A LOCAL primary school principal has given an insight into the pressures that educators are currently facing due to the latest impacts of the ongoing pandemic, with staff rising to the challenge even as the Omicron variant hits all sectors of society.

Brian Treacy, Principal of Holy Trinity Primary School, said: “Staff are being very flexible. We haven’t sent any class home as of yet – it is business as usual on the surface, as there has been a lot of work and effort put in by staff behind the scenes.”

Mr. Treacy praised his staff for the work that has been put in across both of the sites for Holy Trinity PS, even as the school copes with a high number of staff and pupil absences.

Speaking of the current amount of absences, which he believes mark the most that the school has faced since the beginning of the pandemic, he said: “In terms of absences, it is a challenging time.”

However, he also reflected on how the pandemic situation has developed: “Last Christmas was a challenging time, and there was more fear around it [Covid-19]."

When asked what could be done to help schools more to get through the pandemic, Mr. Treacy referred to people in power making decisions, saying: "It is a really difficult situation for the Department of Education, and for those making decisions.

“We are watching the media [for news of any further developments] like everyone else.”

Mr. Treacy also spoke on the role of underfunding affecting education, and how the sector has been impacted during the pandemic.

He said he believes that the Covid-19 issue had magnified the issue of underfunding in education: “Education was underfunded anyway before this [pandemic], and now Covid-19 has magnified that. You can compare the North to England, Scotland and Wales [and see education funding differences]."

Looking to the future, he continued: “You never know what will be around the corner. I know it is difficult for people making the decisions.”

Striking a positive note, Mr. Treacy said he and his staff are “glad not to be back at remote learning", as he emphasised the importance of decisions being made for “what the children need and require”.

Looking to wider society and how it has been impacted by the pandemic, he added: “All schools, the health service and businesses have suffered during the pandemic – education has not had the monopoly on that.”

He concluded by saying: “I’ve got used to being flexible", and he laughed as he added: “You have to be optimistic in this job.”