School and COVID-19
On 12 March 2020, all schools, colleges and childcare facilities closed and many parents have had to adapt to the demands of supporting their children’s studies from home.
The School Meals Programme will run for 9 weeks during the summer 2020 until funding starts for the new school year 2020/2021. The programme usually finishes at the end of May for post-primary schools and the end of June for primary schools.
A summer education programme (or Summer Provision) for children at risk of educational disadvantage and for children with significant special education needs will run in July/August 2020.
Returning to school
Under the plans, students will keep their physical distance from one another outside of the classroom and work within the classroom in designated groupings or ‘bubbles’.
Blended learning which mixes learning at school and online-learning at home will be part of the school programme so that schools can respond quickly if public health circumstances change.
There will be lot of flexibility to allow schools to maximise school spaces including the use of PE halls as classrooms.
There will also be:
- Increased hand washing and sanitising
- Enhanced cleaning regimes
- Staggered breaks and lunch times
- New rules for children using school transport
Schools will have the discretion to manage and redistribute their teaching support resources in order to best meet the learning needs of students with complex medical needs who may not be able to return to school at the end of August because public health guidelines indicate they are at “very high risk”.
Schools will be resourced to implement the necessary changes so that children can return to school. Detailed guidance and supports for schools is contained in the Reopening our schools: The roadmap for the full return to school.
Until schools reopen, your children’s teachers have probably provided lessons online or on paper that can be completed at home, but you may be struggling to give your child or children the structure and support they need at this time. You may also be trying to work from home, and balancing work and family commitments can be very stressful.
What help is available?
Several State agencies and community and voluntary groups have produced resources to help children and young people learn from home during the COVID-19 emergency period. Many education publishers have also made learning materials free to access online.
Parents Centre, a new website developed by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, aims to provide parents with high-quality, trusted information and support during the COVID-19 emergency. This includes information to help children learn from home and advice on how to look after their wellbeing.
The Department of Education and Skills has also published useful tips for parents who are home-schooling during the COVID-19 emergency.
A range of online library services is available during the emergency period, such as Askaboutireland.ie and Enfo.ie, which provide eBooks, eAudiobooks, and online learning resources. The Department of Rural and Community Development has also launched the ‘Spring into Storytime’ initiative to support families reading together during the COVID-19 emergency.
RTÉ and TG4 broadcast daily classes for English and Irish-speaking primary school students on free-to-air television, and there are a variety of online resources available to meet the leaning needs of children and young people of all ages.
Resources for primary school children
First5.gov.ie: a Government website providing information and resources on supporting children under 6 with their feelings and encouraging learning and play at home.
Aistearsiolta.ie: a Government website providing tip sheets for parents on how to help young children learn and develop at home.
Let's Play Ireland: a Government-led initiative aimed at promoting play for all children living in Ireland during the COVID-19 emergency. In addition to detailing a variety of individual and group-based activities, Let’s Play Ireland provides links and resources to a range of organisations offering constructive activities for young people during the emergency period.
An Garda Síochána's Children's Corner: free resources for younger members of the public who like to colour-in, have some fun and find out more about An Garda Síochána along the way. The website also features information about how children can stay safe online and what to do if they are being cyber-bullied.
Go Noodle: free movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts.
Scratch: free resources to help children learn to programme interactive games, stories and animations.
National Geographic Kids: free resources to help children learn about science, geography and history.
NASA Kids Club: free resource where children can learn about science and space.
Resources for secondary school children
Scoilnet.ie: operated by the Department of Education and Skills, students, parents and teachers can access over 20,000 resources shared by primary and post-primary teachers free of charge.
Edcolearning.ie: the education publisher, Edco has made ebooks for primary, Junior Cert and Leaving Cert available online for free. To get the username name and password to access them, see the pinned tweet at twitter.com/edco_ie.
GillExplore.ie: the education publisher, Gill Education, is making their online education resources for primary and post-primary students available free of charge, including ebooks, podcasts, games and puzzles.
CJFallon.ie: the education publisher, is providing free access to all of its online textbooks for primary and post-primary students until the end of the academic year.
Studynotes.ie: students and teachers can use this free platform to share their study notes and resources.
Khan Academy: a non-profit site which provides free video tutorials in maths and reading for students aged 2-18.
You can find out more about the supports for families during the COVID-19 public health emergency including