SOME primary school teachers are feeling “apprehensive” ahead of the return for junior classes on Monday, with one principal describing the decision as a “gamble”.
Pupils in junior infants to second class will return to schools on Monday, and INTO President, Mary Magner, said that members are looking forward to getting back to the classroom, but some remain apprehensive about the return.
“It is great for children and for parents that we are returning, and teachers are looking forward to going back but it’s understandable that they are apprehensive and cautious given that the numbers out there are still quite high.”
The union has said that “several necessary additional supports” will be in place for schools such as medical-grade face masks for teachers delivering personal care or attention and flexible arrangements for staff in high-risk health categories.
The INTO had raised other issues such as the provision of air ventilation monitors, face masks for senior pupils and antigen tests but public health advice stated that they were not necessary at this time.
However, Ms Magan said that members are "more reassured" by the new measures.
“I think they’re more reassured than what they would have been in January when the virus was rampant and when the additional mitigation measures weren’t in place.”
Principal at Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil, Siobhán Ní Chatháin said that staff and teachers are looking forward to welcoming pupils back but remain “apprehensive” due to the “high number of cases within the community”.
The Glanmire school experienced an outbreak of Covid-19 in November which lead to a temporary closure and the infection of a number of pupils and family members.
Ms Ní Chatháin said that she will do all she can to ensure the school is a safe environment and she is hopeful that case numbers will reduce.
“If they have to re-shut schools again and go into a fourth lockdown, I don’t think the society will be able to cope so really it will all depend on whether this gamble is going to pay off our not.
“We have over 500 hundred cases a day. We’re not down to single digits so there’s a lot of the virus out there yet so when schools return, there’s going to be 350,000 people on the move and that’s only counting the children, that’s not counting the parents.” “[We are] delighted and looking forward to welcoming the children and the teachers and we are hopeful that this is the right time, but we are apprehensive nonetheless because of the high number of cases still within the community,” she added.