Frustrated parents have accused the Government of having ‘no solid plan’ for their children next week, saying connecting them to a device will not provide them with a sufficient education.
Most students are switching to remote learning from Monday until at least February 1, due to the surge in COVID cases, and while this strategy will work for some, it has caused major concern for working parents and those living in poverty.
Áine Lynch, CEO of the National Parents Council, said there was a lack of guidance in place for parents with ‘very valid concerns’.
‘Remote learning for young children is extremely difficult because they’re not independent learners compared to older secondary school students,’ she told the Irish Daily Mail.
‘For a young child, being connected to a device all day isn’t good enough. There’s also not enough attention being provided to children struggling with poverty. Many homes are overcrowded and freezing cold, which may prohibit them from learning.
‘There’s no solid plan in place at the moment that caters to these very valid concerns.’
Ms Lynch added that Wednesday’s announcement was met with ‘great concern and worry’.
‘The Department [of Education] faces a huge challenge ahead, but they really need to consider the consequences of their actions. There are also some very vulnerable children who see school as a refuge and know full well that home learning will not be an option for them,’ she said.
Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, said single parents face losing their jobs if they cannot find a childminder once remote learning resumes.
‘During the first lockdown, it was a horrendous time for those trying to balance work and minding their kids while they were working from home,’ Ms Kiernan said.
‘Now, many one-parent families are heading into the same situation and are trying to figure out who will mind their children when they’re at work.’
She also stressed that many families do not have the technology needed for remote learning. Ms Kiernan said: ‘When schools were closed last year, there were serious flaws in the homeschooling experience. Some teachers were fully utilising the technology while others were not using it at all.
‘Accessing this technology is also a major issue for families who don’t have it or can’t afford it.’