Important back to school letter

Dear Parent/Guardian,

I hope this letter finds you all well and that you have had an opportunity to enjoy the recent nice weather. When we closed our doors to students on the 12th March little did we realise that a world pandemic would alter and change our lives in such dramatic fashion. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the teaching staff for their efforts in relation to continuing with online teaching right up until June with their class groups and to the students for their attention and continued participation throughout that process.

St. Mary’s College is planning and preparing to reopen the school for the academic year 2020/2021 in the coming weeks, following the government’s roadmap for the full return to school.

As you can imagine the reopening of our school has and will continue to present many challenges for our school community over the coming weeks and months. I can assure you all that we have been planning throughout the summer months and in particular the last few weeks.  This planning is needed to enable us to implement the policies and procedures required to keep all members of our school community safe on their return.

School life will change for our staff and students on reopening and the school we left on March 12th will be very different from the one that will reopen later this month. In preparation for our safe return we have put a number of measures in place including:

  • A deep clean of the entire school which has been ongoing over the last 6 weeks and will be completed before staff and students return.
  • Students will sit at least 1 m apart at single desks where possible and social distancing will be observed at all times.
  • Extra class rooms will be made available for staff and students where an alternative larger space is needed. Classrooms are available for larger classes to allow social distancing to be observed. Students will walk on the corridors in single file and on the left hand side when moving between classes and at break times.
  • Students will have to follow the health guidelines in relation to hand washing, sanitization, coughing/sneezing etiquette, and responsibility for discarding tissues etc.
  • It is the government’s recommendation that all staff and students wear face coverings of masks/visors. In relation to this I will ask that students have more than one mask available for use to allow washing of same daily.
  • Cleaning regimes will be intensified to adhere to DES guidelines.
  • Lockers will be made available to students but the allocation of same will be different. Year group lockers will not be together in order to avoid groups gathering and allow for social distancing. Staggering of times when students can use their lockers will also be observed every day. Different year groups will have specific times when they can access their lockers and at no other time will they be permitted to go to their lockers.
  • The Senior toilet block will now be the junior toilet block and vice versa. Due to the increased number of first years this year the larger block will be needed for the junior students.
  • Sanitizers are available in each room in the school and students will be expected to use them at the end of each class.
  • Full school uniform must be worn each and every day as always.
  • There will be specific entry and exit points throughout the school to avoid large groups gathering at peak times.
  • Lunch time will be shorter than normal resulting on the finishing time taking place prior to 4.oopm. This measure is to allow for less “mixing time” for students and allow them to get home before other student’s leave their schools.
  • An isolation room will be available in the school should a member of the school community become ill. It is vital that the parents/guardians have registered their correct contact details with the school.
  • Please be aware of the protocols of keeping your son at home if they are feeling unwell or if they have COVID 19 symptoms.
  • If you travel outside of the state the 14 day quarantine rule must be adhered to where applicable.
  • Strict guidelines will be issued to all students closer to their return date.
  • We will be operating strict guidelines in relation to people other than staff and students entering the school for any reason.

I understand and appreciate that changes to school life as we know it will be difficult for all of us. I also acknowledge the fact that this is an anxious time for parents/guardians. We are doing all we can to make sure our school is as safe as possible for our return. As a school community, working together and for the health and safety of all, we strive to ensure a safe and sustainable return to school. I take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you in advance for your continued support and understanding of all our endeavours to ensure a safe return to school. The following are our proposed return dates (subject to change).

Thursday 27th August: COVID 19 Staff day.

Friday 28th August: Staff meeting.

Monday 31st August: 1st  year induction.

Tuesday 1st September: 1st years only.

Wednesday 2nd September:  1st and 6th years.

Thursday 3rd September:  1st , 6th and 3rd Years.

Friday 4th September: 1st, 6th and  3rd Years.

Monday 7th September: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th.

Tuesday 8th September: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and TY.

Yours in education,

Eamonn Veale

Principal.