Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Reopening of School on Tuesday September 1st

RE: Re-opening of School


Dear Parents,

                       I hope you and your families are keeping well.  As you are aware, our school has now been closed since 12th March due to the COVID-19 situation.  We are now hoping to re-open our school safely, two weeks from today, in line with current guidance and recommendations.

                     Re-opening the school safely will require the co-operation of all members of our School Community – BoM, School Leadership, Staff, Parents and Pupils. We will all be called on to play our part in ensuring that re-opening of the school is done in a safe manner which prevents the spread of the virus and allows the vital work of Teaching and Learning to proceed with as little disruption as possible.

             We have been working on our plan for the safe reopening of the school for some weeks now. The DES COVID-19 Response Plan for the safe and sustainable reopening of Primary  Schools is available on the DES website www.education.ie.  The Response Plan gives details of

·       Physical preparation, signage, hand sanitiser stations,

·       Advice, procedures and training for the safe return to working in the school for all school staff and pupils

·       General and specific advice on how all pupils, staff, parents and visitors will prevent the spread of the virus

We will also publish our COVID-19 Policy Statement on the school website later this week following a meeting of the Board of Management on Thursday. The school will keep you informed as to the progress of our re-opening plans and provide you with the information required by you to play your part in safely re-opening the school.

                    The following websites provide further information on COVID-19 and on government advice and recommendations regarding the re-opening of schools: -

·       https://www.education.ie/en/covid-19/

·       https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/

·        https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/a128d-back-to-school/?referrer=http://www.gov.ie/backtoschool/

                          During June, July and August, the school has installed hand sanitiser units in every classroom, SEN room and at every entry and exit. The tarmac area of playground has been extended so that the children will now have an additional 800 sq metres of playground when school reopens. This will enable greater Social Distancing when we return to school. We have installed a PA system and inter-classroom telephone system to improve communication and reduce the necessity for staff to visit classrooms other than their own. We have also  installed a new gate at the Resource Centre side of the school to allow for easier access and reduce crowding as children arrive and leave.  Signage has been posted in corridors, in classrooms and on floors to remind all children and staff of good practice. I am grateful to Zimmer Biomet in Shannon who provided the school with child-friendly, eye catching signage.

               There have been many organisational changes as we prepare for the new school year. In so far as is possible, the classes with the largest numbers of children will be in the largest rooms. Classes at the same level, e.g. 5th & 6th, Junior & Senior Infants have been relocated to reduce incidence of children passing pupils from other classes in the corridor en route to the playground.  All classrooms have been configured to provide as much distance as possible between children. Furniture such as bookcases, cupboards etc has been removed and stored to maximise the space available in the classrooms.

            New routines will be in place when school reopens. Parents will be informed of these over the next fortnight as all the details are worked out. In so far as is possible in the circumstances that prevail, we will endeavour to keep everything as normal as possible. However, we cannot ignore the new reality as we fight to keep Covid at bay. Something as ordinary as a  visit to the local shop brings protocols about face masks, visors, keeping our distance etc and schools will be no different.     All children will be asked to wash their hands/sanitise when they arrive each morning and again before eating and after playtime. There will be  soap, disposable hand towels and hand sanitiser stations in each classroom. 

            There will also be a dedicated isolation room in case a staff member or student has virus symptoms – if a child feels unwell during the day he/she will be taken to the isolation room and a staff member will call his/her parent.      Anyone, child or adult,  with a  temperature or any other symptom will be asked to avoid coming to school.

                      In the meantime, this weekend sees 46 boys and girls receive the Sacrament of First Holy Communion on Friday and Saturday of this week. All children completed their First Confession in recent weeks. Great  credit is due to the Parent First Holy Communion Committee who have worked hard with Fr Mike over the summer months.

           Teachers are in school this week,  familiarising themselves with the new protocols and organising their classrooms. We have several new faces on the teaching staff and I welcome Ms Ciara Stapleton, Ms Orla O Gorman and Ms Sarah Stokes to Ballybrown NS. Ms Cathy O Connor is a familiar face who  returns to the school after jobsharing and a career break and we are delighted that she is rejoining us.

We are really looking forward to welcoming our children back to school and will be doing all that we can to ensure that the return to school is a safe and enjoyable experience for the children. We will be in touch with you regularly between now and September 1st when school re-opens.

      Reminder:  All information relating to the school, school calendar, etc  is on the website www.ballybrownns.ie . Check in on  Twitter @BallybrownNS to keep yourself informed on school news.

Gach dea-ghuí,

J. Lyons