Update for parents on Covid 19

**Update** 20/4/2020

Good afternoon all,

I hope all families are surviving and managing in our new reality. Some of you may even be rediscovering and reconnecting in a positive way. We are certainly getting to spend more time with our nearest and dearest than ever before. For myself personally, with a small baby, that is a real privilege. 

On the 10th of April, the Minister for Education stated that schools in the state will remain closed until further notice. This remains the case. 

https://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2020-press-releases/PR20-04-10.html

Easter has offered some respite and we are all hopefully feeling refreshed and motivated. Today marks the beginning of our final term of the 2019/2020 academic year. I encourage all parents to continue to, within reason, maintain structure and routine for the girls. 

Work is being posted and feedback is being offered Classes are being held digitally. SEN and Guidance support for all students who require it continues as normal. Students should try to maintain regular contact with their teachers and by now should have all the codes and links to access their classwork. 

The school year is continuing, and our collective goal is to achieve a learning progression for all students. We can still achieve this digitally/remotely, but only with your support and assistance. 

I am encouraging our teaching staff to provide work through the Microsoft suite of applications. These include Outlook, Teams, One Note, One Drive and Skype. Students use their school email address and password to access these. If you are experiencing connection issues with these please contact us and we will address them. 

We are expecting government updates with specifics any day. As soon as we receive them, we will inform you together with a plan as to how we will interpret and apply them in Our Lady’s Grove. 

In the meantime, if you as parents have any concerns, please feel free to contact either myself or the Deputy Principal by email. 

Kind regards

Colm & Sonya

Statement from Minister on Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle examinations

Please see below today’s statement from the Minister for Education and Skills, Mr Joe McHugh TD, on this year’s Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle examinations. See also attached a joint Press Release from the management bodies of second-level schools and the NAPD. 

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD has today (Friday 10 April 2020) announced a series of changes to the 2020 State Examinations as part of measures to respond to Covid-19, including postponement of the Leaving Certificate examinations. The decisions have been taken on foot of updated advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). Minister McHugh said plans were being put in place for the postponed Leaving Certificate examinations to begin in the last week of July or early August, subject to public health advice. Junior Cycle final examinations due to take place in June will be replaced by school-based exams and assessments held early in the new school year. A series of other decisions has also been taken – 

• As part of the wider public health measures, schools are closed until further notice. 

• Practical examinations for Leaving Certificate students which were due to have been held in May are deferred. They will be rescheduled for late July/early August.

 • The new Leaving Certificate exam timetable will be confirmed in early June. 

Minister McHugh said: “All decisions we are taking in relation to rescheduling exams are based on current public health advice and put the best interests of students first. The welfare of students and that of their families is front and centre in all decision making. “The final arrangements for the exams, the exam centres, social distancing and other measures will all be determined by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) on foot of public health advice in June. I want to thank the SEC for its efforts to put in place these revised arrangements. “Students and their families have been seeking clarity. Today’s announcement addresses that. It also provides them with several weeks of advance notice to prepare for the examinations. I hope it helps to alleviate some stress being experienced by students and their families at this time. “Asking Leaving Certificate students and their families to refocus their attention from June to August is not something we do lightly. I know it will not be easy. However, I believe it is the fairest way of assessing students and giving them certification of achievement in school and a pathway to higher and further education and training, apprenticeship or work.”

Minister McHugh also said: “Students with special educational needs will be fully supported in sitting the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examinations in line with the reasonable accommodations as already arranged for them.” Minister McHugh said the intention was to allow at least two weeks of class time, in school, before the Leaving Certificate examinations begin. “Great work is being done by schools and teachers to connect with students and to keep them learning. We must give teachers, principals and school staff huge credit for their commitment to supporting students, in their schoolwork and in their wellbeing. And we want to provide students and teachers with an opportunity to build on that,” the Minister said. As part of the changes to the Junior Cycle, discussions will take place with teacher unions and school management to allow these examinations, linked Classroom-Based Assessments, Assessment Tasks and project work to be completed as school-based assessments early in the next school year. Minister McHugh acknowledged the positive engagement he has had with unions, management bodies, the further education and training and higher education sectors on all of these issues. “I am grateful for the co-operation shown by all concerned, in what is a very challenging situation for our young people, their families and teachers. I am confident we can continue to work together in a supportive spirit to help secure the best outcomes for students,” the Minister said. 

Message from Managerial Bodies:

Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS), Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), Joint Managerial Body (JMB) and National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) appreciate the clarity brought by this morning’s announcement regarding the state examinations. This brings certainty for students at this difficult time as they continue to prepare for their Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle Exams.

We wish to assure the students and parents of the continued support of their schools in maintaining continuity of teaching and learning and engagement with the student cohort. This is a vitally important time for students to remain connected with their schools and their teachers, and we would encourage all students to do so and their parents to support them in this regard.

We would like to acknowledge the ongoing work of the students, teachers and management in our school communities in dealing with the unique and challenging circumstances we are presented with at this time in such a positive and productive manner.

In light of the revised schedule that has been announced, we would ask that our students take a complete break from their studies in this Easter period so that they can return refreshed and renewed to the learning process.

We look forward to engaging further with the Department of Education and Skills to work through the operational details of this announcement over the coming weeks.

Good morning all,

I hope that you and your families are coping with the extra strains of the new life reality that we are all facing these days. As a community, our thoughts and support are especially with you who are frontline workers in health, transport, retail and administration. As a society we are completely reliant on your efforts, and I for one am immensely appreciative.

We have also become aware that some of our families are dealing with illnesses in their households. Some have experienced tragic loss as well. These strains are additional to the worry and anxiety that many are feeling as our ideas of our normal world come under attack.

Our examination years deserve specific concern. We all remember what it was like to face into State examinations. None of us ever had to do so while dealing with the unprecedented upheaval currently being experienced by our 3rd and 6th years.

It has now been formally stated that the exams will take place in some format. I would expect that there will be further announcements over the Easter break which will provide details as to how this will happen. I would like to commit to each of you that we will do whatever it takes to facilitate and support our students at Our Lady’s Grove.

Over the last fortnight we have been waiting for the publication of guidelines so that we can continue our in-school counselling support for those students who require it. Taking into account what I have already mentioned in this letter, this may include students who have not availed of this service before, and those who were in receipt of this support before the Covid-19 closure.

The service can be requested by emailing the school Counsellor at: r.mcdonnell@olgrove.ie. As a parent/guardian, you can contact the Counsellor, or I, to query the procedures in place. The following guidelines will give you a quick overview as to how we will arrange this:

  • • The programme used to host these meetings will be Microsoft Teams. All students can access this through their Microsoft Office Online portal
  • • An invitation to the meeting will be sent to the student by school email
  • • The student should join the meeting with a blurred background. This option is given on the joining screen.
  • • The meetings will last approximately 40 minutes
  • • The school may have to engage in prioritisation depending on the level of requests for support. 

I would like to thank the teachers of our school community for the manner with which they have managed the switch to remote learning and teaching. It requires considerable extra planning to facilitate remote learning for students. Many have upskilled, at short notice, on a range of digital means and modes, in order to continue a high-quality support for our students. 

Our senior students have also been commendable in their approach also. There have been resources shared, offers of support/help and the Our Lady’s Grove Digital Dance-Off is in full swing… pardon the pun.

As much as is possible, I urge all of our community to try and take some rest over the Easter period. This should include some digital detox. We do not know for how long this structure may need to be maintained and everyone will need to re-charge their batteries if we are to continue what we are doing.

Warm regards

Colm Dooley

Good morning to all Our Lady’s Grove parents and guardians,

We hope all of you are managing, considering the exceptional strain that is being put on individuals, families and communities. Should you be a frontline medical practitioner or anyone continuing to keep our public transport system running and our supermarket shelves stocked we thank all of you for what they are doing.

 Schools are expected to be one of the institutions which are central to our community. It is at times like these that we must all strive to ensure that this is our reality. Nobody is sure what faces us over the coming weeks and months, but we will surely face it with more fortitude and resilience should we be aware that we are supported by each other.

When we consider our teaching, administrative and temporary staff, our students and their families we are a community of thousands. That gathers a vast resource of skill, energy and creativity which can be deployed to help each other and the wider community.

Our primary concern is to maintain an effective routine of teaching and learning to support our young learners, whether they face terminal State exams or not. As a Senior Leadership we will continue to do this. We have written to all staff offering a range of supports and services so that they feel they can continue with their work remotely to the best of their ability.

We are very fortunate to be a committed digital school living in an area where there is reliable broadband. The educational community nationally have come together and are sharing vast quantities of educational resources. We have gathered some of the best digital resources and shared them with our teaching staff. We hope these will compliment the great work that they are already engaged in.

However, we may also have a function in other ways in our local community. It is for this reason that we are writing to you all now. If you do not have a large support network, if you are struggling in any way that you believe we may be able to help, please let us know. If you have a suggestion, which respects current government advice relating to social distancing, as to how the resources of the school can be deployed to assist our community, please let us know. 

If you use this link: http://www.olgrove.ie/contact/ the email will come directly to us and we will try to act on it.

Warm regards to all

Colm and Sonya

**Update**

12 March 2020 – Statement from the Department of Education and Skills

An announcement was made this morning by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD of the closure from Friday 13 March, of schools, pre-schools and further and higher education settings, for a period until 29 March 2020, to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. This will take effect from 6pm this evening, Thursday 12 March. This is in line with the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team.

All pupils and students, from pre-school to third level are urged to practice social distancing, and to minimise physical contact with each other, to help avoid the spread of Covid-19. This should include minimising social contact, avoiding meeting up and keeping physical space between them. Parents and guardians are urged to support their children to maintain this approach.

In order to minimise the impact on teaching and learning all schools will be asked to continue to plan lessons and, where possible, provide online resources for students or online lessons where schools are equipped to do so. Schools are asked to be conscious of students that may not have access to online facilities and to consider this actively in their response.

Schools are asked to prioritise supporting exam classes to continue to prepare for State examinations.

Physical classes in universities and higher education facilities will not be held during the closure. Institutions can make other arrangements for teaching and learning and other activities in line with their business continuity plans and contingency planning. 

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD said:

“I am deeply conscious of the impact that school and education setting closures have on students, on families and on the wider community. This is a necessary and proportionate measure that we are taking as a pro-active measure to help contain the threat of Covid-19.

“This is the right decision at the right time. It is taken in the best interests of our children, our young people, our school and college communities and our wider society.

“At this point in time the closure is planned for two weeks, from tomorrow until 29 March. The Government, in conjunction with the public health authorities, will keep the situation under ongoing review. Any change to that date will be communicated widely.

“Pupils should take their books and learning materials home with them this evening.

“This is a very challenging time for our pupils, our teachers, our students and our colleagues in further and higher education.

“Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine – we all live in one another’s shadow. If there was ever a time for us to appreciate how closely we are connected, how much what we do maters to others, how much we rely on each other, this is it. This is a time where we all need to work together for the best possible outcome for our students. The support of everyone across the sector is vital, as we all strive to ensure that this threat is dealt with as effectively as possible.”

The Department of Education and Skills will remain open and will continue to provide supports to the education sector at this time.

The Department of Education and Skills has been liaising closely on a continual basis with the Department of Health in relation to Coronavirus/Covid-19 since early January. This will continue.

ENDS

Note for editors

The Taoiseach has announced that these measures will take effect from 6pm Thursday 12 March

Dear Parents/Guardians,

I would like to assure you that we are closely following advice from the HSE, HPSC and the Department of Education. As we continue to put in place measures to decrease the risk of Coronavirus spread, we are communicating again with you today to try and ensure that we adopt a coordinated and measured response.

Ongoing school measures:

  • • Increase in regularity of cleaning and disinfecting of public areas, hand rails and toilet facilities.
  • • All students sanitise a desk and chair handling area once a day.
  • • Hand sanitizer available in public areas. (More industrial versions have been on order for over two weeks)
  • • Appropriate ventilation in all classrooms
  • • All classroom and corridor doors will be left open
  • • HSE hand washing video shared with all students
  • • School staff are vigilant at all times for symptomatic students
  • • HSE isolation protocol in place should a student develop symptoms

The school urges all parents to assist us by:

  • • Supplying a small hand sanitiser to all students
  • • Ensuring students have tissues coming to school
  • • Reinforce messages about appropriate respiratory hygiene and hand washing.
  • • Do not send students to school should they display symptoms such as those outlined on https://www.hpsc.ie/
  • • Do not send students to school should they have visited an area currently under lockdown, or if they have contacted someone who has recently returned from one of those areas.

We are acutely aware that there is the potential for school closures in the near future. We would like to remind parents and students, specifically those in exam classes that all students countrywide will be in the same position. The Department of Education and the State Examinations Commission will have to be sensitive to that situation. We are here to provide continued learning support even if school closures are enforced. In order to ensure the support of ongoing learning we are suggesting, and preparing for the following:

  • • Gradual clearance of lockers over the next few days (before Friday). Students should only bring what they need for school on that day.
  • • Ensuring school email contacts are established and functioning
  • • Utilising Virtual Learning Environments (VLE’s) already in place such as Microsoft One Note.
  • • Creating new VLE’s for classes that may not have established them yet.

Yours in education 

Colm Dooley

Dear parents,

Our Lady’s Grove continues to follow closely the advice of the HPSC (Health Protection Surveillance Centre) in relation to the measures to be put in place to combat Coronavirus. This advice to schools and educational settings is updated daily and can be viewed on their website.

hpsc.ie

At present, families who have been in any of the affected areas in the past 14 days are asked to phone HSE Live on 1850 241850 before their child returns to school. The HSE will conduct a risk assessment and will provide advice to individual families and to the school. If you or a member of your family are returning from overseas we ask that you consult the following advice from the HSE website:

https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/advice-for-people-returning-from-affected-areas.html

and, if necessary, contact the HSE before your child/ren’s return to school.

We have prominent reminders installed throughout the school about good hygiene and respiratory practices. We also have sanitiser dispensers (More ordered) and hand washing materials in place.

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