Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.38 27 Jul 2020


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A school principal says he hopes a plan to re-open schools by end of August is not "the work of fantasy".

The approach is expected to be announced later on Monday, after details were discussed by Government over the weekend.

Enhanced cleaning regimes, investment in school buildings and more substitute teachers are just some of the measures planned.

Aaron Wolfe is principal of Coláiste Éamann Rís in Cork.

He told Newstalk Breakfast: "We're only kind of going on the sort of things that have been leaked, we haven't seen the document.

"But just hoping that the suggestions put forward are workable - that it's not kind of the work of fantasy, and that these things can happen within five weeks.

"We're going back to school around the 26th of August and I know principals up and down the country - and teachers as well - are extremely worried, and hope that all these things can be put in place for the return to school."

"Secondary's going to be very difficult because unlike in primary school, secondary school teachers move from class to class - or students move for option subjects and so on.

"It could work fine in first year, what we'll be doing in our school is first year students won't pick their option subjects until the end of the year.

"So our first year classes will be able to stay in one sort of pod - but then again that pod will be made up of up to 30 students.

"My school's lucky as well cause we made a decision very early on not to plan our school timetable.

"So I do feel sorry for schools that have gone on already and have their timetable ready to go out - because we're being told now to introduce maybe double classes."

On earlier suggestions of a staggered school week, he said: "No one in the country wants students to be at home - teachers want to go back to work...ideas are being chucked out very early on and no thought was given to a lot of situations.

"And that's my main worry today - that when we get to see the actual the bones of it, that we'll all say 'that's not workable anyway' - because we have been in a situation already where they've chucked out an idea and then had to pull back on it".

He also admitted that social distancing is not possible, as the school is quite small.

"We're in Cork city centre, we've an old school, it's about 50 years old, very difficult - we couldn't social distance.

"There won't be one metre distancing between our desks, absolutely impossible.

"We've already tested it and in a standard classroom in our school, if there's a metre between each desk you'd fit maybe 10 students.

"So we have no choice now but to wear face masks.

"And there's a great problem there because a face mask will disrupt the contact between a student and a teacher.

He added that he hopes that the procurement of equipment will allow them to bring visors in instead.

'We're hoping it's not the work of fantasy' - School principal on re-opening plan

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

   

Main image: Students take part in lessons in a classroom in Germany. Picture by: Arne Dedert/DPA/PA Images

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Aaron Wolfe Coláiste Éamann Rís Cork Newstalk Breakfast Schools Re-opening

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