We hope you are safe and well and that everyone is staying indoors where possible. These are extraordinary times that we find ourselves in and we are asked to make sacrifices which we could never have anticipated.
We are writing to you to update you on what we are doing in relation to remote teaching and learning.
The Taoiseach has confirmed that schools are closed at least until after the 19th of April. At this point, we do not know if we will be opening on April 20th.
As a result of the current closure of all schools in the State, the impact on the state examination activities scheduled at this time and in the near future has been considered by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills. Consequently, the SEC is confirming;
• The cancellation of the oral and practical performance tests of the Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle examinations, which had been scheduled to take place from next Monday 23rd March to Friday 3rd April, and to award full marks to candidates due to take these tests.
• That schools and candidates are allowed flexibility in relation to the completion of other project work and coursework across a number of subjects which are currently scheduled to be completed in the period 20th March to 24th April. Students will now be allowed to complete this work up to 15th May, which will allow candidates time to complete this work.
• That the SEC, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills, will continue to monitor the evolving situation very closely and will act in accordance with Government and public health advice. The minister has also stated he is committed to making the exams happen and this is what the DES and SEC are working towards.
Communication to students
A number of students have contacted the school because they are having difficulty with logging on to their Office 365 accounts. These issues have now been resolved. Teachers are using email, Office 365, TEAMS, Zoom, etc. and other platforms which they are comfortable with and which your son is used to. We are aware that in some homes, there may be no communication device but many of our students have smart phones which are capable of hosting most platforms.
Remote Teaching& Learning
The feedback in all cases is extremely positive from parents and students alike about the efforts’ teachers are making to stay in touch with their students and ensure that teaching and learning is taking place while the school is closed. As previously mentioned, your kind words and acknowledgment are much appreciated.
Teachers in most cases are delighted with all the hard work going on at home, so our students are to be commended for this. However a few students have not engaged in any platform. This may be due to the poor internet signal in your area, sickness at home or a variety of other reasons. Please check on you son to ensure that they are getting work. There are some points outlined below that will make the process easier for students and teachers alike:
- We are aware that students are sharing a device with parents and other siblings. It is not always possible for students to log on when a teacher is available.
- Some teachers are teaching live classes during the day. Please ensure that these are not recorded without teacher’s permission.
- Teachers are prioritising exam classes. Students in other years should not panic if you don’t hear from your teacher for a few days. The teacher might decide to assign work for a few days rather than touch base every day.
- We are asking parents to follow the proper channels if they wish to contact the school about their son’s work/progress or if you have any other concerns. That means contacting your son’s teacher directly through email.
- Some students have said that they are getting too much work and feel under a lot of pressure. If this is the case, let your teacher know. Your teachers are also learning, so if the workload is too much, they will happily reduce it.
- We are asking parents to randomly monitor students while on their device.
School Easter Break
As stated, we are delighted and proud of the way that all of our teachers and students have adjusted, engaged and brought into their new roles as distant learners and teachers. Teachers have gone above and beyond the call of duty and are engaging with every possible method of interactive teaching they can to ensure that teaching and learning continues to all of their students from 1st to 6th Year.
With this in mind, we are also very aware that both students and teachers need to rest at the end of this week following 3 intensive weeks of distant teaching & learning and the challenges that it inevitably presented. Therefore, to ensure that all stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, management) take this essential “time out”, we are instructing all that there will be no online classes, emails, TEAMS, corrections etc. over the 2 weeks of the school’s Easter break for all years starting from Friday next, 3rd April up to Sunday 19th April.
This is to ensure that all of our teachers and students are afforded sufficient time to replenish their energy levels so as to allow them move forward into whatever the next phase of preventative measures may demand of us.
Depending on the guidance that we receive from the Department of Education & Skills and the HSE, we will inform you as soon as possible the actions that the school will be taking from Monday 20th April.
Message for Students
While we have no control over the decisions that the government is making for us at the moment, you can play your part. The only thing we do have control over at the moment is how we behave and what actions we take over the coming weeks. Difficult as it is, please stay at home and practice social distancing when you do go out in public. Try to remain positive, because your actions now can actually save lives and ensure that we get through this difficult time faster. That’s a pretty big responsibility but it’s the least we can do when we think of the medical staff putting their lives at risk every day and the vulnerable people in our families that we love, whose lives we put at risk if we don’t adhere to what the government is asking of us.
It’s really important that you look after your mental health too. The prospect of not being able to leave your house much, if at all, may be upsetting, and can negatively impact your mental health. This is why it is important you take proactive steps to give yourself a sense of normality, maintain a routine, and do things you enjoy. Some examples of things you can do include:
- Stay in touch – keep in contact with your family and friends, you can still connect from a distance – call your friend, have a video-call catch up with your family or check in with someone on social media.
- Continue the things you enjoy – try reading that book you’ve been meaning to start, watch that new series or try a new skill.
- Get into a daily routine – you might find it helpful to plan out your time in advance and know what you are doing each day, so you have something to look forward to.
- Look after your personal environment – create a space that you are able to enjoy and feel comfortable in.
- Take a break from social media if you need to – if the updates are getting too much it is okay to take a step back.
Coronavirus, and helping children with autism:
Dr. Ann Ozsivadjian and Dr. Marianna Murin discuss issues that may arise for autistic children including the disruption of closing schools, anxiety and obsessive behaviours. They focus on practical tips like how to help manage anxiety, maintain structure and support and explain the situation to young people. Additionally, tips on how to keep well as a parent and reliable sources for coronavirus updates.
In St. Munchin’s College, we are here to help you- if there is any issue related to the above, you can email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Take care of yourselves. Please tell the boys that their teachers (and all of us) are all missing them (this is true! ) and hopefully we will all be back to our normal routines soon.
One last point that many of the teaches have asked us to pass on and that is to compliment our boys for the on line etiquette that they use with all of their teachers through Teams, emails etc. -using please, thank you, really appreciate this etc. The fact that so many teachers have mentioned it is evidence enough that it is a point that should be mentioned and commended.
David Quilter Lorraine Shiels