by students this year will not affect their unbroken school attendance record.

As part of the tradition, which dates back to the 1920s, students are awarded for not missing school in successive years.

Each year, these students are invited to attend a ceremony organised by Tusla’s Educational Welfare Service, where they traditionally receive awards for their attendance from the Lord Mayor.

Tusla has confirmed to The Echo that a decision was made in recent weeks that any school missed during the upcoming school year would not be taken into account in relation to an unbroken school attendance record.

“Any pupil with an existing continuous unbroken attendance record will maintain their record into the 2021/22 school year,” a spokesperson said.

Furthermore, Tusla has also confirmed that the usual attendance ceremony will not take place in City Hall this year as a result if the Covid-19 outbreak, however each qualifying student will still receive their trophy and certificate.

“We are looking at other options, such as a virtual event, to mark the occasion instead,” the spokesperson said.

Dr Niamh Lynch, consultant paediatrician at the Bon Secours Hospital welcomed the news that absences this year will not impact a student’s attendance record saying it was “a sensible thing to do”.

The paediatrician said that she felt that children who had perfect attendance to date, would have felt pressure to keep that up “and they could potentially be devastated if they feel that an absence on their part this year will count because they are trying to do the right thing and stay out of school.” 

Meanwhile, the Cork paediatrician said that as schools return it is also very important that employers are understanding and flexible towards parents whose children may become unwell.

“I think parents, and especially mums, are under a lot of pressure. This is not to say anything against dads, but usually, it's the mums who get called when the child is sick or it’s usually the mum who has to sort it out if the child isn't able to go to school.

“I think this year there’s going to have to be a lot of flexibility from employers, understanding that parents, mums and dads, might be called out at short notice to collect their child from school and a mum or a dad might have to make a call of a Tuesday morning and say, do you know what, she’s just not right, she feels hot, she has a runny nose, I can’t send her to school,” Dr Lynch added.

It comes as students around the county begin returning to school this week. 

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