“It’s A Really Difficult, Uncomfortable Time” Irish Teens On Returning To School

Students share their mixed feelings about being back in the classroom while cases remain so high.

While navigating your teenage years is challenging enough itself, throw an ongoing pandemic into the mix and you’re sure to get some feelings of anxiety as a result – to say the least.

Amid the Omicron wave, people around the country are facing a hard time for various reasons, and that includes students. It was announced earlier this week that primary and secondary schools would reopen as planned following the Christmas break.

While many secondary students were happy to see their friends and resume a normal routine again after 2 weeks off, others felt that the decision to reopen was rushed, putting the health of pupils and school staff at risk.

We caught up with 4 teens to hear their thoughts on going back to the classroom during this intense wave of COVID 19, sharing the positives and negatives that come with being a teen in 2022. Here’s what they had to say.

Aoife*, 15 

“I personally don’t feel it’s safe to return back to the classroom right now. I feel that the government should listen to the voices of students more. The recent meeting discussing the reopening of schools was held online with Norma Foley and 4 teacher unions, yet they decided to reopen schools? It doesn’t make sense. I think they should return to online classes for a short period of time until the situation calms down.”

“As a transition year student I absolutely love going to school and seeing my friends. I enjoy the social aspect of school along with group projects. Right now I’m focusing on the fact that we have 5 months left until summer and I’m hopeful that we’ll be in a better situation then than we are now.”

Grace*, 14 

“This week there have been very few numbers present in school. A lot of my teachers are absent because of COVID and being close contacts which makes me feel like each school day is being wasted. It’s especially stressful as a 3rd year student, I constantly feel worried about pres which are coming up.

“It’s a really difficult and uncomfortable time for all students right now and I’m one of them. I think the only thing us students can do is continue to follow guidelines for our own safety, wear masks, try to social distance, we can only do our best.”

Julia*, 13

“I am worried about catching COVID and getting sick but I’m also glad that schools have reopened too. My mental health was bad during the last lockdowns, and even though things are bad at the minute we’re still not in a lockdown which is good. I am less worried about this variant of coronavirus because now we have vaccines and know what we’re dealing with, so I’m happy to socialise safely with my friends in school.”

Chloe*, 17 

“Personally, I’m very anxious about returning to school because of the frightening situation with COVID in Ireland. I worry that I might catch the virus and infect my parents or grandparents and other relatives who could potentially become really sick.

“Right now, I think that schools are doing the best they can under the circumstances – limited staff, resources etc. I think the government should provide free antigen tests for students to take regularly to ensure that people are not turning up to school with COVID. They should also provide hepa filters that they’ve been promising to schools to allow windows to be closed in the winter months, keeping them open right now isn’t working as it’s causing people to have headcolds etc.

“Although my school provided us with excellent online learning, I personally prefer to be in school. I find it easier to concentrate in a classroom setting, and the structure of the day is much better, Seeing my friends every day is great too. The advice I would share with other students is to go easy on yourself right now, this is such a stressful time for us all!”

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