State schools

CO2 monitors will be delivered to all public schools by mid-September

The delivery of about 35,000 carbon dioxide monitors to all public primary and secondary schools should be completed by mid-September, the education ministry said.

The department last week began supplying schools with the devices in a bid to help regulate ventilation levels and prevent the spread of Covid-19 as hundreds of thousands of students return to classrooms. .

John O’Donovan, headmaster of St Joseph’s School in Ballybunion, Co Kerry, said the return to physical learning was “totally different” in September due to progress in the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“I hope it will be a bit more relaxed… It’s really a relief to get the teachers vaccinated,” he said. is that they can work.”

Air quality

Mr O’Donovan said parents seemed less nervous about sending their children back to school this year because they “knew what to expect” this time around.

The school has many infection prevention measures in place, he said, including CO2 monitors that indicate through the colors of traffic lights the air quality of a classroom. .

“They are quite good because they give us an indication of when to open the windows. . . Last year we found that the children were cold,” Mr O’Donovan said.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland general secretary Michael Gillespie said its members were returning to schools with a sense of “cautiousness” given the wide spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant.

Reduction measures

He said the data shows that the mitigation measures applied last year were effective and he welcomed the additional measures taken to ensure good ventilation.

“Obviously we need the help of the community. If people have symptoms, they shouldn’t send their children to school,” he said. “Everyone working collaboratively is the secret to that. . . There will be outbreaks, but it’s about mitigating them and keeping them as low as possible. »

Kieran Christie, general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, said its members hoped schools would open “safely and remain open throughout the year”.

“While distance learning had its place in the context of the pandemic, we would not like to go back to it,” he said, adding that the Delta variant was a “very important concern”, especially for the unvaccinated pregnant teachers.