Return to School

Dear Parent / Guardian,

We hope you are all well. As you will be aware we will be re-opening from Monday the 7th September.

We have been working on our plan for the safe reopening of the school for some weeks now and have published the DES COVID-19 Response Plan for the safe and sustainable reopening of Primary and Special Schools on our school website.  The Response Plan gives details of

  • Physical preparation, signage, hand sanitiser stations,
  • Advice, procedures and training for the safe return to working in the school for all school staff and pupils
  • General and specific advice on how all pupils, staff, parents and visitors will prevent the spread of the virus
  • A risk assessment
  • An Addendum to the schools Code of Behaviour to be signed and returned by all families

The Response Plan also contains our COVID-19 Policy Statement. Our BoM will keep you informed as to the progress of our re-opening plans and provide you with the information required by you to play your part in safely re-opening the school.

We have also included with this letter a copy of the Addendum to the Schools Code of Behaviour. It is essential that you read this carefully. Please sign this and return it school with your child on their first day back.

The Department of Education also has information for parents at

Physical Distancing and Safe School Attendance

We are currently working on upgrading our procedures and routines within the school to ensure that there is as much Physical Distancing as is possible in our building. We will apply physical distancing in a practical and sensible way, recognising that the learning environment cannot be dominated by a potentially counterproductive focus on this issue.

Physical Distancing will be achieved in two ways: –

Increasing Separation.  This will be achieved by re-configuring the classrooms to maximise physical distancing. Each shared area will be referred to as a bubble and we will ensure that there is as little contact as possible between children in different bubbles.  Within the bubbles, children will be organised into class pods.  A pod is a group of children who will sit together and who will stay in their pod while in the bubble, or classroom. 

Decreasing Interaction. This will be achieved by decreasing the potential for children from different bubbles to interact.  There will be marked routes for various bubbles to enter and exit the school and to access their classrooms.  Bubbles will have different mid-morning and lunch-time access to the playground.  We will make these routines enjoyable activities for the children, emphasising safety at all times.

While all children will be welcome back to school, we would remind parents that, where children are displaying colds, coughs or flu like symptoms, they should not be sent to school.  Children who display such symptoms in school will be isolated and parents asked to collect them from the school.

Anyone who has travelled abroad in the last two weeks should let the school know. Children who have travelled from countries not on the Green List should not attend school during the 14-day self-isolation period

Further information on COVID-19 symptoms in children is available at: –

Teachers will make children aware of the proper hygiene procedures regarding hand washing and etiquette related to sneezing, coughing or spitting.  We would be grateful if you could also emphasise safe behaviour in this regard to your children at home as part of the preparation for returning to school.

Drop-off and Collection Routines

The BoM, the School Leadership Team and all the school staff have been working to ensure a safe return to school for all pupils and staff in the week beginning the 7th of September.   We are now finalising our plans for drop-off and collection of the children every day. 

St. Joseph’s Special School appreciates your support as we try to safely reopen the school building. If at all possible we request you not to come onto the school grounds or into the school building unless it is essential.

We would ask all parents to familiarise themselves with the following drop-off and collection routines for the safe delivery and collection of pupils from school.  Please be patient as we endeavour to embed these necessary precautionary and protective practices at the beginning of the school year.

It is imperative that

  • adults do not come within 2m of each other
  • parents do not try to have meetings with members of staff in the playground at drop-off and collection times – meetings between parents and teachers can only take place by prior arrangement. .(This may have to be more restrictive depending on guidance – it is quite possible that the recommendation will be for remote meetings/telephonic communications.)
  • all parents adhere to the drop-off and collection plans as outlined below

Drop-off Plan

Buses drop off will begin from 9.00 am. Students will not exit bus until an SNA from their own class is present to escort them to their own classroom following the most appropriate route to minimise crowding in the front hall.

Students travelling in private cars or travelling in with their parents on public transport are to remain in their cars outside the school grounds until 9.10am. They can then bring their cars to the drop off point on the school driveway (no parent/guardian cars are permitted in the car park) and then meet their SNA outdoors before going to their classroom.

Students who arrive later in the day as part of planned reduced day should make arrangements with class teacher.

Collection Plan

Students going to busses will leave school at staggered intervals to reduce crowding in halls.

Those students who are being collected by parents/guardians will leave with their class and meet parents/guardians on drop off area on the school driveway.

These plans will be reviewed frequently and may change.

More detailed information is included in the Risk Assessment and Response Plan.


All students should bring their own pencil case with 2-3 pencils/pens in their pencil cases. This will remain in school


For those students who bring their own lunch to school, containers must be cleaned and disinfected every night after school. Alternatively, children could bring their lunch to school in a paper bag which can be disposed of after use.

Social Stories

We have been getting these ready with pictures of staff in masks, they will be sent out shortly. If you require any particular resources, please contact your child’s teacher through class Dojo

We will be posting updates on our Facebook page (St. Joseph’s Special School), Class Dojo and in the news section of our website ( If you have not yet joined Class Dojo please let us know as we will be using this for all classes. If you have any questions or queries, please phone the school on 01 451 5961 (questions posted to our Facebook page may not be answered).

Our aim remains to re-open the school in an orderly safe manner, while reassuring the children and making them feel comfortable, safe and relaxed with their friends in the new school environment.  This will be achieved by all of us working towards this common goal.

Kind regards,

Graeme Crombie

Principal, Secretary to the Board of Management

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