PRESS RELEASE: Anxious students and parents voice health fears, seek new supports ahead of schools reopening 

22nd July 2020

Survey reveals concerns around lack of communication, facilities and resources

NOTE: EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 July 22nd 

Dublin 22.07.2020 – ISSU, NCPPP, IGC, and UNICEF are urgently calling on the Government to provide the additional resources students need this Autumn, as preparations continue for the safe reopening of schools after COVID-19 closures. There are serious concerns about student welfare and the impact of distance learning. Plans for the reopening of schools must consequently be developed in consultation with the wider school community, and communicated clearly, ahead of the fast-approaching 2020/21 school year.

The representative groups are reacting to a recent survey of 11,615 students, parents and guardians by the ISSU and the NPCPP, which indicates significant concern around the return to school. 

The groups have joined together to ensure the needs of students are addressed. Key concerns are: missed educational/developmental milestones for young people transitioning from primary to post-primary school, and out of post-primary education, health and wellbeing impacts and learning loss.

Survey findings

The core findings of the survey*, conducted in June and July 2020, are outlined below. The full survey and its results can be found here.

Transitions: 

Health and well-being:

Learning Loss:

In assessing the concerns highlighted, the groups are making the following recommendations: 

 

1.Support students’ health and wellbeing, especially those most disadvantaged by school closures

 

 

2. Adapt courses to account for the loss of learning due to school closures 

 

 

3. Safeguard the health and safety of the school community 

 

ISSU, NPCPP, IGC and UNICEF further recommend that the Department of Education & Skills designate schools’ COVID-19 liaisons to coordinate the implementation of these measures, monitor health and safety and oversee contingency planning and the strengthening of remote learning practices in the event of future school closures.

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ENDS

Notes for editors:

In June 2020, having identified the need for additional school supports for students affected by COVID-19, ISSU, NPCPP, UNICEF and IGC joined together to launch a campaign for enhanced student resources ahead of the reopening of schools.

*In order to ascertain the views and opinions on the reopening of post-primary schools in Ireland, the ISSU and the NPCPP launched an open survey of students, parents and guardians. The survey ran from 27th June until 1st July 2020.

Provisional information on the results of this survey was shared online in July 2020, including an infographic and Twitter cards, with a full report launching 22nd July at this link.

About ISSU

The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) is the national representative body for second-level school students in the Republic of Ireland. The ISSU works towards an education system in which the views, opinions and contributions of students are respected and in which students are recognised as an official partner in creating an education that is centred around and caters best for students.

About the NPCPP

The National Parents Council Post Primary (NPCPP) is the national representative body for parents and guardians of young people in post-primary education in Ireland. Inaugurated in 1985, the organisation assists parents and guardians, ensuring that they engage effectively within their school communities and with partners in education.

About IGC

IGC is The Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC).

The IGC conducted its own survey of second-level schools/colleges of further education (IGC, 2020), which showed, out of the 301 respondents, in 64 schools guidance counsellors currently deliver non-guidance counselling classroom teaching and spend 6.84 hours weekly on time-tabled classroom teaching. 

About UNICEF 

Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

For more information about UNICEF and its work for every child, visit our website 

For more information, please contact:

Rob O’Donnell, ISSU Communications, rob@issu.ie , Tel: +353 1 443 441, Mob: +353 83 130 5583

Leah Palleschi, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, NPCPP, communications@npcpp.ie, Tel: 085 2291527

Beatrice Dooley, President of the IGC, president@igc.ie, Tel: 01 676 1975   

Aedín Donnelly, Communications Manager for UNICEF Ireland, aedin@unicef.ie, Tel: 085 1395272