It is essential that all parents read this document in full.
It deals with all the practicalities and procedures for the re-opening of schools. This document will constantly be changing as per guidelines set down by the Department of Education and the HSE. It will be published on our website and you will be informed of any changes via email.
Before Coming to School
A pupil must not be sent to school if he/she has any one of the following symptoms;
• High temperature (38 degrees or above)
• Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
• Loss of smell, of taste or distortion of taste
• Or if they have tested positive for COVID 19 or have been a close contact of someone who has tested positive with COVID 19, in which case the advice of your family GP should be sought,
• or a sibling has tested positive or is awaiting the results of a test for Covid-19
If your child has any of these symptoms you must contact a GP as soon as possible and request a test and follow their guidance.
The Board of Management of the school is striving to keep the school open and keep the building free of Covid-19. It is essential that the above is adhered to keep the virus out of the school and ensure our school stays open.
Children must wash hands before leaving their home. Uniforms and shoes in particular, but also coats and bags, should be clean on arrival to school. Please ensure children have all their belongings to avoid unnecessary visits by parents to the school.
Arrival in the morning
Children are to arrive to school between 9:15 and 9:40 in the mornings. Children with a surname beginning with A to L are to only arrive between 9:15 and 9:30am and children with a surname beginning with M to Z should only arrive between 9:30 and 9:40am in the mornings.
Children who arrive by bus will promptly walk to the front of the school and they will proceed straight to their class through the assigned entrance.
Senior Infants will begin at 9:45am for the first two weeks and I would ask the Senior Infants to remain in their cars until this time. A parent may walk them to their line for the first week if they wish but always maintaining a 2m distance from other parents and children. Miss Mitchell/Mrs Fitzpatrick will line up at number three and Mrs Gaffney’s at number five. The teacher will collect them from their line and walk them to their class.
Junior Infants will line up at 9:45am at the back door of the school for the first month. Parents will receive more details on the Junior Infant Open Day on the 27th of August.
There will be no assembling in the yard in the morning. Parents are asked to drop their child/children off at the gate and move off as soon as possible in order to ease congestion. Staff will be in their classrooms to provide supervision. SNA’s will be at the entry points ready to receive the pupils with SEN and ensure they get to their classrooms safely.
We would ask parents not to enter the school building or approach the staff for a meeting at the drop off or collection times. Meetings will have to be pre-arranged and may have to take place over the phone, depending on DES guidance.
All three gates at the front of the school will open at 9:15am. It is essential children/parents do not congregate before 9:15am.
The gate closest to Charlie Simpson’ petrol station will be Gate A, the main gate will be Gate B and the double gate by the trees will be Gate C. The principal and Special Education Teachers will remain at each gate to ensure children and parents do not congregate here in the mornings. Bicycles may be parked inside the double gates on the paved stones. Bicycles are not allowed to be used inside the school grounds.
Gate A should be used by Miss Rooney’s, Mrs Rooney’s, Miss Dolan’s and Miss Fallon’s class at all times.
Gate B should be used by Miss Mitchell’s/Miss Fitzpatrick’s, Mrs Mc Sharry’s, Miss Gibbon’s and Mr Gallagher’s class at all times.
Gate C should be used by Mrs Gaffney’s, Miss Daly’s and all children with bicycles at all times.
Children in Miss Fallon’s, Mrs Gaffney’s, Miss Rooney’s and Mrs Rooney’s classes will enter and exit through the fire escape doors of their classroom at all times (Miss Falllon’s, Mrs Rooney’s and Miss Rooney’s doors are along the garden and Mrs Gaffney’s door is beside the new artificial grass yard).
Children in Miss Dolan’s and Miss Gibbon’s class will enter through the door to the right of the school. Mr Gallagher’s, Miss Daly’s, Miss Mitchell’s/Mrs Fitzpatrick’s and Mrs Mc Sharry’s classes will use the main front door.
Children will wash their hands-on arrival in their classrooms and sanitise on exit.
Each child will have a basket/basin for their books, stationery and pencil case. These baskets will be provided by the school and can be easily lifted up and down for cleaning the desks each day. We are planning that the items in the basket stay in school each day.
Infant Collection -The Junior Infants will exit at 1:50 pm and the Senior Infants will exit at 2.00 pm. We will review this as the term goes on. Junior Infants will exit via Gate B at the front of the school. Miss Mitchells/Miss Fitzpatrick’s Class will exit Gate B and Mrs Gaffney’s class will exit via Gate C. It is essential that parents maintain a 2m distance from each other at collection time.
1st - 6th Collection - At the end of the school day we will also stagger the exit of pupils from 1st - 6th class. Parents will be asked to stand at their cars where possible, two metres apart and to avoid congregating at gates and walls.
2.50-3.00 Pupils from 1st and 2nd class and siblings from 3rd to 6th class will walk to the exits of the school. (Miss Fallon’s will use gate A, Mrs Mc Sharry’s will use Gate B and Mrs Gaffney’s will use Gate C)
2:50 – 3:00 Pupils from to 3rd to 6th class as well as all bus children will leave the school building. Bus children will walk around the school straight to the bus. (Miss Rooney’s, Mrs Rooney’s and Miss Dolan’s will use gate A, Miss Gibbons and Mr Gallagher will use Gate B and Miss Daly’s will use gate C)
Class teachers will supervise remaining pupils in the classroom as the staggered exits take place. Support teachers will supervise the exit points.
We would ask parents to move off as soon as their children are safely in the car, in order to free up spaces for the next group. Your cooperation on this matter is much appreciated.
We will have split break times. Group 1 (Mrs Mc Gurrin’s, Mrs Gaffney’s, Miss Fallon’s, Miss Rooney’s, Mrs Rooney’s and Miss Daly’s) will go out first, then come in and eat. Group 2 (Miss Mitchell’s/Miss Fitzpatrick’s, Mrs Mc Sharry’s, Miss Dolan’s, Miss Gibbon’s and Mr Gallaghers) will eat first and then go outside to play.
Group One will go to yard at 10:50 – 11:00 and 12:15 to 12:40 and will eat in their class from 11:00 to 11:05 and 12:40 to 12:50. Group Two will go to yard from 11:10 to 11:20 and from 12:50 to 13:15. They will eat in their class from 11:05 to 11:10 and from 12:40 to 12:50.
Each class will play in a separate area with no mixing between class bubbles. Before eating and on return to the classroom children will wash their hands. The split breaks will involve additional supervision on the part of the staff, but it will ensure the children have more space to play and are more physically distanced at this time. The additional handwashing will eat into tuition time but it is essential at this time.
We will be reminding children to try to maintain a physical distance from each other even when playing games e.g. refrain from holding hands, hugging etc., plan games that minimise physical touch.
During the School Day
Entry to school
All visitors, including parents, must sign in and out and must sanitise hands and wear a face covering. Children in primary school are not required to wear face coverings, nor is it recommended.
Only HSE, Gardaí, Department of Education and their related agency staff and persons deemed by the Principal to be integral to the maintenance and repair and management of the school, and only then through prior appointment, will be admitted to the school.
All parental interaction with the school must take place remotely, through email, telephone and/or online call. In exceptional circumstances and only where business cannot be transacted remotely or online or by post, may a parent visit the school office by appointment. In such circumstances a face covering must be worn. There is no exception to this requirement.
The early collection of pupils is not now facilitated and may only occur in the event of a medical appointment or emergency, and only then after the parent has informed the Principal/Deputy Principal at least 30 minutes in advance. The removal of a pupil early from school is hugely disruptive, but during COVID 19 it is also increasing the risk of viral spread and unnecessarily increasing the contact between pupils and adults in the school.
Children must have everything they need for school with them. If they forget something the parent must leave it in the drop box at the main school door and inform Bernadette via the intercom.
All persons in Four Masters N.S. should follow good respiratory hygiene.
This requires covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow, in the event of a sudden sneeze or cough. A used tissue should be disposed of immediately into a bin.
By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and Covid-19.
There are hand sanitiser stations at the entrance to every classroom and throughout the school. There are three sinks in each classroom. Pupils and staff should perform hand hygiene:
• Before they leave their home
• 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.
Use of hand hygiene facilities including wash hand basins will be managed so as to avoid congregation of people waiting to use wash hand basins and hand sanitisers. 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.
Hand sanitiser dispensers will be deployed readily at exit and entry points of schools and all classrooms and care will be taken to clean up any hand sanitiser spills to prevent risks of falls.
Wash hand basins, running water, liquid soap and paper hand towels are provided in all toilets and the kitchen. Hand washing facilities will be maintained in good condition and supplies of soap and paper towels will be topped up regularly to encourage everyone to use them.
Posters displaying hand washing techniques and promoting hand washing are placed on walls adjacent to washing facilities. Hand sanitiser is suitable for use for hand hygiene when hands are not visibly soiled (look clean). The hand sanitizers used will contain 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. Staff and pupils will be reminded that hand-sanitizers are flammable and toxic.
Children from Juniors – 2nd Class should not have independent use of containers of alcohol gel due to high levels of alcohol in some of them i.e. they should not bring their own to school.
There is no guidance or advice to say that school uniforms or tracksuits should be washed every day. However, children must come to school with clean uniforms.
We will follow our usual practice in relation to uniforms and tracksuits. Uniforms should be worn every day, except on P.E. days, or when otherwise requested by teachers.
As a school we strongly advise that children should wear their school uniforms or tracksuits only for school related activities. Uniforms or tracksuits should be taken off straight after the child arrives home from school for the day. They should not be worn in after-school facilities, shops, during after-school activities, etc.
Coats and schoolbags may be brought to school. Coats must be stored in your child’s bags at their place during school time.
Lunch boxes are allowed and must be washed daily.
A pencil case should be brought to school, kept there and replenished when necessary. A child should also have a pencil case at home for when homework resumes.
Labelling personal belongings
It is imperative that children’s uniform, jackets, books, copies, pencils, colours, glue stick and white board markers are labelled this year to avoid confusion. As we seek to decrease interaction between pupils, it is important that each child has their own supplies available in their basket/box and these stationery supplies are replenished when necessary.
It is essential that we have up to date telephone numbers, emergency contacts and email addresses in the event of a suspected case of Covid-19, your child is ill or for the school to keep you updated on any changes. Please contact the office if you have any changes to your contact details.
Communication between the school/teacher and parents may take place using the teacher’s work email addresses. Teachers will send this email address on to you when school starts and teachers will only open emails during teaching hours (9:20am to 3pm). This form of communication is only to used for passing information such as absent notes, doctor’s appointments, school tours etc.
If you have a complaint or grievance to make please follow our policy and arrange a virtual meeting/telephone call with the teacher.
Code of Behaviour
Changes have been made to our Code of Behaviour to reflect the Covid-19 situation and have been ratified by the Board of Management. The following paragraph has been added:
‘We take any misbehavior in relation to Covid-19 very seriously. The children will be spoken to about not using the term Covid-19/coronavirus or if someone has to go home because they are ill as a means of teasing or taunting. Children will be made aware that any unwanted invasion of space in contravention of socially distancing guidelines will not be tolerated and will be treated as a serious misbehaviour. Any spitting, coughing or shouting in people’s faces or running around the school building will be deemed a very serious misbehaviour and will be dealt with as per our Code of Behaviour. Any actions that put children or staff in danger will not be tolerated‘.
The NCCA have released a document regarding ‘Reopening our School’ in which it specifies that an emphasis will be placed in September and October on revising the previous year’s program and going over topics not covered. There will also be a greater emphasis on English, Gaeilge, Maths, SPHE and PE for the first half term. We will be striving to establishing a good routine and boosting children’s self esteem for the first period of opening schools.
• 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 should be organized to the greatest degree possible to minimize congregation at the shared resource.
• Staff and pupils should avoid sharing of personal items. Each child will be provided with a box for their books.
• To avoid external contact with books etc, and indeed to promote wellbeing, no homework will be set for the first two weeks of school and will be reviewed then.
• We will encourage pupils 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
Most of our classrooms are a large enough in area and we have toilets within the classrooms, so we are in a position to keep the children within their current class bubbles for the duration of the school day. The DES Covid-19 Response Plan has provided illustrations on classroom layouts for 28 - 32 pupils. We will be following these guidelines in relation to setting up our classroom bubbles.
The teachers have planned their classroom seating plans with as much distancing between pupils as possible. Within their classroom bubbles, the children will sit in pods of 4 – 6 pupils per pod depending on size. The pod will stay seated together for the term.
There will be a 2m zone taped out on the ground around the teacher's desk so that the teachers will be enabled to teach without face coverings, if they so wish. Where staff cannot maintain a 2m distance e.g. if they are helping a child with a task, or applying first-aid, they must wear face coverings as per the public health guidelines in the DES Roadmap. Face masks and visors are provided for all staff.
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.
The focus will be in avoiding physical contact unless necessary which may include:
• First Aid Treatment
• If a child is emotionally upset
• One to one teaching by class teacher or Supplementary Education Support Teacher
Apart from such instances, staff should maintain a minimum of 1m distance and where possible 2m distance from students and other staff. Where 2m distancing is not possible, staff must wear face coverings.
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.
All persons, staff and pupils, should walk on the immediate left at all times whilst walking in the corridors (following the signage on the floor). Classes must stand back and wait for a class to pass or walk on and must maintain their class bubble by not intermingling with other classes in the corridor.
Class teachers can control this through ensuring the usual protocols are followed pertaining to a class teacher leading their class at all times when moving throughout the school. Classes and/or individual pupils are not permitted to leave their classroom unless for a timetabled event such as support teaching, PE lesson.
Hygiene and Cleaning in Schools
Four Master’s N.S. has arranged for enhanced cleaning of the school.
All school settings are cleaned at least once per day. Specific advice in relation to school cleaning is set out in the HPSC advice and will be covered in the induction training of cleaning staff.
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.
Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19
Staff or pupils should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.
The following outlines how our school will deal with a suspected case that may arise in a school setting. A designated isolation area has been identified within the school building-it is Mrs O’Reilly’s previous room and will be called a Waiting Room to ease children’s anxieties. The possibility of having more than one person displaying signs of COVID-19 has been considered and a contingency plan for dealing with additional cases put in place.
It is imperative that you collect your child immediately if they are showing symptoms of Covid-19 or are feeling unwell.
If a staff member/pupil displays symptoms of COVID-19 while at school the following are the procedures to be implemented:
1. If the person with the suspected case is a pupil, the parents/guardians will be contacted immediately; the school may use a touchless thermometer to check the child’s temperature. Parents must arrange collection of children immediately, and should arrange a Covid-19 test;
2. Isolate the person and have a procedure in place to accompany the individual to the designated isolation area via the isolation route, keeping at least 2m away from the symptomatic person and also making sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2m from the symptomatic person at all times;
3. Remember that the virus is spread by droplets and is not airborne, so physical separation is enough to reduce the risk of spread to others even if they are in the same room;
4. 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.
5. Provide a mask for the person presenting with symptoms if one is available. He/she should wear the mask if in a common area with other people or while exiting the premises.
6. 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;
7. Facilitate the person presenting with symptoms remaining in isolation if they cannot immediately go home and facilitate them calling their doctor. The individual should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Advice should 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;
8. If the person is well enough to go home, arrange for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible and advise them to inform their general practitioner by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used;
9. If they are too unwell to go home or advice is required, contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick person is a Covid-19 suspect;
10. Carry out an assessment of the incident which will form part of determining follow-up actions and recovery;
11. Arrange for appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved as per HSPC guidelines
12. 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. For this reason the school will not contact other parents regarding a suspected or confirmed case-that is solely the remit of the HSE.