PICTURES: Shelley Corcoran
There was a bit of hope in Longford schools on Monday morning as the laughter and chatter finally returned to the corridors in full force.
For some students, it has been months since they walked through the doors of their schools, all thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still holding the entire world to ransom.
April 12 saw the easing of some restrictions, with people now permitted to travel beyond five kilometres from their homes. But the most significant move was the return of all students to school - including those who hadn’t been in a classroom since before Christmas.
“We were anxious about the full school coming back on the one day but it really was an excellent day,” said Josephine Donohue, principal of Ballymahon Mercy Secondary School.
“It was great to hear all the laughter and the chatter and seeing the joy of the students meeting their friends and being present together again.
“The main thing now is to keep following the guidelines and hopefully we’ll be in the building until the summer holidays.”
It was tough going back to online classes after Christmas, Ms Donohue explained - “there’s only so much Zoom you can take” - but having students back in a physical classroom where they can engage with their teachers and one another is a positive development.
“Everyone is in good form and we’re relieved to be back again but it’s so important now to stay open safely,” Ms Donohue added.
“And that’s everyone’s responsibility. We all have to work at it. We can’t take it for granted.”
Declan Rowley, principal at St Mel’s College in Longford town had a similar attitude towards the return to school on Monday morning.
“There’s a great energy around - a great buzz. It’s like going back after the summer holidays,” he said.
“All the students seem to be happy to be back and it’s coming at a good time. The weather is getting better. The evenings are getting longer.
“Now, hopefully, we can finish out the year.”
A large cohort of students have not been able to return to school since before Christmas and are now thrilled to be back with their friends.
Anna Lynch, a Transition Year student from Meán Scoil Mhuire told the Longford Leader on Monday that she has missed the normality.
“It’s so lovely being back. You don’t realise how much you miss the normality of being in school until you’ve returned,” she said.
“It was so nice seeing everyone again. Going to school in person definitely beats being online.”
Her classmate Kacy Lennon had a similar attitude.
“It’s really good to be back at school and to have a routine,” she said.
“It’s really nice to be able to see my friends again. It’s good to have a mix of both learning and fun in school and it’s a lot easier to have that mix when you’re in school, rather than being online.”