Before all the madness of the will-we-won’t-we open on January 11th, the government were adamant that they were going to reopen schools fully, stating again and again that schools are safe places. We decided we’d ask our Mash.ie members for their thoughts and there was little surprise that 91% of our members believed that schools were not safe to open. However, what about the 9% that didn’t agree? We always find it interesting to hear what the minority thinks because often they make points that we might not think about ourselves. In this article, we’re going to share some of the comments that the 9% made.
The majority of the 9% believed that we had to do whatever it took to keep schools open. Some gave suggestions such as children wearing masks on buses and in class; better guidelines on staying safe to convince teachers it is safe to come to school; extra cleaning and handwashing; parents staying at the school gates; and more honesty about government figures on cases in schools – these were some of the many suggestions made by members.
Some respondents said that schools should be opened and closed on an individual basis. One member remarked that she was in a very small school so distancing was not an issue but conceded she would probably feel different in a bigger school. Another respondent was less sympathetic to teachers citing that there have been no deaths of teachers in schools! We wonder is that was the barometer should be before schools are closed? Personally, we wouldn’t like this to be the reason to close a school.
The majority, however, simply feel that going back to remote learning does not work and we should do whatever it takes to get children back to school. Nobody wants to return to remote teaching. As many respondents said: most teachers would prefer to be in school than do remote teaching.
The reality is that the Irish public do not believe the Minister for Education when she repeats that schools are safe places. This might be the place to start. Why do 91% of us believe schools are not safe? Simply stating it is obviously not working. In our opinion, this is the place to start.