A Cork youth worker has called for consultation with young people on the reopening of schools next week following an online poll which highlighted concern among Cork students.
Joe Curtin from Youth Work Ireland Cork used Instagram on Sunday to ask young people in Cork about their thoughts on returning to school in the midst of a surge in Covid-19 cases both across Cork and nationwide.
Yesterday TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said that there is increasing doubt among the public regarding the proposed return to schools on January 11.
A poll on Mr Curtin’s Instagram profile asked whether schools should reopen as normal or wait until Covid-19 numbers are lower.
Asked #youngoeople in #secondaryschool about their thoughts on going back to school in the current circumstances. Here are some answers. Anyone like to add their own thoughts ?@YWICork @CorkCityPPN @corkcitycouncil @corkcity_cnn @ruthgrif @mickfinn01 @JamesLeonard85 @gillianemb pic.twitter.com/XV19HFERiK— Joe Curtin (@JoeyCork) January 3, 2021
In the results which were posted to Twitter, 87 percent of respondents voted to “wait”.
Mr Curtin said that the poll was an attempt to allow young people to voice their concerns and he believes that their opinions should be considered in the decision on reopening.
“As a youth worker, I noticed myself first of all that a lot of the debate around the opening and closing of schools was being done by adults and there wasn’t too much consultation being done by young people or students,” he said.
In some of the responses, pupils said that they felt anxious at the thought of returning, though one student said that they were missing “the environment, the routine and friends”.
According to Mr Curtin, most of those who voted in the poll and showed interest in reopening schools next week were Leaving Certificate students though he noted “confusion” among some young people about the current restrictions.
“You can’t go to your soccer training, your football training but yet you can go to school still, so I think there’s kind of general confusion and a bit of anxiety around the thought of going back,” he said.
Mr Curtin said that those who engaged with the poll would be Cork students, with most of his work taking place in the city and the northside.
As a youth worker, he said that he has two main concerns ahead of the planned reopening of schools on January 11.
“I would say number one would be just young people to be consulted with and feel like they have an input on their own education and plans and secondly, as well when schools did close earlier last year, some students, in particular, were very affected by it, students from disadvantaged areas who may not have access to broadband or iPads and laptops.
“If the schools do close, there must be provisions made for students who don’t have access to the internet or IT equipment.
“I think students and young people should be consulted somehow,” added Mr Curtin.