Sir, – Schools will not reopen as normal in late August.
If we want to avoid a second wave and another lockdown, then it is apparent that social distancing will have to be in place. The number of students in a school building on any one day will therefore have to be radically reduced. Unlike the Dáil, no school in the country has the use of a handy convention centre nearby. As a consequence, students will only be able to attend classes for part of the week.
Despite the Government’s commitment to recruit hundreds of extra teachers (to allow for reduced class sizes and teacher-related Covid illness), this is impossible. There was a teacher recruitment crisis well before Covid-19 struck. It never went away.
Nothing has been done to try and address this lack of teachers. There are no extra teachers available, and there won’t be for years to come.
The Department of Education will shortly issue guidelines to all schools about reopening. They will inform schools on how to exercise social distancing and they will give them financial help to recruit the extra teachers who don’t exist. The dysfunctional department in other words will present a “roadmap” that will “help” schools address an impossible situation while telling them to get the job done.
The only “positive” is that we are not alone. Most European countries have not, despite what many think, fully reopened their schools. – Yours, etc,