Sacred Heart BNS
This page should act as a source of information to parents on procedures in place to ensure a safe learning environment during the pandemic. We hope its contents will help put everyone’s minds at ease that Sacred Heart is doing everything it can to minimise the risk of Covid-19 being introduced to our school and to control any potential spread of the virus within our school. We aim, always, to provide a safe and fun learning environment and this will not change, despite the onset of this pandemic.
What follows are procedures that are in place under various headings that should make clear to all the action that the school has taken since the publishing of the Roadmap to Reopening Schools by the Department of Education:
- Arrival and Departure:
Children will arrive in school and depart the school at staggered times to ensure large groups are not gathering together on school premises. Parents are asked to “drop and go” and not enter any of the school buildings. Parents are encouraged to wear a face covering while on campus.
Arriving at your designated time is important and children should not be left at gates or sent to class before their designated arrival time.
Brothers with different arrival times should come to school at 9am and go directly to their respective classes.
Children can be collected from their designated spot in the yard at their pick-up time.
- Pods and Bubbles
Children are separated into Pods and Bubbles to decrease interaction between various school groups. In our school context, a Bubble is a classroom. Pods are groups within each classroom of a small number of children.
Each Pod will be at least 1m from each other when indoors and children will not engage in activities with anyone from another Pod.
Within Pods, children will not be socially distant, but as you will see later in the plan, measures will be in place within each Pod to ensure that their interactions are as safe as possible.
Pods can only be changed periodically throughout the year such as at holiday times and teachers cannot entertain requests to change the make-up of Pods as it undermines the entire process.
Different Bubbles (classes) will not mix anywhere in the school.
- Yard Time and Movement Breaks
Yard times will also be staggered to allow more space for children to play and allow for greater supervision from adults. Children can play in yard with children from their own Bubble, but not with children from another Bubble.
Bubbles will also have the opportunity for outdoor Movement Breaks throughout the day. These will take the place of the traditional “first break” which cannot be accommodated at this time.
Toileting will be scheduled throughout the day to allow opportunities for children to use the bathroom safely.
Limited numbers will be allowed in the bathrooms at any one time.
Physical and procedural changes have been made to ensure that children will not be in the bathroom/cloakroom areas at any time with anyone from outside their pod or with anyone from a different bubble.
- Hand washing/ Hand sanitising
Hand sanitisers and hand dryers have been installed throughout the school to ensure the best possible hand hygiene of everyone in the building.
Children are given scheduled opportunities to clean their hands throughout the day and have the opportunity to sanitise their hands also.
Children do not need their own hand sanitiser and should not bring any to school.
The children’s workstations and classrooms will be cleaned daily.
Frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and taps will be cleaned 3 times every day.
In the event of a suspected case of Covid-19 in any classroom, the room will be cleaned and sanitised immediately.
- Children’s Personal Equipment
Children will have an area to store their own books, copies, writing materials etc. They should not share any of these personal items with anyone.
Only items identified by the class teacher should leave the classroom to be brought home or brought from home into school.
Regularly, readers or library books may need to be brought home. Teachers will have procedures in class to ensure that books coming from home into school are safely redistributed to the next child who wishes to read them.
It is important that children have all the equipment they need for school with them every day as borrowing items such as pencils from staff or fellow pupils can no longer occur.
Homework will be greatly reduced at the start of the school year to reduce the amount of materials coming between home and school and vice versa.
Teachers will inform children of what books are needed for homework and those books should remain at home until further notice.
- Shared Equipment/Toys
There are certain items within a classroom that need to be shared or used regularly by various children. No such items will cross from Pod to Pod without being cleaned and sanitised first.
Procedures are in place within all classrooms to ensure that children will only engage with school materials and toys that have been cleaned before use.
PE will go ahead but with some changes. We will endeavour to deliver the curriculum outdoors as often as possible.
The school hall will only be used for PE activities where social distancing can be maintained.
- Children at Extremely High Risk
According to Department of Education Guidelines, all children are to attend school unless they are deemed to have a health condition that puts them at “Extremely High Risk” of contracting the virus.
If you are not sending your child to school, he will be marked absent unless the school is furnished with a note from a doctor that outlines your son has a health condition that is considered to be “extremely high risk”.
The school is legally obliged to inform the National Educational Welfare Board when any child has been absent for 20 or more days in a school year.
If you have chosen not to send your son to school despite the fact that he is not categorised as “extremely high risk” with regards to the virus, we will endeavour to support you and your child in any way that we can. However, it is important to note that we cannot commit our limited resources to full time home schooling of a child in such a scenario.
- Face Coverings and PPE
Staff will be wearing face coverings at all times in school. In the main, visors will be worn so that facial expressions can be seen.
Masks will be worn in addition to visors when staff need to come in close contact with a child to assist them in any way.
Further PPE will be worn by staff if first aid needs to be administered to any children.
Children do not require face coverings in school.
The school has Covid-19 related signage around the campus as well as signage related to new procedures, hand hygiene etc. We ask that all staff, parents, visitors and pupils follow this signage.
Anyone who enters the school buildings for any reason must check into the office with Elaine and fill in a Contact Tracing Form.
Incidental meetings with teachers at the start or end of each day can no longer occur. Instead, all meetings must be scheduled and, where possible, take place over the phone or by video conference.
Should you need to collect a child early from school, please inform the office at the earliest possible time. Parents will not be permitted to collect their child from the classroom. Instead, the school will arrange for the child to meet their parent at reception.
Similar arrangements will be in place for late drop-offs.
- Potential Policy Changes
Some school policies may require small, temporary changes to ensure we comply with Covid-19 regulations. If changes are made, we will inform parents as soon as they are.
Recently, our school behaviour policy has been updated so that the act of deliberately spitting or coughing at someone would be upgraded to a gross misbehaviour and would now invoke a more serious response.
- When should a child stay home from school?
Don’t send your child to school if he is showing symptoms of any illness, but especially if he is showing any symptoms of Covid-19. Symptoms of Covid-19 are:
- Fever (Temperature above 38 degrees Celsius)
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of or change to sense of taste or smell
- Aches and Pains
When your child shows symptoms, do not send him to school. Call your GP, who will advise you on what should happen next. If your GP feels the illness is not related to Covid-19, you will be advised on how to treat your child and he can be sent back to school when his symptoms have passed.
If your GP thinks the illness may be Covid-19 related, your son will be sent for a test. Your child should not attend school in these circumstances until he has a test result. If the result is positive, he cannot attend school until 14 days have passed since symptoms first presented AND until all symptoms have passed.
If he gets a negative result, he can return to school immediately if his symptoms have passed. If upon receiving a negative result, there are still symptoms present, your son should wait 48 hours from the time of the test result, before returning to school.
If any member of your household tests positive for the virus, your child should not attend school for 14 days. Your child will likely be identified by the HSE as a “close contact”. He will likely also be tested. Regardless of the result of that test, your child should remain out of school for 14 days.
If a member of a child’s household develops symptoms, the child should remain home until that person is tested. If he/she tests negative, the child can return to school, but must monitor his symptoms closely. If that household member tests positive then, like above, your child will likely be identified by the HSE as a close contact, will be tested and must remain home for 14 days, as per HSE guidelines.
It is possible that a member of a child’s household could be identified as a “close contact” of a confirmed case by the HSE. For example, the HSE may contact a parent to say that they are a “close contact” of a work colleague who has contacted the virus. In this case, your child should remain home until that person is tested. If the result is negative, the child can return to school. If it is positive, the child must remail home for 14 days.
For the safety of the children, staff will, of course, also be following these guidelines.
Information about restricting your movement, self-isolating and when and how long you must do this for can be found at https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/ or by calling the HSE Live helpline at 1850 24 1850.
- If your child shows symptoms of Covid-19 at school
If your child is showing symptoms of the virus over a period of time in school or complains of feeling unwell with any of the symptoms of the virus, the following procedures must be followed, according to guidelines set out by the HSA and the Department of Education:
- Your child will be brought by a staff member to a designated isolation room.
- Your child will be asked to wear a mask and will be asked to remain in that room, with an adult until he is collected from school.
- The school will call the child’s parents and inform them that their son is displaying symptoms of the virus. We will advise that he be collected by a family member as soon as possible and that his GP be contacted.
- Workstations and items on workstations within the child’s pod will be cleaned and disinfected immediately to ensure the safety of others.
- All of the above will occur in strict confidence to ensure that children feel comfortable in telling staff how they are feeling.
- What happens if there is a case of Covid-19 confirmed in our school
It is important to note that the school will only contact parents about any cases in the school when they are confirmed cases and when we are advised to do so by the HSE. A child leaving school early because they feel unwell should not be treated as any confirmation of the presence of Covid-19 in any classroom. The school principal and the HSE are your most reliable sources of information when it comes to the virus in our school’s context and you should ignore rumours that may circulate over various media.
Should we have a confirmed case in the school, parents will only be contacted if it directly affects your own child. You will be contacted if your child is considered to be a “close contact” of the confirmed case or if procedures are being put in place in the school that directly affect your child.
You could be contacted by the HSE, the school, or both.
If there is a confirmed case in the school and nobody contacts you, it is because this case does not affect your child and they should come to school as normal where our measures will continue to ensure the safest possible learning environment for your child.
If you require any further information about any of the procedures we have in place, please contact the office. We’d be happy to help in any way.
Please make sure you are signed up to Aladdin Connect as we will be sending home regular information about Covid-19, among many important notices, on this platform.
We are hoping for a full, safe and enjoyable school year and we believe the above measures will help us achieve this.
Many thanks in advance for your co-operation.