Both primary and secondary school students will not be able to return to classes on a full-time basis in September if the Government cannot reduce the two-metre rule, according to the Education Minister.
Joe McHugh said that the government’s objective is to have a full return to school in September for all children.
He said he did not want to envisage a situation where we continue to leave children behind.
But the Fine Gael TD said the Government had to weigh the risk associated with a failure to provide children with education against other public health considerations.
If the two-metre rule is still in place by the planned start of the new school year then almost all primary school children will only be able to attend school one day per week.
This is according to the roadmap just published as guidance for schools.
The same distance rule would allow most second-level students to return for only two days per week.
However, if that is reduced to one metre then almost all primary school pupils would be able to attend school for two and a half days per week.
Some year groups at second level would be able to attend 50% of the time, with other year groups attending at or near a full-time basis.
The document says an equal blend of school/home learning would have “very serious impacts to the delivery of meaningful education”.
He said that the Government was working towards this full return.
Mr McHugh said this aim was not in conflict with what has been done to date to combat the coronavirus.
He said the Government was very conscious that there could be a resurgence of the virus.
He said that was why there would be very strict safety protocols in schools, to deal with instances such as a child presenting at school with a temperature.
Mr McHugh said his department would continue to work so see what will work best.
He said the protocols his department would draw up would also govern the delivery of the summer programmes, the details of which were also announced today.
“Children will be left behind further if we don’t look at a full return to school”, he said. “But equally it has to be safe for teachers, and pupils”.
The guidelines say the impact of such a requirement on student’s education and well-being would be “most extreme”.
The guidelines say the physical size of the country’s schools, and the number of individual classrooms within them represent the most significant constraint to achieve a physical distance between students in the classroom.Tags: