St Declan's College

Update for parents - 21 February 2021

Update for parents on the resumption of school following the February mid-term break
21-February-21
Update for parents - 21 February 2021

21 February 2021

As school prepares to begin again after the mid-term break it is the right time to reflect on our achievements and the challenges we face together as a community, while also preparing for the weeks ahead until Easter.

The term since January was marked by a return to online learning. It was disappointing that having successfully reopened our schools in September and having bedded in a system of teaching and learning which placed the safety of our students & staff at its core we could not return to school based classes. However, there is no doubt that the right advice was given by NPHET which prioritised protecting public health while allowing the education process to continue.

I fully appreciate the limitations that online engagement presents. There is the obvious challenge of having the tools essential to access online classes. In a survey 68% of our students have said that they are using their mobile phone as the principal means of attending class. Others have limited access to broadband. This highlights some of the many difficulties with online learning. We are not equipped as a society to fully engage with the process.

Notwithstanding those limitations it was very encouraging to see the efforts the vast majority of students and their families made to ensure that they attended online classes daily and submitted whatever work they could.

Studyclix PLUS

To support teachers and staff I subscribed to Studyclix PLUS which allows free access to the website for all. Each student can set up their individual account and can make use of all the resources available. The website hosts the past examination papers in an easy to access and search format as well as study notes, quizzes, videos and guides on individual topics for most subjects. The subscription paid for the website along with the provision of a free school journal to each student was to compensate them for their locker fee paid last June.

Help Videos

In an attempt to address the lack of access to devices in students’ homes we posted a help video showing how Xbox and PlayStation consoles could be used to access SchoolWise. Many students found this to be a great help. A help video on using Office Lens for submitting students’ work was also posted. Students can also use their phone to pair with a smart TV or access the internet directly using a smart TV. These are just some of the ways you can adapt to a shortage of devices.

Laptop Appeal

In the last two weeks I have reached out to our past pupils with a Laptop Appeal. This initiative is to see if they themselves or the companies through which they are employed would be in a position to provide a laptop (or the funding for one) to the school. It has generated a lot of interest and support. I am now extending that appeal to parents/guardians to enquire if your employer would be in a position to donate a laptop to the school or fund one so we could loan a device which would help a student engage fully with online learning. Please contact me directly if you are in a position to do so.

A dedicated Easypayments fundraising button has been placed on the school website to allow anyone who wishes to make a cash donation. The fundraising tab can be accessed here: https://pay.easypaymentsplus.com/feepay1v2.aspx?id=1605

Any help in relieving the stress in a student’s home is to be welcomed. I hope this appeal will get widespread support and am encouraging you to let your family and friends know about it. The worst thing that can happen to you by asking for support is for someone to say no. By someone saying yes you could make a massive difference in a young person’s life.

Fifth Year Options Night

On Thursday, 25 February 2021 at 6.30pm we will be making a presentation to parents of current TY students and those students who are going directly from Third year into Fifth year in 2021/22. The presentation is in relation to subject choices for 5th year students. Ms Tierney, guidance counsellor, will also be speaking about subject choice and the implications for admission to Third Level courses. The meeting will be held by webinar and details on how to register posted later in the week. It is very important that you attend.

Monday 22 February 2021

All students will have a tutor class during the first period tomorrow morning. During this class the tutors will address the protocols in place for online engagement. It is essential all students attend and are fully aware of the correct procedures in accessing and attending classes. Links have been set up on SchoolWise for each group.

State Examinations 2021

The Minister for Education & Skills, Norma Foley, announced last week arrangements that are being planned for this year’s state examinations candidates.

The Junior Certificate examinations have been cancelled. As yet no alternative to the examinations has been announced.

Leaving Certificate students will have the choice of receiving Accredited grades, sitting the Leaving Certificate in June 2021 or a combination of both.

Schools have received no detail in respect of the arrangements or procedures for the proposals. All we have seen, like you, is what is reported in the media.

There is a briefing of school managers, by the JMB, on Tuesday. Hopefully, some information will be made available at this. When I am given full clarity on the procedures and the process involved I will hold an online assembly with all State Examination candidates to inform them of the details. It is very important to note that the exam arrangements are all subject to change should public health advice deem it necessary.

The Minister’s statement is available here:

https://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2021-press-releases/PR21-02-17.html

Thank you for all your support and understanding. I recognise the very difficult situations each family is operating in and appreciate how you have encouraged your son to engage with the school. For our part please be assured that we are doing our utmost to work with you and our students so they receive the best possible experience.

Brian Avery

Principal

15 Mar 2021
Proposed return of 5th year students
17 Mar 2021
Lá Fhéile Pádraig
29 Mar 2021
Easter break
28-Feb-2021
Advice issued by the Department of Education & Skills (DES)
26-Feb-2021
A letter from Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn to parents & guardians on the reopening of schools 1 March 2021
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