Technology is helping to maintain a degree of normality especially for young people
I am in awe of how quickly and how well teachers at my daughters' secondary school have risen to the challenge of continuing to educate students during the Covid-19 crisis.
Modern technology helps of course, in terms of the wide range of devices by which the internet can be accessed and also the available software and learning resources. These devices are not available to everyone, and the broadband quality is not consistent. But on the whole, we have never been better equipped to deal with a challenge such as this.
My own children - apart from the eldest who is at university - attend the Abbey Vocational School (AVS) in Donegal Town and the support has been fantastic. Their teachers are using Google Classroom to post work. Students can then return the work and get feedback, or the teacher will post the correct answers. It also allows students to raise specific concerns or problems with their teachers, who have individually and collectively been fantastic.
The school has been keeping in touch with parents too, sending regular updates in the run-up to the school closure and in the time since the school closed.
This show of support is about so much more than education. I have no doubt that school management and teachers are playing an important part in reducing the anxiety our young people must surely be feeling. While the school being closed might have been fun at first, the novelty is already wearing off. The regular contact with teachers and the sense of purpose of having work to submit are helping to maintain a degree of normality and routine. Needless to say, some children are more enthusiastic than others about their online schoolwork - though that would most likely also be the case if they were at school!
Many parents of younger children are doing their best to educate them at home with whatever resources are available. We see on social media that people are offering their services to support these parents and that is very commendable.
It really looks like the situation is not going to change quickly, so thank you to everyone - from a friend offering a helping hand to teachers to the Minister For Education - for helping our children and young people to get to the other side with as little stress as possible.
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