Commenting on measures announced by Government, Clive Byrne, Director, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), said:
“While it will bring challenges which require careful consideration, school leaders note the decision by Government to allow Leaving Certificate students to attend school three days a week and to continue traditional classroom education for students with special needs.
“Throughout the pandemic, school leaders have expressed a view that the best learning environment for our students is that of the traditional classroom.
“The primary goal of all school leaders has been and remains the provision of the highest standard of education for all our students while protecting the health and wellbeing of all in the school community. The logistics of maintaining online and on-site learning in this way will be complex but with the support and understanding of the Department of Education, they can be achieved.
“Limitations remain, in particular inadequate broadband connectivity in many schools. Childcare concerns for many school staff and a lack of availability of substitute teachers for staff who have Covid-19 or are isolating as close contacts are also critical considerations.
“We are extremely mindful of the disruption experienced by all of our students. This year’s Leaving Cert students have already been impacted by the Spring 2020 lockdown and this is now added to further at a critical time in the academic year. We will continue to do everything possible to minimise the impacts of these measures.
“In addition to the current challenges, we cannot lose sight of the need to future plan. We remain hopeful that the traditional Leaving Certificate examinations can take place this summer. There remains sufficient lead-in time, coupled with the learnings of last year.
“The NAPD is anxious to meet the education partners and explore solutions with the Department and the State Examinations Commission which will meet the expressed concerns of students and staff to enable a mix of face to face teaching and online learning.”
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