Barnardos Back to School Survey 2020 highlights impact of school closures
Many parents are still worried about schools reopening.
Worry and lack of clarity about children going back to school during the Covid-19 pandemic have become parents’ top concern in this year’s Barnardos annual Back to School Survey, while the old worries about the cost of sending children to school have not gone away.
A tandem survey of children and young people found that while children are eager to see their friends and get back to learning in a school setting, many are worried about contracting Covid-19 or passing it to a loved one.
Last week Taoiseach Micheál Martin finally confirmed the reopening of schools after months of uncertainty for parents and students.
This week the plan for keeping children safe while heading back to school was announced but it hasn't quelled all of the worries that parents have.
According to the survey the vast majority of parents think it is important for their children to return to school, however 50per cent (primary) and 53 per cent (secondary) are worried; with 16per cent (primary) and 21 per cent (secondary) actually saying they would prefer if their child was not returning to school to reduce their risk of contracting Covid-19.
The majority of parents felt they had insufficient information about their child’s return to school and what the day would look like (73 per cent primary, 65 per cent secondary).
While parents are concerned for their child's physical welfare, they also feel their children need to return to school for their mental welfare.
Parents feel it is important their children return to school for emotional and social development (95 per cent primary, 92 per cent secondary); mental health (93 per cent primary, 91 per cent secondary) and interestingly, while still high, parents placed less emphasis on learning and development (89 per cent primary, 86 per cent secondary).
Children interviewed during the survey were most excited to see friends for the first time in months but not without their own concerns;
"I am excited to see my friends but I live with my nana and I am worried about getting the virus and giving it to her. The news said we might have to stick with 3 people this makes me sad and makes me feel really worried as I have girls in my class that bully me. I feel worried what if I get put with one what do I do?"
Others were concerned about their school work;
"I can’t wait but I am worried because I missed so much and I am doing the Junior Cert this year. We also don’t have good wifi so I found it very hard to do my work."
Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO explained the reason for the survey;
"Children haven’t been heard throughout this crisis, so we felt it was important to give them a voice and let them have their say alongside their parents.
It is welcome that the Government’s plan to reopen schools include comprehensive measures to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing; but it is imperative these plans are implemented swiftly."
You can find more results from the Barnardos Survey here.