THERE was great excitement when 210 pupils returned to Scoil Chliodhna Community National School, Carrigtwohill on Monday morning, March 1 as part of the phased reopening of the schools.
They were just some of the thousands of students leading the return to school in Cork and across the country.
Scoil Chliodhna CNS principal Teresa Coughlan was delighted to welcome back the junior infants, senior infants, first and second class pupils to the mixed and multi-denominational school which initially opened with three students in 2015.
“We are delighted and over the moon. There was a great buzz this morning. We had a balloon arch tied to the gate and there was great excitement. The students were delighted to be returning. They were full of smiles. They were so looking forward to coming back and socialising with their friends,” she said.
Ms Coughlan paid tribute to the teachers in the Carrigtwohill NS and the parents who engaged in such great work in recent years which ensured remote learning proved a success. “The teachers did a great job in recent weeks engaging in daily Zoom calls and checking in with their students. Nothing however can substitute for in-person teaching. The parents were also amazing. It was full-on for the parents who were doing the homeschooling. They also put so much time and effort in. Nothing however can replace face-to-face teaching.”
The other primary school classes are provisionally scheduled to return on Monday, March 15. Ms Coughlan is looking forward to welcoming back more students. “We only go as far as fourth class. Some of those students walked their little brothers and sisters back to school and they are desperate to come back. We are looking forward to two weeks time when we can all be back together,” she added.
Jim O’Sullivan, who is the principal of Nagle Community College in Mahon expressed his relief at welcoming back their Leaving Cert students.
Mr O’Sullivan said he has great sympathy for this year’s Leaving Certificate students who have missed out on so much study since last March.
“It has been very tough on them. They lost two and a half months teaching as well last year and they have lost a couple of months this year. We were fortunate that before they finished up before Christmas, they were all provided with a laptop which came from our corporate involvement and through sponsorship.
“Online went well, but it is not sustainable however over a long period of time. The fact that it was a short burst over five weeks ensured it was successful. They did however miss seeing their friends and the routine of school. It is incumbent on us all now to make it as straightforward as possible for them to show their potential over the coming months,” he added.
The secondary school principal welcomed the recent decision by the Department of Education that Leaving Certificate students will be given the option not to sit exams and instead apply for a calculated grade if suits. Under the plan, students who decide to take an exam will receive whichever result is higher between their calculated grade and the result from the written exam.
“Getting a choice of accredited grades and the Leaving Certificate exams is great for students. It gives a certain assurance to students that they will be assigned grades by teachers. They also have the opportunity to sit modified papers in June if they want to better the accredited grade. It gives them two good opportunities to maximise their grades. It is one of the best scenarios for them and well deserved as it has been such a challenging time for them.”
The fifth-year students are provisionally due to return on Monday, March 15, with the remaining second-level students due to return after Easter. Mr O’Sullivan is looking forward to welcoming back all these students.
“If everything goes well, the fifth-years will be brought in. All other students will then be phased in after the Easter holidays. There is good sense to the phased return.
“Prioritising the Leaving Cert students was ideal as they have the school building and the staff to themselves. We are looking forward to seeing all our students return in the coming weeks. The sooner we get back to full teaching and learning in the school the happier we will all be.”