Ending the school term early could allow children to visit their grandparents in a safer manner over Christmas, according to the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland.
It comes as the Department of Education said it had no plans to extend the school holidays.
The Labour Party had called for the Christmas Holidays to begin on Friday December 18th rather than Tuesday December 22nd.
The party’s education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the plan could reduce the stress and fatigue staff and students and going through during the pandemic.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, ASTI President Anne Piggott said the plan could allow children and grandparents to meet up in a safer way.
“The argument put forward is that schools would close on the 18th and it is only one-and-a-half school days off,” she said.
“The big argument is the medical argument. There are grandparents and parents around this country who want to see extended family over Christmas.
“If children finish school earlier, it would actually mean that people can be safer.
“They wouldn’t be gathering with hundreds of others in a closed setting. If they were to exhibit symptoms, they would come before Christmas Day so people could actually feel safe in knowing that they could spend time with their grandchildren who might not be sick; who might not be carrying the virus.
“That would be the main medical argument.”
She admitted children would effectively need to self-isolate for the week before Christmas for the plan to be effective.
“When children finish school around Christmas, they will go home to their families anyway,” she said.
“I mean that is where they will be, there is nowhere else to go now.
“Then, seven days later, I think it might be safe enough for their grandparents to see them and meet them.”
Meanwhile, Paul Ryder, Principal of Ringsend College in Dublin, said the extra couple of days would “offer well-needed rest, respite and indeed preparation time for our students and their parents and school staff.”
“It has been extremely challenging,” he said. “It has been extremely stressful
“I wouldn’t start favouring an extra week or more time off because I do see the value in contact time and students being face to face with their teachers – but really what Deputy Ó Ríordáin is proposing here – an extra day and a half – I think for something so small, it could mean so much to our students, to their parents, to our staff and indeed to school leaders.”
He said the plan could also be really beneficial for school staff who have “worked tirelessly” through the pandemic.
“A lot of them are up from the country and would love to go home and spend Christmas with their parents so the thought of maybe being able to do that safely or that bit more safely is something that is very appealing,” he said.
“To students and indeed staff it is something that I would welcome in that regard as well.”
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