In pictures: 'They need to go back': Cork children return to school

In pictures: 'They need to go back': Cork children return to school

Kieran Kelly, principal. Picture Denis Minihane.

“THEY have to go to school and get back into a routine. We have to get on with life,” said a mother of a primary school student in Togher Boys’ National School who started back today after the Christmas holidays.

Primary and secondary school students across Cork city and county reopened on Thursday, January 6 following the all-clear from public health officials despite the rising Covid-19 cases in every community nationwide.

Togher BNS principal Kieran Kelly said he is delighted the students are back. “We all want the kids to be back. 100% everyone wants to be back. We want everyone to be back. It is detrimental for kids to be out,” he said.

The primary school principal said four members of his staff were absent due to Covid-19 related issues for their first day back.

Mr Kelly said sourcing replacement teachers going forward will be a ‘challenge’. “The pressure schools will be facing is getting staff. It will be a challenge. We were missing four teachers on the first day. This figure is not too bad and it is to be expected. Other schools have 30% of their school staff out which will present them with a big challenge.

“January will be manic as there was a subbing crisis before Christmas. January and February are normally the worst months which combined with a pandemic represent a huge challenge for schools. We have got two replacement teachers and we have got two students in to cover the four missing teachers. 

"We will manage alright. Student teachers will be required to provide cover. Without them the schools won’t stay open.” he added.

Mr Kelly said the number of students who returned to the Togher-based primary school after the Christmas holidays were good. “The numbers were good in the junior classes. There has been a good turnout. We are very fortunate. All the staff and parents have been great and so supportive.” 

Denise Arundel and her son Padraig who is in junior infants.

Denise and Padraig Arundel. Picture Denis Minihane.
Denise and Padraig Arundel. Picture Denis Minihane.

Ms Arundel: “The kids need to get back to reality and get back to school. Education is so important. They missed out on so much over the last two years. Padraig was delighted to go back and meet his friends. He couldn’t wait to see them again and tell them what he got for Christmas.

“It was a tough decision to bring Padraig back to school. I was a bit nervous as he is not vaccinated. I am vaccinated and I got the booster. I think it would have been better if they held off opening the schools until next Monday and given them another few days off.

“The schools are very safe and are working so well. Togher BNS is brilliant. The teachers and principal are great,” she added.

Edith Cedeno and her son Nicolas who is in first class.

Edith Cedeno and her son Nicolas Houlihan. Picture Denis Minihane.
Edith Cedeno and her son Nicolas Houlihan. Picture Denis Minihane.

Ms Cedeno: “It was the right decision to reopen as the kids need to go back. Nicolas was looking forward to going back and seeing all his friends. It is important for them to socialise.

“I was not worried. We are okay with coming back as it is safe. We have had Covid and we have isolated, so it wasn’t too bad for us coming back,” she said.

Amy Cotter and her son Lee who is in second class.

Amy and Lee Cotter.Picture Denis Minihane.
Amy and Lee Cotter.Picture Denis Minihane.

Ms Cotter: “I was fine about Lee starting back. I had no fear at all. We just have to get on with it. It was the right decision to reopen. Lee wanted to come back and see all his friends again.

“I think it is fine and safe. They have to go to school and get back into a routine. I had no worries at all about the reopening. There was no need to delay it. The school is very safe and they are doing a great job. We have to get on with life,” she added.

Carrie Roche and her son Callum who is in fifth class.

Carrie and Callum Roche.Picture Denis Minihane.
Carrie and Callum Roche.Picture Denis Minihane.

Ms Roche: “We are okay about coming back. Callum had Covid just before Christmas which meant he has missed a bit of school already. We were looking forward to getting back. It is vital to get back into a routine for both the kids and the parents especially as the last few years have been so up and down.

“I am happy they reopened. It is the right decision and it is needed. I think it will be a trial run to see how they get on in the first few weeks and see if the numbers rise or not. Callum couldn’t wait to see his friends as he didn’t get to see them over Christmas.

“The schools are safe. The teachers are fantastic and understanding,” she added.

Cheyanne Breen and her son Jason who is in first class.

Cheyanne Breen and her son Jason Cahill.Picture Denis Minihane.
Cheyanne Breen and her son Jason Cahill.Picture Denis Minihane.

Ms Breen: “It wasn’t a tough decision. He wanted to go back and I wanted to send him back as I don’t want him to miss out on too much school. We are cautious but it is good to be back. I am a little bit nervous but hopefully, they will be okay going back in.

“He wanted to come back and see his friends again. It is time to get back. We have to get them back into reality.

“Coming into school and being taught is way better than online teaching. It is harder to do it online,” she said.

Ahamad Fuad and his son Uwais Jamal who is in junior infants.

Ahmad Fuad and his son Uwais.Picture Denis Minihane.
Ahmad Fuad and his son Uwais.Picture Denis Minihane.

Mr Fuad: “I wasn’t nervous at all. He is fine. It is the right decision to reopen. The school is open so we just send him to school.

“He loves going to school. He wants to see and play with his friends. It is a great school. It is a very safe environment. It is better for the kids to be back in school. It is better for their education and wellbeing,” he added.

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