Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh
Béal Átha na Slua
Roll Number: 19969H
School Covid-19 Response Plan
& Covid-19 Risk Assessment @ Appendix4
School year: September 2020 – June 2021
Date Ratified By BoM: 24/08/20
Table of Contents:
2) Purpose/ Rationale of School COVID-19 Response Plan
3) Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh COVID-19 Policy Statement
4) Planning and Preparing for Return to School
4.1) Induction Training
4.2) Procedure for Returning to Work (RTW)
4.3) Lead Worker Representative (LWR)
4.4) Display signage
4.5) Making changes to school layout
4.6) Update Safety and Risk Assessment
4.7) Access to the School and Contact Log
5) Control Measures – To prevent Introduction and Spread of COVID-19 in Schools
5.1) Know the Symptoms of COVID-19
5.2) Respiratory Hygiene
5.3) Hand Hygiene
5.4) Physical Distancing
5.5) Use of PPE in Schools
6) Impact of COVID-19 on certain school activities
7) Hygiene and Cleaning in School
8) Dealing with a suspected case
9) Special Educational Needs
10) Staff Duties
11) Absence Management
Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme
The purpose of this document is to provide clear and helpful guidance for the safe operation through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh. It provides key messages to minimise the risk of COVID-19 for staff, pupils, families and the wider community while recognising the importance of education for the health and wellbeing of pupils and society as a whole.
This document focuses on the practical steps which can be taken in our school to do everything practical to avoid the introduction of COVID-19 into the school and the steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of the spread within the school itself. It is intended that arrangements and protocols in this Response Plan will be clearly and regularly communicated to staff, parents, pupils and community through a variety of methods including: text-a-parent, website, newsletters, phone-calls, posters and signage and emails.
Documents used to inform our Response Plan include:
- COVID-19 Interim Recommendations for the reopening of schools and educational facilities; HPSC
The following documents can be accessed at gov.ie/back to school:
- Roadmap for the Full Return to School; DES
- Covid Response Plan for Primary and Special Schools; DES
- Supporting the Wellbeing of School Communities; DES
- Returning to school Curriculum guidance for primary school leaders and teachers; DES
- Circular 0045/2020: COVID-19 Operational Supports for the Full Return to School
- Illustrative primary classroom layouts as referenced in the Roadmap for the Full Return to School
- Maintaining Physical Distance in the Classroom
- Illustrative SEN Classroom layouts as referenced in the Roadmap for the Full Return to School
- Guidance for Primary Schools & Special Schools on PPE, Consumables and Equipment
- Circular 0049/2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19): Arrangements for Teachers and Special Needs Assistants employed in recognised Primary and Post Primary schools.
This plan will be published on our school website gaelscoil.ie and updated regularly as a live document.
2) The Purpose / Rationale of our Covid Response Plan
Our Covid-19 Response Plan is designed to support the staff and Board of Management of Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh in putting measures in place that aim to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in our school environment.
It details the policies and practices necessary for a school to meet the Government’s ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’, the Department of Education plan for school reopening and to prevent the introduction and spread of Covid-19 in the school environment.
We are determined that the resumption of school-based teaching and learning and the reopening of our school facilities complies with the public health advice and guidance documents prepared by the Department. By doing so, we minimise the risk to pupils, staff and others. Our response plan supports the sustainable reopening of school where the overriding objective is to protect the health of staff and pupils while promoting the educational and development needs of the pupils in our school. The COVID-19 response plan is a living document and will be updated in line with the public health advice as appropriate for primary schools.
In line with the Return to Work Safely Protocol, the key to a safe and sustainable return to work, and re-opening of schools requires strong communication and a shared collaborative approach between the BOM, staff, pupils and parents. Some of the steps that we have taken to ensure this collaborative approach include;
- The formulation of a Re-opening Planning Committee consisting of Middle management members of staff, the chairperson of the BoM, the school Principal, the caretaker and parent representative.
- Regular communication with all staff members via text, phone, email and Aladdin.
- The consistent use of the school website to detail procedures for re-opening the school.
- Regular information letters/emails to parents during August.
- An induction day for our new Naíonáin Bheaga on August 31st before the school year begins on September 1st.
- An information day for all staff on Monday the 31st of August (Croke Park hours)
- An FAQ section regarding school re-opening on the school website will be put in place.
- The draft Covid Response Plan will be published on the school website prior to ratification by the Board and contributions will be welcomed from both staff and parents.
- Parents of ‘at risk’ pupils will be consulted as to the specific requirements for their child. Likewise, ’at risk’ staff will be contacted by the principal in order to ensure that their needs are met.
The assistance and cooperation of all staff, pupils, parents, contractors and visitors is critical to the success of the plan.
3) Polasaí Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh – Policy Statement
Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our staff and a safe learning environment for all our pupils. To ensure that, we have developed the following COVID-19 Response Plan. The BOM and all school staff are responsible for the implementation of this plan and a combined effort will help contain the spread of the virus.
- 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 pupils 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
- inform all staff and pupils of essential hygiene and respiratory etiquette and physical distancing requirements
- adapt the school to facilitate physical distancing as appropriate in line with the guidance and direction of the Department of Education
- keep a contact log to help with contact tracing
- ensure staff 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 pupils 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.
Damien Ó Neachtain
Ruairí Ó hAnnluain
4) Planning and Preparing for Return to School
Planning and Systems:
Dissemination of Information:
- The school will ensure to keep up to date with public health advice, changes to any government plans for the safe reopening of society and Department of Education Updates. This will be done by checking into gov.ie/back to school on a daily basis as well as using the IPPN and INTO The Principal and Deputy will have responsibility for this.
- When new information or advice is issued, it will be passed on in a timely manner to staff via Aladdin/e-mail and to parents using text a parent alerting them to new items on the school website.
- Pupils will be advised of any relevant new information by the class teachers and where appropriate or by the school principal.
- The Deputy Principal will also liaise regularly with parents to ensure effective communication between school and parents.
- The Board of Management has appointed Eoin Ó Crofaigh as Covid-19 Return to Work Co-ordinator for Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh in September 2020. Eoin Ó Crofaigh will be the LWR and Aisling Ní Chualáin will be the Deputy LWR.
Formulation of a COVID-19 Response Plan.
- The draft Covid Response Plan will be published on the school website prior to ratification by the Board. It will also be shared with all staff. Contributions will be welcomed from both staff and parents.
4.1 Induction Training
There will be induction training for all staff in line with Department of Education provision and all staff will complete a checklist to ensure completion and identify further need afterwards. This training will cover the following:
- A revision of the training materials provided by the Department of Education (Induction Training for reopening schools in the new school year is under development by the Department. This will be made available to all schools and staff in advance of school reopening at the following link: Government Induction Training);
- Outline of Latest up to-date advice and guidance on public health;
- Summary of Covid-19 symptoms;
- Procedure for what to do if a staff member or pupil develops symptoms of Covid-19 while at school;
- Updated Covid-19 Response Plan;
- The control measures in place in the school. (Social distancing, Hand Hygiene, Contact tracing, P.P.E);
- The duties and responsibilities for all staff in preventing the spread of Covid-19;
- Explanation of the Covid-19 contact tracing form.
4.2) Procedure for Return to Work
- A RTW form should be completed and returned to the school before returning to work. Schools should request staff (verbally or in writing) to confirm that the details in the pre-return to work form remain unchanged following subsequent periods of closure such as school holidays.
- In order to return to the workplace, staff of Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh must complete a COVID-19 Return to Work (RTW) form. This form will be given to teachers in advance of re-opening. Additional copies will be available online or from the principal. A copy is attached also at Appendix 2.
- The RTW form needs to be completed and returned to the principal by all staff at least 3 days before returning to work on 01/03/21
- The principal will also provide details of the Induction Training for completion by staff and details of any additional health and safety measures in place in the school to facilitate the staff member’s return to the school building.
- Teachers will be referred to circular 0049/2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19): Arrangements for Teachers and Special Needs Assistants employed in recognised Primary and Post Primary schools.
- If there are any school staff who may be unable to return to school, current public health guidelines have identified these people as being in groups who are defined as being at very high risk. This following list has been updated in line with Circular 0049/2020.
People at very high risk (extremely vulnerable):
The list of people in very high risk groups include people who:
- are over 70 years of age – even if fit and well
- have had an organ transplant
- are undergoing active chemotherapy for cancer
- are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- have cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- are having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- are having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- have severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, lung fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and severe COPD
- have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
- are taking medicine that makes you much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppression therapies)
- have a serious heart condition and are pregnant
The advice for this group is available from the HSE. Details of the arrangements that will apply for these staff, which will be in accordance with those applying for the public service generally, will be updated by the Department of Education following consultation with management bodies and unions and a circular will issue to all schools. Currently this is Circular 0049/2020
4.3) Lead Worker Representative
The Protocol provides for the appointment of a Lead Worker Representative (LWR) in each workplace.
The LWR will work in collaboration with the employer to assist in the implementation of measures to prevent the spread of COVID -19 and monitor adherence to those measures and to be involved in communicating the health advice around COVID-19 in the workplace.
The Board of Management has appointed Eoin Ó Crofaigh to act as LWR and Aisling Ní Chualáin as a Deputy LWR for the school year 2020-2021.
This section sets out how the provisions will operate in schools. The process for appointment of the lead worker representative in schools has been agreed centrally between the Department of Education and the education partners.
Responsibility for the development and implementation of the Covid-19 Response Plan and the associated control measures lies primarily with the Board of Management and school management.
Strong communication and a shared collaborative approach is key to protecting against the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and looking after the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students. Adherence to the Return to Work Protocol will only be achieved if everyone has a shared responsibility in implementing the measures contained within the Protocol in their place of work.
If a staff member has any concerns or observations in relation to the Covid-19 Response Plan, control measures or the adherence to such measures by staff, pupils or others he/she should contact the lead worker who will engage with the principal/BOM.
Role of the Lead Worker Representative
In summary, the role of the LWR is to:
- Represent all staff in the workplace regardless of role, and be aware of specific issues that may arise in respect of different staff cohorts;
- Work collaboratively with school management to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees in relation to COVID-19;
- Keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 public health advice;
- In conjunction with school management, promote good hygiene practices such as washing hands regularly and maintaining good respiratory etiquette along with maintaining social distancing in accordance with public health advice;
- Assist school management with the implementation of measures to suppress COVID-19 in the workplace in line with the Return to Work Safely Protocol and current public health advice;
- In conjunction with school management, monitor adherence to measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
- Conduct regular reviews of safety measures;
- Report any issues of concern immediately to school management and keep records of such issues and actions taken to rectify them;
- Consult with the school management on the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan in the event of someone developing COVID-19 while in school including the location of an isolation area and a safe route to that area; (nearest exit and continue outside to isolation area through front door)
- Following any incident, assess with the school management any follow up action that is required;
- Consult with colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace;
- Make representations to school management on behalf of their colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace.
Every school will appoint one Lead Worker Representative.
In our school, a Deputy Lead Worker Representative will be appointed in addition to the LWR. The role of the Deputy LWR will be to:
- deputise as LWR where the LWR is absent.
- assist the LWR in their duties as set out above; and
- deputise as LWR where the LWR is absent
Name of Lead Worker Representative: Eoin Ó Crofaigh
Eoin Ó Crofaigh
All staff, pupils, parents, contractors and visitors have a responsibility both as individuals and collectively to have due regard for their own health and safety and that of others and to assist with the implementation of the Covid-19 Response Plan and associated control measures.
Full details of the arrangements which will apply for the L.W.R. in primary schools is set out in Appendix 3.
The school will display signage outlining the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and to support good hand and respiratory hygiene. These signs will be displayed in the following areas:
- Entrances and Exits
- Classrooms and SEN rooms
- Offices and non-tutorial rooms (Library, Hall, Meeting Rooms)
- Toilets and sink areas
The Department will provide printed posters to schools, with age appropriate key health messages – hand washing, sneeze and cough etiquette etc. This will be made available to all schools and staff in advance of school re-opening. These have not yet been issued.
The signs will cover the following areas:
- General advice to schools
- Cough etiquette
- Child hand washing
- Hand hygiene adults
- Use of Face coverings
- Stay safe at Work
- How to use hand sanitizer
- Visitors at reception
4.5) Preparing the School Building for Re-Opening
A review of the school Building (Systems and Mechanics) will take place before the re-opening of the school building. The School caretaker in consultation with the principal will ensure that the following are in place.
- Flushing the water system at outlets following low usage to prevent Legionella disease;
- Checking the school equipment and mechanical ventilation for signs of deterioration or damage before being used again;
- Ensuring the bin collections and other essential services resume;
- Making Changes to Our School Layout to support Physical distancing.
Maintaining physical distancing in the school environment is recommended as one of the key control measures to minimize the risk of the introduction and spread of COVID-19 . The School will reconfigure classrooms and other areas in line with the guidance issues to support physical in advance of school reopening. These areas include:
- Classrooms will be arranged into pods with at least 1 metre between pods. Children from Rang 3 – Rang Sé will have perspex protective screens fitted to their desks for their protection.
- Any unnecessary cabinets, furniture etc. will be removed to maximise the space in the classroom.
- Out door areas will be kept clutter free. Clear yard markings will be used to direct children safely into/out of the school.
(This will be done by the aide and the school caretaker once staff have identified essential requisites)
- Desks and chairs in classrooms will be reconfigured to maximise physical distancing as best as possible using the Department’s illustrative layouts which provide guidance on how best to maximise physical distancing. Illustrative primary classroom layouts as referenced in the Roadmap for the Full Return to School.
- Markings on the floor will be used where necessary to ensure distancing is adhered to within the classroom.
- An area 2m around the teacher’s desk and whiteboard area will be marked where deemed necessary. This area will be designated for sole use by the teacher.
- Each classroom will be treated as a Class Bubble. There will be limited contact and sharing of common facilities between people in different Class Bubbles (separate play areas, particular entrances and routes to and from school).
- Classroom pods may be used within classrooms if necessary. 1 m. distance will be kept between pods. This is more likely to occur in younger classes to facilitate the use of physical resources to assist learning.
- The hall and storeroom will be used to store excess furniture and teacher resources. If necessary, additional staff room accommodation will be created using the school hall.
The following guidance will be used to facilitate these changes:
Maintaining Physical Distance in the Classroom Checklist for Primary Schools & Special Schools
Entrance and Assembly areas:
- Each classroom /bubble will be allocated a specific reception point/ play area. They will also be designated a specific entry and exit route to and from their classrooms. (See Appendix 10 for school map indicating areas)
- These areas will be indicated by signs and ground markings and will be communicated to parents and children before returning to school using the school website.
Staggered opening times:
In order to ensure that social distancing can occur and children can enter the school premises in a manner that complies with health and safety guidelines, it will be necessary to stagger opening times in the school.
Families will be split into 3 cohorts:
- Cohort 1 – Rang 6 and Rang 2 plus all their family members from other classes
- Cohort 2 – Rang 5 and Rang 1 plus all their family members in other classes
- Cohort 3 – All remaining students from Rang 3, Rang 4 and Naíonáin Mhóra (after our first week back it is envisaged that Naíonáin Bheaga will enter with their family members from other classes)
|8:40||2:20||Rang 6 and Rang 2 plus all their family members from other classes|
|8:50||2:30*||Rang 4 and Rang 1 plus all their family members in other classes|
|9:00||2:40||Rang 5 and Rang 3 (remaining students)|
|9:00||1:30*||Naíonáin Bheaga and Naíonáin Mhóra|
*Please note that these times may be subject to change.
4.6) Health and Safety Risk Assessment
COVID-19 represents a hazard in the context of health and safety in the school environment.
- The school will review our emergency procedures involving, fire safety, first aid, accidents and dangerous occurrences to consider any new risks that arise due to the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan.
- Any changes to the school’s existing emergency procedures will be documented and incorporated into the school’s safety statement.
- The school will also review our existing risk assessments to consider any new risks that arise due to the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan.
- Any changes to the school’s current risk assessments will also be documented and incorporated into the school safety statement.
- Our School’s Covid-19 Risk assessment will be added at a later stage.
4.7) Access to School and Contact Log
Access to the school building will be in line with agreed school procedures.
- All visitors to the school will enter via the main entrance.
- All visitors will be admitted by the school secretary or school principal.
- Children will enter and exit the school via allocated entry and exit points.
- All exits will be fully closed following reception of the children.
- Visitors need to hand sanitise on entry.
- All visitors should wear face coverings.
- All visitors to the school will sign in and out using the school contact log (see Appendix 6) Visitors should provide their own pens. This will facilitate the prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a crucial step in restricting the spread of the virus and protecting the health and safety of the individuals themselves and other staff, contractors and visitors at the workplace.
- Where possible, it is preferable that meetings between parents and teachers will be held remotely. Please note that Parent/Teacher Meeting may take place at a later date than usual this year.
- Arrangements for necessary visitors such as health care professionals, contractors and parents will be restricted to essential purposes and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the principal.
- The Department of Education Inspectorate may also need to visit schools and centres for education to support them as appropriate in the implementation of public health advice relating to creating a safe learning and working environment for all.
- The Data Protection Commission has provided guidance on the data protection implications of the return to work protocols. This advice can be found here: https://www.dataprotection.ie/en/newsmedia/data-protection-implications-return-work-safely-protocol
- All school records and data must be maintained and processed in compliance with the GDPR and the Data Protection Acts. The responsibility for compliance with the legislation rests with Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh in its role as data controller.
5) Infection Prevention Control Measures – To prevent Introduction and Spread of COVID-19 in Schools
– Advise staff and pupils to self-isolate or restrict their movements at home if they display any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and contact their family doctor to arrange a test
– Advise staff and pupils not to return to or attend school in the event of the following:
Ø if they are identified by the HSE as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19
Ø if they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus
Ø If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff are advised to consult and follow latest Government advice in relation to foreign travel.
Ø Advise staff and pupils to cooperate with any public health officials and the school for contact tracing purposes and follow any public health advice in the event of a case or outbreak in the school;
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 the school. If infection is not introduced it cannot be spread. 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.
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 the school. The control measures shall continue to be reviewed and updated as required on an ongoing basis.
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.
Minimising the Risk of Introduction of COVID-19 into Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh:
- We will promote awareness of COVID-19 symptoms (details at Section 5.1);
- Staff and pupils that have symptoms are advised not to attend school, to phone their doctor and to follow HSE guidance on self-isolation;
- Staff and pupils are advised not to attend school if they have been identified by the HSE as a contact for person with COVID-19 and to follow the HSE advice on restriction of movement;
- Staff and pupils that develop symptoms at school are advised to bring this to the attention of the Principal promptly;
- Staff and pupils will be informed of the protocol for managing a suspected case of COVID-19 in school (details at Section 8);
- Everyone entering the school building needs to perform hand hygiene with a hand sanitizer;
- Essential visitors to the school during the day will be by prior arrangement. This will usually means arranging an appointment through the school secretary. Visitors will be received at the main entrance, where they will wait until admitted by the school secretary or school principal and sign the contact form. Physical distancing (of 2m) should be maintained between staff and visitors.
- All visitors to the school will be asked to wear a face covering in line with Guidance for Primary Schools & Special Schools on PPE, Consumables and Equipment.
5.1) Know the Symptoms of COVID-19
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 it is important to know and recognise the symptoms. They are:
- High temperature
- Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
- Loss of smell, of taste or distortion of taste
5.2) Respiratory Hygiene
We will make sure that every member of the school is reminded to follow good respiratory hygiene.
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.
- Disposing of the used tissue immediately and safely into a nearby bin.
By following good respiratory hygiene, we can all protect the people around us from viruses such as cold, flu and Covid-19.
5.3) Hand Hygiene
– 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 sanitiser does not work on dirty hands
– Alcohol-based sanitiser must not be stored or used near heat or naked flame
Staff and pupils will understand why hand hygiene is important as well as when and how to wash their hands.
Our school will promote good hygiene and display posters throughout the schools on how to wash your hands. We will follow the HSE guidelines on hand washing: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/how-to-wash-your-hands.html
How to wash your hands with soap and water
- Wet your hands with warm water and apply soap.
- Rub your hands together palm to palm until the soap forms a lather.
- Rub the back of one hand with your palm and fingers spread so you wash between fingers. Repeat with the other hand.
- Interlock the top of your hands and rub your fingertips – this cleans your fingertips and knuckles.
- Then finally grasp your thumb tightly and twist to make sure your thumbs are cleaned. Repeat with the other hand.
- This should take at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands under running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
- Hand hygiene can be achieved by hand washing or use of a hand sanitizer (when hands look clean).
- We will manage the use of hand hygiene facilities including wash hand basins so as to avoid congregation of people waiting to use wash hand basins and hand sanitizers.
- There will be three sinks with warm running water in each classroom.
- There will be hand towel dispensers in each classroom with bins to hold used towels. These will be emptied regularly.
- Each classroom will also be fitted with wall mounted hand sanitizers.
- SEN rooms, offices and other general rooms will be fitted with wall mounted hand sanitizers.
- In order to facilitate more efficient entry into the school, each teacher will also be equipped with a hand held sanitizer for dispensing by the teacher.
- Children will be required to wash their hands 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.
- We will use hand sanitizer dispensers at exit and entry points of the school and classrooms. Care will be taken to clean up any hand sanitizer spills to prevent risks of falls.
- Wash hand basins, running water, liquid soap and hand drying facilities will be provided in all toilets, kitchens and any food preparation areas.
- Hand washing facilities will be maintained in good condition and supplies of soap and towels will be topped up regularly to encourage everyone to use them. The school care taker will have responsibility for this. (WHEN?? NEEDS TO BE DONE WIHOUT ENTERING/MIXING CLASS BUBBLES)
- Posters displaying hand washing techniques and promoting hand washing will be laminated and placed on walls adjacent to washing facilities.
- Hand sanitizer is suitable for use for hand hygiene when hands are not visibly soiled (look clean).
- Evidence of effectiveness is best for alcohol based hand rubs but non-alcohol based hand rubs can be used too.
- When hand rubs/gels are being used in school care should be taken to ensure that pupils do not ingest them as they are flammable and toxic.
- Young children will not have independent use of containers of alcohol gel.
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;
- When they cough or sneeze.
The Department has arranged for a drawdown framework to be established to enable schools purchase hand-sanitizers and any other necessary PPE supplies for use in the school. The school will procure hand sanitizers and any other necessary PPE using this procurement and some local suppliers. We will also be guided by the Guidance for Primary Schools & Special Schools on PPE, Consumables and Equipment issued by the DES on August 7th.
“It is recommended that teachers and staff in primary schools wear a face-covering when a physical distance of 2 meters from other staff or children cannot be maintained. In certain situations the use of clear visors should be considered, for example staff interacting with students with hearing difficulties or learning difficulties”.
(If parents would like their children to wear face coverings in class – this will be permitted)
5.4) Physical Distancing
Ventilation – new section
The Department has published guidance setting out the practical steps for good ventilation in accordance with public health advice ‘Practical Steps for the Deployment of Good Ventilation Practices in Schools’ The guidance sets out an overall approach
for schools that windows should be open as fully as possible when classrooms are not in use (e.g. during break-times or lunch-times (assuming not in use) and also at the end of each school day) and partially open when classrooms are in use. The guidance provides that good ventilation can be achieved in classrooms without causing discomfort, particularly during cold weather.
Physical distancing will be usefully applied in our school setting allowing for some flexibility when needed. It will be applied in a practical way to recognise that the learning environment cannot be dominated by a potentially counterproductive focus on this issue. Physical distancing will look different across the various ages and stages of learning. Care will be taken to avoid generating tension or potential conflict and some flexibility in the implementation of measures may be required at times.
It is also recognised that it is not always possible for staff to maintain physical distance from pupils and it is not appropriate that they would always be expected to do so where this could have a detrimental impact on the pupil i.e. if a child sustains an injury and requires first aid.
- However, where possible staff should maintain a minimum of 1m distance and where possible 2m.
- They should also take measures to avoid close contact at face to face level such as remaining standing rather than sitting beside/crouching down.
Physical distancing falls into two categories:
- Increasing separation
- Decreasing interaction
The guidance documents provided by the Department of Education on optimal school layout and referenced at Section 4.5 above will be used by our school to increase separation to the greatest degree possible
To maintain physical distancing in the classroom our school will:
- Reconfigure class spaces to maximise physical distancing
- Utilise and reconfigure all available space in the school in order to maximise physical distancing. (This is laid out in section 4.5)
Funding will be used where appropriate under the enhanced minor works grant to facilitate this classroom re-configuration works.
The teacher’s desk should be at least 1m and where possible 2m away from pupil desks. Where necessary, this area will be marked by tape as described in section 4.5.
The extent to which decreasing interaction is possible in our school will depend on the school setting and a common-sense approach is required recognising the limits to which this can be achieved between pupils.
- In our school pupils from Rang 3 to Rang 6 will be seated in pods of 4, with at least 1 metre between pods. Each pod will have a Perspex safety divider fitted ensuring separation between children in the pods.
- It is recognised that younger children are unlikely to maintain physical distancing indoors. Therefore this 1m distance will not be required from Naíonáin – Rang 2.
- Where possible work stations will be allocated consistently to the same staff and children rather than having spaces which are shared.
- Each class will be a Class Bubble (i.e. a class grouping which stays apart from other classes as much as possible), children will be further divided into discrete groups or “Pods” within those class bubbles.
- If the class is divided into Pods, there should be at least (1m distance) between individual Pods within the Class Bubble and between individuals in the pod, whenever possible.
- Generally speaking the objective is to limit contact and sharing of common facilities between people in different Class Bubbles (and Pods within those Class Bubbles) as much as possible, rather than to avoid all contact between Pods, as the latter will not always be possible.
- The aim of the system within the school is that class grouping mix only with their own class from arrival at school in the morning until departure at the end of the school day. The Pods within those Class Bubbles is an additional measures, to limit the extent of close contact within the Class Bubble.
- Pod sizes will be kept as small as is likely to be reasonably practical in the specific classroom context.
- To the greatest extent possible, pupils and teaching staff will consistently be in the same Class Bubbles although this will not be possible at all times and there will be some flexibility with younger classes and SEN.
- Each Different Class Bubbles will have separate areas at break or meal times. When a teacher is on duty, the SEN teacher assigned to their room will be responsible for bringing that class to and from the designated areas at break times and at the end of the school day. (Ensuring distance is kept while queuing and/or walking in line to and from yards etc)
- Sharing educational material between Pods should be avoided/minimised where possible.
- Staff members who move from class bubble to class bubble should be limited as much as possible.(CARETAKER TOPPNG UP TOWELS etc)
- All classes will enter the school through a designated entrance, through a designated route and in a staggered manner (see map : Appendix 10 for details)
- From 02/11/20 Rang 6 will move to the school hall – this will increase physical distancing for our largest class. As the hall served as a resource area for Múinteoir Mary, she will now move to Rang 6’s former classroom. Rang 6 will walk around the outside of the school building to access their yard at the back of the school. This move does not affect the current workings of this plan.
Staggered opening times
In order to ensure that social distancing can occur and children can enter the school premises in a manner that complies with health and safety guidelines, it will be necessary to stagger opening times in the school in the following manner.
|8:40||2:20||Rang 6 and Rang 2 plus all their family members from other classes|
|8:50||2:30||Rang 5 and Rang 1 plus all their family members in other classes|
|9:00||2:40||All remaining students from Rang 3 and Rang 4|
|9:00||1:30||All remaining students from Naíonáin Bheaga and Naíonáin Mhóra|
- For the first two weeks (01/09/2020-11/09/2020) Naíonáin Bheaga will go home at 12 noon and Rang 1 will go home at 1:30 p.m.
- Please note that the above times may change as children become more used to the new routines.
- There will be minimal interaction on arrival and departure and in hallways and other shared areas as only one class will be moving through an area at a time. (FOLLOW DISTANCE MARKINGS ON THE FLOOR)
- Social physical contact (hand to hand greetings, hugs) will be discouraged.
- Where pupils need to move about within the classroom to perform activities (access to a shared resource) it will be organized by the teacher to the greatest degree possible to minimize congregation at the shared resource. Teachers will practice these procedures and routines with the children in the opening days of school.
- Staff and pupils will avoid sharing of personal items. Each pupil from Rang 3, Rang 4, Rang 5 and Rang 6 will be supplied a box. They will keep all their requisites/ books in this box. Coats will all be stored by the pupil in their own area. Coat hooks will not be used as coats will hang on the backs of chairs and no school bags will be needed as children will store all of their items in the storage containers under the table. All other classes will be given assigned spaces for their belongings.
- Pupils will be encouraged to avoid behaviours that involve hand to mouth contact (putting pens/pencils in the mouth).
- Where teaching and learning involves use of keyboards or tablets, the contact surface of the device should be cleaned regularly and hand hygiene encouraged. The bank of iPads will not be used initially. Thereafter, a timetable will be drawn up that facilitates time to clean/ sanitise each tablet before it moves to the next setting. Children will not be sharing iPads. Children will not be allowed to collect or transport the iPad trolley throughout the school.
Physical Distancing outside of the classroom and within the school
School Drop Off/Collection
Children from Naíonáin Bheaga, Naíonáin Mhóra, Rang 1 and Rang 2 will enter and exit the school from the front entrance on the left hand side of the school.
Children from Rang 3, Rang 4, Rang 5 and Rang a 6 will enter and exit the school from the door on the right hand side at the back of the school.
At home time on a dry day, all of the children from Rang 1 to Rang 6 will line up at a designated area at the front of the school at their allotted times before being collected by their parents who will remain outside of the school gate. This is to allow for social distancing.
Wet Day Policy – The procedure on wet days will not differ from dry days EXCEPT during very bad weather where, the children will remain in their classrooms until called to the gate via a walkie-talkie system as their parents arrive. The children will remain socially distanced as they exit the building. It is essential that all children have rain wear everyday to facilitate outdoor activities and safe collections.
- A distance of 2m is recommended for physical distancing by staff. This is particularly relevant to distancing between adults when they are not engaged in teaching such as the staff room and arriving to work.
- If 2m cannot be maintained in staff groups, as much as distance as is possible and guidance on face covering should be observed.
- Physical distancing will be observed between staff members. Additional staff room facilities will be organised.
- Staff meetings will be held remotely or in small groups or in large spaces to facilitate physical distancing.
- The school has a no hand shaking policy.
- School staff are not encouraged to gather at the beginning or end of the school day.
- Staff can rotate between areas/classes but this should be minimized where possible.
- 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.
- The risk of transmission from contact with outside surfaces or play areas is low.
- Entrance and exits from outdoors breaks will be organised to minimise crowding at the entrance and exits. (See Appendix 10 for details)
- It is not possible to maintain physical distancing when pupils in primary schools play together outdoors, but in so far as practical it is helpful to keep to consistent groups.
- Children will be encouraged to perform hand hygiene before and after outdoor activities.
- If equipment is shared, it will be cleaned between uses by different people. The person finished using the equipment has responsibility for cleaning the equipment to avoid teachers doubling up on tasks.
- HAND SANITISE STATION ON THE YARD FOR TEACHERS/ STAFF
5.5) Use of PPE in Schools
Medical Grade Masks
Schools must provide medical grade masks in the EN16483 category to all SNAs and teachers in special schools and special classes and those staff by necessity that need to be in close and continued proximity with pupils with intimate care needs including School Bus Escorts.
Guidance for Primary Schools & Special Schools on PPE, Consumables and Equipment which was issued by the DES on August 7th contains the following advice which we are guided by:
The Interim Guidance for the use of face-coverings in childcare and educational settings provided by the HPSC on 6th August 2020 makes the following recommendations for use of face-coverings in childcare and educational settings:
“It is not recommended that children attending primary school or preschool/childcare settings wear face-coverings. (BUT ARE THEY WELCOME)
“It is recommended that teachers and staff in primary schools wear a face-covering when a physical distance of 2 meters from other staff or children cannot be maintained.
“In certain situations the use of clear visors should be considered, for example staff interacting with students with hearing difficulties or learning difficulties” (SO VISORS ONLY IF INTERACTING WITH STUDENTS WHO REQUIRE SUCH – OTHERWISE FACEMASK)
Cloth face coverings should not be worn by any of the following groups:
- Primary school or pre-school children
- Any person with difficulty breathing
- Any person who is unconscious or incapacitated
- Any person who is unable to remove the face-covering without assistance
- Any person who has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering, for example persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, sensory concerns or tactile sensitivity
“Schools should consider having additional disposable face coverings available for students, teachers, and staff in case a back-up face covering is needed during the day
” Whilst staff may wish to utilize their own face covering on a day-to-day basis, schools should have available a stock of additional disposable or multi-use face coverings, or if appropriate face visors, available for staff in case a back-up face covering is needed throughout the day or where required on an ongoing basis”.
- The Schools will have a ‘pack’ of relevant PPE on hand to be able to respond to such event in line with the guidance in the COVID-19 Response Plan, including PPE for cleaning/disinfecting rooms where a pupil/staff member with suspected COVID-19 was present. PPE for Staff (as required) (WHERE- WHO IS IN CHARGE OF DISTRIBUTING IT)
- The school will ensure that any PPE requirements for staff, as required under the Roadmap, public health advice and COVID-19 Response Plan, is readily available for staff.
- For a limited number of staff, PPE will need to be used occasionally or constantly due to the nature of certain work activities or work areas. This might include roles such as:
- Assisting with intimate care needs
- Where a suspected case of COVID-19 is identified while the school is in operation
- Where staff are particularly vulnerable to infection but are not on the list of those categorised as people in very high risk groups, or may be living with those who are in the very high risk category.
- 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 should apply standard precautions as per usual practice.
- Storage of alcohol based hand sanitiser will be done in a safe manner – very large amounts will not be stored together. Extra fire extinguishers will be provided where necessary – see School Safety Statement.
The use of disposable gloves in the school by pupils or staff is not generally appropriate but may be necessary for intimate care settings or first aid. Routine use does not protect the wearer and may expose others to risk from contaminated gloves.
Routine use of disposable gloves is not a substitute for hand hygiene.
Each member of staff will be provided with a box containing PPE and cleaning equipment as follows:
- Face masks (Disposables)
- Gloves (For first Aid and in intimate care settings)
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Visor/ Goggles
- Antibacterial spray
- Hand gel
While these will be replenished regularly, it will be the responsibility of each staff member to let the caretaker know if and when additional requisites are needed.
6) Impact of COVID-19 on certain school activities
Le líonadh -Snámh, Leabharlann, Busanna, Spóirt (Will be updated on an ongoing basis)
Choir practices/performances and music practices/performances involving wind instruments may pose a higher level of risk and special consideration should be given to how they are held ensuring that the room is well-ventilated and the distance between performers is maintained. For this reason:
- Singing will take place outdoors
- Tin whistle playing will be deferred to the second term (initially)
- (VOLUME )
We will refer to the HPSC guidance on Return to Sport. Link to return to sport protocols is found here for guidance. https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/07253-return-to-sport-protocols/
In line with the „‟Returning to school Curriculum guidance for primary school leaders and teachers p.18, we endorse the following:
- Pupils’ physical education is a central part of their wellbeing: it should form a significant component of timetabled programmes upon returning to school.
- We will emphasise strands such as Athletics or outdoor and adventure activities with particular focus on the strand units of running, jumping, throwing and orienteering.
- ‘Games’ may also provide suitable learning experiences.
- We will choose learning experiences where pupils can work individually or in small groups (for example, in their pods) with minimal equipment
- We will promote physical activity and movement of a non-contact nature. Opportunities for both indoor and outdoor activity will be exploited during break-times, transitions, play, PE lessons, and across curricular areas.
- CONCENTRATE ON OUTDOOR PE
- During PE lessons we will continue to ensure all pupils engage in aerobic activities as well as skill development, with an emphasis on fundamental movement skills.
- We will actively encourage pupils to be creative, to cooperate with others, to create and modify games, to solve problems, make decisions, engage in peer and self-assessment, and to reflect as part of the planned physical education programme.
SPHE and Wellbeing
Each pupil will start or return to school with his/her own experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. The wider physical, mental, emotional and relationship implications of social distancing, lockdown and possibly bereavement may be significant for some pupils. There will therefore be a focus on wellbeing as a foundation for learning. Teachers will play an important role in supporting positive interactions and routines for the children and in encouraging healthy behaviours as the pupils make sense of their new realities and come to feel safe and secure in their school surroundings.
SPHE is particularly important in responding to how Covid-19 has impacted on children in terms of their feelings, thoughts and behaviours.
Learning experiences that support children to focus on their strengths, positive attributes and qualities to enable reconnection with the school community will assist in easing the transition back to school. SPHE curriculum content will also be useful in providing general and specific support to pupils who are finding the transition back to school difficult. While teachers will be best placed to consider what aspects of their SPHE programme should be prioritised or revisited in light of the particular context of their class or pupils, we will focus on some of the following Strand Units:
- Taking care of my body
- Growing and changing
- Safety and protection
- My friends and my family
- Developing citizenship
We will also give particular attention should be to:
ONLINE CLASSROOM AND HOW TO USE SUCH
- The importance of personal hygiene and how to wash hands thoroughly, coughing/sneezing according to the medical guidance, and how and when to wear face coverings/masks
- Supporting pupils in managing their feelings, resolving conflicts and coping with uncertainty, as well as new situations brought about by Covid-19 such as loss of a loved one
- Revisiting the Stay Safe Programme or Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE)
- Allowing pupils adequate time to re-connect with one another and to (re)establish relationships with peers. Co-operative games and the incorporation of drama activities such as role play and improvisation can support this process.
- Providing children with opportunities to talk about and make sense of their experiences.
- The infant teachers will meet to agree a timetable for Aistear topics.
- A period of 72 hours must pass before a new class can use the same materials.
- Materials/ toys need to be either left for a period of 72 hours or cleaned before another group in the same class uses them. The same rules will apply to maths manipulative.
- All toys to be cleaned on a regular basis for example weekly. This will remove dust and dirt that can harbour germs.
- Toys that are visibly dirty or contaminated with blood or bodily fluids should be taken out of use immediately for cleaning or disposal.
- When purchasing toys choose ones that are easy to clean and disinfect (when necessary).
- If cloth or soft toys are used they should be machine washable.
- Jigsaws, puzzles and toys that young pupils may be inclined to put into their mouths should be capable of being washed and disinfected.
- All play equipment should be checked for signs of damage for example breaks or cracks. If they cannot be repaired or cleaned they should be discarded.
- Clean toys and equipment should be stored in a clean container or clean cupboard. The manufacturer’s instructions should always be followed.
- At this time soft modelling materials and play dough where used should be for individual use only.
Cleaning Procedure for Toys
- Wash the toy in warm soapy water, using a brush to get into crevices.
- Rinse the toy in clean water.
- Thoroughly dry the toy.
- Some hard plastic toys may be suitable for cleaning in the dishwasher.
- Toys that cannot be immersed in water that is electronic or wind up should be wiped with a damp cloth and dried.
- In some situations toys/equipment may need to be disinfected following cleaning for example:
- Toys/equipment that pupils place in their mouths.
- Toys/equipment that have been soiled with blood or body fluids or toys where a case of COVID-19 has been identified.
- If disinfection is required: A chlorine releasing disinfectant should be used diluted to a concentration of 1,000ppm available chlorine. The item should be rinsed and dried thoroughly.
Where possible pupils will be provided with individual art and equipment supplies.
Shared electronic devices such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards should be cleaned between use and consideration could be given to the use of wipeable covers for electronics to facilitate cleaning. (See procedures for iPads)
Instruments will not be shared between pupils and if sharing is required, the instruments should be cleaned between uses. (FIRST TERM?)
The School library will not be in operation for the first term. Instead each class will receive an allocation of library books which they will keep in their classroom. Where practical pupils will have their own books. Pupils will be encouraged to perform hand hygiene after using any shared item.
*Further details yet to be decided re intensive reading and reading recovery procedures.
Shared Sports Equipment
- The sharing of sports equipment will be minimised.
- The school hall will not be in use for PE therefore all PE for the first term will take place outdoors.
- Shared equipment will be cleaned by the teacher after use.
7) Hygiene and Cleaning in Schools
- Funding has been allocated to schools to support the enhanced cleaning required to minimise the risks of COVID-19.
- The specific advice in relation to school cleaning is set out in the HPSC advice and will be covered in the induction training. This advice sets out the cleaning regime required to support schools to prevent COVID-19 infections and the enhanced cleaning required in the event of a suspected cases of COVID-19. Schools are asked to carefully read and understand the cleaning advice and to apply that to all areas of the school as appropriate.
- Our School will take particular care of the hygiene arrangements for hand washing and toilet facilities.
- Our school setting will be cleaned at least once per day.
- Additional cleaning if available will be focused on frequently touched surfaces – door handles, hand rails, chairs/arm rests, communal eating areas, sink and toilet facilities.
- All staff will have access to cleaning products and will be required to maintain cleanliness of their own work area. Under no circumstances should these cleaning materials be removed from the building.
- Staff will thoroughly clean and disinfect their work area before and after use each day.
- There will be regular collection of used waste disposal bags from offices and other areas within the school.
- Staff must use and clean their own equipment and utensils or bring their own to and from school (cup, cutlery, plate etc.)
Cleaning/Disinfecting rooms where a pupil/staff member with suspected COVID-19 was present
- The room should be cleaned as soon as practicably possible. (BY WHO)
- 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.
- Disinfection only works on things that are clean. When disinfection is required it is always as well as cleaning.
- Person assigned to cleaning should avoid touching their face while they are cleaning and should wear household gloves and a plastic apron.
- Clean the environment and furniture using disposable cleaning cloths and a household detergent followed by disinfection with a chlorine based product (household bleach).
- Pay special attention 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.If a pupil or staff member diagnosed with COVID-19 spent time in a communal area like a canteen, play area or if they used the toilet or bathroom facilities, 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.
8) Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19
School staff should be encouraged to download the HSE COVID-19 tracker app to assist Public Health for contract tracing purposes both in and out of the school setting.
Staff or pupils should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. The following outlines how a school should deal with a suspected case that may arise in a school setting.
A designated isolation area has been identified within the school building: Leabharlann – Library. The possibility of having more than one person displaying signs of COVID-19 has been considered and to facilitate this, screens will be erected in the isolation room to create separate isolation areas. If required, additional cases will use the Computer room as an overflow isolation area. The designated isolation area is behind a closed door and away from other staff and pupils. It is also close to the main entrance and the principal’s office.
If a staff member/pupil displays symptoms of COVID-19 while at school the following are the procedures to be implemented:
- If a teacher in a classroom, has a suspected case of Covid/ recognised symptoms, they must alert the principal or the school secretary using either the school Talk-Back system, mobile phone or Aladdin.
- If the person with the suspected case is a pupil, the parents/guardians should be contacted immediately.
- The person will be isolated and accompanied to the designated isolation area via the isolation route by the principal (or deputy principal/teacher on duty) keeping at least 2m away from the symptomatic person, wearing a mask if applicable and also making sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2m from the symptomatic person at all times. If the principal is unavailable the deputy principal will be alerted and do the same.
FROM WHO WEBSITE – There have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing. In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out. More studies are urgently needed to investigate such instances and assess their significance for transmission of COVID-19.
- If it is not possible to maintain a distance of 2m a staff member caring for a pupil should wear a face covering or mask. Gloves should not be used as the virus does not pass through skin.
- The person presenting with symptoms is provided with a mask. He/she should wear the mask if in a common area with other people or while exiting the premises.
- The principal/ deputy (OR ACTING) will assess whether the individual who is displaying symptoms can immediately be directed to go home/be brought home by parents who will call their doctor and continue self-isolation at home.
- The person presenting with symptoms will be facilitated to remain in isolation if they cannot immediately go home. They will also be facilitated to call their doctor if necessary. The individual will be reminded and encouraged to avoid touching people, surfaces and objects.
- Advice will be given to the person presenting with symptoms to cover their mouth and nose with the disposable tissue provided when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the waste bag provided.
- If the person is well enough to go home, arrangements will be made for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible and they will be advised to inform their general practitioner by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used.
- If they are too unwell to go home or advice is required, 999 or 112 will be contacted and informed that the sick person is a Covid-19 suspect.
- The principal/ deputy will carry out an assessment of the incident which will form part of determining follow-up actions and recovery.
- Arrangements will be made for appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved – (details at Section 7).
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.
9) Special Educational Needs
Additional considerations for those with Special Educational Needs
For children with special educational needs (SEN) maintaining physical distancing in many instances will not be practical or appropriate to implement. The focus should therefore be on emphasising that parents/guardians should have a heightened awareness of signs, symptoms or changes in baseline which suggests illness/COVID-19 infection and where symptoms are present children should not attend school.
Similarly staff should be aware of their responsibility not to attend work if they develop signs or symptoms of respiratory illness.
Children who are unable to wash their hands by themselves should be assisted to clean their hands using soap and water or a hand sanitizer (if their hands are visibly clean) as outlined previously.
Some children may have care needs (physical or behavioural) which requires the use of aids and appliances and/or medical equipment for example toileting aids, moving and handling equipment, respiratory equipment. Where cleaning of aids and appliances is carried out in the school it is recommended that a cleaning schedule is provided, detailing when and how the equipment is cleaned and the cleaning products to be used in accordance with the manufacturers‟ instructions.
The following points can guide the development of such cleaning schedule:
- Equipment used to deliver care should be visibly clean;
- Care equipment should be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturers‟ Cleaning is generally achieved using a general purpose detergent and warm water.
- Equipment that is used on different children must be cleaned and, if required, disinfected immediately after use and before use by another child e.g. toileting aids;
- If equipment is soiled with body fluids:
- First clean thoroughly with detergent and water;
- Then disinfect by wiping with a freshly prepared solution of disinfectant;
- Rinse with water and dry.
9) Staff Duties
Not to return to or attend school in the event of the following:
- If they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus
- If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff are advised to consult and follow latest Government advice in relation to foreign travel.
- Cooperate with any public health personnel and their school for contact tracing purposes and follow any public health advice given in the event of a case or outbreak in their school
- Undergo any COVID-19 testing that may be required in their school as part of mass or serial testing as advised by Public Health
Staff have a statutory obligation to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of their colleagues and other parties. The cooperation and assistance of all staff is essential to reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19 and to protect health and safety as far as possible within the school. All staff have a key role to play. In this regard and in order to facilitate a safe return to work, these duties include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Adhere to the School Covid-19 Response Plan and the control measures outlined.
- Complete the RTW form before they return to work on the 31st of August.
- Must inform the principal if there are any other circumstances relating to Covid-19, not included in the form, which may need to be disclosed to facilitate their safe return to the workplace.
- Must complete Covid-19 Induction Training and any other training required prior to their return to school.
- Must be aware of, and adhere to, good hygiene and respiratory etiquette practices.
- Coordinate and work with their colleagues to ensure that physical distancing is maintained.
- Make themselves aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and monitor their own wellbeing.
- Self-isolate at home and contact their GP promptly for further advice if they display any symptoms of Covid-19.
- Not return to or attend school if they have symptoms of Covid-19 under any circumstances.
- If they develop any symptoms of Covid-19 whilst within the school facility, they should adhere to the procedure outlined above.
- Keep informed of the updated advice of the public health authorities and comply with same.
11) Covid-19 related Absence Management
The management of a Covid-19 related absence will be managed in line with agreed procedures with the Department of Education.
Circular 0049/2020 – Coronavirus (COVID-19): Arrangements for Teachers and Special Needs Assistants employed in recognised Primary and Post Primary schools.
Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme
The Department recognises the need for school staff wellbeing and collective self-care. 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’.
Under the EAS, employees have a dedicated free-phone confidential helpline 1800 411 057 available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing advice on a range of issues such as wellbeing, legal, financial, mediation, management support etc. Where required, short-term counselling is available to employees and their families (over the age of 18 years and living at home). A bespoke wellbeing portal and app which offers access to podcasts and blogs on topics around wellbeing and mental health, family life, exercise and nutrition is also available. In addition online cognitive behavioural therapy is provided. As part of the services provided by Spectrum Life, a Mental Health Promotion Manager is available to develop and deliver evidence based mental health and wellbeing initiatives to reduce stigma and improve mental health literacy and to increase engagement with the service. They will also be providing a series of webinars and presentations to promote staff wellbeing in schools as schools reopen and during the upcoming school year.