Re-opening St. Mary’s and St. Gerard’s N.S.
Information for Staff, Parents and Children
26th August 2020
In response to the Covid 19 pandemic, this document outlines the changes being put in place to reopen St. Mary’s and St. Gerard’s. It will be continuously reviewed and updated as we learn more from:
- Public Health Advice and Department of Education and Skills (DES) recommendations
- Our experience with the implementation of the changes in this document
The intent of these changes is to minimize the risk of Covid 19 to our children, their families, the school staff and to the broader community in which we all live. The emphasis will be placed on hand washing, physical distancing and respiratory hygiene in order to prevent the transmission of Covid 19 into the school.
To minimise this risk, we all share collective responsibility for protecting ourselves and others. We depend on your support to facilitate the implementation of these protocols.
When school restarts, we will communicate these protocols in age appropriate ways to each class to aid their implementation. Please discuss these protocols with your child / children beforehand, again as is age appropriate.
BEFORE SCHOOL RESTARTS
- Please provide the office with an updated Emergency Contact name and number of a person(s) under the age of 70 years, who is available to collect your child in the event of illness.
- Any family that has travelled abroad recently or intends to travel to a country not on the current Green List, must isolate at home for 14 days before returning to the school.
- The school will maintain a contact log for the purposes of contact tracing.
- Covid 19 Signage will be displayed throughout the school. This will include both posters and floor stickers. Signage will include information on Hand Washing, Physical Distancing and Respiratory Hygiene.
- A temporary new gate will be opened through the church carpark into the school grounds. This gate will be used as an exit gate only. Please be advised that there will be very limited parking available in the church carpark. Please be aware that parents and children will be exiting the school through the new gate in the church carpark.
- DES is to provide online training videos for staff, parents and children before schools reopen.
- School books – please cover and label all books and copies (just cover copies that are being used at the start of the year). Class teachers will inform you of the books and copies to remain in school, and those to stay at home until required.
- Please select a schoolbag that may be wiped clean easily. Children will be provided with plastic pencil cases for use in school – these pencil cases will remain in school and will be wiped daily. Please send in a supply of stationery for these school pencil cases. Children will no longer share items such as pencils, crayons, colouring pencils with others – so please ensure that your child has everything required and please label all items clearly with your child’s name. Children will need a separate supply of stationery at home.
- Use clearly labelled plastic lunch boxes and water bottles, which will need to be washed thoroughly on a daily basis. Water bottles will remain in schoolbags, so please ensure they are watertight. Please prepare food and drinks (e.g. peel oranges / bananas) and ensure your child can open flasks / lunch boxes, as unfortunately teachers will be unable to assist.
- Please ensure children can put on / take off school jumpers / tracksuit tops; can close shoes / runners; and can zip up coats, as unfortunately teachers will be unable to assist.
- Please label all coats / jumpers / tracksuits / ties etc. clearly. In Junior / Senior Infants please include a small plastic bag with a change of pants and socks in schoolbags in case of little accidents, as we cannot supply these items.
- The school summer uniform may be worn during the month of September as per the Uniform Policy. Uniforms / tracksuits must be washed regularly each week.
- Please advise children of the updated personal hygiene practice as regards sneezing and coughing into their elbows, and if possible practise before the start of school. Staff and children will also be asked to wash their hands before arriving at school each morning.
- There will be no After School Activities on the school premises during the Covid 19 pandemic.
- For safety reasons, the BOM recommends that children do not bring their own sanitisers to school.
DEALING WITH SUSPECTED COVID 19 SYMPTOMS
- Please do not send your child to school if he / she appears unwell.
Do not send your child to school in any of the following circumstances:
- if someone within the household displays Covid 19 symptoms;
- if someone within the household is identified as a close contact of a confirmed Covid 19 case; or
- if he / she has returned home after travelling abroad and must self-isolate for a period of 14 days.
In any of these situations, please inform the school immediately. The HSE advises (21 August) that “If your child has been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus, they should restrict their movements for 14 days, even if they feel well.” See ‘If your child has symptoms of Coronavirus’ – https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/if-your-child-has-symptoms.html
SCHOOL OFFICE ACCESS PROTOCOL
- Parents are not permitted into the school building unless by prior appointment.
- Dots will be placed outside the main school door to facilitate physical distance.
- Please ring the doorbell and wait on the dot for a response.
- The school shop will not operate during the Covid 19 pandemic.
- Access to school toilets will only be permitted to the staff and children of the school during their normal school day.
BEFORE START OF SCHOOL AND COLLECTION – EVERYDAY
- Hand Hygiene equipment will be provided throughout the school. This will include:
- Foot pedal operated sanitisers at all school entrance doors.
- Hand wash facilities in each classroom.
- Hand sanitisers in each classroom.
- In line with Department of Education and Skills guidelines, staff and children will be asked to wash their hands:
- On arrival at school;
- Before eating or drinking;
- After using the toilet;
- After playing outdoors;
- When their hands are physically dirty; and
- When they cough or sneeze.
SCHOOL DROP OFF
Drop off times will be staggered to avoid congestion at the school gate.
- Families with surnames beginning with A-K will drop off children between 8:50am – 9:00am
- Families with surnames beginning with L-W will drop off children between 9:00am – 9:10am
We will use a new pedestrian EXIT ONLY gate from the school grounds via the Church carpark. Please ensure children follow the protocols as regards entry and exit of the school grounds.
- Every morning, only parents of Junior and Senior Infant children may enter the school grounds via the school’s front gate. Please exit via the new gate, by walking around the back of the school in a clockwise direction.
- Parents of older children should drop off and collect in the Bog Meadow and allow children to walk to and from the Bog Meadow to school, so as to free up spaces in the Church carpark for parents with toddlers and babies and to ease traffic congestion.
- Please encourage your child / children to walk unaccompanied from the school entrance gate into the school. Children must walk directly into the school building, through the designated doors for their classes.
- An adult will be at each of the entrances to welcome the children and to supervise the sanitising of hands.
- Cars should leave the church grounds immediately, turning left only, to facilitate the arrival of the next group of parents needing space to park.
- Parents and children are no longer allowed to wait in the school yard before start of school.
- The entrance and exit doors by class are as follows:
- Junior Infants and 2nd Class: Front yard via lower door
- Senior Infants and 4th Class: Back yard upper door
- 1st and 5th Classes: Front yard via upper door
- 3rd Class: Back yard via fire exit alley
- 6th Class: Front yard via fire exit alley
Maps to assist parents and children with identifying the new entrance and exit points and the positions of the physical distancing measures in the yard will be placed on the school noticeboard at the main gate and on the school website.
Collection – Junior & Senior Infants
- Children will leave through their designated exit doors.
- Parents / Guardians may enter the school yard through the main gate.
- Parents / Guardians should stand on 2m spaced dots to collect children.
- Parents / Guardians should leave immediately with their child / children, by walking clockwise around the back of the school to the new EXIT ONLY gate.
- Cars should leave the church grounds immediately, turning left only.
Collection – 1st to 6th Classes
Collection times will be staggered to avoid congestion at the school gate and children will leave by class, as follows:
- Parents / Guardians with children in 1st, 3rd and 6th will collect them from the socially distanced dots between at 2:20pm.
- Parents / Guardians with children in 2nd , 4th and 5th will collect them at 2:30pm
- Parents will enter the school yard through the main gate ONLY.
- Parents will stand on 2m spaced dots to collect children.
- Class teachers will walk their classes out to the yard via their designated exits and will supervise the children while they are being collected.
- Parents will leave immediately once children arrive, walking in clockwise direction around back of the school to the new EXIT ONLY gate.
- Cars will leave the church grounds immediately, turning left only to facilitate the arrival of the next group of parents needing space to park.
- Parents are asked not to congregate at the school gate and to wait until designated pick up times before entering the school grounds.
If children are allowed walk home or walk to a named meeting point off the school grounds, parents must inform the school office in writing / by email before August 31st.
These children should exit the school grounds using the main school gate, keeping to the left of the gate in order to maintain physical distance where possible.
PHYSICAL DISTANCING PROTOCOL
- Each class will remain in its own ‘bubble’ and will not mix with other classes.
- Within each class, the children will be divided into smaller groups called ‘pods’. These pods will change at the beginning of each new term or if the teacher deems it necessary in order to improve the learning environment.
- Small breaks and lunch breaks will be staggered. Four classes will use the yards at any one time and children must stay in their bubbles at all times.
- The school will provide a football for each class. Children will not be allowed bring in their own footballs. Footballs will be sanitised after use.
- Pods in classes 3rd – 6th will be arranged with one metre distancing, according to DES guidelines, and children from 3rd – 6th will be requested to physical distance.
- Floor markers at one metre distances will be placed on the floor in classrooms for lining up purposes; when approaching the teacher’s desk; and on the corridors so as to help remind the senior classes of the one metre requirement.
- One metre markers will be painted outside the exit doors where each class lines up while waiting to enter the school building.
- Staff members will wear masks / visors when required for close physical proximity and where the recommended 2m social distance is not possible. Children may wear face masks if they wish – current HSE guidelines do not mandate mask wearing for children under 13 years.
- The old staffroom has been designated as a Covid 19 isolation room, for use should a child feel ill while in school, while the hall will be used as a staff room for now. A section of the hall will be partitioned for First Aid.
- The school had a deep clean during the summer. Hand sanitisers have been installed in all classrooms. Foot Pedal operated Hand Sanitiser Dispensers will be at each entrance door every morning. New foot pedal bins have been purchased for each classroom.
- Paper wipes and antibacterial sprays will be in all classrooms. All hard surfaces and equipment / resources will be sanitised every day after school. All door handles will be wiped regularly throughout the day. Classrooms will be ventilated. All window handles will be wiped every day.
- Classrooms have been cleared of any excess furniture and worktops have been cleared for easy cleaning.
- Resources and games have been organised into plastic containers and will be sanitised in accordance with usage. A selection of library books will be put into plastic containers and each container will be used by one pod each week and then sanitised every Friday.
- Four more iPads have been purchased and will be timetabled for use. Each iPad is covered with a strong plastic cover and will be wiped after every use.
- Laptops have been divided between the four senior classes – clear plastic protective covers have been purchased to cover the keyboards and these will be sanitised after each use.
SUSPECTED CASE PROCEDURES IN SCHOOL
The following procedures will be followed if a child presents with any one of these symptoms:
- High temperature
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Loss of smell or taste
- The child will be brought to the new designated isolation room under the guidance of the Principal and will remain there under supervision until he / she is collected.
- A mask will be provided for the child.
- Parents / Guardians will be contacted to collect the child immediately.
- As per HSE guidelines, please consult with your GP for follow up.
- The parent / guardian collecting the child will proceed to the back of the school to the door of the Isolation room, which will be clearly marked.
- In the event that contact cannot be made with parents / guardians / emergency contacts, the school will call the child’s GP and act on his / her advice.
- If the child is too unwell to go home or advice is required, the school will contact 999 / 112 and inform them that the sick child is a Covid 19 suspect.
- Appropriate cleaning of all possible contaminated areas will take place following any event.
- Where there is a suspected case of Covid 19 within the school, staff and / or child confidentiality will be maintained. The school will follow HSE guidance in the event that a case is suspected or confirmed.
- If a child returns to the school having left with symptoms of Covid 19, the child’s parents / guardians must provide a letter from their GP stating that upon examination, the child is fit and well.
- If the school is notified that a person in your child’s class has a suspected or confirmed case of Covid 19:
- The HSE will notify the parents of all children in the class.
- The school will follow the instructions of the HSE.
CHILDREN AT RISK
- The school acknowledges the difficulty that returning to school may pose for vulnerable children. Parents / Guardians of children who have a serious underlying condition should in the first instance contact their GP for guidance on the matter of physical attendance at school.
- Parents / Guardians of children in this category should contact the school to discuss the matter. A Support Plan may be put in place to support children who have been advised by their GP not to attend school.
- Please be assured that every effort is being made to establish a safe and secure learning environment where the children will learn and develop this school year.
The wellbeing of the children, as they return to school following the extended break, will be the initial focus in the first weeks of term where emphasis will be placed on Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Physical Education (PE), Language (English and Gaeilge) and Numeracy. SPHE and PE are important in supporting children’s wellbeing, while Language and Numeracy will be central to their overall learning.
Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE), Arts Education (Drama, Music and Visual Arts) and Religious Education will be integrated as appropriate.
- The children will build upon their existing experience of the use of digital technology to support and enhance their learning experiences while in school. This will help to further support contingency arrangements in the event that these should be needed in order to continue learning in a remote environment during the 2020 / 2021 school year.