Reopening Our School August 2020
School COVID-19 Statement
Our COVID-19 Statement outlines the school’s commitment to the implementation of this response plan and to help prevent the spread of the virus. The statement, signed and dated by the Chairperson and Principal, is stored in the Reopening Our School folder and a copy can be found at Appendix 1 of this Reopening Our School Plan.
- Staff: During the normal Staff Induction days, this statement is brought to the attention of our whole staff for review along with our Reopening Our School Plan.
- Parents & Pupils: Prior to the re-opening of the school, parents will receive this statement in their Reopening Our School pack.
St. Audoen’s NS has a responsibility to make an effort to ensure the safety, health and well-being of all members of our school community – children, parents and staff. The formulation and implementation of our COVID-19 response plan – Reopening Our School Plan – is the means through which St. Audoen’s NS can best prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in our school environment; to better ensure that the school can exercise that duty of care.
The BOM of St. Audoen’s NS aims to facilitate the resumption of school based teaching and learning and the return to the workplace of staff. The return to the workplace must be done safely and in strict adherence to the public health advice and any guidance issued by the Department of Education and the Return to Work Safely Protocol. Details for the safe reopening of the school and the control measures are outlined in this document.
It is not possible to eliminate the risk of infection. However, with the co-operation 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.
It is a very important living document, which will be adapted over time to reflect the evolving COVID-19 context: it may be reviewed and amended to take into account new guidance from www.gov.ie, www.dbei.ie , www.hse.ie, www.hpsc.ie, www.hsa.ie; www.education.ie or agreements with education partners as appropriate for primary and special schools.
Role of Parents
It is important that parents have a clear understanding of the benefits and risk of childcare and that it is not possible to guarantee that infection can be prevented in any setting either in a childcare centre, school or in the home.
The following are protocols that are put in place to safeguard the health and safety of each other.
Parents are expected to abide by them and failure to do so may result in a parent being instructed to remove a child from the school building/yard, and or to leave the school premises themselves. If serious breaches of safety measures occur, the board and or the Gardai may be informed or called if needed.
Key facts for Parents
COVID – 19 is a new illness that can affect the lungs and airways and is caused by a new virus called the Coronavirus.
Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person’s nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect (on hands, objects, surfaces). If you come into close contact with someone who has virus and who is coughing or sneezing or sharing ojects/surfaces you may contract the virus.
As COVID-19 is a new illness, we are still learning about how easily the virus spreads from person to person and how to control it, so it is important to keep up to date and make sure you are using the most up to date guidance available. This information is available from the following links:
- HSE-HPSC: https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/
- HSE Hub: https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/
- Department of Health: https://www.gov.ie/en/news/7e0924-latest-updates-on-covid-19- coronavirus/
- COVID-19 can be a mild or severe illness.
- Severe illness is much more common in older people (especially older than 70) and in people vulnerable for other reasons.
- Severe illness is much less common in children and young adults in good health. (See below)
The most common symptoms of Covid19 are:
- Cough – this can be any kind of cough, usually dry but not always
- Fever – high temperature over 38 degrees Celsius
- Shortness of Breath
- Breathing Difficulties
- Lack of smell
Symptomatic people appear to be most infectious for other people in the early days after symptoms begin. Infection can also spread from people in the day or two before they get symptoms and it can spread from some people who get an infection but have no symptoms or such mild symptoms that they take little notice of them (asymptomatic spread). People are no longer infectious for other people 14 days after they have developed symptoms.
Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas for everyone. It is a requirement for anyone coming into Ireland, from locations other than those with a rating of ‘normal precautions’ (“green”), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes school staff, parents and children or other students coming from abroad to attend school in Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible.
How to Minimise the Risk of Covid-19 into our School
A range of essential control measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 virus and to protect the safety, health and welfare of staff, pupils, parents and visitors as far as possible within St. Audoen’s NS.
One of the key messages to manage the risks of COVID-19 is to do everything practical to avoid the introduction of Covid-19 into our school. The risk of spreading the infection once introduced exists in all interpersonal interactions; student-student, teacher-teacher and teacher-student and must be managed in all settings.
It is critical that staff, pupils, parents and visitors are aware of, and adhere to, the control measures outlined and that they fully cooperate with all health and safety requirements.
Staff should note that they have a legal obligation under Section 13 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to comply with health and safety requirements and to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves, their colleagues and other parties within the workplace.
The following control measures shall continue to be reviewed and updated as required on an ongoing basis by Management and LWR following advice and guidance from DES, Irish Government and HSE.
Signage is used to bring awareness to our pupils, staff and visitors of the risk posed by the coronavirus and how to prevent the spread of the virus. The posters and displays inform the school community of the HSE’s key health messages:
- general advice to schools and how to stay safe at work;
- signs and symptoms of Covid-19: in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, it is important to know and recognise the symptoms. They are:
-shortness of breath or breathing difficulties and
-loss of smell, of taste or distortion of taste.
- physical / social distancing and the use of face coverings
- promotion of good hand hygiene including child-friendly posters and how to sanitize hands
- promotion of respiratory hygiene and
- advice to visitors at Reception.
The signage will be displayed in prominent areas throughout our school: classrooms, toilets, corridors, staffroom area, offices, kitchen, reception areas and entry/exit points of school building and school grounds.
Floor markings, throughout the school building and grounds indicating the one way systems, remind members of our school community of Physical / Social Distancing.
All staff will undertake and complete the DES’s Covid-19 Induction Training prior to returning to the school building. This Reopening Our School Plan has been shared and will be discussed with staff during our Staff Induction days in August 2020.
Respiratory Hygiene & Cough Etiquette
St. Audoen’s will continue to promote good respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, involving:
- covering one’s mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing;
- sneezing or to sneeze / cough into one’s bent elbow;
- disposing of the used tissue immediately and safely into a nearby bin; and
- hands must be sanitised after sneezing / coughing.
Signage is used to inform and remind pupils, staff, parents and visitors of the need to follow good respiratory hygiene. Teachers and SNAs will demonstrate to and remind pupils of good respiratory hygiene.
Our school promotes good hand hygiene and displays posters throughout the schools on why, when and how to wash your hands. Staff and pupils to follow the HSE guidelines on hand-washing: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/how-to-wash-your-hands.html.
Teachers and SNAs will demonstrate to pupils good hand hygiene achieved by hand washing with warm water and soap or the use of a hand sanitizer (when hands look clean).
Frequency of Hand Hygiene
Pupils and staff should perform hand hygiene:
- on arrival at school;
- before eating or drinking;
- after using the toilet;
- after playing outdoors;
- when their hands are physically dirty; and
- when they cough or sneeze.
Hand Washing Facilitates
Housekeeping staff to monitor the hand washing facilities: making sure they are maintained in good condition and that supply of liquid soap and paper towels are topped up.
Limited numbers in toilets facilities and at wash hand basins to be managed so as to avoid congregation of people waiting to use wash hand basins and hand sanitizers.
Posters displaying hand washing techniques and promoting hand washing to be placed on walls adjacent to washing facilities.
Hand sanitising stations (dispensers / gel pump bottles) are positioned throughout our school dispensing sanitisers at:
- exit and entry points of school building,
- entry to all classrooms,
- within classrooms,
- offices and meeting rooms,
- Reception areas,
- kitchens / food prep areas and
- along corridors.
Spill mats are provided to prevent risks of falls and for those dispensers with no spill mat care should be taken to clean up any hand sanitiser spills.
Hand sanitiser is suitable for use for hand hygiene when hands are not visibly soiled (look clean).
Posters displaying hand washing techniques and promoting hand washing to be placed on walls adjacent to stations.
Staff to manage the avoidance of a congregation of people waiting to use hand sanitisers.
Housekeeping / ancillary staff to monitor the stations, that supplies of gel / soap are topped up regularly to encourage everyone to use them.
There is a requirement for access to hand washing facilities after activities that are likely to soil hands, for example playing outside or certain sporting activities as hand sanitizer does not work on dirty hands.
Staff working with younger pupils and pupils with SEN need to consider the following:
- younger pupils and those with SEN should not have independent use of containers of alcohol gel and
- care should be taken to ensure that pupils do not ingest hand rubs / gels as they are flammable and toxic.
All cleaning will be undertaken in line with DES, HPSC and public health guidance and are outlined in our Cleaning Guidelines documents with the aim to prevent COVID-19 infections and the enhanced cleaning required in the event of suspected / confirmed cases. All staff will cover school cleaning measures in the induction training.
Cleaning is required prior to disinfection of surfaces, as disinfection only works on things that are clean.
The following is a summary of the cleaning regimes contained within. (Personal hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene is covered in separate sections of Control Measures.)
- school to be cleaned at least once per day. In addition to the regular cleaning, an emphasis to be placed on frequently touched surfaces – door handles, handrails, chairs/arm rests, communal eating areas, sink and toilet facilities.
- Classroom colleagues are supplied with a cleaning kit and expected to maintain appropriate hygiene standards within their classrooms during pupil contact time
- continuation of daily regular collection of used waste disposal bags from offices and other areas.
Cleaning of the School
Corridors / Doors Handles / Stairwells / Toilets
Housekeeping will follow appropriate recommended cleaning regimes, outlining cleaning products and frequency. Refer to Cleaning Guidelines.
Cleaning Within the Classroom
- Housekeeping to clean the room after school each evening: vacuuming and washing floors with appropriate disinfecting product, cleaning and disinfecting contact surface points in room: handles, tabletops including edges, chairs. The room should be cleaned as soon as practically
- Teachers continue to have children stack chairs and to ensure the floor is cleared of large pieces of rubbish, pens, pencils etc.
- All staff will have access to cleaning products and will be required to maintain cleanliness of their own work area. Cleaning kit in each classroom, with the following contents:
- hand sanitizer
- All staff should thoroughly clean and disinfect their work area before and after use each day.
Cleaning & Disinfecting where a suspected case of COVID-19 was present
Once the room is vacated the room should not be reused until the room has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and all surfaces are dry.
Regarding cleaning and disinfecting:
- Housekeeping staff should avoid touching their face while cleaning and should wear disposable gloves and apron,
- The cleaning of the environment (surfaces) and furniture using disposable cleaning cloths and a household detergent followed by disinfection with a chlorine based product (household bleach).
- If a communal area for example a canteen, play area or toilet facilities requires cleaning and disinfecting, then the areas should be cleaned with household detergent followed by a disinfectant (as outlined in the HPSC interim health advice) as soon as is practically possible.
- Special attention paid to frequently touched surfaces, the back of chairs, couches, door handles and any surfaces that are visibly soiled with body fluids.
- Once the room has been cleaned and disinfected and all surfaces are dry, the room can be reused.
A quarantine area will be set up in the Collaborative/Project Room downstairs to provide a safe and appropriate space to bring quarantine boxes containing items for a 72 hour quarantine before being allowed into circulation again. Library books will be quarantined of this when finished by pupils.
Physical / Social Distancing
Following current public health, physical distancing of 2m should be maintained between staff, staff and visitors where possible. It is recognized however that physical distancing will look different across the various ages and stages of learning. In the case of working with children, maintaining a distance of 1m is appropriate as much as possible. Wearing of PPE, face covering / visor, is required when within close physical distance of others.
Measures to accommodate physical distancing must be applied in a practical way to recognise that the learning environment cannot be dominated by a potentially counterproductive focus on this issue: some flexibility at times will be needed.
Care should be taken to avoid generating tension or potential conflict and some flexibility in the implementation of measures may be required at times.
Physical Distancing & Meetings
As always we are so happy to talk to you about your child’s progress and please remember that you are welcome into our school. But at this difficult time, unnecessary face-to-face interactions are to be kept to a minimum, messages between teachers and parents can be facilitated over the phone or via the app or homework journal. Meetings can be arranged but for a limited time frame and face coverings are mandatory.
Changes to Arrival & Dismissal Protocols
Parents will be informed of the changes to the Arrival & Dismissal Policy regarding the dropping off / collecting of pupils prior the re-opening of our school.
School Drop Off – Arrival Protocol
To reduce the number of interactions in the morning, parents are asked to drop off their children in a timely manner in the designated ‘drop-off’ area and to follow the route marked out on ground by arrows when exiting the school grounds.
A staggered drop off timetable will be in place, which is hoped to reduce pupils from different ‘bubbles’ congregating. Parents are asked to adhere to the new drop-off times.
To facilitate parents a car free zone marked out by bollards to encourage physical distancing of 2m and to avoid congregation of people at the school gates as much as possible.
Walking / cycling to school should be encouraged as much as possible.
New signage will be placed in the drop-off zone:
- pavement sign at front gate: Drop off point only. Please adhere to Social Distancing.
- routes for entry and exit are marked using arrows stencils, entry and exit markings on ground.
For Rooms 2 – 10 at their specific time (see staggered timetable below), this protocol is to be followed:
- Front gate opens, pupils welcomed onto school premises through the usual front blue gate into the ‘drop-off zone’ – the junior yard.
- Pupils pass through ‘drop off zone’, greeted by members of Management at the ‘inside’ gate.
- Parents accompanying their children to follow the route marked out on ground by arrows, entry and exit markings. No parents permitted past ‘drop off zone’.
- Pupils pass through big yard, supervised by members of Management and enter school building through the west door (door beside Infants toilets), supervised by SNA at door, and are directed straight to their classroom.
- Pupils move through corridors in a one-way system as per floor markings and in a physically distanced manner, supervised by SNA at stairwell.
- Class Teacher greets pupils outside of classroom door, prompting hand sanitizing at the hand sanitizing station and pupils walk straight into classroom.
- For Room 1 at their specific time, this protocol is to be followed:
- Pupils with parents enter ‘drop-off’ area, met by staff. Pupils enter the school through the side door (beside HSCL’s room).
Front door access point will be used for Rooms 5 and 6 at 8.50 and for late-comers past 9.20.
A staggered ‘drop off’ & ‘collection’ timetable will be in place from the first day of the school year for the foreseeable future to reduce congestion.
Morning Drop Off:
|8:30||All staff at designated locations: Management Team (Mgmt) & HSCL in drop-off zone, rostered SNAs in corridors / stairwells and teachers in corridors outside their classroom.|
Rooms 8 9 10
|Front gate open, Rooms 8 9 10 welcomed onto school premises. Protocol detailed above on how pupils will enter the school and classroom.|
Rooms 4 & 7
|Rooms 4 & 7 welcomed onto school premises. Protocol detailed above.|
Rooms 5 & 6
|Room 5 & 6 staff in the front door area to welcome pupils and assort them to their classrooms.|
Rooms 2 & 3
|Rooms 2 & 3 welcomed onto school premises. Protocol detailed above.|
|Inside gate closed. Mgmt and HSCL remain in ‘drop-off’ area to greet pupils and parents.
Room 1 welcomed onto school premises with parents.
School Collection – Dismissal Protocol
As with drop-offs, parents are asked to collect their children in the designated area on time and to exit the school in a timely manner to reduce large groups of people congregating on school grounds.
Parents are asked to adhere to the new collection times.
For Rooms 1 – 2 at their specific time, this protocol is to be followed:
- Pupils are lined up in the junior yard by teachers.
- At collection time, front gate is opened and parents queue outside at the railing to collect child. Signage to promote physical distancing will be attached to railings.
- HSCL / SNA at gate, greeting parents and calling out pupil names for collection.
For Rooms 3 – 10 at their specific time (staggered timetable below):
To minimise number of people on the yard for collection, Class Teacher to create two lines for home-time: one for parent collection and the other for ‘walking home alone’. Teachers will need to consider physical distancing whilst lining up as much as possible.
- ‘walking home’ line will be escorted out of the school, accompanied by Teacher / SNA following this route: down the main pupil stairwell, along the downstairs corridor and out through the exit door at HSCL, following the floor markings out through the junior yard. Physical distancing will need to be maintained as best as possible
- ‘collection’ line will be assorted out of the school, accompanied by Class Teacher following this route: down the main pupil stairwell and out through the normal exit door, to the designated collection zone and wait in their line for parent collection with social distancing observed as far as possible.
Collection Points: Designated collection area, in front of the Lego Shed, will be split into collection points in order to maintain distancing of class bubbles. Room 5 & 6 will have area closer to school building, outside SET Room 1.
Parent’s access to yard is restricted to astro-pitch when collecting and will be advised to leave the yard in a timely manner.
HSCL, Mr Finan will greet parents / guardians in the initial weeks to support the new dismissal procedure.
If Class Teachers or parents need to discuss an issue, the following will need to be considered:
- physical distancing at all times,
- conducting the informal meeting out in the yard while still maintaining privacy or would a is a phone be preferable.
A staggered ‘collection off’ timetable will be in place from the first day of the school year for the foreseeable future to reduce congestion.
|Room 1 lined up by Class Teacher in small yard and dismissed as above.|
|Room 2 lined up by Class Teacher in small yard and dismissed as above.|
Rooms 9 & 10
|Rooms 9 & 10 are assorted out for collection in two groups. Protocol detailed above.|
Rooms 7 & 8
|Rooms 7 & 8 are assorted out for collection in two groups. Protocol detailed above.|
Rooms 5 & 6
|Room 5 & 6 assorted to designated collection point in yard to meet parents.|
|2:30||Group B & D
Rooms 3 & 4
|Rooms 3 & 4 are lined up within their classes into two groups and brought to assigned exits. Procedure same as above.|
If parent / guardian has to collect a pupil during the course of the school day, the following arrangements will apply:
- when parent / guardian arrives at the school, parent uses the intercom at the front door,
- parents are required to wear a mask if entering the school building,
- usual sign out procedure applies,
- pupil is called on intercom.
- Reception staff to ensure/remind of physical distancing in the waiting period.
Physical Distancing inside the Classroom
In St. Audoen’s NS, all classes are considered as individual bubbles, where a bubble is a class grouping which stays apart from other classes as much as possible.
How the Class Bubble will work
To the greatest extent possible, pupils and teaching staff should constantly be in the same class bubble to limit contact and sharing of common facilities between people in different class bubbles as much as possible:
- Classes will be considered individual class bubbles;
- Class bubbles will have as best as possible staggered arrival and dismissal times;
- Different class bubbles should, where possible, have separate breaks times and separate areas to play in (refer to Break-times below);
- Pods: to further control the interaction between pupils within their class bubble, pods are created within all classrooms as size permits.
- Class Teachers will need to generate pupils into pods lists in the initial staff induction days. It is up to the teacher how they will group their pods.
- Teachers to distance at least (1m) between individual Pods where possible.
- Tape will be provided to mark out separation on the floor
- Pod sizes should be kept as small as possible: 4-6 pupils.
- Movement by staff members (SETs & SNAs) from class bubble to class bubble should be limited as much as possible.
- Advised that SETs and SNAs remain in a class for a block of time, i.e morning session: 8.50 – 10.45.
- Cleaning kits are provided to those moving between classes. After leaving the class, they are advised to a regime of changing of PPE and hand-hygiene; in addition to the hand-hygiene before entering the next classroom.
- Within the class bubbles, staff should maintain a minimum of 1m distance and where possible 2m. Staff should also take measures to avoid close contact at face-to-face level such as remaining standing rather than sitting beside / crouching down.
Where pupils need to move about within the classroom to perform activities (access to a shared resource) it should be organized to the greatest degree possible to minimize congregation at the shared resource.
Class Layout – Table Arrangement
Our primary classroom layouts vary within our school due to different classroom sizes. The measures taken in our classrooms to increase separation to the greatest degree possible involve:
- reconfigure class spaces including tables to maximise physical distancing;
- rooms are clear of any unnecessary furniture;
- utilise and reconfigure all available space in the school in order to maximise physical distancing;
For Rooms 1-4, due to their age group, it is not necessary to further divide junior classes into pods. However, it is good practice, in the attempt to reduce the risk of the spread of infection, that teachers group their pupils in fixed groupings. This will support the use of toys and equipment.
Our AS classes, due to the limit of 6 pupils, will facilitate separation by 1 m.
Arrangements may need to change within individual classes upon review by the Principal, Deputy Principal, LWR and Class Teacher.
Eating within the Classroom
Teacher / SNA will hand out the lunches to seated pupils (disp. gloves). Limited movement allowed around the classroom during this time. Snacks to be taken out of their bags in the morning to limit the amount of cross contamination and movement. Water bottles can be wiped clean in the morning time when taken out of pupils’ bags and placed in their personal box.
Moving through our School
Corridors & Stairwells
It is believed 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.
Routes through corridors are marked using child friendly floor markings for direction and physical distancing. Arrangements for limited interaction during arrival and dismissal of pupils is outlined above including the supervision measures taken within the school.
One student per class to go to the toilet at one time. There is a limit of two pupils at one time in the toilet.
- Toilets upstairs to be used by Room 7,8,9 and 10.
- Room 5&6 have a classroom bathroom
- Toilet downstairs beside Room 5 to be used by Room 3 and 4.
- Remaining toilet at morning entrance door downstairs to be used by Room 1 and 2.
The toilet closest to a designated play zone on the yard is the allocated class toilet. i.e. the toilet beside the climbing frame and the toilet beside the main yard entrance. Teachers on the yard monitor the students going to the toilet ensuring only two at a time.
The Breakfast Club will continue in our school however under some restrictions.
Operated during school hours. Use of the school kitchen by pupils will be suspended for Term 1 and will be reviewed in Term 2.
Break-time & Yard Supervision
The risk of transmission from contact with outside surfaces or play areas is low. It is not possible to maintain physical distancing when primary school pupils play together outdoors, but in so far as practical it is helpful to keep to consistent groups, class bubbles, as shown in timetable below.
- A staggered break-time timetable will be in operation to minimise mixing of class bubbles and to avoid crowding at the entrance / exits.
- Each class is walked from their class into the yard by Teacher / SNA through the exit door closest to their allocated yard, reminding pupils not to touch any surfaces during this movement.
- Exiting and entering the school building is done through their assigned door
- Pupils should be encouraged to perform hand hygiene before and after outdoor activities.
- No crossover of class bubbles on yard; a buffer zone is set up to divide the two areas with a roster to rotate access to spaces done on every other day. Class Teachers to manage this arrangement.
School attendance will be mandatory again from the beginning of the Term 1 of the 2020/21 school year. This means from that point, the usual rules on school attendance will apply with the exception of a child suspected or confirmed with Covid-19.
For pupils identified as experiencing anxiety or become reluctant regarding returning to school, plans will be developed to re-engage pupils and support them through this process.
This is a summary of the complete copy: Reopening our School Response Plan. The full document is available on our school app.
December 22, 2020
October 23, 2020
June 29, 2020