St Declan's College

Plan for protecting against the spread of Covid-19- A Guide for Parents

28-August-20
Plan for protecting against the spread of Covid-19- A Guide for Parents

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Plan for protecting against the spread of Covid-19

A Guide for Parents

This guide is a summary of our plan to protect our school community against the spread of Covid-19. It should be read in conjunction with the full plan and the ‘St Declan’s College COVID-19 Response Plan for the safe and sustainable reopening of Our School’ (both available on the school website). It is a living document and as such will change according to advice and guidance from the Department of Education and regular review by the management of the school.

This document focuses on the practical steps we are taking to minimise the risk of infection from Covid-19.It recognises that no interpersonal activity is without risk of transmission of infection at any times within the school. We are reliant on you, as parents, to support our efforts in maintaining a safe environment so that we can do our best to prevent Covid-19 from entering our school community and minimise its spread if it does become present.

Every effort has been made to balance the need for a practical and sensible level of caution with the need to provide a supportive environment for teaching and learning.

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Changes to Logistics

How and when your son arrives to school, moves around the school and leaves school has changed as we are ensuring we minimise footfall in corridors. Your son will be informed of these changes during his induction period.

Some points for you to note:

Entering the School in the morning

Students will enter as usual through the main gate and remain physically distanced (2 metres) until they have put their face mask on. With the face masks on students must remain 1 metre apart.

Students will enter the school through a different door depending on the block they are going to. Students will proceed directly to their classroom. There can be no groups gathering in corridors. Lockers are not in use. This to prevent the spread of the virus directly from the surface of the lockers and to prevent the gathering of students around lockers.

It is envisaged that the toilets in all three blocks are open at this time. The number of students who should be in the toilets at one time is A Block: 2, B Block: 3, C Block: 2.

Teachers will be supervising corridors and the number of students in toilets and the physically distanced queue for the toilets.

Exiting the School at lunchtime and at the end of the school day

Transition Year, Fifth Year and Second Year students will finish five minutes before lunchtime and before the end of the day every day.

First Year, Third Year and Sixth Year students will finish at the usual time every day.

Students will exit each block via specific routes. There will be no groups gathering in corridors.

For the fifteen minutes after the end of the day/beginning of lunchtime each block is supervised by teachers as is standard practise. They will focus on moving students along as efficiently and safely as possible. If a teacher sees that a route is under pressure they will redirect students as necessary. It is envisaged that the toilets in the B Block and C Block are open at this time.

One-way System

Students will follow the one-way system that has always been in place, however more exits will be open so that the flow of traffic in the corridors will be lighter. For example students will exit the Art Room and some labs from the back door.

Small Break

The small break will be staggered so we can use our available space as efficiently/ safely as possible.

Second Years, TYs and Fifth Years will take their break at an earlier time. They will be stationed in separate yards.

First Years, Third Years and Sixth Years will take their break following the first group. They will be stationed in separate yards.

When they are in their yard the students can take off their face coverings and eat and chat while physically distanced at a distance of two metres.

The B Block toilet will be open throughout both break times and a teacher will monitor the queue and the number of students in the toilet.

After break students will proceed from their yards to their classrooms by following the one-way system. The year group in front of the gym will go along the side of the C block and enter the school via the First Year Yard/ C38 Exit Doors. They must place their face masks back on before entering the building.

Lunchtime

All students who live within walking/cycling distance from the school are to go home for lunch. We are not able to safely keep a very large number of students in the school for lunch on a rainy day. We do not have space to do so under the current guidelines on social distancing.

For those students who cannot go home for lunch they will eat lunch in a socially distanced (two metres apart) manner in the school canteen, classrooms and outside. Students will be assigned specific classrooms to eat in for the year. Students will ensure the room is kept clean and property in the classroom is respected.

Your son will be given a form for you to fill in regarding going home for lunch during the induction period.

Classrooms

Students will not line up outside the classroom as was usual. They will enter the class and sanitise their hands. At the beginning of the class students will be supplied with a sanitising wipe to wipe down their own desk and chair prior to the start of the class.

Students will wear their masks in class (see below).

The teacher will use a disinfectant wipe on the door handle (inside and out) before the class begins.

If the teacher has just arrived in the room they will use a disinfectant wipe on the desk and keyboard.

Students cannot borrow books, copies, pens etc from each other.

If a teacher collects written work they will store it safely in a box/poly pocket for 72 hours before correcting it and once the work is corrected store it for another 72 hours before it is redistributed.

At the end of the class the teacher will supervise the students leaving the room as appropriate.

There is a one-metre space between students in our classrooms as per guidelines from the Department of Education. A tiny number of our classrooms can facilitate a class of 24 with this spacing. Therefore, there will be a number of students in most classes who will not be able to fit into the classroom for every class. For now the extra students from each class will be supervised in the gym. The subject teacher will know which classes they have that may be led to the room being over-capacity. They will decide which students are going to the gym and make sure they rotate these students each class. In the gym the students will work on the subject matter they are missing. This work will be provided by the subject teacher.

The gym will be laid out in three socially distanced ‘classrooms’. Each one will be supervised as necessary. The supervisor will have a sign-in sheet where students will sign in. This will be made available to teachers at the end of the day so they can check their students were present. This system will be reviewed frequently. Disruption of this system will lead to a meeting between parents and the disruptive student’s Year Head.

Practical Subjects

PE

PE will not be taking place in the conventional sense as the gym will be in use and students would need to socially distance in changing rooms which is not possible.

We are aware there is a very real need for exercise and breaks for the students from wearing their masks.

Instead of normal PE class students will be brought by their PE teachers on a walk.

Students will gather outside the gym and remain socially distanced. The PE teacher will call the roll and will facilitate the student changing into runners if they wish and leaving school bags in the changing rooms.

On rainy days PE classes will go to a class room where the teacher will teach them a lesson relevant to health and fitness.

This system will be reviewed at the end of September and it is hoped that more access to PE can be provided further into the year.

Art

Students will enter the Art Room via the normal door but will exit via the back door.

Students will use the equipment from their art packs and must not share this equipment.

Ms McGinley will use disposable gloves when distributing materials

Instructions issued by Ms McGinley around the handling of materials must be strictly adhered to.

Woodwork & Construction Studies

It will not initially be possible to do practical classes in these subjects. This will be reviewed at the end of September when it is hoped this can be changed.

Metalwork & DCG

It will not initially be possible to do practical classes in these. This will be reviewed at the end of September when it is hoped this can be changed.

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Books/Lockers

Students will not have access to or be assigned lockers for the foreseeable future and therefore will not be required to bring in all of their books.

Students will continue to bring their journal, copies, notebooks, pencil-case, exam papers etc.

Senior students may be asked to bring books to school with them, especially Leaving Cert students, but no sanctions will be issued for students not having books.

Teachers will use ebooks on the projector when required.

School Uniform

There is minimal risk of students spreading the virus via their uniform so they will wear the uniform as usual. Frequent washing is encouraged.

It will no longer be possible to supply spare ties and slippers. Students who do not wear the correct shoes to school will be sent home to change (parents will be notified when this happens). Students who do not wear their tie will be issued a sanction by their tutor.

When a student becomes sick

Your son should not attend school if he is unwell, especially if he has any of the following symptoms: cough, a temperature higher than 38 degrees Celsius, shortness of breath, lack of smell/taste. Other symptoms of Covid-19 include: fatigue, chills, muscle pain/aches, headache, sore throat, diarrhoea, rash on skin, discolouration of the toes or fingers, congestion or runny nose and nausea or vomiting. You are asked to keep your son at home if he displays any of these symptoms. Likewise, all staff have been told they will need to stay at home if they are displaying these symptoms.

When a student starts to feel sick in school they will notify their class teacher immediately. If it is lunch time or break time they must notify their Class Tutor or Year Head. If the student is not displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (for example they have injured themselves) they will be given a note in their journal for the school office and will follow the normal procedure from then on.

If the student is displaying symptoms of Covid-19 the following will happen:

  • The teacher will send a student to one of the two members of the Isolation Team present in the block they are teaching in. As soon as this student returns the student who feels unwell will stand outside his classroom door and wait for a member of the isolation team to arrive. The member of the isolation team will put on the correct PPE and collect the student as quickly as possible. The teacher will accompany the student via the path of least resistance and outside where possible to the Isolation Room (A5).
  • Parents will be contacted immediately and asked to collect their son without delay. If your son is feeling well enough to walk home you may give permission for him to do that.
  • If anyone is too unwell to be brought home we will contact 999.

Classes will not continue in the classroom the sick student was in until the appropriate cleaning has taken place.

Isolation Room

A5 will be the Isolation Room. It can be accessed from outside without passing through a corridor. Dividers will be installed so that a student can remain safely away from another student if necessary, the space is relatively big. There can be a maximum of four students in there at a time so it is essential students return home as quickly as possible. All necessary sanitiser, masks and PPE will be available. This room/system will be reviewed weekly and the room is cleaned appropriately and frequently.

Reception

The secretaries are being provided with a Perspex screen at reception. They will wear masks when necessary.

It will not be possible to drop off forgotten lunches, face masks etc. It will not be possible to come into the school without an appointment. If you have an appointment please call reception when you are outside and one of the secretaries will let you know when it’s safe to enter.

In the case of an emergency please contact reception by phone and arrangements will be made.

A detailed sign in/sign out log of those entering the school facilities is in place.

Cleaning

We are following the specific advice in relation to school cleaning as is set out in the HPSC advice.

Each area of the school will be cleaned at least once per day. Additional cleaning will be focused on frequently touched surfaces (door handles, hand rails, chairs/arm rests, communal eating areas, sink and toilet facilities).

As stated above students will wipe down their own desks and chairs at the beginning of every class.

All staff will have access to cleaning products and will be required to maintain cleanliness of their own work area. Staff will be asked to thoroughly clean and disinfect their work area before and after use each day.

There will be regular collection of used waste disposal bags from offices, corridors and classrooms.

In the case of a room(s) where at student or staff member with suspected Covid-19 has been present the rooms will be cleaned as soon as possible. Once the room is vacated the room will not be reused until it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and all surfaces are dry.

The school has undergone a deep clean.

A list of areas that need to be cleaned several times a day/ after each class has been compiled and cleaners and all staff have been given guidance on how best to keep these areas clean and safe and how often to do so.

Wearing of masks

All students are required to wear cloth masks, without valves or vents. This face covering should cover the nose and go under the chin. It should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include at least 3 layers of fabric and allow for breathing without restriction. It should be plain and dark in colour.

If a student forgets their mask they cannot enter the school building. They will proceed from the main gate along the side of the A Block, into the car park and into the First Year Yard. There they will wait (socially distanced if necessary) for a mask to be distributed by the Deputy Principal. Each student can avail of this once a term only. If the student forgets their mask again they will be sent home to get their mask and return to school. Parents will be notified if their son will be leaving the school to return home.

Any interference with another person’s mask or any refusal to wear a mask/face covering will be taken very seriously and is dealt with below.

Students are advised to bring at least one spare face mask in a sealed Ziploc bag to replace the one they have been wearing if it gets wet or soiled in any way.

Students who are wreckless around the spreading of the virus

Face Coverings

If a student interferes with another person’s mask or refuses to wear a mask/face covering they will be sent home. A meeting with parents will be held and a sanction up to and including suspension will be issued. If a student repeatedly refuses to wear his mask after the initial sanction a further meeting will be held with parents and the Deputy Principal and/ or Principal. The student will be subject to a serious sanction up to and including referral to the Board of Management.

Social Distancing

Students must maintain a distance of 2 metres between them once they are outside and have taken off their face covering. Refusal to do this will lead to the student being sent home, a meeting held with parents and a sanction up to and including suspension being issued. If a student repeatedly refuses to maintain the 2 metres between himself and others after the initial sanction a further meeting will be held with parents and the Deputy Principal and/ or Principal. The student will be subject to a serious sanction up to and including referral to the Board of Management.

Threatening the Health of others

A student who engages in threatening behaviour towards a member of staff or another student where they purposefully put the other person at risk of being exposed to Covid-19 will be sent home immediately and will be subject to a serious sanction up to and including referral to the Board of Management.

General Statement:

The Board of Management of St Declan’s College regards any breach of Covid-19 procedures such as guidelines for social distancing, hygiene etiquette, instructions to conform with best practices in health and safety of others, inside and outside the school building and while in uniform to be regarded as sanctionable under the school Code of Behaviour and school rules on respect, safety and bringing the school’s good name into disrepute.

All of the above four statements have been sanctioned by the Board of Management. You are asked to confirm that you will cooperate with the above four statements by signing the appropriate letter (it will be given to your son during the induction period) and returning it to his class tutor by Thursday 10th September. If you are not agreeable to this your son will not be able to make a full return to school.

Transition of Students back to School

Students will undergo an induction of two hours on their first day back and a half day on their second day back. Over this time students will receive thorough induction on Covid-19, hygiene, the correct wearing of face masks and the new logistics of the school. There will be a focus on how to physically distance themselves correctly. There will also be time given for students to reconnect with their classmates and their teachers and participate in physically distance ice-breakers.

Students who are cannot attend school because they are at ‘very high risk’ from Covid-19

Students who fall into this category will be catered for by their teachers via Schoolwise once contact has been made with the Deputy Principal.

Teaching and Learning

We are very aware that every student has undergone a challenging time since March 12th, some more so than others. Our students and their families were able to meet the challenge of remote learning in different ways. Each of our students is, therefore in a different place with his learning. We want to reassure you that all of our teachers are taking this into consideration while planning their schemes for work for the upcoming academic year. They are the experts and can be trusted to guide your son through the year.

Changes have been made to how several of the Leaving Cert. and Junior Cert. subjects are going to be assessed. If this affects your son his teachers will address it with him.

Schoolwise

All students will undergo a training module on Schoolwise as part of their return to school induction next week. They will be given a help sheet. Both the help sheet and the training will be posted online for parents to access. The training will include how to address teachers via Schoolwise, how to submit work etc. Parents are asked to familiarise themselves with the learning platform if they have not already done so.

In the case of any future school shutdown teaching and learning will begin immediately via Schoolwise. A timetable will be made available and all students will be expected to participate.

It is not appropriate for students to contact teachers over the Schoolwise platform if we are not in a school shutdown. During a school shutdown situation students may contact the teacher in an appropriate fashion during school hours. It is not reasonable to expect an immediate response.

In all cases except the return of forms and when specifically requested parents should use the school journal and the phone to contact teachers. Teachers have been asked to refer any inappropriate or abusive message or email from parents or students to the Deputy Principal or Principal.

SEN & SNAs

The work of the SEN department is underway as usual but some changes will necessarily take pace. For example it will no longer be possible to have as many groups working with teachers in our SEN Room as it had been in previous years due to the need to keep the one metre space between students. Rest assured our SEN students will be catered for but it will take a little longer than usual to organise this this year.

Wellbeing of students and teachers and all members of our school community

Throughout the transition back to school for students and staff we are focussing on trying to develop and maintain a sense of safety, a sense of calm, and a sense of hope.

We believe that our students in time students will feel that they can manage to do what is needed for school to return to being a place of learning and fun for them.

We want to reignite the sense of belonging and connectedness that had been felt very strongly by students and staff but faded during the shutdown

Every staff member of St Declan’s is looking forward to welcoming back our students. We are grateful for your support during this transition period and over the coming year.

Eibhlin O'Reilly

Deputy Principal

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