LETTER FROM MS. Hollywell 19th August 2020

St. Mary’s School

Oldcourt

Rochestown

Cork

T  : 021 4891431 (0852407673)

E  : info@stmarysrochestown.com

W : www.stmarysrochestown.com

19th August 2020

Dear Parent / Guardian,

The BoM and School Staff are looking forward to welcoming all our pupils and parents / guardians back to school for the 2020/2021 school year on Monday 31st August.

We have delayed opening from our planned date of 28th August to ensure that all our PPE and sanitary supplies are in place. There have been some delays due to the amount of orders schools have put in. We also need to take time to train staff. The health and safety of students and staff is the most important thing to the school.

We are satisfied that we have control measures in place to ensure that this will be a safe re-opening.  It will take some time for all of us to get used to the “new circumstances” as we become familiar with the new routines and procedures designed to keep everyone safe and to prevent the spread of the virus.  There will, undoubtedly, be some unforeseen challenges and we will deal with these as they arise.

We would like to thank you for your co-operation in making preparations to date and look forward to working with you as we assist the children adapt to the necessary changes.  We are also conscious of the fact that our pupils have not been in school since March and that they are looking forward to coming back to school to meet their friends again.  We are aware that our new pupils are beginning a school year at a challenging time and have made plans to ensure that their arrival will be as free from stress as possible.

We have attached a letter that explains many of the changes in place in the school and the requirements for your child returning. I have also attached an updated Code of Behaviour which we would appreciate if you would go through with your child.

Class teachers will make contact by phone on Thursday 27th or Friday 28th to answer any questions you may have.

Regards,

Ms. Hollywell

Principal

COVID-19 Policy Statement

St Mary’s is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our staff and a safe learning environment for all our pupils. To ensure that, we have developed the following COVID-19 Response Plan. The BOM and all school staff are responsible for the implementation of this plan and a combined effort will help contain the spread of the virus. We will:

  • continue to monitor our COVID-19 response and amend this plan in consultation with our staff
  • provide up to date information to our staff and pupils on the Public Health advice issued by the HSE and Gov.ie
  • display information on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and correct hand-washing techniques
  • agree with staff, a worker representative who is easily identifiable to carry out the role outlined in this plan
  • inform all staff and pupils of essential hygiene and respiratory etiquette and physical distancing requirements
  • adapt the school to facilitate physical distancing as appropriate in line with the guidance and direction of the Department of Education
  • keep a contact log to help with contact tracing
  • ensure staff engage with the induction / familiarisation briefing provided by the Department of Education
  • implement the agreed procedures to be followed in the event of someone showing symptoms of COVID-19 while at school
  • provide instructions for staff and pupils to follow if they develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during school time
  • implement cleaning in line with Department of Education advice

All school staff will be consulted on an ongoing basis and feedback is encouraged on any concerns, issues or suggestions.

This can be done through the Lead Worker Representative(s), who will be supported in line with the agreement between the Department and education partners.

Signed: ____Margaret Barry________________                              Date: 13/08/20

Chairperson of Board of Management

Addendum to St. Mary’s School Code of Behaviour with regard to COVID-19 risks: NOTE the rest of the discipline policy is under the policies TAB.

Rationale:

We aim to maintain a happy, healthy, and safe learning environment in which children are encouraged to have respect for themselves, each other and for school staff. To assist us in this, we have a robust code of behaviour, primarily focused on promoting positive behaviour.

St. Mary’s Special School is proud to have a very respectful and considerate school community. It is important that provision be made to discourage behaviours that are now, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, considered inappropriate or potentially dangerous to the health and safety of others.

Updated August 2020:

All members of the school community, staff, pupils, and visitors are expected to:

•         Follow HSE guidance instructions on hygiene, such as hand washing and sanitising

•         Use elbow or a tissue to cover mouth & nose when sneezing or coughing

•         Dispose of tissues properly

•         Avoid touching mouth, nose and eyes with hands

•         Inform the Principal if experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus

Additional Pupils’ Responsibilities:

•         Follow altered procedures and instructions for safe arrival and departure from school

•         Follow instructions around bubbles, pods both in class and during breaks

•         Stay in seat as much as possible (raising hand to seek attention)

•         Only share equipment by direction of staff

•         Keep their work area neat and tidy

•         Not share drinking bottles, food, etc

•         Use toilets one-at-a-time, ensuring hands are washed properly (20seconds, with soap) and dried before returning to their place

Additional Parents/Guardians’ Responsibilities:

•         Follow altered procedures for arrival and departure or collection of child from school

•         Support the school by reinforcing guidance and teaching children hand hygiene, personal distancing, and respiratory etiquette

•         Stay outside of the school building except where they have made an appointment by phone or email to meet staff

•         Keep pupils who are unwell at home, informing the school by email/phone of the type of illness being experienced, until a full recovery is made. It is very important not to send a child who is unwell to school as this places everyone else at potential risk. We do not know if a cough or sneeze is COVID or a mere cold but we cannot risk the health and safety of the school community by having ill children attend school. All children presenting with COVID symptoms will be sent home and asked to remain at home until they have been checked by a doctor as per our Covid-19 response plan.

•         Keep their mobile phone ON at all times while children are in school in case the school needs to contact parents urgently to collect child if unwell or if a case arises in the school. Inform school if mobile contact changes during year.

•         Be available or arrange to have someone available to collect children if there is a need to send them home due to COVID-19 circumstances arising in the school or on the school bus transport.

Additional Staff Responsibilities:

•         Adhere to and follow all guidelines issued by HSE, DES and school COVID-19 Response Plan protocols and procedures

•         Encourage and practice personal social distancing in all school areas

•         Keep the work area and school materials and equipment clean and tidy and disinfected regularly.

•         Ensure pupils practice hand hygiene at all appropriate times (before eating/when entering classroom/after toileting/after using shared equipment/etc)

•         Teach pupils to co-operate and learn the new routines and hygiene practices and support their re-connection with school life in a positive, empathic way.

•         Liaise with Lead Worker Representative on any issues of concern that need to be brought to management

It is the aim that all staff and parents will ensure that pupils are taught the procedures set out above and that pupils will be encouraged and supported at all times to follow such procedures in a calm, supportive and proactive way so that potential risks are minimised.

However the following behaviours will be considered as misdemeanours under the code (whether minor, serious, or gross will be determined contextually), due to their potential impact on the physical and psychological health, safety and well being of other members of the school community:

Deliberately ignoring guidance on:

  • personal space and distancing
  • hand hygiene
  • respiratory etiquette (e.g. failing to cover mouth/nose when coughing/sneezing, not properly disposing of used tissues, etc)
  • zones at playtime for pods/bubbles

or

  • Coughing or spitting at or towards any other person
  • Any deliberate action, which may endanger the safety and wellbeing of others through physical proximity or respiratory behaviour
  • Any accidental action, persisted in after instruction or correction by staff, which may endanger the safety and wellbeing of others through physical proximity or respiratory behaviour

The consequences for such behaviours which put the health and safety of others at risk will be as already set out in the Code of Behaviour but parents need to know that due to the increased health & safety risks associated with COVID-19 such behaviours listed above cannot and will not be tolerated and swift action will be taken to emphasise how serious such behaviours are and the consequences of engaging in such behaviours.

It is possible that parents of children who engage in behaviours as set out above will be contacted to collect their child from school if the behaviour is persistent despite all staff attempts to reduce the behaviour(s).

Parents and children will be required to read, accept and agree to the above specific measures to assist with maintaining the school to be a happy, healthy and safe learning environment for all pupils and school staff.

Signed:  _________________________________                Parent/Guardian

Signed: __________________________________               Pupil (if applicable)

Date:  ________________________

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