Schools need society’s help

 

Sir, – Roadmaps, pods and bubbles. lead worker representative (LWR), personal protective equipment (PPE), frameworks, protocols and toolkits. These are the terms and jargon being publicly debated for a safe return to school in Ireland in less than a week’s time.

As a recently retired principal of a Deis primary school (“disadvantaged”), my question is where is the mention of our children and our school staff? “Pods” and “bubbles” are actually no more than groups of children and classes of children. The fact that we are calling them a “pod” or a “bubble” does not magically bestow on them some new protective superpower. The LWR is a staff member, either a teacher or a special needs assistant who has taken on extra responsibility at this time.

Parents, teachers, principals, special needs assistants, school secretaries, caretakers and volunteers on boards of management all over the country are all doing their utmost to ensure a safe return for our children and, more importantly, to ensure that our schools will remain open.

Our teachers, principals and special needs assistants, who are among the best in the world, will continue to keep our schools child-centred. They will stay focused on their mission to realise the wonderful potential and creativity that exists in each child in front of them.

But schools need society’s help.

Who exactly will ensure that some of our vulnerable children who are born into systemic and inter-generational poverty and neglect will arrive at school in a freshly laundered uniform with a perfectly santitised lunchbox at a suitably staggered opening time to join a little pod?

The school’s responsibility begins at the school door, and I have no doubt that schools will rise to the challenge. But the challenges to society are far greater. Let’s focus on our children and let’s do better. – Yours, etc,

KATHRYN CROWLEY,

Knocklyon,

Dublin 16.