Weekly Updates – Welcome Back

Dear Parents/ Guardians.

Happy New Year to you all. Once again, some updates from our school community.
There will of course be a certain level of anxiety and apprehension in relation to our return to school this week. This will be felt by teachers, students and parents alike. It is understandable that some may be nervous, we will however, do our very best to implement our well established and effective Covid health and safety protocols and will double down on our efforts going forward. We know that Omicron is far more transmissible and so therefore appropriate mask wearing, sanitizing hands, desks, chairs etc. is now even more important. While many people feel that this variant is not as worrying, from the point of view that symptoms experienced with Omicron are not as severe as previous variants, and that is admittedly a positive, the rules for isolation however remain the same.
If a teacher or student has a positive diagnosis, they must self-isolate, regardless of how severe or not the symptoms are. This means time lost for teachers and students. Teachers of exam students and indeed exam students themselves are terrified of picking up the virus because this would lead to a loss of class contact time. There is therefore an onus on all of us to row in and comply fully with ALL health and safety protocols so as to limit the spread of the virus.
As the guidelines for positive cases and self-isolation periods for vaccinated and unvaccinated people are changing regularly, it can be difficult for all of us to keep pace. Below is a link to the most recent guidelines as issued by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and it goes through comprehensively various different scenarios/circumstances in relation to positive cases, vaccinated/unvaccinated students, and the protocols to follow, and finally close contact information.
The reality is that most teenage boys don’t worry about picking up the virus and wonder why in school we are so particular about masks, sanitizing etc. We need to keep working with them and reminding them that such protocols exist to protect us all, and to ensure that we consistently work at reducing the introduction and subsequent spread of the virus in our school community.
The following are some important reminders in relation to instructions that we have communicated to the boys since their return to school yesterday.  It is essential that all parents are fully aware of the messages we are communicating.

  1. Mask Wearing : It is now essential that all students are wearing their masks properly, pinched above the nose and under the chin. Omicron is easily transmissible (apparently far more so than previous variants) so we must double down on our efforts. 
  2. Desk Sanitising: All class groups will be reminded to sanitize their desks on arrival to classrooms. Students should not enter any classrooms until the teacher has arrived. They remain on the corridor so that the teacher can supervise the sanitizing of desks/chairs.
  1. Microsoft Teams:  All teachers have been and will continue to upload homework/notes/assignments etc.  to Teams so that students can submit homework through Teams for correction. Many of our students are absent due to Covid related issues, and so should be given the opportunity to access work remotely through Teams. For this reason, we have decided that ALL students (1st to 6th year) will be permitted to bring their phones into school as for many this is the device of choice that students use to access their Teams account. 
  1. After School Study: Resumes on Monday 10th Jan in the usual classrooms and at usual times. Forms to sign up for study can be obtained from the administration office. No student will be permitted to attend afterschool study until all forms have been completed and submitted. Unfortunately, we are not currently in a position to offer night study for the remainder of this academic year.
  2. VS Ware Christmas Test Results for 1st, 2nd &5th Year Students: The Christmas exam results for 1st, 2nd & 5th years will be issued to parents on Thursday 13th January. Parents will receive an e mail to inform them that the results have been published. Parents will need their username and password to access VS Ware.
  3. Parent teacher Meetings for 1st, 2nd & 5th years: In light of the fact that we are currently experiencing high levels of student absenteeism (Covid related) we are deferring the scheduling of the above on line parent teacher meetings until later in the year. Parents and students will be informed in due course in relation to rescheduled dates.
  4. Pre-Examinations for 3rd & 6th Years: The pre-exams for 6th & 3rd years will begin on February 9th (as opposed to Feb 1st as quoted on our annual Calander) and end on Feb 18th (start day of mid-term break). This means that students have 4 weeks and three days to exams (not counting today). Our plan is to run 6th & 3rd year exams simultaneously. Once the timetables for exams have been finalised, they will be e mailed to all parents.
  5. Extra- Curricular Activities: It is important that class contact time is the priority for the coming weeks. As a result, it may not be possible to facilitate some school activities (e.g. lunchtime clubs, trips, etc.) . If this is the case your understanding is greatly appreciated. Activities in the school are enormously appreciated as is the time, commitment and energy of staff involved. While we always try to facilitate as much as we can, it just simply may not be possible over the coming weeks.
Thank you as always for your help and support,
Kind regards,
David Quilter       Lorraine Shiels