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That part can Kenny show on Newstalk. All right, there was appreciation and excitement and tears at the school gates this morning as one million students are back at school over the next few days, 4000 schools are reopening after six months of closure. Henry MacKean visited Holy Child Boys National School in Lochiel in Whitehall in Dublin and met the principal, the parents and the students.

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I'm here at Holy Child Boys School in Lark Hill on Dublin's north side, and the children are beginning to gather with their parents. They are all to meet as a part of the school's about to reopen. Have you found the summer holidays brought you back in today? What year are you going into second class? What did you get up to over the summer?

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Played the PlayStation. Played with my cat. What do you know about covid-19 that had a virus?

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And and you need to wash your hands, Juwana, your parent.

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How does it feel to have the kids going back to school today? Hopefully everyone will be safe and no one will catch anything because, you know, keeping them at home for just five months was going nowhere. No. No holidays, no nice fun outside. And it's tough. It was very tough. You see how they looked like to gain weight. Do you think your children have gained weight because they were going nowhere?

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Actually, mine were going nowhere. We didn't go anywhere. We are sitting at home lucky that we have a big house and big two gardens. I'm just going back to school. I'm like, what the hell is happening? Like, I feel like this is like so weird. Like, Oh, well, there's a wasp there. How do you feel.

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I feel need you do videos to make.

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Feels a little weird after being out for about six months, so being off for six months, the fact that there's 4000 schools going back, reopening a million kids, you're one of those kids. What are you going to get up to today and how are you feeling about it all? And that the fact that you've been off school for such a long period of time and with these new social distancing measures, it feel a little weird and I'm hoping we'll be able to take it easy for the first few weeks.

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It's a deadly virus that's spread across the whole world and we have to stay in quarantine so we don't catch it. So you're being careful? Yeah, it feels weird being in school after like six months because I haven't seen my friends in so long.

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And is it good to see your friends again? Yeah, it is a celebration. Really. No, really a celebration. Yeah, not really kind of a celebration without the party. Yeah. Well the only fun thing going on holidays.

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And you enjoyed that. Yeah. And was it an Irish holiday. Yeah. Where did you go. And and Kerry. My name is John. John Thunder.

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That's my daughter Olivia. She's starting school, big school today for the first time. How does it feel your child going to school. It must be an emotional day, but also a little bit difficult with all the social distancing measures. Absolutely. It's very exciting, but also a bit apprehensive. I suppose you just don't know what's going to happen given the current situation. But we just I think schools really had to hope and kids get back to a bit of normality and you just have to see how it goes.

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How does it feel to be going to school for the first time? Happy, and what do you know about school? I think you're going to do some singing. And what else are you going to do? Homework. So many. When it comes to your first day, have you been looking forward to it? Yeah. And what else do you want to say? I know nothing else about it. Yeah, I'm happy that they're back. I think they missed out on a lot in the last few months.

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So obviously we have two sections in place. So I mean, I can't see a problem if there is a problem. I'm sure there was no one would ever have to. Grief. Yeah, they're excited. I'm excited. Back to normality.

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So you feel this is a good day. You're happy? Yeah, very happy. Yes, I feel very safe in here. No. All they've let school have laid out all the procedures and. Yeah, very happy to have them back start. So. So this is your child. What's his name? That's Brodie and Brodie starting school for his junior infancy and his two brothers. He's gone into sixth class. Dara is going into second class.

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How does it feel to have your boy Brodie starting school? I was heartbroken.

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He didn't get to finish, you know, the place early, no graduation or anything like that. So, yeah, but he went to play school here, so he's familiar with friends and the out. So he's excited. He's very excited today. It's they're all trying to get along with her. They're all economic now. It's great to go to see them back and hopefully they'll be staying in for a while. So you hope that the schools remain open?

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Oh yeah. Definitely, yeah. Yeah. Be good for them socially and to learn again as well. I'm happy to have them back. I think it's time that they went back and I'm not worried. I think the school has got the guidelines in place. Definitely, yeah. So you're relieved really coming back? I am, yeah. Definitely. Yeah, yeah. I think that they need to go back to social with their friends. Socialize with their friends.

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Yeah. Anxious, but happy, really nervous, he's going into second class and there's no restrictions or there's no precautions made for him and it just feels like he could have been in school the whole time because they're not really doing anything. So you're torn.

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Yeah, but I don't know what else to do. You can't not send them. So he just has to go a bit about nervous.

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I'm kind of glad to get back to routine. Nervous about going in lighting. It's hard because after being off for six months, they're really gonna miss the company and the house as well. You're going to miss them. Yeah, that takes a little bit. Saddam going back. Yeah. My little boy and I used to like to get up really early this morning. I couldn't believe it. I asked him, was he nervous? He said no.

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So he knows a few of the guidelines. So he's taken all in Australia at the moment. So happy enough with that. He was happy to smile and he jumped up out of the bed as he was ready for going back. And so hopefully it stays like that for him.

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How does it feel to be back at school? Good. And what's good about it? Because we will see friends because you learn something new.

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Hi, Henry. I'm Cathy Timmons. I'm the principal of Holy Tallboys National School, and we're in LA Whitehall this morning with a steady stream of boys coming into the school. It's our first day back after five and a half months off and we're absolutely thrilled to be here. And the boys, for the most part, are in great form and great spirits. And they're heading in now, the bees and handson in the porch.

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We have some of the new name for hand sanitizer and sanitizer.

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Yes, they're using hand sanitizer in the front porch way and then they will head straight to their classrooms where their teachers are all waiting to welcome them back. So we're very excited. So chatting to parents at the gates, there's delight, there's apprehension, there's tears for new children coming to school for the first time. All the emotions are there like any first day back. But this time you could say it's slightly magnified. How is the school dealing with all the different social distancing measures, getting them in place over the summer?

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Yeah, it's been busy, but the guidance for the most part has been pretty good from the Department of Education. There are instances where we can't provide the two major social distancing. We're trying to use a healthy mix of caution and common sense here in the school. And we think that we have made all the provisions to make the boys as safe as possible. They'll all exist within a bubble. And those bubbles, our class groups and those class groupings will never mix.

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They'll see each other from afar, but they won't actually mix. And that's how we have to go on for now. You're wearing a visor. I'm wearing a mask at the children. At this level, I don't have to wear masks. Should it stay that way in national school?

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I would love to see it saying that way. But look, we have to work with what the latest guidelines are from Nefesh and from the HSC. At the moment. It's great to be able to see the boys faces, to see their delight, and also to see their worry in some cases, because then we can act on that. If they're hidden by a mask, it's very hard to deal with it. But again, we'll go with whatever the government decide is most appropriate for our setting.

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And when you have assemblies, not for the moment, no. We're going to try and be a little bit creative. For example, we had our staff meeting yesterday. I all the teachers were in their classrooms. I was in the office and that's how it went. And I would imagine our assemblies will work that way for the first while just to make sure that everyone feels safe. And it's really important. Get the kids and the parents know that we're doing everything we can to keep the boy safe here in the building.

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And we know the school in Athlone that they have an isolation unit in a shed. You don't have that? No, we don't. We're incredibly lucky here in the school. We have plenty of space. We are why? Corridors are big yards and we have an entire room that was available to us for an isolation space. We have two sections within that room. There's a huge amount of ventilation. So I know it's very difficult for schools when space isn't available.

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We're just, I suppose, one of the lucky ones. Kathy Timmons, principal of Holy Child Boys National School at Lochiel in Whitehall in Dublin, ending Henry McKeon's report on the reopening of schools.