Approximately 120 pupils at St Matthew's National School in Ballymahon were displaced from their usual classrooms last week after a heating system failure forced the temporary closure of the original school building block.
Pupils from five classes - junior infants I, junior infants II, senior infants, as well as first and second classes are now being taught in alternative accommodation across the street from the school at The Scouts' Den and at Bridgeways Resource Centre in the Dean Egan Library. Third to sixth class pupils will continue to be taught in the prefab buildings to the rear of the school grounds as normal.
School principal Herbert Farrell said that the staff, in consultation with the board of management, the school inspector, the Department of Education and the Emergency Works section were forced into the decision after a complete failure of the heating system in the main school building block on Wednesday last.
"Difficulties with the heating system were discovered on Saturday morning, January 8," he said, "so repairs were conducted over the weekend and on the Monday in an attempt to raise the pressure throughout the system and keep it going. But after various efforts and ideas from plumbers and maintenance staff, and after a full day of school on Tuesday, by Wednesday afternoon it completely failed us and we were forced to come up with an alternative plan."
He continued: "An information meeting was held on Friday evening to advise parents of the plan to relocate across the street. There was an awful lot of frustration out there - obviously everyone just wants to get back to work and it's very difficult for parents when there are difficulties with children attending school, but overall the response was very positive."
Indeed, the positive response was clear from the sheer amount of parents and volunteers who came along to help set up the classrooms in the alternative venues over the weekend.
"We almost had too many people," said Mr Farrell. "The staff themselves had done great preparation work on Thursday and Friday in preparing books, learning resources and indeed classroom furniture to be ready for pick up and transfer by the parents at the weekend and it took only an hour to move everything in the end - such was the amount of help that we had."