Local schools settling back into the remote classroom

Schools across Meath are confident they are well prepared for online schooling as they resume online teaching this week.

Work during the initial shutdown last March, and training with students since they returned to classrooms in September has left schools in a much better position to provide online classes.

The county's schools are once again providing online teaching this week following the government decision to close the schools for the rest of the month.

Colm Devlin, Principal of Scoil Mhuire National School in Navan said they were well prepared for it this time around.

"We are set up on the Seesaw App which is accessible on most devices including mobile phones.

"Since we went back in September each child has been using it at least once a week, so they are familiar with it and well able to use it.

"It is interactive, so there can be back and forth between the teacher and the pupils."

"Of course there is no comparison between online classes and actually being at school.

"The children themselves prefer being at school and meeting friends and having a bit of fun," Mr Devlin said.

Paddy Carr, principal of Colaiste na Mi in Navan also said they were well prepared.

"We are an iPad school and we have the experience of last spring, so any issues have been ironed out and we are operating as seamlessly as possible.

"We are using Microsoft teams and we are offering the full timetable to every student in the school.

"Classes are going ahead very well but this takes a huge amount of preparation by the teachers, who are very willing to do this and deliver classes of the highest quality."

Mr Carr said he'd had feedback from parents and students who had been very concerned at the prospect of students returning to school in person.

"A lot of people were worried about 25 to 30 young adults in a room together for an hour and they are much happier with remote learning.

"There are very vulnerable people in some homes and a school can only be as safe as the community it is in."

At Colaiste De Lacy in Ashbourne teaching staff are also confident they can provide a quality service.

Principal, Janice Ui Bheolain, points out all the students have iPads and they had held a remote learning day in September to ensure everyone was prepared for another lockdown.

"Our big concern is the the Leaving Cert students. They need to make a decision on what is going to happen with the exams soon."

"Minister Foley says that all the partners involved want the traditional Leaving Cert to go ahead, but I'd like to know what research she is basing that on.

"The calculated grades worked well last year and teachers did it very professionally," she said.

Angela Crocock, principal of Beaufort College in Navan also hopes that the decision on the Leaving Cert is made as soon as possible for the sake of the students,

"We are concerned about student well-being and the decision should be made quickly."

Ms Crocock said that they are well prepared for remote learning as they had been using Microsoft teams in the classrooms and students are accustomed to it.

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