Back to School 2020

19th August 2020

Dear Parent/ Guardian,

 

I hope that this letter finds you well and that you have stayed safe during the past five months of the COVID-19 emergency.

 

When we closed the doors to our school on the 12th March, I did not believe that it would be such a long time before we welcomed our students back to their Community School. I am sure that many of us thought that we would return to school and to ‘normal’ life before the end of May but sadly that was not the case.

 

As we prepare to return to school during the last week in August, I would like to thank all those in the community who followed the government guidelines as requested so that we could find ourselves in a position to reopen our school. In particular, I would like to pay tribute to all frontline staff who have worked so hard to keep us safe during the national emergency. From all of us in Carrick-on-Shannon Community School, ‘Thank you’.

 

Over the summer, we have worked hard to plan a safe return for our students. To be honest, the plan has changed many times and will continue to do so over the comping days as we continue to test various ideas and practices within the school. The purpose of this letter is to bring you up-to-date on how we currently plan to reopen Carrick-on-Shannon Community School. Further updates will be placed on our website, www.carrickcs.ie , as this is the most effective method of communicating with the wider school community.

 

It is hoped that students will return to school as follows:

  • Friday, 28th August 2020 - 1st Years return to school. We will work with our 1st Years only for the first three days of the new school year. Classes will take place from 9am to 1.15pm on Friday and Monday and 1st Years will experience a full day on Tuesday, 1st September.
  • Wednesday, 2nd September 2020 (9am to 1.15pm) - 6th Years and Transition Year ONLY. All other students remain at home and will return to the school fully on Monday, 7th September.
  • Thursday, 3rd September 2020 (9am to 1.15pm) - 5th Years, LCA 1 and LCA 2 ONLY. All other students remain at home and return to the school for a full timetable on Monday, 7th September 2020.
  • Friday, 4th September 2020 (9am to 1.15pm)- 2nd and 3rd Years ONLY. All other students remain at home and return to the school for a full timetable on Monday, 7th September 2020.

 

We have decided on this staggered return for a number of reasons. We believe that our 1st Years will require a little bit of extra support this year to ease the transition from primary to secondary school. During their first few days we will introduce them to the new systems in the school and they will learn how to use Microsoft 365 effectively.

 

Other years will also receive instruction around the new systems and practices in the school and will be reminded of the importance to act responsibly (good hand/ cough hygiene etc.) while on school grounds. Each group will return for a half-day initially and we will use the afternoon to review any issues that arise within each year group. In this way, when students return to their full timetable on Monday, 7th September, we will give ourselves the best chance to ensure that the school remains open for the remainder of the year.

 

It is important that the remainder of the school books are collected by Friday, 21st August so that we can complete a deep clean of the school prior to opening.

 

I have spoken with Mr. Peter Nyland (SEN Coordinator) on a number of occasions throughout the summer. We will begin our programme of supports for our students on Monday, 7th September. In the past we have sought written permission to support students from parents/ guardians. For the initial phase of learning support, we will contact parents/ guardians by telephone and seek their permission in this way.

 

We understand that many students will have felt that they missed aspects of the curriculum while we were engaged in distance learning. All classes will start by revising the parts of the curriculum which were covered in April and May before moving on to new elements of the course.

 

For those in Transition Year, please be assured that we have designed a full, socially distant and rewarding curriculum for the year ahead. You will be kept challenged and very busy!

 

I am also aware that our 5th and 6th Year classes will be wondering what the Leaving Certificate will be like for them? We have not heard from the Department of Education and Skills on this yet, but we have been reassured that no student will be disadvantaged by the break in tuition before the summer. As we receive more information, we will share it on our website, www.carrickcs.ie .

 

Here are some other points which will be useful for helping your child to prepare for their return to school:

 

  • All students will be required to wear a face mask while in school. We understand that this will be difficult for all of us so we will have short breaks built into the timetable to allow students to go outside to remove their masks for a few minutes before returning to the classroom. This is in line with the guidelines issued to school Friday, 7th August 2020.

 

  • Different Year Groups will enter the school through different doors. We will post more details of this early next week as we are still working on the new timetable and the flow of students on the corridor will determine the entrances to be used by each class.

 

  • In the mornings and in the evenings we are requesting that parents/ guardians drop and collect their children a little bit away from the school so that we can control the number of students entering the premises at any one time.

 

  • All students will be required to use the hand sanitiser available at each entrance and inside the door of each classroom throughout the day. Students will have to clean their desks before leaving the room and we will demonstrate this process to the students on their return.

 

  • Remember, if your child has any of the recognised symptoms of COVID-19 they must not come to school. In this case, the child should self-isolate immediately and their GP should be contacted so that a test can be arranged.

 

  • Any student who has returned from a foreign country which is not on the government’s Green List, must quarantine for a period of 14 days and must not return to school until that 14 day period has passed.

 

  • Microsoft 365 – This year the school will absorb the cost of Microsoft 365 so that all students will have immediate access to this suite of programmes.

 

  • Lockers – Students will not be permitted to use their lockers on their return to school. We will review this policy as the year goes on but initially students will be asked to leave their books at home and teachers will use their classroom data-projectors etc. to provide material for the students. Students should bring copies and their own pens etc. as they will not be permitted to share these items with others.

 

  • Please remind your child of the importance of good hand and cough hygiene and the importance of social distancing while in the yard and outside the school.

 

  • Underlying Health Conditions – If you are concerned that your child has an underlying condition which makes their return to school unsafe, please contact the school and we will meet (by appointment) to discuss this with you.

 

  • Lunch – During the first few weeks of the school, we will be unable to provide food in the canteen. Students should bring their own lunch and breaktime snack with them. We are currently finalising a ‘contactless’ system for providing food to students and we will send details of this to you over the coming weeks. We are also looking at placing some covered areas on the school grounds so that students will be able to eat their lunch safely. We have yet to decide which, if any, students will be allowed down town at lunchtime.

 

There is a lot of information in this letter and I hope that it has given you an insight into the planning and preparation that has been taking place throughout the summer. For those of you who came to the school this week to collect your books, do not panic! The school will be back to the new normal by the time you return to school.

 

While all of this was being considered, we celebrated the announcement by the Department of Education and Skills that we are to receive a 15 room extension. This process has already begun so there are exciting times ahead!

 

We have installed a new heating system in our Sports Complex and repairs to our roof are being carried out so we should be a lot drier this year! And finally, if you are passing the school, look towards the roof and you will see our new installation of solar panels. All of this was carried out with funds from the Department of Education and Skills and we are most grateful for their support.

 

Please ensure that we have your correct contact details on our system. If your child displays symptoms of COVID-19 while in school we are obliged to place your child in an isolation space and make contact with you. It is vital that you remain contactable at all times while your child is in school.

 

Thank you for your support during our recent closure. We very much appreciate it. We have a new building on the way but that really doesn’t excite us as much as the thought of our students returning to the Community School.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Adrian Jackson.

Principal.