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Parents and teachers show support for blended learning as Covid-19 effects look set to last

Parents and teachers want a blend of classroom and remote education, as they believe the effects of Covid-19 will remain for some time. 

The National Parents Council for post primary students will tomorrow tell the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee that blended learning may bring benefits in the years ahead with the virus set to stay for some time.

It also wants attention given to those with special needs and those facing exams next year. It calls on both schools and parents to be flexible when classes resume in August.

The council calls for a designated ‘Covid-19 co-ordinator’ in each school, supports for vulnerable student and temperature checks as staff and students enter school.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland will ask TDs to ensure there is a return to work safely protocol for schools. Inspections also need to be beefed up, the ASTI says. General secretary Kieran Christie says there needs to be confidence in the plan to reopen schools.

“In England, attendance rates have been very curtailed for those who have been entitled to return to school, purely because parents are not convinced of the safety in doing so.”

The union is also taking issue with suggestions that the social distancing rule be relaxed only for schools.

“From our perspective, there simply cannot be rules on physical distancing that apply outside a school in wider society or business that don’t apply inside a school.”

There are also teachers with underlying conditions who may need to work from home, says the ASTI. It also agrees with blending schooling, which would combine classroom and remote education.

Meanwhile Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly will tell the committee tourism was “hit first, hardest and will take the longest to recover” from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tourism boss will appeal to TDs and the government to reopen access to overseas visitors, who provide almost two thirds of revenue for businesses in the sector.

And with a limited summer season for the sector, business costs have been added to with increased cleaning, screening and protective equipment costs.

Mr Kelly says: "Tourism will recover again but just like the Oireachtas needed to intervene at an unprecedented scale to support our financial sector in 2010 and to support our health sector in recent months, the tourism sector will need this scale of support now and for the next few years so that it can thrive again.”