Return to School Plan September 2020
The school has a responsibility to ensure the safety, health and well-being of all members of our school community – children, parents and staff. This plan has been formulated to better ensure that the school can exercise that duty of care.
Assuming it is in keeping with public health advice and guidelines issued by the Department of Education and Skills, it is preferable for all children to return to school for all five days of the school week and for a full school day. This plan has been formulated to achieve that aim.
It is not possible to eliminate the risk of infection. However, with the co-operation of all members of our school community, it is possible to minimise the risk of the virus being introduced to school and the consequent risk of its spread.
As well as co-operation, the flexibility and goodwill of all will be required to ensure the plan can be implemented.
It is very important that we are all up to date with the current public health advice including correct hand washing and sanitising techniques, coughing and sneezing etiquette, guidelines in relation to travelling abroad, etc. Please see the following link for further information. https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/. All of our actions will help reduce the risk of the spread of the virus and facilitate our return to school.
All children return to school and classes operate within a bubble system.
The school is split into 2 groups with each group having different break and lunch times.
The school is split into 2 groups for starting times and this will be done based on classes to facilitate all families – GROUP 1: Junior Infants - 2nd Class
GROUP 2: 3rd - 6th Class
The day will include two breaks of 15 and 30 minutes respectively.
Within each class from 3rd to 6th, the children will be further divided into pods as per HPSC guidance for schools, with a minimum distance of 1 metre being maintained between pods.
Hand sanitiser will be available in all classes, support rooms and in other prominent areas of the school.
(Separate, special arrangements will be put in place for our Junior Infants and their parents at the beginning of the school year. Junior Infant pupils will finish at 12.00 noon for the first two weeks)
Staggered Arrival and Dismissal times September 2020
09.oo – 9.10
Junior Infants - 2nd Class
9.20 – 9.30
3rd Class - 6th Class
IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN IN THE JUNIOR & SENIOR ENDS OF THE SCHOOL YOU MUST WAIT TO DROP ALL YOUR CHILDREN AT 9.20am
Children only enter through the school gates, in the mornings.
Parents should drop the children and not enter the school grounds.
No children are allowed assemble on the yard in the morning – children will go straight to their classrooms at the allotted time.
In the afternoon, for collection, parents/guardians may collect outside the gates, and should stay in or near their cars where possible.
They are asked to stand a social distance apart outside gate.
Arrival at school :
Group 1 Junior Infants to 2nd Class: 9am to 9.10am
Group 2: 3rd Class to 6th Class: 9.20am to 9.30am
IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN IN THE JUNIOR & SENIOR ENDS OF THE SCHOOL YOU MUST WAIT TO DROP ALL YOUR CHILDREN AT 9.20am
We ask for co-operation with these times as it will mean that the numbers congregating on school grounds at any one time will be minimised.
The school gates will NOT open before 9.00am. There will be NO supervision before this time.
At the above listed times, the pupils will enter the school maintaining social distancing.
They will proceed to their classrooms where school staff will monitor hand hygiene.
Staff members will be available outside and inside the building to receive the children and to help them to their classrooms.
If a child appears unwell on entering the classroom, the child’s temperature will be taken and in the interests of the safety of the staff and the other children, the school will contact the parent and ask the parent to take the child home immediately.
NO ADULTS, other than staff members, are permitted to enter the school grounds in the mornings.
Messages for teachers can be sent in with a pupil or by phoning the school office.
End of School Day:
Adults, who are collecting their children from school at the end of the day, should wait in their cars outside the school grounds at the designated time.
At 2.50pm, 1st to 6th Class pupils will line up in their class group along the pitch & front wall of the school with their teacher for collection. As they see their lift arrive they will go out to your car.
Social distancing to be maintained at all times. In line with Dept of Education regulations, please note that no pupil will be permitted to be on school premises before 9am or after 3pm.
ALL pupils MUST be collected by 3pm.
This system will apply rain, hail or shine so please make sure that your child comes to school with appropriate clothing for the weather!
Junior and Senior Infants: the class teacher will bring the children to their designated entrance/exit point and will release the children into the care of the adult who is there to collect them. (All Junior Infants will be brought to the front gate at 12.00 each day for the first two weeks.) Adults to congregate maintaining social distancing.
Children using buses
To date, Bus Eireann have not been in contact with the school to provide guidance. As it stands, the children will get off the bus and go straight into their classrooms and similarly at collection time they will go straight from their classes to the bus.
Collection of Children during the School Day:
If an adult has to collect a child during the course of the school day, the following arrangements will apply:
When the adult arrives at the school, they should either phone the office or use the buzzer at the front door of the school to alert the office that they have arrived.
The child will be brought from their class to the adult, in the school foyer, by a member of staff.
The adult who is collecting will be asked to sign the visitors book on the table in the foyer.
No adult should enter the school building, unless invited to do so.
If an adult is collecting a suspect Covid-19 case, the above procedures will apply and they will then be directed to the fire exit door at the Principal's Office.
Should a matter of urgency arise for parents, they must phone the office and make an appointment for access. Access will only be permitted once they have used the hand sanitiser. Once inside the school building, they must wear a face mask and maintain the required social distance and follow the directions of the principal/staff member.
Other Responsibilities for Parents:
Parents must ensure that their child has his/her own hand sanitiser and packet of tissues which are labelled coming to school. These items will stay in the child’s school bag. These must be replaced when empty.
Each child’s equipment/books/copies will be labelled with the child’s name as equipment/books cannot be shared.
All lunch boxes, bottles and items and clothing should be clearly labelled.
Parents are to ensure that their child knows and uses the protocols around coughing/sneezing/use of tissues/hand sanitisers and hand washing prior to returning to school.
Parents must ensure that all books/writing equipment/lunch boxes/water bottles are sanitised using alcohol wipes on completion of homework before being placed in the child’s school bag.
Where practicable, pencils to be pared at home and copies ruled.
Access to the school building/contact log :
Access to the school facility will be in line with agreed school procedures.
Arrangement for necessary visitors such as contractors and parents/guardians will be restricted to essential purposes and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the Principal.
The prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a crucial step in restricting the spread of the virus and protecting the health and safety of the individuals themselves and other staff, contractors and visitors at the workplace. A detailed sign in/sign out log of those entering the school facilities will be maintained.
Teachers will take the daily roll call each morning at 10.20am and this will act as contact tracing for pupils.
Teachers will sign in the staff contact tracing sign in book each morning and their temperature will be recorded.
Parents/guardians are asked to make sure that children bring their lunches to school to avoid adults having to come to the school during the day.
Please remind your children not to share their food or drinks with other children.
Children should have lunches and lunchboxes that they can open themselves. For example, pupils often need assistance opening Frubes, a yoghurt pot is more suitable where they can manage it themselves.
Children will eat their lunches at their desks, as per our usual practice.
All rubbish from lunches will be brought home in the child’s lunch box,as per our usual practice.
Lunch boxes should be thoroughly washed at home each evening.
Children’s uniforms must be clean and washed regularly as a child may have coughed or sneezed into their sleeve as per coughing protocols. In the event that either a uniform or tracksuit is not dry after being washed, they can wear the alternative – whichever piece of school clothing is ready.
It is more important than ever that all clothing be clearly labelled, as a “Lost and Found” box cannot be facilitated.
As a school we strongly advise that children should wear their school uniforms or tracksuits only for school related activities. Uniforms or tracksuits should be taken off straight after the child arrives home from school for the day. They should not be worn in after-school facilities, shops, during after-school activities, etc.
Children who should not attend school
If your child is in one of the following categories, they should not attend school –
Children who have been diagnosed with Covid-19
Children who have been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with Covid-19
Children who have a suspected case of Covid-19 and the outcome of the test is pending
Children who have been in contact with a person who has a suspected case of Covid-19 and the outcome of the test is pending
Children with underlying health conditions and/or are in the very high risk category who have been directed by a medical professional not to attend school
Children who have returned home after travelling abroad and must self-isolate/restrict their movements for a period of 14 days
Children who are generally unwell
Please note the symptoms of Covid-19:
a fever (high temperature – 38 degrees Celsius or above)
shortness of breath
loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
If any child or adult is experiencing these symptoms they should seek medical advice.
Children in Very High Risk Groups:
Parents should seek advice from their GP/Specialist if they think their child is in a very high risk group as defined by the HSE https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/people-at-higher-risk.html. They must make an informed decision if it is safe for their child to return to school on September 1st. Children who are defined as very high risk by a consultant or medical practitioner can forward evidence from either of these professionals for the purpose of support from the school for the provision of distance learning. Please inform the principal of the advice given. If there are any parents out there who have concerns about their child’s health, please contact the school at 046 9024207 or via email at email@example.com.
Supporting the Learning of Children who are defined as very high risk and cannot attend school
If a child is not able to attend school for an extended period of time, the class teacher (and/or the Special Education Teacher [SET], where relevant) will provide suggested activities to support the child’s learning at home to the parents/guardians.
Impact of a Suspected or Confirmed Case of Covid-19 in a Class
If the school is notified that a person in your child’s class has a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19
The parents of all children in the class will be notified as soon as the school receives the information from the parent
Public health advice will be sought and followed
Use of Face masks:
It is currently not recommended in Ireland for children under 13 to wear face masks as a mitigation strategy against the transmission of Covid-19. It is currently the opinion of public health that their use, especially among young children, has the potential to cause more harm than good. If a parent wishes their child to wear a mask, this will be permitted, as will visors.
It is requested that all children use their own pens, pencils, colours, rubbers, etc., at school in their own pencil case to avoid the sharing of equipment. These items will remain at school.
By necessity, some classroom equipment needs to be shared including tablets, laptops and the equipment used for structured activities and play in Infant classrooms. Cleaning of such shared equipment with wipes or other cleaning products will take place at regular intervals to minimise the risk of the spread of infection.
Children’s learning spaces
The DES guidelines recognise that a common-sense approach is needed in our Primary Schools. To that end, every effort will be made to limit interaction within classrooms, to limit contact between class groups and to limit the sharing of common facilities. Physical contact between pupils will be discouraged.
Junior Infants to Second Class
It is recognised that younger children are unlikely to maintain physical distancing indoors so there is no requirement for children from Junior Infants to Second Class to maintain a physical distance within their Class Bubble.
Third Class to Sixth Class
Children from Third Class to Sixth Class will be arranged in Pods within their Class Bubbles, with a maximum of 6 pupils per Pod. As far as possible, each Pod will be at least a 1 metre distance from the next Pod. Perspex has already been fixed to desks in classrooms where social distancing of 1 metre was not possible due to class size.
Use of resources in the classroom
Only resources which can be easily cleaned will be used. Toys and materials which are difficult to clean (e.g. dress up clothes or soft toys) will not be used during this temporary Covid-19 emergency.
Pupils will hand sanitise before and after using any materials.
Pupils will not be allowed to share their own materials/resources such pencils, pens, rulers, books etc.
Sharing of educational materials between pods will be avoided where possible. All items will be sanitised before another pod uses them.
Break times will be staggered, and each class bubble will play in their designated section on the yard.
Doors and Windows
Where practical, all internal doors will be left open to minimise hand contact with common surfaces.
To ensure that classrooms are well ventilated, windows will be kept open as often as possible, and will be opened while children are taking breaks in the playground.
Windows will be opened when children are singing as a group.
Parents/Guardians are asked to co-operate in helping to keep school staff safe by arranging for payments of art supplies and book rental through the school office. ( A note will besent out to each class group regarding these payments when we return in September)
Children will not be sent to the Secretary’s Office or to the Reception area to deliver messages.
As far as possible, staff members will not enter the Office area and will speak with the Secretary at the Foyer/ Reception area.
Any staff member who uses the photocopier should clean it down after use with the wipes provided.
The yard will be clearly divided into 4 areas during their allotted break times and there will be a maximum of four class bubbles outside in each yard at any one time.
Each class bubble will play in their allocated section on the yard/field with their own class bubble.
Yards will be supervised as per normal practice.
Pupils will be outside as much as possible and within reason. For example, during very heavy rain and cold weather, their time outside will be reduced but every effort will be made to have the children outside in the fresh air as much as possible.
Special Education Support
In keeping with our Special Education policy, support will be provided by a blended approach of in-class support and withdrawal. The provision of support will be organised to ensure our support teachers will work within the confines of a bubble.
In-class Support: Where a support teacher is working alongside a class teacher in a classroom, both teachers must be mindful of maintaining a social distance from one another.
Withdrawal Support: Where children receive support in one of the SET rooms, social distancing of 1 metre will be maintained between each child in the group.
The tables and chairs in SET rooms will be wiped clean in between different groups attending.
While it is not envisaged that PPE will be worn by staff in general, staff may wear PPE during the school day. Staff members who are attending to particular care needs, dealing with suspected Covid-19 cases or who are administering first aid will wear appropriate PPE including gloves, face masks, face shields and aprons.
Teacher Absence and Substitution
In the event that a teacher is unable to attend school, every effort will be made to secure a substitute teacher for the class. If a substitute teacher is not available, it is not appropriate for the class to be divided into groups and accommodated in other classes. In such circumstances, it may not be possible for the class to attend on that day. If that is the case, as much notice as possible will be given to parents.
Substitute Teachers and SNAs
A copy of the Covid-19 Response Plan will be provided to each substitute teacher/SNA. Substitutes will be required to complete a Return to the Workplace Form before they enter a classroom and will be asked to confirm that they have engaged in the online Induction Training.
Where possible, PE will take place outdoors and the use of equipment will not be permitted unless it can be sanitised thoroughly. If the PE hall is being used by class groupings, common touch points will be cleaned at intervals throughout the school day.
The possibility of facilitating extra-curricular activities will be explored. However, it would not be recommended that children from different bubbles would participate in extra-curricular activities at the same time. The Board of Management have decided that only essential activities will take place in the school initially and that this will be reviewed during the first term. Further updates will be provided in due course.
All staff members should maintain a physical distance when they are not engaged in teaching e.g. when they are using the staff room and arriving to work. Face coverings should be worn.
Staff meetings will be held remotely or in small groups or in large spaces to facilitate physical distancing.
Staff members should bring their own cups, bottles, cutlery, etc. to school and avoid sharing utensils in the staffroom as far as possible.
Hygiene and Cleaning
Hand sanitiser dispensers have been installed throughout the school e.g. at each entrance, in each classroom and in other prominent areas around the school.
Soap is available in all classroom sinks, class toilets, staff bathrooms and staff room.
Hand hygiene will be promoted and encouraged, and parents/guardians are asked to support the school in reinforcing this message.
As per public health guidelines – pupils and staff will perform hand hygiene:
on arrival at school
before eating or drinking
after using the toilet
after playing outdoors
when their hands are physically dirty
when they cough or sneeze
Pupils will dispose of any used tissues in the bins in their classrooms.
In accordance with the DES guidelines, as well as the usual cleaning, particular attention will be focused on frequently touched surfaces – door handles, handrails, chairs/arm rests, pupils desks, communal eating areas, sink and toilet facilities.
In addition to these cleaning protocols, a fogging machine will be used to sanitise the rooms each day.
All staff will have access to cleaning products and will be required to maintain cleanliness of their own work area. Staff should thoroughly clean and disinfect their work area and the children's tables and chairs before and after use each day.
Teaching and Learning
As a staff, we are very aware that the children have been away from school since March 12th. We appreciate the time and effort that went into Distance Learning, and we recognise the challenges that Distance Learning presented for all families.
Upon our return to school our priority is to support the wellbeing of pupils and staff and to help everyone to settle back into school life.
Each child will be at a different place in relation to his/her learning, and we wish to assure you that staff will take that into consideration when planning for Teaching and Learning during the 2020/2021 school year.
The Department of Education and Skills has published Curriculum Guidelines for us, and we ask you to trust our experience and professional expertise as we work with all the children during the return to school.
We are aware that we may need to revert to Distance Learning in the event of further school closures.
In the event of Distance Learning in the future – we will be sending home consent forms seeking permission for your child to use Google Classroom, include images of themselves (closed and secure forum which only the teacher will see) participate in possible Zoom classes.
We will also be moving to Aladdin Connect which will mean most of our correspondence will be via email. We will issue guidelines to parents on this is due course.
Please ensure that we have an updated email address for Distance Learning, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme
Support for school staff wellbeing will be provided by Department Support Services including the PDST and CSL, as well as by the HSE’s Health Promotion Team.
An Occupational Health Strategy is in place as a supportive resource for staff in schools. The aim of the Occupational Health Strategy is to promote the health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace, with a strong focus on prevention.
The Occupational Health Strategy comprises the Employee Assistance Service and the Occupational Health Service. The Employee Assistance Service (EAS) is provided by Spectrum Life under the logo of ‘Wellbeing Together: Folláinne Le Chéile’.
A free-phone confidential helpline 1800 411 057 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and staff members are encouraged to make use of the service when the need arises.
Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19
Pupils should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. If a pupil displays symptoms of Covid-19 while in the building, the following are the procedures will be implemented:
Parents/guardians will be contacted immediately.
The child will be accompanied to the designated isolation area via the isolation route by a member of staff. The staff member will remain at least 2 metres away from the symptomatic child and will also make sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from the symptomatic child at all times.
The Principal's Office will be the designated isolation area. Seating will be two metres apart. Supervision will be provided by a member of school staff.
A mask will be provided for the child presenting with symptoms, if one is available. S/he should wear the mask if in a common area with other people or while exiting the premises.
An assessment will be made as to whether the child who is displaying symptoms can immediately be brought home by parents and call their doctor and continue self-isolation at home.
The child presenting with symptoms should be advised to cover their mouth and nose with the disposable tissue provided when they cough or sneeze and to put the tissue in the waste bag provided.
If the child is well enough to go home, the school will arrange for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible, and advise them to inform their GP by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used.
If they are too unwell to go home or advice is required, the school will contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick child is presenting with symptoms of Covid-19.
Arrangements will be made for appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved.
The HSE will inform any staff/parents who have come into close contact with a diagnosed case via the contact tracing process. The HSE will contact all relevant persons where a diagnosis of Covid-19 is made. The instructions of the HSE will be followed.