I hope this letter finds you well. Staff , management and Board of Management have been meeting to begin the task of ensuring our school is safe to open for pupils and staff alike. We are really looking forward to seeing all the children back at school. As you can imagine there are many tasks to be done, work has already begun.
We have made our plans based on the Department of Education’s Covid-19 Response Plan for the Safe and Sustainable Reopening of Primary and Special Schools. (available on the Department of Education’s website) This letter outlines how the school will look and function. Please be aware that given the nature of the current situation that this may change. You will be informed if any changes should be needed. It is important to remember that we are in this together and the sustainable reopening of the school is very dependent on the whole school community. The Board of Management asks for your full support in this matter. Please be mindful of the green list of countries for travel, travel to countries not on the list may affect your child’s return to school. Please remember that this plan is not forever. Things will change and hopefully we can move towards some normality as time moves on. I would ask that you talk to your child through the following plan and to support you with this there will be a video sent to you via e-mail nearer the time. This video will show you how the one system works, which entrance door is your child’s designated door and how to find their classroom. Your child’s name will be on their designated table. Teachers are returning to school early to discuss seating plans and will endeavour to do their best with this. The front gate is the only gate that will be in use for entering and leaving the school. The back gate will remain closed. Hand hygiene routines will be at the centre of what we do. You will see signage, hand sanitisers in all classrooms and at entry points. Staff will explicitly teach children how to wash/sanitise hands correctly. Establishing good hand hygiene will play a major role upon our return. Staff and children will be asked to wash/sanitise hands frequently throughout the day. Children will sanitise hands as they enter each morning, wash hands before and after they eat and sanitise hands after being out on yard. All will be done in a relaxed and fun way. An extra cleaner will be employed to sanitise all touch points on a daily basis. Antibacterial wipes will be available for staff and children to use.
The following are the procedures and protocols: 1) Staggered times: The school will be divided into three groups according to surnames. This ensures that siblings can arrive and leave together. Group 1: A-G Group 2: H-N Group 3 : O- Z Starting times: Group 1 : 9.10am Group 2 9.20am Group 3 :9.30am (this applies to all classes)
Junior Infants: Please note on Thursday the 27th all junior infants will start at 10am.Then from Friday the 28 th it is according to alphabetical order as above. Please remember junior infants will finish at 12.30 up to and including Friday the 11th of September. After that it will be at times shown below. Collection will be from the school gate.
Infant finishing times: Ms Mc Kiernan’s class 1.50 pm, Mr Hall’s 2 pm and Ms Kiernan’s 2.10 pm. Parents will collect from the bottom of the hill. You will need to stand outside the school gate. These are the junior infant times from Monday the 14th September. Observe social distancing when waiting. First class- 6th class finishing times: Group 1: 2.50pm Group 2: 3pm Group 3: 3.10pm
How can you help with this? You must adhere to your allotted time. Please allow your child to walk or cycle to school. If you need to drive you must park away from the school and allow your child to walk through the front gate on their own. The road has visible lines marked illustrating that cars cannot drop children anywhere near these lines. If you must and only if you must accompany your child you then follow the one system which will be marked. You will turn left a quarter way up the hill, up the gravel path towards the top of the hill. Then you can say goodbye to your child at the top of the hill. Please be mindful of other parents coming behind you and allow space for them to say goodbye to their child. You will see signage asking you to stop at the top of the hill. It is children only beyond this point. You then go back down the hill and exit through the front gate observing the 2m social distance recommendation. No child should arrive before 9.10 as children cannot play on the yard before or after school going forward. When dropping/collecting your child you are asked to observe social distancing. The advice is that parents should stay in their cars. The front gate area should be clear at all times. Arrange a meeting point with your child away from the front gate.
2) Classroom: Each classroom will function as a bubble. Within each class there will be pods. These are pods of 4 or in some cases pods of 2 depending on the class size. Pods can work together but cannot work with a different pod. The aim of this is to limit the potential for the virus to spread within the same class when indoors. Children from the same class can play together on yard, they do not need to stay with their group of 4 when outdoors. Hence classes will have a designated yard space. There is no requirement for social distancing in junior infants to second class so PODS are not applicable in these classrooms. Break times will be staggered to facilitate this. Each class will enter the building or prefab through a designated door. Parents will be informed of this nearer the time.
Second school bag request: To minimise the risk of spreading the virus children will not be able to share resources e.g. textbooks, pencils, colours etc. From 1st class up to 6th class we ask that you send in a second school bag for your child, this in effect will act like a locker. Your child’s textbooks, pencils case, colours etc will stay in this bag underneath the table. This second bag will not go home for the foreseeable. Your child’s daily school bag with lunch, drink, homework will go back and forth to your house. Coats will be hung on the back of your child’s chair. Wash bag : Please ensure your child has a wash bag as per booklist. Soap, hand sanitiser and a fresh face cloth daily to dry hands. We have included soap as we aim to make the children take responsibility for themselves as much as their age will allow. Soap and hand sanitiser will also be available in each classroom.
3) Outdoor learning and play will be encouraged throughout the school day. Tommy has created various areas to facilitate this. Hence please ensure your child comes well prepared for all weathers, we will be going out. A change of socks if grass is wet could be useful. A coat each day is a must!
4) Learning support will continue both in the class setting and through withdrawal. A special ed. work station has been accommodated in each classroom. A new SEN space is created in the hall to replace the small Sen space in the corridor as this is not suitable.
5) Sickness: Each person in our school community has a responsibility here. You cannot send your child to school if you think they are sick in any shape or form. This is most important. If any child becomes ill on site then he/she will go to the isolation room and wait for a parent to come and collect. We will use the old prefab at the front of the school for this. These have been cleared. Heat and light will be back in action there. Parents/staff will need to contact the GP and/or the HSE helpline for advice and must inform management of the advice given before returning to school. This can be done by e-mail or a phone call to the office. This is the same for staff.
6) Staff will wear a visor/mask when they cannot observe the 2 m distance as per most recent guidelines.
7) Curriculum: We will spend time working with the children on the area of Well Being. We are aware that some children may find the transition back to school difficult and we will do our best to support each child. Teachers through discussion with last year’s teacher and through observations will determine where the children are at academically and plan accordingly. There will be no homework for the first two weeks. The emphasis will be on good hand hygiene routines, well being and supporting the transition back to school life. Maths, English, Gaeilge and Well Being are the areas that the department recommend to focus on in the short term.
8) We have established a routine for the correction of children’s work, Children will do all their work into one copy, this will be left in the in-box on a Thursday. This batch of copies will sit in the box until the following Monday when teacher can safely handle the copies and correct. Self- assessment will be encouraged. This is the same routine for the supplementary readers. Please send in all the copies etc that have been listed on your child’s book list as normal.
9) Uniforms: There has been no requirement to change the school’s uniform policy. However, having discussed our set of protocols with a medical person the following is optional: Your child can wear a hoodie with a zip or a cardigan. This will allow your child to take off his/her top layer without having to pull a track suit top over their head. It could be an extra precaution that you may like your child to take. Please do not allow your child to wear a hoodie that does not have a zip. It’s a zip hoodie/cardigan or school tracksuit top/ navy jumper. The zip hoodie/cardigan can be one they have already and of any colour. This is optional. We would ask that your child has a clean set of clothes daily. Apologies for the ambiguity here but it would be remiss of me not to advise if it adds another layer of protection for your child. If you cannot have a clean uniform daily a pair of leggings of any colour, other tracksuit bottoms of any colour can be worn on those occasions only. Please try to have school uniform as much as possible. Shorts or any denim clothing are not allowed. 10) All communication with the office, management and staff must now be done through a phone call or e-mail. Buzzers have been fitted to the doors in the main building. If you need to speak with a teacher please phone the office or e-mail the teacher directly. Teachers will let you know the e-mail address on Wednesday the 26th August. If you would like to make an appointment to see the principal please e-mail or phone the office. A meeting can be scheduled and facilitated. Masks will be required. Parents can no longer enter the school grounds without a prior arrangement.
11) Please be advised that there is a change to the art, crafts and photocopying payment for the school year 2020-2021. €20 for one child, €35 for two and €50 for three or more.
12) Please note if your child is in a high- risk category (as per list in the Department of Education’s Covid-19 link on their website) please inform the school by e-mail and I will be in touch. The school’s covid response plan which covers all of the above will be available on the school website this week.
If you have any questions please e-mail the school and I will reply. Take care over the next few weeks, stay safe and I am looking forward to seeing you all on the 27th of August.