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 https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2d3af-advice-during-covid-19-back-to-school-advice-for-parents/

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: –

https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/if-your-child-has-symptoms.html

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.

Stationary

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

Lunches

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 (www.sjss.ie). 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

Reopening School

Dear Parents/Guardians

Thank you for patience during this difficult time as we work to prepare the school for reopening. As you will be aware the school has an ongoing summer work project to fix the heating and this has meant that we have had to re adjust our planned opening date to ensure that the building is ready in line with DES and HSE guidelines. The building works will be finished on the 31st August and we then need to deep clean the school and work to finish putting in place clear signage and safe access to hand sanitizer and sinks for washing hands before we can reopen. We have therefore set the opening day for Monday 7th September.

To help facilitate the safety of students and staff on their return to school, all our Primary and Solas classes will be starting back on a phased basis in the first week (Secondary classes will return in full from the 7th). We will bring half of the students from each Primary and Solas class in for Monday and Tuesday only, the other half of the class will come in on Wednesday and Thursday only. This will then allow class teams to spend Friday the 11th of September to update plans and prepare for the proposed full return of students the next week. We will be sending letters to each family to let you know which days your child will be attending in the first week and to update you on the School Covid Response Plan.

In short:

  • School reopens on a phased basis from Monday the 7th of September. 
  • School uniform:  Post primary and Solas 4   Grey trousers, Navy jumper and blue polo shirt.   Primary school and Solas classes     Navy tracksuit and red polo shirt. It is recommended that clothes are washed at the end of each school day, we therefore understand that children may attend in clean clothes other than their uniform
  • School fees will stay the same as last year €120 this will cover cost of books, stationary items and photocopying.
  • In line with government guidelines no pupil/student should attend school if unwell.
  • Bus driver or escort may refuse to take a child who is unwell.
  • If a pupil/student becomes ill in school parents are required to collect them immediately. It is essential that we have up to date contact details for all families – if you have changed your phone number you must let us know.
  • We are working on a plan for pupils/students who do not travel on school transport we will let you know this as soon as possible.
  • Face coverings –  we would ask that all pupils wear face coving on school buses where this is possible. Further information on this will be sent out shortly

In the meantime, we are continuing to updating our schools Covid Response Plan, purchasing the necessary PPE and making changes to the school building. We are really looking forward to seeing you all again. Enjoy the last couple of week and we will keep you updated as we go.

Kind regards,

Graeme Crombie

Moving Towards Reopening School

This week the Department of Education published a Covid 19 Response Plan for Primary and Special Schools and a Roadmap for School reopening which are aimed at supporting schools to reopen at the beginning of September. These documents outline a number of supports for schools as well as providing guidance on measures to reduce the spread of Covid 19.

There are a number of positive ideas and supports in the documents and while we hope to re open at the start of September there is still a huge amount of planning and work to be done to prepare for this and to ensure that any return to school is done so safely for all our students, staff and families. We will continue working toward that goal and will keep you informed as much as possible to our progress.

The Minister for education Norma Foley has also asked us to share this letter with all families.

Virtual Sports Week 2020

This week we will be running our first Virtual Sports Week. So keep an eye on our school’s website (https://sjss.ie/2020/06/21/virtual-sports-week-2020/), Facebook page or ClassDojo to see some of our staff demonstrate a fun sporting exercise to try at home! Every day will have an activity theme and we will post video demonstrating how to do the activities. You can choose one or more of the activities each day, or make uo some of your own. When you try the activities let us know through ClassDojo or Facebook and you can even post photos or video of you taking part to ClassDojo or Facebook.

Monday’s Activity

Tuesday’s Activity

Wednesday’s Activity

Thursday’s Activity

Friday’s Activity

Summer Provision

Dear Parent/Guardian,

It is with great regret that we inform our school community that we will be unable to offer a school-based July Provision this year. Planning for July Provision would, in normal times, take several months, and organising and running a programme at this late stage of the year and recruiting an appropriate number of familiar staff in such difficult and unclear circumstances would likely take even longer.

Further to this the Board of Management feels that without clear Government public health guidelines on safe operation, we are not in a position to provide a safe environment for our pupils and staff. Current H.S.E. guidelines on returning to the workplace safely recommend the provision of appropriate hygiene facilities, proper ventilation, maintaining physical distancing of at least 2 metres, and installation of physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards. This would also have severely reduced the time in school available to those children who took part.

The health and safety of our pupils and staff are of paramount importance to us and unfortunately, St. Joseph’s Special School is currently not in a position to adhere to the recommended guidelines.

You may, however, access information on home-based July Provision through this link:

https://www.education.ie/summerprovision

We wish you a safe and happy summer and look forward to resuming some form of normality at the end of August.

Kind regards,

Graeme Crombie

Principal, Secretary to the Board of Management

Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) Examinations 2020

Dear parents/guardians and students. As you will be aware the Minister for Education announced on Friday that the exams for the Leaving Certificate Applied have been postponed.

Students in their final year of LCA will be offered the option of receiving Calculated grades in 2020. LCA students will be provided with calculated grades for subjects, tasks and vocational specialisms due to be completed in 2020. The Certificate of Calculated Grade will have the same status as Leaving Certificate Applied awarded to students in previous years.They will also have the opportunity to choose to sit the exams at a later stage when it is safer to do so.

You can read the full guide to calculated grades for Leaving Certificate students 2020 here.

In order to help answer some of your questions the Department of Education have provided a guide to help explain why we have reached this decision, what it means for students, parents and teachers and how it will happen. You can access that guide by clicking here.

Students in all other classes, including year one LCA, should continue to engage with their teacher and their school work at this time.

School Closure

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update

We have just been informed by the Department of Education that from 6 pm today, schools will close. The restrictions will stay in place until 29th March. Children will travel home today at 2:40 pm as usual.

We will update this site with any new information and will also post updates on our school Facebook group.