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Psychologists launch guidance to help teachers and pupils returning to school

The guidance says that health and wellbeing should be prioritized for school staff.

Image: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY of Ireland (PSI) has released guidance to help teachers and school staff as they return to work from September.

The Relaunch campaign aims to help school staff work with the changes, so they can help pupils adapt to the changes which will be in place.

According to the campaign, health and wellbeing should be prioritised for school staff, as they will be responsible for ensuring pupils’ wellbeing is looked after.

Mark Smyth, President of the PSI, spoke to TheJournal.ie and explained that it’s important that the impacts of the pandemic on teachers aren’t overlooked.

“We have to look after the health and wellbeing of our teachers,” said Smyth, continuing that teachers and school staff haven’t been enjoying an extended holiday but have felt the impacts of the pandemic like the rest of the population.

It’s something that none of them, including teachers, have experienced before.

According to Smyth, by keeping teachers safe and supported it will feed down to pupils, especially younger children who learn through the emotional responses of adults around them.

“It’s rebuilding that safety net,” said Smyth. 

Smyth acknowledges that while most children will be delighted to return to school, some will struggle.

Alongside this, it will be the responsibility of the teacher to determine the levels of learning for each student in their class. While many may be at the level they left off at, some may have had issues with remote learning and will need to be brought up to speed.

Smyth stressed the importance of self-care for when both staff and students return to schools, saying that it will be “essential”.

“It requires a lot of physical and emotional energy,” said Smyth on returning to school, recommending that once school is over for the day, people should be winding down through enjoyable activities and exercise.

Tips from the campaign include:

  • Eat well, and include colourful fruit and vegetables in meals
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep every night, with younger children needing more than eight hours
  • Keep a positive attitude, but acknowledge and accept worries and sad feelings
  • Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues

Current plans to reopen schools were announced on Monday, with the Department of Education promising a €375 million investment to ensure a reopening at the end of August.

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This extra funding will be spent on providing extra teachers and special needs assistants, purchasing personal protective equipment and stepping up cleaning regimes.

Approximately 1,800 new teachers are planned to be brought in as part of the plan, at a cost of €53 million.

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