We asked 5 teachers about the decision to keep schools closed
We asked teachers their thoughts on the decision to keep schools closed and how this will impact them and their students.
Minister for Education Norma Foley has confirmed that schools will remain closed from Monday, January 11.
Earlier this week, the government planned to close schools for the majority of students, but keep classrooms open three days a week for Leaving Certificate students and those with special educational needs.
However, the recent rise in Covid-19 numbers saw more than 44,000 new cases over the past two weeks and education officials said they were not comfortable with keeping schools open at all.
The Department of Education met with teachers’ unions and school management bodies, who voiced their concern, and decided to enforce remote learning for all.
We asked five teachers about this decision and how they believe it will impact them and their students.
Sarah, secondary school teacher
“I am disappointed about teaching online. It’s very difficult for some students. Some students do not have a very good home life and it will be hard on them.
“However, keeping schools closed is the best decision at the moment, the spread of Covid in schools was very high. Having at least 27 households within the one room with the new Covid strain is like fighting fire with fire.”
Paula, secondary school teacher
“The uncertainty of it all is the worst part. No one thinks online teaching is as effective but if it has to be, it has to be.
“But make the call early and stick with so we can plan and do either justice, would be my thoughts.”
Niall, secondary school teacher
“I was actually delighted with my school’s response. They wanted to organise a meeting before going back to try and make sense of the whole thing first, before jumping in the deep end. I thought it was ridiculous in the current circumstances to even suggest a partial return, plenty of teachers are in close contact with elderly people or high risk people at home.
“The government is out of touch with reality, let alone prepared. They disregarded the union’s concerns and just decided among themselves what their best course of action was without any consideration of students’ or teachers’ health.
“Teaching from home is not ideal, but students and teachers being safe should be the number one concern. When it was going to be split with sixth years in, I had no idea what would have happened with the rest of my online classes.”
Tadhg, secondary school teacher
“I am gutted about online teaching as I just don’t find it engaging enough for students. A lot may find it difficult to access internet and face a lack of motivation due to not physically leaving their house to attend school.
“Also the methodologies that we apply in the classroom are basically nonexistent online. I agree it is the best decision as the spread of Covid is rampant at the minute. Health-wise it’s the right move however, for what teaching is all about, online teaching just does not cut it.”
Sophie, secondary school teacher
“I personally was very happy and ready to go back into school to teach the sixth years, that might have been me being selfish because I just want some normality in my life. I know the unions are there to do what is the very best for us, as unions would in any profession, topically with the INMO and student nurses payment. I just hate the public opinion attached to teacher unions wanting us to have as much time off as possible, that’s obviously not the case.
“It hurt me to read Twitter comments yesterday that if we did not return to school, people thought that we should be paid the unemployment payment. People who receive the PUP, for example nonessential retail workers, cannot work from home. If they were asked to work with online orders, online customer service etc., they would not be receiving PUP but their wage instead.”
“I am most worried about my students.”
“I’m very disappointed that I have to teach from home again. Teaching is a very social profession and remotely teaching is not a very social thing. I am most worried about my students. Before Christmas many of my senior students were sitting in front of me, visibly down on themselves because of the very unsocial Christmas that was ahead of them.
“I can’t imagine how they must be feeling now not even seeing their classmates. I am making the decision to have all my lessons as live lessons, so that the students and myself, have some social interaction.”
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