We are looking forward to welcoming all our pupils and their families and communities back to school for the 2020/2021 school year this Monday, 31st August.
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.
In relation to sick children, we received advice yesterday from the Department of Education; Schools Pathway for COVID-19, Public Health approach; “Children with a blocked or runny nose, but no fever can attend school or childcare, but if they require paracetamol or ibuprofen for their symptoms, they must not attend school for 48 hours and GP assessment for testing is indicated.”
In addition, we’re told “all diarrhoea symptoms need to have been resolved for 48 hours prior to return to school.” Please be mindful of this as we go into our new school year – a symptomatic child “should remain at home until he/she is clinically well enough to return to school.” If your child becomes unwell we will phone you, please ensure we have an up-to-date contact number.
In the event your child is sent home with symptoms similar to COVID-19, we are told “the parents / legal guardian of the sick child should contact their GP as usual, to discuss clinical concerns. If it is determined by the GP that the child/pupil requires to be tested for Covid-19, any other household contacts should be removed from the school setting.” The HSE will liaise directly with you in this event.
The document also provides us with some reassurance; “investigations of cases identified in school settings suggest that child to child transmission in schools is uncommon.” This is positive to hear as we begin this unusual school year.
On Monday, we ask that you observe social distancing and remind the children to make their way directly to their designated door. Older children may observe social distancing as they have been practicing, no doubt, with you in their daily lives. We will open the doors from 9.10am to welcome them back. There’ll be plenty of time allotted to getting the children into the building, handwashing or sanitising and some pleasant activities planned to make school a safe, secure and happy setting. Please be under no pressure to arrive early, the aim is to take our time to ease into our new routines.
Some children will be new, nervous or need you with them, this is absolutely fine. Come along to their door and we can meet with you to ease your child into their day. Upon collection at 2pm or 3pm, we ask again that you observe social distancing as required by DES. Again, we’ll have spent some time getting the children organised and hands sanitised before they make their way out to you. The latest documents advise “it is a community endeavour to keep schools open and pupils, staff and communities safe.” We will all row together to see our school working as it should be.
The children may have some closure work they would like us to see from their period at home – they can gather their folders, packs or pieces to bring to school next week. We can give feedback in context, allowing us to take stock of where we are at as a class group as we go, as requested by DES.
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 to 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 will cope with the challenges as they come our way and we will work together to keep our children safe and happy and learning in their classrooms this year.
We will see you all on Monday 31st August. Pass along the message to the children that we’re looking forward to seeing them, and unfortunately they’ll have no homework for a while, and more PE/fresh-air time in the early days!!!