Fintan O’Toole: To keep schools open, the Government needs to start learning quickly

Why are problems entirely predictable in April only being addressed now?

Monica Hickey, 5th class teacher and Matt Melvin, school principal at St Etchen’s National School, Kinnegad, Co Westmeath. Photograph: Alan Betson

Monica Hickey, 5th class teacher and Matt Melvin, school principal at St Etchen’s National School, Kinnegad, Co Westmeath. Photograph: Alan Betson

My grandson is 19-months-old. He is half Danish and lives in Copenhagen with his parents. And he has been back in kindergarten since April 15th. That’s more than three months of normal life for him and of relative freedom for his mother and father.

He’s had two short spells at home because there are strict rules in place: any sneezing or coughing and you’re removed from the class. But the difference to the quality of life and to the health of the economy is incalculable. The Danes managed to begin opening schools on a rolling basis – starting with the youngest children first – just five weeks after they had locked them down. By the end of May, the oldest high school students were back in class.

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