We hope you are all keeping well and enjoying the mid-term break!. As you are probably aware the Government has accepted the recommendations of NPHET regarding the easing of infection prevention control measures and restrictions in school settings. The new public health advice was issued to schools on Wednesday evening and these recommendations will take effect from next Monday 28th February 2022.
Understandably, many of the COVID-19 protocols and procedures will take some time to change (it took time to accept Covid 19 health and safety protocols initially, so it will take us some time to transition from what we accepted was normality for two years). There is a lot of apprehension and anxiety around “getting back to normal” and the best way that we can ease that anxiety is to move slowly with changes. Indeed, some of the procedures introduced over the past two years have had a positive impact on the day-to-day operation of the school and may consequently remain in the long term. Therefore, from Monday morning, we won’t see a radical change in relation to how the school operates. Student’s timetables, entry and exit points, seating plans, split lunch breaks and assigned toilets etc. will remain unchanged.
The following are the key points that we would like to bring to your attention:
- Staying at home if you have symptoms: The requirement to stay at home if you have symptoms remains for students and staff alike. 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. Additionally, critical components of the collective response in relation to COVID-19 continue to apply including self-isolation if symptomatic (even if fully vaccinated/boosted) or if having a positive COVID-19 test.
- Face coverings/mask wearing: It is no longer a requirement for staff or students to wear a face covering/mask in school. Staff and students may continue to wear a face covering/mask if they wish to do so on a personal basis and schools will continue to make masks available on request as they are currently doing. The wearing of face masks is therefore a choice for each individual. We are very mindful and respectful of the fact that many of our students/staff are immune compromised themselves and/or may live with a person who is vulnerable (parent, grandparent or sibling). Therefore, it is important that each individual’s choice is respected by all within the school community.
- Physical Distancing: The suite of measures introduced in the school to adhere to the physical distancing guidelines included: reconfiguring classroom spaces to maximise physical distancing, reviewing timetables, staying left when walking on the corridor, additional entry and exit points for all students, assigned toilet areas for senior and junior school, split lunches, early exit for 1st year students at the end of the school day etc. The Department of Education has clearly stated that it is not envisaged nor expected that school timetables in post primary schools should be rearranged mid-year. As the school’s current arrangements do not impact on the quality of teaching and learning these arrangements will remain in place until the end of the school year. Seating plans that are currently in operation for each class group will remain in place for the remainder of the academic year.
- Visitors to the school: There is no longer a requirement to restrict visitors to schools. The school will now revert to the normal arrangements for visitors to the school. In relation to PT meetings, we will inform parents in a timely fashion in relation to our plans for 1st, 2nd and 5th year PT meetings. All meetings will take place within this academic year.
- Cleaning and Hygiene in schools: The Department of Education has provided additional funding to schools to support the enhanced cleaning required to minimise the risks of COVID-19. This funding will continue for the remainder of this academic year. We will continue to implement the procedures currently in place regarding the sanitising of student and teacher workstations before use (i.e. students sanitizing their desks with a wipe prior to taking their seat). All students and staff will be required to continue this practice.
- Hand Hygiene: Continued use of good infection prevention and control measures such as hand washing is advised. Hand hygiene is achieved by hand washing or the use of a hand sanitiser. Therefore, the school will continue to implement the procedures currently in place to promote good hygiene. All students and staff will be required to continue this practice.
- Respiratory Hygiene: Continued use of good infection prevention and control measures such respiratory hygiene is advised. The school will continue to implement the procedures currently in place to promote good respiratory hygiene i.e. Cover the nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing the nose.(All students and staff will be required to continue this practice)
- Ventilation: Continued use of good infection prevention and control measures such as ventilation is advised. The school will continue to implement the procedures currently in place to ensure the deployment of good ventilation practices in the school building. All classrooms have now been fitted with air filters to improve the quality of air in circulation within all classroom environments.
- School transport and face coverings/mask wearing: With effect from Monday the 28th of February the wearing of face coverings/masks on school transport will no longer be mandatory but will continue to be advised.
We are looking forward to welcoming the boys back to school on Monday. As is always the case students must be in full uniform on their return to school.