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Returning to School

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Respondents were asked how concerned they are with their children’s pre-school, primary school and secondary school providing a safe environment for children when they reopen for the coming academic year. Respondents could answer “Not at all”, “Somewhat”, “Very”, or “Extremely”. For respondents with children in more than one type of school (e.g. primary and secondary) the answer showing most concern was chosen for analysis.

More than eight out of ten (86.1%) respondents who are parents or guardians reported having concerns about their children’s school providing a safe environment when they reopen. More than one in six (17.2%) reported being Extremely concerned with a further 14.9% being Very concerned. More than one in two (54.0%) reported being Somewhat concerned while 13.9% reported having no concerns at all. See Figure 3.1

X-axis labelNot at allSomewhatVeryExtremely
Level of Concern13.9354.0414.8617.18

Female respondents who are parents or guardians reported higher levels of concern about their children’s school providing a safe environment. More than one in three (37.4%) women with children of school age reported being Extremely or Very concerned compared to 20.9% of men.  See Figure 3.2.

X-axis labelMaleFemale
Not at all24.918.68
Somewhat54.2353.95
Very12.3916.03
Extremely8.4721.34

Respondents who are parents or guardians of pre-school children are more likely to have reported being Extremely or Very concerned about their children’s school providing a safe environment than those of primary school or secondary school children.  More than four in ten (41.2%) respondents who are pre-school parents or guardians reported being Extremely or Very concerned, compared to 33.2% for primary school and 30.7% for secondary school.  See Tables 3.1 and 3.2.

Respondents who are parents or guardians of children in the junior cycle (now entering first, second or third year) of secondary school reported being more concerned than those in the senior cycle (now entering fifth or sixth year). Four in ten (40.3%) respondents who are parents or guardians of junior cycle children reported being Extremely or Very concerned compared to 19.0% for senior cycle and 14.1% for transition year.  See Table 3.3.

Some children will not be going to school in the coming academic year due to concerns over COVID-19. More than one in twenty (6.5%) respondents who are parents or guardians reported having a child that was due to attend either pre-school, primary school or secondary school but would now not be doing so. 

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Respondents were asked if their children had any worries about returning to school. Those that answered “Somewhat”, “Very” or “Extremely” were then asked to choose from a list of worries. These worries included “Catching or spreading COVID-19”, “Social distancing in school”, “Reconnecting with classmates”, “Leaving the home”, “Having fallen behind due to lockdown” (for secondary students only) and “Other worries”. Parents and guardians of children due to attend junior infants were not asked this question.

The percentage of respondents who are parents or guardians that reported having children worried about returning to school varies by school cycle. As reported by parent and guardians, the children least concerned with returning to school are those in junior primary (now entering senior infants and first class) with 47.0% being either Somewhat, Very or Extremely worried compared to 61.6% of senior primary children (now entering second to sixth class). The children most concerned with returning to school are those in junior cycle of secondary school with 75.6% being either Somewhat, Very or Extremely worried. This figure decreases to 70.5% for senior cycle secondary pupils. Less than 1.0% of parents and guardians of senior cycle secondary students reported having a child that is Extremely concerned with returning to school.  See Table 3.4 & Figure 3.3.

X-axis labelJunior PrimarySenior PrimaryJunior SecondarySenior Secondary1
Not at all52.9938.3624.4429.5
Somewhat40.9142.2839.0555.23
Very2.3314.820.914.69
Extremely3.774.5515.610.58

1Does not include Transition Year.

Children entering Transition year are the least concerned about returning to school as reported by parents and guardians.  More than one in two (51.3%) respondents who are parents or guardians of transition year pupils reported having a child that was Not at all worried about returning to school, with a further 43.7% being Somewhat worried and 5% being Extremely or Very worried.  See Table 3.4.

Children returning to primary school are most commonly worried about Catching or spreading COVID-19.   One in three (33.9%) respondents who are parents or guardians of primary school children listed this as a concern compared to 24.7% who are worried about Social distancing rules in school, 23.5% who are worried about Reconnecting with classmates and 17.4% who are worried about Leaving the home.  See Table 3.5 and Figure 3.4.

Catching or spreading COVID-19 is also the most common concern for children returning to secondary school.  More than four in ten (46.3%) respondents who are parents or guardians of secondary school pupils listed this as a worry for their child.  This is followed by worries about Social distancing rules in school at 40.1%, worries about Having fallen behind due to lockdown at 36.2% and Reconnecting with classmates at 28.0%.  See Table 3.6.

X-axis labelSecondaryPrimary
Catching or Spreading COVID-1946.333.9
Social Distancing Rules In School40.124.7
Having Fallen Behind Because Of Lockdown136.20
Reconnecting With Class Mates2823.5
Other Worries2311.7
Leaving The Home8.117.4

1Not asked of parents/guardians of primary children.

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More than one in four (29.1%) respondents who are parents or guardians will have children using public transport, including school buses, to travel to and from school in the coming academic year.  Of survey respondents with primary or secondary school children, 7% have arranged an alternative to public transport and school buses due to COVID-19 concerns.  See Table 3.7.

Respondents living in rural areas are more likely to have made alternative travel arrangements.  Less than one in ten (8.3%) respondents who are parents or guardians of primary or secondary school children living in rural areas have made an alternative arrangement compared to 6.4% living in urban areas. 

More than one in six (17.7%) respondents who are parents or guardians of junior cycle secondary children have made alternative arrangements to public transport or school buses due to COVID-19 compared to 3.2% for senior secondary children.

Those respondents who have children using public transport or school buses were asked in what setting they were most worried about their child catching COVID-19. Respondents could answer “More worried about when at school”, “More worried about when travelling”, “Equally worried about when travelling and at school” and “Not worried about my child”.

Of survey respondents with primary or secondary school children, 6.7% who have children using public transport reported not being worried at all about their children catching COVID-19.  Nearly one in six (16.0%) respondents reported being more worried about their children catching COVID-19 when travelling than when at school compared to 25.2% that reported being More worried about when at school.  More than one in two (52.1%) reported being Equally worried about when travelling and when at school.  See Table 3.8 and Figure 3.5.

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X-axis labelAugust 2020
Not worried about my child6.7
More worried about when travelling16
More worried about when at school25.2
Equally worried about when travelling and at school52.1
"
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Show Table: Table 3.1 Concerns with pre-school providing a safe environment by demographic and geographic characteristics, August 2020

Show Table: Table 3.2 Concerns with primary school providing a safe environment by demographic, school cycle and geographic characteristics, August 2020

Show Table: Table 3.3 Concerns with secondary school providing a safe environment by demographic, school cycle and geographic characteristics, August 2020 1

Show Table: Table 3.4 Concerns of primary and secondary school children with going back to school by school cycle and geographic characteristics, August 2020

Show Table: Table 3.5 Concerns of primary school children with going back to school by school cycle and geographic characteristics, August 2020

Show Table: Table 3.6 Concerns of secondary school children with going back to school by school cycle and geographic characteristics, August 2020

Show Table: Table 3.7 Arranged alternative to public transport for school by school cycle and geographic characteristics, August 2020

Show Table: Table 3.8 Worried about catching COVID-19 when travelling to school or when at school by school cycle and geographic characteristics, August 2020

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