THE phased reopening of schools continued in Cork yesterday, with the return of more primary and secondary school pupils to their classrooms.
All remaining primary school children returned, as well as fifth-year students at second level. This means that all primary school children have now returned, while both fifth and sixth-year students have returned at second level.
The remaining secondary school students are scheduled to return on Monday, April 12.
Scoil Padre Pio principal Ken Foley welcomed back 160 students to their Churchfield school. He said he was thrilled to have all the primary school students back once again.
“There was so much emotion expressed this morning. The parents were so relieved and the teachers were thrilled to welcome their pupils back. To have that sense of normality return once again is so good.
“To hear the voices and the laughter is just so fantastic. They were delighted to see their friends again. It was brilliant to welcome all the remaining students back,” he said.
Mr Foley and his school colleagues are determined to ensure the students will settle back into a routine in a seamless fashion.
“Our main focus now is on getting them settled back in and on their mental health. A huge focus for us going forward will be on healthy living and exercise.
“We will also consolidate the work which has been done online in recent months. Literacy and numeracy are vital, so we will drive it on.
“The protocols are working perfectly so, hopefully, they will be back for good now,” he added.
St Brogan’s secondary school principal Helen Cadogan was equally pleased to welcome back the fifth-year students to the Bandon school.
“It is so good to see them in the building once again. They were delighted to return. Getting back to a bit of normality is fantastic,” she said.
Ms Cadogan said the sixth-year students who returned a fortnight ago have settled back in very well.
“They are really driving it on. They are glad to see the end in sight and they are relieved to have got clarity with regards to the exams.
“We are all looking forward to welcoming back the rest of the pupils after Easter. We also have a moderate class that is back since February 22. They are a joy to have in the school,” Ms Cadogan said.
“It is nice to hear the chatter and the laughter once again. Being back in the building, seeing them smiling, and teaching them is great. The students will thrive in each other’s company and being back in a routine.”