WITH more and more schools announcing extended closures this week and both students and teachers preparing for online lessons, the poor broadband provision in the county is being starkly shown up.
Cllr Adam Gannon has been campaigning for better broadband in the county, having recently submitted a question to Stormont on the matter. He is also a science teacher, and he is concerned how some rural pupils and teachers will manage in the new reality we now find ourselves in.
“It is obviously a concern about online learning. What if someone has no access to broadband?” he asked.
“Even if the schools close they will still have to do exams, yes we’re at the point where 95 percent of the course is covered, but there are still parts of the course to do and if they can’t access the materials online, how is that fair?”
Cllr Gannon said it wasn’t just schools and students who would be impacted by Fermanagh’s poor coverage during this crisis.
“It’s going to leave people here less informed, because all the information is coming through online sources.
“It will leave many people here unable to work from home, and that could potentially will have an impact on income and finances, and it could have an impact on the business as they can’t get the staff to work from home and may have to close.”
Back in the classroom, Cllr Gannon told the Herald he had noticed a lot of stress among staff and students over the current situation, and the lack of clarity from Stormont was adding to the confusion.
“I can see there is anxiety among some students, especially those doing exams. They are worried, they are unsure,” he said, adding A-Level pupils were particularly concerned.
“We have no idea what is going to happen. I know we are in unprecedented times, but the Department should be making a decision on the exams now. We know schools are going to be closed over an extended period of time. We know that’s going to happen.
“Why are school leaders and principals being left in this situation?”
Cllr Gannon said he was unsure what would happen final year students if upcoming exams were called off, but said it had been suggested in some quarters university access may be decided on grade averages.
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Posted: 8:48 am March 18, 2020