Close to 20% of parents do not want their children to return to school next month, in case they catch COVID-19.

A new survey from Barnardos found that seven in ten parents of primary school children believe they do not have enough information about the return to school.

65% of parents who have children in second level, said they felt the same way.

Barnardos chief executive Suzanne Connolly says some parents would prefer to keep their children at home.

“They haven’t been given sufficient information from the schools as to how the schools are going to manage.

“Of particular interest I suppose is to recognise that 16% of primary school parents would actually prefer if their children weren’t going back to school because they are so worried about COVID-19.

“21% of parents with children in secondary school feel the same way. I think that shows the extent of the anxiety that parents are feeling.”

Returning to school

The survey found that the vast majority of parents think it is important for their children to return to school, however, 50% of primary and 53% of secondary school parents are worried.

16% of primary and 21% of secondary school parents would actually prefer if their child was not returning to school to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19.

However, parents do feel it is important for their children return to school for emotional and social development and for their mental health.

The majority of parents felt they had insufficient information about their child’s return to school and what the day would look like with 73% of primary and 65% of secondary school parents.

Most parents also said that balancing work and home-schooling was difficult for them.

Cost of schooling

There was also a disparity in terms of being able to access online learning.

Around a quarter of both primary and secondary school parents said they did not have ready access to the required technology for their child to learn remotely.

The basic cost of sending a child to school in 2020, while slightly decreasing for parents of primary school children, remains substantial.

The average cost of the basics needed for a senior infants pupil is €330, while a fourth class pupil is €365 and a first year pupil is €735.

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