Children will have to learn at home four days a week should physical distancing guidelines remain in place when schools reopen, or stay at home for at least two school days should the 2-metre rule be reduced to one.
However, just one day of school a week in a classroom will be “detrimental” to children’s education, according to the Government report on reopening schools published this Friday.
It warns that schooling will be carried out mainly in the home through ‘blended learning’ should physical distancing guidelines remain in place when schools reopen.
Social distancing, at both one and two-meters distances, will have severe consequences for Irish classrooms, the Department of Education warns in the report.
This is due to “infrastructural constraints” such as class sizes, teacher and other staff availability and the physical space available in schools.
At primary level, maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres in the classrooms would result in almost all pupils attending school for just one day a week.
At the second-level, it would mean most pupils would attend school two days a week.
This would mean students would stay at home, learning through blended learning for the remainder of the week.
“The impact of such a requirement on students’ education and well-being are most extreme."
"Engagement in face to face in school provision of one day per week is detrimental to the delivery of meaningful education.”
Even if the two-meters is reduced to one, almost all pupils would only be able to attend schools 2 ½ days a week, the report notes.
In secondary-schools, it would result in some year groups attending school 50% of the time and other year groups attending school at or near a full-time basis.
“Engagement in face to face in school provision of 50% in school and 50% blended learning has very serious impacts to the delivery of meaningful education,” the report states.
It's important the department continues to examine this aspect of public health advice, given the emerging evidence on infection transmission by children to adults, it adds.
According to the World Health Organisation, the report adds, there is a question on whether the physical distance between students can be maintained throughout the school day.
Supporting measures may be taken to minimize risks within the school community and the wider community, the report adds.