Dear Parents / Guardians,
Our school will reopen next Monday 15th March for all classes. The partial reopening for Junior Infants to 2nd classes over the last two weeks has gone very smoothly. We are very grateful to the parents of these classes for their co-operation with all school procedures regarding Covid19. It is very important that as all children and staff return, thereby raising the numbers of people in the school, that we all continue to observe the procedures rigorously. By doing so we limit the risk of introducing Covid19 to the school and if not introduced there is no risk of transmission.
Please read this email in full so that you and your child are aware of the procedures and any steps you need to take for next Monday.
· Seesaw activities for 3rd to 6th class will conclude tomorrow Thursday 11th March. The teachers will attend school on Friday to prepare classes for Monday.
· In line with Department of Education and HSE advice staff members who are pregnant or in very high risk categories will continue to work remotely and will not return to school on Monday. This will result in changes of teacher for some classes or special education pupils. Parents will be advised by the class teacher this week if there are any changes for their child. If you do not hear from the class teacher, then there are no changes. Further clarification for these staff members is expected from the HSE in the coming weeks.
· Our website www.heathns.ie has a tab Covid19 Updates on which all updated information is available. This tab also contains all the postings communicated to parents before the school re-opened last September which remain relevant for parents. Please keep up to date by checking the website weekly.
· A Return to Education Form is now required for each pupil returning to school. This form is available through your Aladdin school app or alternatively you can download it off our website. From Sunday afternoon you will be able to complete the form for Monday on The Aladdin app. It will not be available to 3rd-6th class parents before Sunday afternoon to ensure you are filling in the form close to your child's return. If completing manually via the website or the attachment to this email please complete on Sunday evening or Monday morning and drop into the office on Monday morning or email a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. This form will now need to be completed anytime your child is returning to school from an absence, the Aladdin app is therefore a more convenient option. If you have any difficulties with the app please contact the school office or if you forget there are hard copies available in the school foyer.
· The school gates will open at 8.50 each morning. Parents are asked not to drop children before the school opens. Congregating at school gates is a concern for Public Health and schools have been asked to emphasise to parents the dangers of such congregations. Our drop off time is from 8.50 to 9.20 which should allow plenty of time for parents to safely drop their children and avoid build ups of adults or pupils at the gates. In the first two weeks, parents have been excellent and there has been no build up either in the morning or evening with greater numbers next week this will become more challenging. Parents utilising bus transport should check with their provider that children will not be arriving at the school before 8.50.
· Collection times for classes are as follows: Junior Infants 1.30, Senior Infants 1.40, First Class 2.30, Second Class 2.32, Third Class 2.34, Fourth Class 2.36, Fifth Class 2.38, Sixth Class 2.40. Infant parents should collect their children from the classroom door, observing social distancing and ensuring they wear a face covering. All other class parents should wait outside the school gate observing social distancing and we would recommend wearing a face covering.
· Any parent or visitor entering the school grounds is now asked to wear a face mask/covering. Spare masks are available in the school foyer should you forget a mask any day.
· Our tracksuit and uniform procedure continues as pre-Christmas. School tracksuit Monday, Wednesday and Friday and school uniform Tuesday and Thursday.
· As before we ask parents to limit the items children bring to school. Please only bring what the teacher has requested, for Monday this will be their drink and lunch plus bringing back any books that were sent home. Please ensure that any items coming into school have been sanitised.
· Section 5 of the Covid19 Response Plan for schools which is available on our website will give parents more information on Infection Prevention Control Measures. In short the message is simple - If infection is not introduced to the school setting it cannot be spread. We are all dependent on one another so it is very important that all parents know the signs/symptoms of Covid19. The advice is that no person with symptoms or who lives with a person with symptoms or who has been identified by the HSE as a close contact should attend school. In such circumstances parents should contact their doctor to arrange a test.
· If you have travelled outside of Ireland recently you should consult and follow the latest government advice in relation to foreign travel and should contact the school before your child returns. A minimum two-week period should elapse between the return to Ireland and a return to school in consideration of every other child's health.
· If a child exhibits any symptoms of Covid19 in school ie temperature, cough, shortness of breath, reporting loss of smell/taste the child will be brought to an isolation area and parents will be contacted to collect the child as soon as possible. In such cases parents should contact their doctor for advice before returning the child to school.
· All communication with the school should be via phone or email as much as possible. The school office will be open as usual from 9.00 to 2.40, it is possible to call to the office but please ensure you wear a face mask and respect only one person in the foyer area at a time.
· Many resources have been developed for parents by government. These resources are available on the government website www.gov.ie or google Covid resources for parents.
· If there is a case of Covid19 in the school public health will advise the school of the measures to be taken and they will contact all close contacts. Parents are asked to co-operate with public health should this occur.
· The school will be treating each class as a unit and we will be doing our best to limit interactions between different classes before, during and after school. Within classes children will be working at their tables in groups/pods however they will be in the same room and on the same yard space so interactions with other groups in their class is unavoidable.
· Public health informs us that ‘schools are safe’ and the evidence does show that transmission in schools, both to children and adults, has been very low compared to other settings. However, there can be no absolute guarantee that schools can be totally Covid safe in relation to the spread of the virus within schools. The BoM & staff will continue to work to make our school as safe as possible through the implementation of infection control measures and by putting key safety measures in place to deal with the identified concerns and eliminate transmission risks where possible. Such measures include:
- All relevant policies and practices are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in line with the Government’s “Work Safely Protocol”. Our Covid-19 Response Plan and risk assessment are our commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our staff, pupils and others who visit our school. The results of the risk assessment and any new or enhanced safety measures to be implemented have been shared with staff.
- In line with Department of Education and HSE guidance pregnant/high risk category staff members have been asked to continue to work remotely at present. This may result in changes of teacher for some classes and special education pupils.
- A pre-return-to-work form has been completed by all staff in advance of returning to work
- Staff and pupils who are feeling unwell have a moral imperative to stay at home
- The concerns and needs of vulnerable and at-risk staff will be managed in line with approved policy and procedures
- Staff are being provided with all necessary PPE and protective clothing in accordance with identified Covid-19 exposure risks and in line with public health advice
- Where possible, teachers and SNA staff stay with the same class/groups of pupils
- There is Covid-19 signage and floor stickers on display throughout the school. Visible signage is in place that identifies general cleaning protocols, processes, and practices
- Appropriate social distancing is maintained and necessary controls are in place to reduce transmission risks (face masks, screens in office areas to facilitate safe interaction with the public, visitors restricted, staggered breaks, etc.). Appropriate dispersion measures are used at all entrances and exits
- Where dedicated school transport (buses, taxis, etc.) is required for pupils to attend school, the BoM expects that all transport providers will comply with all relevant advice and guidance issued by the government and public health along with any other arrangements put in place as part of the school’s own Covid-19 Response Plan, based on the school’s own health and safety review
- Additional supervision is being provided when pupils are arriving/leaving school grounds.
- The school maintains a log of contacts to facilitate contact tracing
- Specific procedures are in place for the reception of goods and deliveries
- Digital tools and communication systems are used as an alternative to face-to-face meetings
- There is a system in place to keep staff, pupils and parents up-to-date with the latest public health advice and the BoM has taken swift action to implement all recommended public health measures as they are updated. Regular and transparent briefings/communications are and will be provided to staff and parents
- Appropriate cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures are in place. There is also a cleaning schedule of any surfaces or equipment that is shared or used regularly by staff and pupils.
- There is a plan in place as to what needs to be done if a staff member or pupil develops Covid symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) while at school. All staff and pupils are aware of the relevant steps and procedures
- Staff and pupil safety is a priority at all times and anyone who expresses a safety concern is listened to with empathy and understanding. Health and wellbeing are at the centre of our decision making.
The school will continue to communicate regularly with staff and parents and we request that you keep yourself updated with all communications, giving the ever- changing nature of this pandemic. Each of us needs to take personal responsibility for our actions in relation to Covid-19 and we must all work together to ensure the safety of every child and adult in our school community. We would remind all members of the school community of the dangers of spreading this virus through congregation of groups of people. Please be mindful of this in relation to dropping off and collecting children at the school entrance.
While there is undoubtedly a long road ahead with Covid19, we hope that the worst of this pandemic is behind us and that there will be no further school closures this year or in the years to come. In particular, we hope that as vaccines are rolled out it will be safe for us all to meet again. In the meantime, should you have any questions, suggestions or queries in relation to the reopening of the school, please feel free to contact the school and we will try to assist you.
Looking forward to seeing our 3rd to 6th classes on Monday.
David O'Brien (Principal)