President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to the country's school communities for their "generous commitment" in ensuring schools could remain open safely during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking in an online video for “Go raibh maith agaibh” (GRMA) day, which seeks to thank school communities for their work this year, Mr Higgins commended all members of the school communities, including teachers, cleaners and boards of management.
“The early months of the coronavirus pandemic threw into sharp focus the vital role that schools play in the lives of our children and how integral they are to the healthy functioning of our young people and our society,” he said.
“May I acknowledge and commend you for the generous commitment we have witnessed from our school communities during this year of unprecedented challenges. Despite the circumstances thrown up by having to respond to the virus, your dedication to the nation’s children has remained steadfast.”
Mr Higgins said all members of the school communities had worked diligently to ensure young people could return to schools that would “operate under the safest conditions possible”.
“I am aware of the many complex plans and processes that had to be drawn up and the greatly transformed school environment and working day, to which you all had to adapt to make this happen,” he said.
“May I thank you for all of the generous sacrifices made; your flexibility, compassion, and professionalism has ensured that our young people have been able to resume their education, maintain and develop friendships and continue to grow and learn alongside their peers in a positive and nurturing school environment.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin described the communities as “heroes” during the pandemic.
“The fact that we were able to facilitate our children going back to school in September, and keeping them there during the second wave of the pandemic, was made possible only because of the dedication and professionalism of our principals, teachers, special needs assistants, administrators, care takers, cleaners, classroom assistants, our entire school communities,” he said.
Primary and post-primary classrooms across Ireland will pause on Friday to air a video of collective acknowledgement from leading figures in Ireland to celebrate the ongoing work in keeping students safe and schools open.
Several other politicians and celebrities, including Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, presenter Ryan Tubridy, former rugby player Paul O'Connell and former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Packie Bonner are also featured in the video, paying tribute to school communities.