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Over a fifth of parents would prefer if children did not return to school



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More than half of parents incurred extra costs this year due to children not being in school during lockdown and the majority are worried about schools reopening, according to a new survey.

Nearly three-quarters of parents said they received insufficient information on schools returning and were left in the dark about what the new school day will look like.

The survey of 1,765 parents - which was conducted in early July before the Government's roadmap to schools reopening was published - also found that a significant number are not paying bills and are taking out loans to cover back-to-school costs.

While the basic cost of sending a child to school has decreased slightly for primary school children in 2020, 41pc of parents are still struggling.

The average annual cost of sending a child to primary school is between €330 and €365, while it costs on average €735 to cover the needs of a first-year student in secondary school.

As schools have now been given the go-ahead to open at the end of August, parents admit they are worried about what the 'new normal' will be like.

Over a fifth of secondary school parents said they would prefer for their children not to go back as they fear them contracting coronavirus.

Students were also surveyed as part of the research by children's charity Barnardos. Some said they found it difficult learning from home, while others said they are anxious about going back to school.

"I'm absolutely scared. Going into sixth year during a pandemic like this is the most stressful thing a child can go through," one pupil said.

Another student said: "I can't wait, but I am worried because I missed so much and I am doing the Junior Cert this year. We also don't have good wifi so I found it very hard to do my work."

A large proportion of secondary school parents (48pc) also found it difficult to manage technology for online learning.

Nearly all parents believe it is important for their children's emotional and physical well-being that they go back to school.

Suzanne Connolly, CEO of Barnardos, said: "Children and young people told us they missed their friends and many missed their teachers too. Some were excited about the return to school, while others worried whether they would be safe, would they pass the virus on to loved ones, or how would social distancing work.

"Some also worried about the impact on their learning and exams."

Parents struggled to balance work and home-schooling, according to the survey.

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