Holidays are over – it’s Back to School!

Returning to school in 2020 will be a completely new experience for most students in one way or another, owing to the unexpected end to physical classes in March this year due to the arrival of Covid-19 to our shores.
The initial few weeks of lockdown were no doubt welcomed with huge enthusiasm by students; lots more free time, getting to use the computer more for ‘Zoom’ classes and ‘Teams’ projects, getting to ‘go to school’ in your pyjamas. Quite possibly the experience was not as exciting for parents and teachers! As the weeks progressed and students realised they would not see many of their teachers or friends in person to celebrate the end of the school year of 2019/2020, reality set in of what the new school year of 2020/2021 might bring. And here we are!
In keeping with the HSE guidelines for dealing with the Covid-19 virus, the Department of Education and Skills have come up with a Covid-19 response plan for the safe opening of schools and educational institutions. Schools, therefore, have had to make quite a few changes to how classes will take place for the foreseeable future.
Please ensure you contact your school in question and take note of the arrangements they have in place before your child returns to school in September.
For regular updates on guidelines for schools and students there is an abundance of information available from the Department of Education. Check out the info for yourself by clicking here.

Financial help is available
Back to school can be a costly time. Budgeting for school uniforms, school books, school activities, school transport, etc., is often a worry but help is available in the form of back to school allowances.
For more information on the back to school allowance, check out www.citizensinformation.ie which has up-to- date details. Make use of other free resources too: re-use school books from siblings or friends, where possible, send packed lunches from home, limit pocket money to a minimum, economise on transport – drop/pick-up children at school on your way to/from work. Encourage older students to take up small paid jobs around the area that you live in: cut the grass for the neighbours, clean windows, tidy a garage, etc. Once teenagers learn the importance of earning money, they automatically have more respect for the use of it.

Make food fun!
Ensure your child eats well and this can be a fun experience for all if you spend a little bit of time encouraging them to help in the kitchen. Experiment together, make new dishes, come up with simple, yet nutritious and efficient ways for everyone to enjoy mealtimes. There are numerous free online resources for healthy and economical meals for the whole family, even the picky eaters! Bia Maith has some great recipes.

Something to look forward to!
Plan your days and the final few weeks before schools open. It’s important to encourage students of all ages to get out and about and be as active as possible, as the next few months will see enough of them sitting indoors with too much screen time.
Sit with all the family and ask each one to give their input as to what they would like to do before they return to school. Plan adventurous days away and outings that everyone will enjoy. These need not cost a fortune: picnics, walks and hikes, trips to the many (safe, blue flag) beaches we have around our beautiful coastline of Ireland, are all days out that the whole family can enjoy.
These events will not only be exciting and something to look forward to but they can also prove to be educational, physically enjoyable and inspiring. You may want to check out the latest online free events that you can experience during Heritage Week, which runs up to Sunday, 23 August. Similarly, Culture Night 2020 takes place on 18 September, so check out www.culturenight.ie and plan for events to attend as a treat, a few weeks into school opening. It’s always great having something to look forward to!

Midlands basesd stores, Swarbrigg Shoes, Dermot Hall Menswear, Eason, Switzer Opticians, Bargains Galore, The Learning Lab and The Uniform Boutique all have an array of excellent local services and products on offer to help ease the burden of getting organised for back to school!