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Laois primary schools doing all they can to help parents and students during Coronavirus pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives and how we operate in the world today.

Since March 12, all of the secondary and primary schools have been closed in Laois and Ireland.

They are due to reopen on Monday April 20 – but that looks extremely unlikely as deaths from and cases of Coronavirus continue to rise everyday.

We’ve heard a lot about how secondary schools are keeping their students, especially those set to sit State exams in the summer, in touch with their studies.

And primary schools around Laois are engaging in a similar practice – something which is very much appreciated by parents as it helps occupy smaller children for a couple of hours each day.

One such school is Holy Family Senior School in Portlaoise where principal Roisin Brennan explains what they have been doing.

She said: “Like all schools nationwide, we at Holy Family Senior School find ourselves in challenging times that are new and uncharted for all.

“However, the positivity, commitment, energy and ingenuity of all teachers and staff means that Holy Family pupils have the opportunity to engage daily with varied, activities and interesting assignments across the primary curriculum.

“From the outset the Vision for Remote Learning at Holy Family Senior School has been to provide a supportive platform for parents and pupils to engage with schoolwork during the closure period.

“We fully understand the varied challenges households are experiencing at present and want to reassure parents that their children will be fine and that they are already doing an amazing job in staying home and keeping their families safe.

“We are here to support you in any way we can.We urge parents not to put themselves under any extra pressure.

“At Holy Family, relationships with our parents are always extremely important to us. I feel these relationships have strengthened further over the last number of weeks.

“Our parents and guardians have been absolutely wonderful in communicating with us, using our Aladdin app and facilitating their children’s learning at home.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of the parents who have sent us such positive feedback via email. It has been extremely uplifting for all our teachers, we are incredibly appreciative of it.”

Primary schools across the country are using different software to engage with parents and Holy Family are using something called Aladdin Connect.

Ms Brennan paid particular tribute to Deputy Principal Mrs Meree O’Sullivan who she says has worked tirelessly in this sphere.

She said: “Currently, we are using Aladdin Connect software as our main platform for Remote Learning. Teachers are uploading activities daily, linking explanatory videos and correcting work as well as providing feedback. We are so proud of our pupils at this time.

“Our Deputy Principal, Mrs. Meree O Sullivan is working tirelessly also and as always the wellbeing of our school community is a priority for her.

“Meree is making and uploading a series of MIND YOUR MIND videos. These short recordings are a little escapism from the worry of Covid 19 and provide beautiful insight and perspective.

“For those who haven’t had an opportunity to take a look, please do, they are extremely worthwhile.”

While Ms Brennan also had a very simple message for parents, guardians, teachers and students – stay home, stay safe and keep doing what you are doing.

She said: “The main message to our school community is to stay home and stay safe. To our parents, you are doing a fantastic job, take time for yourself also.

“To all the teachers, you are absolutely amazing, we are so lucky to have such hardworking and competent colleagues who always put the pupils first.

“And most importantly, to the students – we really miss you all, please stay safe, help your parents/guardians and come back, healthy and well when school reopens.

“These are challenging times but Holy Family Senior School has risen to it.”

SEE ALSO – Laois Doctor explains how Coronavirus has changed practice, testing issues and offers advice for non-Covid patients

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.