Our Lady’s Grove 8/9/2020
Covid-19 Absence Procedure
Our Lady’s Grove 18/8/2020
I have been anxious to write to you as soon as possible so that I can share with you the work that has been on going at the Grove in order to reduce risk for the return of our school community. We cannot eliminate risk but if we all work together consistently, we can hopefully avoid the virus spreading in our community.
Our Board of Management met yesterday afternoon and ratified our policy and procedures. I am sharing these with you today in order to reassure you that significant arrangements have been put in place to mitigate as much of the risk of disease spread as is possible. These documents are very detailed and are being shared for the eyes of parents and guardians only. It is important that parents familiarise themselves with these documents so that we can all be aligned in our practices. Please find both documents at the end of this letter.
Outside of the attached school procedures we recommend that parents have anti-bacterial spray for school bags and lunch boxes and Dettol Laundry Spray and Wear and/or a steam iron will provide reassurance for uniforms and reduce the need for challenging and unsustainable washing practices.
We hope that the girls are looking forward to returning to meet with their friends and continue their studies and other activities. We are acutely conscious that the return may be challenging for some. As such we do not want to overwhelm our students with too many details at once. School procedures will of course be different for them. However, we also want to emphasise that many things will remain the same, such as their subjects, their peer group, their teachers and their sports and other school based interests. We feel it is important to emphasise the familial, the warmth and the care of our school’s ethos while also providing for as much reduced risk as possible.
Our registration and induction week will largely remain the same as what was communicated to you earlier in the summer. However, we had planned to return all students on Friday 28th of August. This was discussed at the Board yesterday and it was felt to be more prudent to adopt a soft opening approach instead. This is to enable our community to implement the new procedures effectively in an incremental manner. As a result, 1st, 4th and 6th years will be in school on Friday 28th from 8.25 until 12:05. 2nd,3rd and 5th will attend on Monday 31st from 8.25 until 12:00. All students will return on Tuesday 1st of September for a full school day. We feel that this approach will allow us to diagnose any further social distancing issues before we open the school to all students.
I apologise if this change to our schedule is an inconvenience to you, but I hope you understand that we have to take all precautions in the interests of health and safety.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have observations or queries. We are stronger together.
PS. Government advice for students and parents will issue at this link tomorrow: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/a04fc-advice-for-students-and-their-families/
We are looking forward to welcoming your child/ward to Our Lady’s Grove Secondary School, either for the first time, or on a returning basis on the week beginning the 24th of August. This has been an incredibly long period for you all, and our focus now is to reengage with purposeful teaching and learning in a safe and caring environment. The purpose of this communication is to bring you up to date with the latest government guidance and the actions of the school, anticipating these publications, over the last number of months.
On the 27th of July, the Government issued the “RoadMap for the Full Return to School”. Unfortunately, there is no zero-risk solution to returning to school considering the current global pandemic. The government’s framework acknowledges this, and guides schools on the principles of being balanced, common-sensical and practical. We all want to do what we can to minimise infection and to identify in advance potentially risky activities, practices or behaviours which could raise the risk level of the introduction of the virus into our school community.
The preventative health advice measures on personal and institutional behaviours has remained constant throughout this pandemic:
· Wash hands regularly
· Maintain physical distancing
· Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette guidelines
· Maintain environmental hygiene
* Do not attend school if you feel unwell, have travelled abroad and not completed a 14 day quarantine, or have come into contact with a known or suspected case of Covid 19.
** Non-essential visits to the school by non-school personnel will not be permitted. Any visitors will be documented to aid potential contact tracing.
Summer Works in the school
Preparation for the return to school has been underway since April. A large process of cleaning and redecorating has been undertaken. New floors have been installed in most classrooms. This will help with ongoing cleaning and maintenance. Additional cleaning personnel have been sourced for the new academic year.
The school has already sourced automatic hand sanitizers, disinfectant foot baths, ionized door handles for main entrances, medical Fogger Machine, Perspex screens for public areas and large quantities of disinfectant and hand sanitizer gel. The school has also procured emergency first aid materials for dealing with suspected cases.
A new central procurement service will allow the school to increase its stock of these products and to procure further materials in line with the perceived needs of the school community.
Wellbeing of the Community
As a school community we are acutely aware of the impact of the closure of the school since the 12th of March. Safety of everyone in the community is paramount. We need to ensure this in a structured, calm, and informative manner so that all members of our community can avoid unnecessary and harmful levels of stress, anxiety, and worry. This practical and empathetic approach will be employed for all, with some additional supports for the few who may require it.
Work for August
A range of policies are in draft format and will need to be discussed with the school community. Further discussions around potential changes to timetabling, break times and movements around the school will take place amongst senior and middle leadership in advance of the opening of the school. Risk assessments will take place in each department to limit activities which might lead to an increased risk of the spread of infection. Ongoing works to provide outdoor space for students will continue with a completion date expected in mid-September.
Advice for Parents/Guardians
All students will experience an induction this year, which will include specific instruction and training around required behaviours during this pandemic. We would advise that students should carry a small bottle of personal hand sanitizer and a packet of anti-bacterial wet wipes when coming to school. All students should have a packet of tissues also.
At the end of each lesson work surfaces will be cleaned down by students on a rotational basis. All necessary cleaning and safety equipment will be provided for this. All public areas including corridors, stairwells and toilets will be cleaned continuously throughout the school day by our cleaning staff.
The Department will issue further guidance materials to both parents and students in advance of the return to school. These will emphasise public health and wellbeing information. It is our understanding that these will be sent to the school and we will communicate them to you.
Should you have individual health and safety concerns please do not hesitate to contact us at your convenience.
Colm Dooley and Sonya Lyons