Parents left in the dark on rapid Covid-19 spread in Cork school

There is a real worry amongst parents in Glanmire that they will be left with no real answers as to how Covid-19 seemingly spread so widely among their school community. 
Parents left in the dark on rapid Covid-19 spread in Cork school

Gaelscoil Ui Drisceoil in Glanmire, Cork.

There is a real worry amongst parents in Glanmire that they will be left with no real answers as to how Covid-19 seemingly spread so widely among their school community. 

Despite a great deal of stress and worry, there wasn't even a hint of animosity towards the school itself from the parents who spoke to the Irish Examiner.

"I'm just sad it's our school that is in the paper," one said. “With the lockdown in March, we’re used to homeschooling the kids now.

“The school are doing the best they can. They are governed by the HSE and the Department of Education so their hands are tied on what they’d like to do, and they can only do what they are told to do.

"But they do everything right. They are very strict. No one is allowed into the school, no parents allowed in and we have different times for dropping the kids off, picking them up.

She said parents have been "on the ball" as well. "So there’s no concern with the school as such, it's with the guidelines that the school are working from. I’m sure the school would love to issue its own set of rules because every school is different.”

As an example, she cites the secondary school in Kerry that was ordered by the Department of Education last month to reopen after it took the decision to close following a number of positive cases amongst students. 

Gaelscoil Ui Drisceoil in Glanmire, photo via Brown brothers playgrounds ltd
Gaelscoil Ui Drisceoil in Glanmire, photo via Brown brothers playgrounds ltd

"If the school had the opportunity to take matters into its own hands would it have closed down earlier, or to make that decision itself? I don't know." 

The current advice around siblings is a matter of concern for a lot of parents, she added. “One of my children was deemed a close contact. As far as the HSE guidelines are concerned, my other children could go to school as normal. 

“I was worried that my son who was a close contact could pass something on to the other children and they could bring it into school so I kept them home. Even though they don’t mix in school, they are mixing at home. 

“I just don’t understand how one child could be a close contact, and the other siblings aren’t because they are together constantly.”

Does she think that Covid-19 spreads in schools? “Ah look,” she sighed. “If it spreads in a supermarket, it can spread in a school. It’s hard to say it doesn’t spread in schools because it spreads wherever it is there.”

Another parent who wished to remain anonymous also raised concerns around the guidelines and siblings. 

“I don’t think the guidelines are good enough and it's very hard for teachers to have to work in that environment when they know there’s a spread after happening.

“I understand government priorities in keeping schools open, and I agree with that, and the whole of society has gotten around that, which is to be commended." 

The parent said everybody, even families without school-going children are doing their best to keep that element of society going. 

"I think schools and teachers deserve better support and attention from the government if they really are to prioritise schools the way they want them to.

“They can’t just open the doors and say ‘do everything right’ but actually, they can’t ‘do everything right’. They don’t have bigger classrooms, they can’t magic extra space. They are children; By nature, they are social beings. The same guideline that works for me and my office doesn't transfer across to six and seven-year-olds. 

“I’d hate it to get to the point where teachers feel they are pushed into striking to get what support they need as essential, front-line workers.”

At the moment, rumour and speculation is rife. "Whatsapp is like Eastenders," one parent said. At the time of going to print, the HSE had not contacted the parents regarding testing for their children. 

"It is somewhat of a private matter but families are stressed and worried about this, even if it is a precaution." 

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