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Saturday Read: In pods we trust - how will schools work in the age of Covid-19?

Schools are desperate for staff and space, parents are worried about a resurgence in the virus, and children face a radically different classroom environment. Kim Bielenberg reports on what to expect from the great reopening

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A new world of bubbles and pods: Ava Kenny having fun with her brothers Ethan (15) and Tristan (13) at their home in Athy, Co Kildare. Photo by Mark Condren

A new world of bubbles and pods: Ava Kenny having fun with her brothers Ethan (15) and Tristan (13) at their home in Athy, Co Kildare. Photo by Mark Condren

Australian example: Deputy principal Lorna Beegan

Australian example: Deputy principal Lorna Beegan

Concerns: Teacher Catriona Doherty and her sons Tiernan (7) and Conall (5). Photo By Lorcan Doherty

Concerns: Teacher Catriona Doherty and her sons Tiernan (7) and Conall (5). Photo By Lorcan Doherty

�Lorcan Doherty

Distractions: Dallan Curran found it difficult to concentrate during homeschooling. Photo by Lorcan Doherty

Distractions: Dallan Curran found it difficult to concentrate during homeschooling. Photo by Lorcan Doherty

�Lorcan Doherty

Cocooniong: Samantha Kenny and Ava. Photo: Mark Condren

Cocooniong: Samantha Kenny and Ava. Photo: Mark Condren

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A new world of bubbles and pods: Ava Kenny having fun with her brothers Ethan (15) and Tristan (13) at their home in Athy, Co Kildare. Photo by Mark Condren

With lockdown, a remote-studying revolution and the introduction of calculated grades, this has been a momentous year in schools. Yet the hardest part may be just about to begin.

Necessity will be the mother of invention for principals and teachers as they prepare for the great return of children to school at the end of this month. They are desperate for staff and desperate for space. Even the stage that is normally used for the school play may be transformed into a socially distanced classroom.

Children face a new world of 'bubbles', 'pods' and live streaming, where teachers will have to find new ways of keeping the soul of a school alive and maintain a strong connection with their pupils.