Schools need to know what is expected of them before they can reopen
The decision to prioritise children with additional needs and vulnerable children for face-to-face learning is the right one
The divisive tone of some commentary on school reopenings in recent weeks is not serving our children well. Reading some accounts, you might be tempted to think that teachers and others working in school settings are not aware of the impact of school closures on children with additional needs or vulnerable children. In fact, teachers are acutely aware of the serious negative impact of school closures on their students. Not just the loss of knowledge and skills development, but also the negative impacts on children’s wellbeing and health.
You might also think that partially reopening schools for children with additional needs during a pandemic was a simple exercise - similar maybe to opening a supermarket but keeping one section closed. In reality for voluntary boards of management to select some children and some staff to engage in face-to-face learning while others work or learn from home at the very height of a pandemic, when the need is so acute and anxiety already high, requires careful planning, cooperation and a clear understanding of the risks, rights and responsibilities of all.