THERE was a mix of tears, fainting, panic attacks, and cheering when Coláiste Éamann Rís announced to their hundreds of pupils that the school was closing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Gearbags of books were hauled out by pupils as the whole school emptied their lockers to head home for two weeks in line with the Government advisory.
Principal Aaron Wolfe said: “We called an assembly, some groups were cheering, some groups were worried and concerned. Some students had panic attacks and a few fainted.
“Some students were crying, very upset that this virus was going to wipe out half the population, so we spent a lot of time reassuring students and telling them this is not the end of the world.”
Mr Wolfe explained how tutoring would continue while students were at home, with the teachers working remotely online and work being emailed in by pupils.
“In this school, kids are all on Google Classroom, so it is not a massive step for them to work online. All the students have been instructed to work from home, they have cleaned out their lockers and brought their books home.
“In principle, they will be working but, as parents will find out, it is actually very difficult to teach children.”
Offering advice to parents to take on board over the next two weeks, Mr Wolfe said: “Teaching children is a very demanding job and it will be a challenging job for teachers across the country to have their own children at home while working.
“Be patient with your children, don’t let them hang around in big groups, that will just spread the virus even more.”
The secondary school principal also asked students to stay at home with their parents.
“It is about building up the relationship at home,” he said.
Parent Rosalynn Parkes, who was taking home her 14-year-old son Zach Savage, said she had no plan yet.
“I left work early to pick him up, he has three bags of books to get home,” she said. “I suppose I am flexible enough with work and he is old enough to be left at home for periods of time.”
Tom McGee, who was collecting his son Thomas, said he will have his three school-going children home over the next two weeks.
“I have five children. It is what it is, we just have to deal with it. We have no choice but to deal with it,” he said.
“I’d prefer they do it now than later on. It has to be done. It’s going to be a bit of cabin fever, but I’d rather have cabin fever than corona-virus. It has to be done. It is not nice, but let’s see what happens.”
Leaving Certificate student Alex Linehan said it was a surprise to hear they were being sent home for two weeks.
“I think the best thing to do is to put the head down for the two weeks, everyone is in the same boat, it is two weeks we would have had in school, but it is not something that we could have combated.
“It is hard to motivate myself to study and it’s likely this will go on into Easter and we will be off for five weeks. That is a long time to be off.” Another Leaving Cert student, Craig Linehan, said he will miss the social side of school.
“There’s three months to the Leaving Certificate and it is two weeks to the Irish oral, so we don’t know what is happening with that. It is very stressful.”