Glenahulla N.S. Reopening Plan 2020

1. Rationale 

The school has a responsibility to make every effort to ensure the safety, health and well-being of all members of our school community – children, parents and staff. This plan has been formulated to better ensure that the school can exercise that duty of care. 

Assuming it is in keeping with public health advice and guidelines issued by the Department of Education and Skills (DES), it is preferable for all children to return to school for all five days of the school week and for a full school day. This plan has been formulated to achieve that aim. 

It is not possible to eliminate the risk of infection. However, with the cooperation of all members of our school community, it is possible to minimise the risk of the virus being introduced to school and the consequent risk of its spread. 

As well as co-operation, the flexibility and goodwill of all will be required to ensure the plan can be implemented. 

2. DES Guidelines

The DES guidelines recognise that a common-sense approach is needed in our Primary schools. To that end, every effort will be made to limit interaction within classrooms, to limit contact between class groups and to limit the sharing of common facilities. 

All children return to school and classes operate within a bubble system. The children and their teachers will work in Class Bubbles. A Class Bubble is a grouping which stays apart from other classes as much as possible. The aim of the system within the school is that class groupings mix only with their own class grouping from arrival at school in the morning until the children go home at the end of the school day. 

It is recognised that younger children are unlikely to maintain physical distancing indoors so there is no requirement for children from Junior Infants to Second Class to maintain a physical distance within their Class Bubble. 

Children from Third Class to Sixth Class will be arranged in Pods within their Class Bubbles, with a maximum of 6 pupils per Pod. As far as possible, each Pod will be at least 1 metre distance from the next Pod. All unnecessary furniture has been removed from these classrooms to create as much space as possible. 

Hand sanitiser will be available at all entry points and in all classrooms and support rooms. 

Briefly passing someone in a hall is very unlikely to contribute significantly to the spread of infection if people do not have physical contact and avoid informal group discussions. We will observe the practice of keeping to the left when in the corridors. 

While we will all be delighted to see each other again, hand shaking and hugging will not be allowed. 

3. Bubble Colour 

Each bubble has been assigned a colour. This is to assist procedures around the division of the school yard and entering and leaving school.

Junior and Senior Infants – YELLOW                      

1st & 2nd Class – RED

3rd & 4th Class – BLUE                                            

5th & 6th Class – GREEN

4. SET Support 

In keeping with our Special Education policy, Support Teaching will be provided by a blended approach of in-class support, withdrawal and station teaching (utilising the class pods, but only once considered safe to do so). The provision of support will be organised to ensure our Support Teachers will work as far as possible, within the confines of a bubble. 

• Where a SET is working alongside a class teacher in a classroom, both teachers must be mindful of maintaining social distance from one another. 

• Where children receive support in one of the SET rooms, social distancing of 1 metre will be maintained between each child in the group. 

• Once a group is finished in the Support Rooms, agreed sanitising routines will be observed. The tables, chairs in SET rooms will be wiped clean in between different pupils or small groups attending. All rooms will be supplied with appropriate cleaning equipment. 

5. Personal Equipment 

In so far as possible, it is requested that all children will bring their own pens, pencils, colours, rubbers, etc., to school in their own pencil case to avoid the sharing of equipment. 

• The school will provide storage for each child where they will store their school books and copies. 

• Children will also leave certain books at home for homework activities to minimise the spread of the virus. Homework will be completed and corrected via Seesaw/Google Classroom photo. 

• It is further requested that all items have the child’s name on them for ease of identification. 

• Please ensure that all items of clothing are also labelled. 

• Sharing of equipment may happen in pods on occasion. 

• As much as possible, our initial aim is that lunchboxes, homework journals and water bottles are the only items travelling between home and school. Children should have a pencil case for school and another pencil case for home. School bags will stay in school.

• On arriving at school children will go straight to their classroom.  Children are encouraged to bring a coat and hat which they can leave in school and use on a daily basis.  Children are not permitted toys, teddies, squishies etc. to minimise the spread of the virus.

6. Shared Equipment 

By necessity, some classroom equipment needs to be shared including tablets, laptops and the equipment used for structured activities and play in Infant classrooms. Cleaning of such shared equipment with wipes or other cleaning products will take place at regular intervals to minimise the risk of the spread of infection. Where necessary items of school equipment will be isolated for 72 hours prior to being used by a different pod/class.

7. Breaks & Yard 

The yard will be divided into four sections.  Each class bubble will have a separate space to play in at break times. As far as is practical, bubbles will be kept apart. Children will be encouraged to wash their hands when returning from the yard. Children are not permitted to bring in balls, skipping ropes etc. from home. On wet days, classes remain in their classroom as normal. 

8. Arrival at school 

We will continue the practice of staggering morning drop off times from 8.45am – 9am using the following guide. 

  • Family surnames beginning with the letters A – F     8.45- 8.50am
  • Family surnames beginning with the letters G – M    8.50- 8.55am
  • Family surnames beginning with the letters N – Z     8.55- 9.00am

Children only can enter through the double gates at the front of the school. These gates will be opened at 8:45am. The children follow instructions/directions for their class colour to proceed to their classroom. Please note that the porch cannot be used for children to shelter in the morning due to social distancing. 

Teachers only permitted to use swing gate.

Please note that the Board of Management does not hold any responsibility for the supervision of children in the school yard before 8.45a.m.

9 . Leaving School Infants 

Junior and Senior Infants will exit through the front door each day at 1.40pm. Ms. Murphy will call each child when she sees the person collecting them and it is their turn to leave. Please inform Ms. Murphy if  there is ever a change in the person collecting your child. 

Reminder: Junior Infants will be going home at the earlier time of 12pm up to and including Wednesday 9th September. Thereafter, they will go home at 1.40pm. 

10 . Leaving School 1st – 6th Class

We will continue the practice of allowing fifteen minutes for the collection of children in 1st – 6th class to take place from 2.40 – 2.55pm. Prompt collection is necessary. All three classrooms will have different exit points and a collection space in the front of the school. The Halla cannot be used on wet days now so the children will be waiting outdoors until they are collected.

  • 5th & 6th class will be first out at 2.40pm.
  • 1st – 4th class will leave their classroom when the bell rings, proceed downstairs, arriving in the front yard at 2.45pm. 

We would encourage parents to obey social distance rules at the school wall. 

Do not loiter around the school at drop off and collection time. 

It is strictly ‘set down and go’ at all times. 

11. Communication between Home and School 

As per Department of Education Guidelines parents are not allowed enter the school grounds, unless prior permission to do so has been granted by the principal Mr.Fitzgerald. Communication with class teachers and Mr.Fitzgerald should be done through the following means.

  1. Notes: write notes in your child’s homework journal.                                                                                                         Please check regularly for notes and sign the journal nightly. 
  2. Telephone: 022 25476.                                                                                                               

 If not answered leave a message. We will check the messages at both breaks and after school. 

  1. Email: glenahulla.ns@gmail.com                                                                                                                                          (please note teacher email addresses created during the lockdown for GSuite purposes such as p.fitzgerald@glenahullans.ie are only being used by teachers for GSuite activities)

Our main form of communication to parents will be through Aladdin email. Please ensure that we have your correct details and that you check your emails regularly. 

In the event that your child has forgotten an item such as a lunchbox there will be a box in the porch with your child’s class labelled on it. Please ring the bell ( you don’t need to wait for it to be answered) and leave the item in a plastic bag in the box.

12. School Uniforms 

To allow for the daily washing of uniforms which parents may feel is necessary,the following arrangements for the wearing of uniforms and tracksuits will be in place for the months of September and October. 

Downstairs classes – Junior Infants / Senior Infants / 5th class / 6th class wear tracksuits on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and wear uniforms on Tuesday and Thursday.

Upstairs classes – 1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th class wear uniforms on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and wear tracksuits on Tuesday and Thursday.

13. Homework  

Children will not receive homework for the first two weeks of September. 

14. Photocopying  

Children are not permitted to use the photocopier. All photocopying should be carried out by teachers/SNAs. Any staff member who uses the photocopier should clean it down after use with the wipes provided. 

15. Wellbeing 

Pupil Wellbeing 

We will work on the recommended five principles to support the wellbeing of all our pupils and staff. These are promoting: 

• A sense of safety 

• A sense of calm 

• A sense of belonging and connectedness to school 

• A sense of self-efficacy and school-community efficacy 

• A sense of hope 

Our usual practice is to provide support to pupils based on what is known as the Continuum of Support. This is a tiered system that provides Whole School and Classroom Support for all pupils, additional School Support for some pupils, and School Support plus extra targeted intervention for a few pupils with complex needs. 

Staff Wellbeing 

Support for school staff wellbeing will be provided by Department Support Services including the PDST and CSL, as well as by the HSE’s Health Promotion Team. An Occupational Health Strategy is in place as a supportive resource for staff in schools. The aim of the Occupational Health Strategy is to promote the health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace, with a strong focus on prevention. The Occupational Health Strategy comprises the Employee Assistance Service and the Occupational Health Service. The Employee Assistance Service (EAS) is provided by Spectrum Life under the logo of ‘Wellbeing Together: Folláinne Le Chéile’. 

16. Preventing Infection  

To prevent the spread of infection parents should adhere to the following HSE Covid 19 Advice for Parents:

When to keep your child at home and phone your GP

Do not send your child to school if any of the following is true.

Your child has:

• a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more

• any other common symptoms of coronavirus such as a new cough, loss or changed sense of taste

or smell, or shortness of breath

• been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus

• been living with someone who is unwell and may have coronavirus

You will need to:

1. Isolate your child. This means keeping them at home and completely avoiding contact with other

people, as much as possible. Your child should only leave your home to have a test or to see your GP.

2. Phone your GP. They will advise you if your child needs a coronavirus test.

3. Everyone that your child lives with should also restrict their movements, at least until your child

gets a diagnosis from their GP or a coronavirus test result. This means not going to school,

childcare or work.

4. Treat your child at home for their symptoms.

When it’s okay to send your child to school:

It’s usually okay to send your child to school if they:

• only have nasal symptoms, such as a runny nose or a sneeze

• do not have a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more (as long as their temperature

has not been lowered by taking any form of paracetamol or ibuprofen)

• do not have a cough

• have not been in close contact with anyone who has coronavirus

• do not live with anyone who is unwell and may have coronavirus

• have been told by a GP that their illness is caused by something else, that is not coronavirus.

Your GP will tell you when they can return to school or childcare

• have got a negative (‘not detected’) coronavirus test result and have not had symptoms for 48 hours

Most of the time, you do not need to phone your GP if a runny nose or sneezing are your child’s only symptoms. Talk to your pharmacist instead.

Staff will implement a hand hygiene regime with all classes. For example washing or sanitising hands 

● On arrival at school 

● Before eating or drinking 

● After using the toilet 

● After playing outdoors 

● When their hands are physically dirty 

● When they cough or sneeze. 

17. Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19 

If a staff member/pupil displays symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, the following procedure will be implemented: 

• Staff members who are symptomatic should immediately inform the Deputy Principal/Principal and go to the isolation area. 

• Pupils who are symptomatic, will be accompanied to the isolation area. A distance of 2 meters will be maintained. If this is not possible, the person accompanying the child must wear a face covering. 

• If a pupil has a suspected case, parents/guardians will be contacted immediately by telephone. To help us in this regard, Parents/Guardians are asked to make sure that their contact details are kept up to date at all times. 

• A face covering will be provided to the staff member/child who is symptomatic. 

• The staff member or child who is symptomatic should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. 

• If the staff member/child is well enough to go home, arrangements will be made for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible. 

• Anyone who is symptomatic is advised to inform their general practitioner by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used to travel home. 

• If the staff member/child is too unwell to go home or advice is required, the school will contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick person is a Covid-19 suspect. 

• The isolation area and work areas will be thoroughly cleaned in line with the guidelines. 

The HSE will inform any staff/parents who have come into close contact with a diagnosed case via the contact tracing process. The HSE will contact all relevant persons where a diagnosis of COVID-19 is made. The instructions of the HSE should be followed and staff and pupil confidentiality is essential at all times. 

It is important to remember that any of us can get sick or unwell, and if we do, we need understanding and support from those around us. It is essential that anyone who feels unwell makes that known to the Deputy Principal/Principal as soon as possible. 

18. Children who should not attend school 

If your child is in one of the following categories, they should not attend school – 

• Children who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 

• Children who have been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with Covid-19 

• Children who have a suspected case of Covid-19 and the outcome of the test is pending 

• Children who have been in contact with a person who has a suspected case of Covid-19 and the outcome of the test is pending 

• Children with underlying health conditions who have been directed by a medical professional not to attend school 

• Children who have returned home after travelling abroad and must self-isolate for a period of 14 days 

• Children who are generally unwell 

19. Supporting the Learning of Children who cannot attend school 

If a child is not able to attend school for an extended period of time, the class teacher (and/or the SET, where relevant) will provide work to support the child’s learning at home and this will be shared with parents/guardians, using SeeSaw and Google Classroom.

20. Impact of a Suspected or Confirmed Case of Covid-19 in a Class 

If the school is notified that a person in your child’s class has a suspected or confirmed case of Covid- 19, public health advice will be sought and followed. 

21. PPE 

As recently announced by the DES, face coverings should be worn by staff. Staff will be provided with a PPE pack which will include face masks and visors. 

Children are not required to wear masks or face coverings. 

Appropriate PPE will be available for dealing with suspected COVID-19 cases, intimate care needs and for first aid. Where staff provide healthcare to children with medical needs in the school environment, they will apply standard precautions as per usual. 

22. Dealing with Toileting Accidents 

The school has an intimate care policy in place and children are encouraged to be as independent as possible in their changing of clothes if they have an accident. 

PPE equipment will be available to staff that may have to deal with any toileting accidents. 

23. Teacher/SNA Absences and Substitution 

• A copy of the Covid-19 Response Plan will be provided to each substitute teacher/SNA. 

• All substitutes will be required to complete a Return to the Workplace form before they enter a classroom and will be asked to confirm that they have engaged in the online Induction training. 

• In the event that a teacher is unable to attend school, every effort will be made to secure a substitute teacher for the class. 

• If a substitute teacher is not available, it is not appropriate for the class to be divided into groups and accommodated in other classes. In such circumstances, the SET from that Team may be deployed to this classroom. 

• Should there be more than 2 teacher absences, and we are unable to secure a sub, it may not be possible for the class/pupil to attend that day. If that is the case, as much notice as possible will be given to parents. 

24. Emergency Closure Preparations                                                                                                                         In the event of a bubble being asked to self-isolate or a whole school closure, books may be sent home with children and children will be taught remotely using Google Classroom / Seesaw. 

This plan will be reviewed regularly and important changes will be communicated to parents and pupils. 

Covid-19 Policy Statement 

Glenahulla National School is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our staff and a safe learning environment for all our students. To ensure that, we have developed the following COVID-19 Response Plan.  The BOM/ETB 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 students 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 in relation to summer provision
  • inform all staff and students of essential hygiene and respiratory etiquette and physical distancing requirements
  • adapt the school to facilitate physical distancing as appropriate in line with the public health guidance and direction of the Department of Education 
  • keep a contact log to help with contact tracing
  • ensure staff and  students 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 students  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.