They are just one day away now from re-opening their doors once again, and Principal of Nano Nagle school in Listowel said that she and the rest of her staff can’t wait to welcome back the students for their first day.
he re-opening of special schools on February 11 is step one of a phased plan to re-open schools. The plan will see special schools open with 50 per cent student attendance; while special classes in mainstream primary schools are due to re-open fully to all pupils from February 22.
Speaking to The Kerryman, Principal Gabrielle Brown said that, as good as remote learning is, it can simply not hold a flame to real-life, in-classroom teaching, and that’s a major reason why she is excited to welcome kids back once again.
“We’re happy to be heading back. From the point of view of our school, the staff made huge efforts to provide both remote teaching and learning for the pupils but, as good as it was, it doesn’t replace the educational experience of physically being in school,” said Gabrielle.
“The department guidelines are that we’re opening up on the 11th and the pupils will be attending in 50 per cent capacity, and it’s good to start off like that.”
Additionally, she said that she and the staff will be reviving something that they did last year to welcome the kids back after the first lock-down ended.
“When we re-opened after the first lock-down last year on August 31, it was wonderful just to see the students coming back in. We have 15 buses coming into the school in the mornings and we met them outside the front of the school, all socially distanced, with their masks and their visors, and that first day that the kids were back, we clapped them all in. We will be doing the same thing again on the 11th.
“We’ll be starting off with a small number of pupils, but we also have to be very mindful of the pupils that are coming back and, of course, we will also continue to support the pupils and the parents that are not ready to come back yet,” Gabrielle continued.
As for getting the pupils back up to speed after such a long period out of the classroom, Gabrielle said that they will be adopting a pupil-led approach as they assess where each child is at and, from there, they will be able to decide how best to work and move forward.
“Our focus first and foremost from the word go will be keeping the kids safe, working on their well-being and helping to build up their independence, their social side again. We will always follow the child’s lead and we will work away on that principle as always.