A Thuismitheoir / Chaomhnóir, a chara,

I hope you and your child/children are safe and well and that you had a nice Halloween break.

Key Messages for all students, staff and parents / guardians from now to Christmas.
As we return to school after the midterm break and with the onset of the winter months, everyone needs to continue to play his/her part minimising the risk of COVID-19 for staff, students, families and the wider community while recognising the importance of education for the health and wellbeing of students and society as a whole.

  1. We all must make every effort to minimise the risk of infection – Do not send your child to school if she/he is feeling unwell.
  2. Everyone needs to reduce the likelihood of the spread of COVID-19 within the school itself if an outbreak in the school is detected.
Knowing the Symptoms of COVID-19

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 it is important to know and recognise the symptoms.
They are:

  • high temperature
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • loss of smell, of taste or distortion of taste

If your child/children complains of any of these symptoms, please keep your child/children at home and call your GP without delay.

Updated Advice and Guidance from the HSE (30 October 2020) – How COVID-19 is spread
You can get COVID-19 if you come into close contact with someone who has the virus. COVID-19 is mainly spread through close contact and droplets that come from your nose and mouth. For example, from someone who is talking loud, singing, shouting, coughing or sneezing. This happens when people are within 1 to 2 metres of each other. It is why keeping a 2 metre distance from other people is so effective in reducing the spread.

You can also get the virus from surfaces. For example, when someone who has the virus sneezes or coughs, droplets with the virus can fall onto surfaces around them. If you touch that surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you could become infected too.
Airborne transmission is the spread of a virus in very tiny water particles. This can happen over a longer distance than droplets, such as across a room. Airborne transmission does not appear to play a major role in the spread of COVID-19. But it can happen in some situations. To protect yourself, keep indoor spaces well ventilated (aired out) by opening windows and doors if possible.

How to protect yourself
Wearing a face covering can protect you. But you should still do the important things needed to prevent the spread of the virus.
These include:

The virus can spread easily in crowded environments. Everyone should stay at home and avoid crowded places as much as possible. Leave if a location becomes overcrowded and you can’t keep 2 metres apart from other people.

How long the virus can survive on surfaces
Common household disinfectants will kill the virus on surfaces. Clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant.
COVID-19 (coronavirus) can survive for:

  • up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel
  • less than 4 hours on copper
  • less than 24 hours on cardboard
Respiratory Hygiene
Good respiratory hygiene is essential in managing this pandemic. This means covering one’s mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze. Everyone should use tissue immediately and dispose of used tissue safely into a nearby bin.

By following good respiratory hygiene, we protect the people around us from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

Hand Hygiene

  • Staff and students have been briefed on why hand hygiene is important as well as when and how to wash their hands.
  • We will continue to promote good hygiene and display posters throughout the school on how to wash hands. Everyone should follow the HSE guidelines on handwashing.
  • Hand sanitiser dispensers are deployed at exit and entry points of the school and classrooms.
  • Wash hand basins, running water, liquid soap and hand drying facilities are provided in all toilets and kitchens.

Frequency of Hand Hygiene
Students and staff should perform hand hygiene:

  • on arrival at school
  • before eating or drinking
  • after using the toilet
  • after petting animals
  • after playing outdoors
  • when their hands are physically dirty
  • when they cough or sneeze

We have arranged all of the necessary PPE supplies for use in our school from the day it re-opens for students. 

Physical Distancing
Physical distancing will continue to be applied in so far as is possible and in a practical way to facilitate the learning environment.  We will make all efforts to achieve this by increasing separation by utilising and reconfiguring all available space in the school.  Other measures that have been taken include efforts to maximise physical distancing, reviewing timetables, reconfiguring classes, accessing available spaces within the local community and decreasing interaction.

Coming to and from school
All schools are encouraging students to walk or cycle to school if they can do so. Parents/guardians are required to observe and respect all social distancing protocols in relation to any contact with the school.  This includes maintaining a two metre distance to other families when dropping off or collecting their children from the school and any contact with the school.  All visits to the school are required to be made in advance through the school office. 
When students arrive at school, they should proceed directly to their base classroom which will be assigned to them once they return to school. Students should not congregate in groups close to one another.  Assigned entrances and exits will be given to all year groups when they return.

Face Coverings for Students
Students and staff have been excellent role models in cooperating with the advice on face-coverings.
We are requesting that all students have their own supply of plain coloured face masks, which can be disposable or washable. Face masks are widely available and advice about the types of facemasks we recommend can be found via the HSE link below and on our website. We request that students refrain from wearing face masks that depict any imagery on them so as not to cause offence to others.  Face masks will not need to be worn when students are exercising, eating or drinking or in the yard.  Students will also be able to remove face masks in classes where there is adequate social distancing.  Additional information regarding face coverings is availabe from the HSE website – https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/face-masks-disposable-gloves.html
School Transport
The following advice has been issued by Bus Éireann:

  • A student is not to use school transport if they are displaying symptoms
  • Students are to maintain physical distancing while waiting for transport
  • Students are asked to sit in pre-assigned seating and next to a sibling or child from their class group (this should be the same child at all times)
  • Students are requested to use hand sanitiser on boarding the bus
  • Students should observe respiratory etiquette at all times while waiting for and on-board transport services
  • To disembark the bus one by one in an orderly fashion
  • With the exception of those children who for medical or special educational needs reasons are not in a position to wear a face mask or face covering, all other students travelling on the post-primary scheme are required to wear face coverings while waiting for and on-board transport services.

Parent Teacher Meetings
Unfortunately, we are not permitted to have any Parent Teacher Meetings for the foreseeable future.  We will be in touch with you soon with regards to alternative arrangements for reporting to you on your child’s/childrens’ progress.  Please don’t hesitate to contact the school by email/phone to make contact with your child’s Tutor/Yearhead if you need to speak to a member of staff.

Contacting/visiting the school
Access to the school by parents and guardians will continue to be far more restricted than ever before while we live through the current pandemic.  The advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) makes it clear that schools must restrict access to the campus outside of students and staff. Only in very exceptional circumstances should students be collected from school during the day. Appointments for students should be made outside of the school timetable if possible. If you wish to call the school, please contact the school office for an appointment.

Additional Information
There is a comprehensive range of documentation available at gov.ie/backtoschool if parents would like to view the relevant information in supporting parents and students with the opening of schools for the new academic year.  Our school website www.gcluimnigh.ie will be updated regularly to keep parents/guardians, students and staff briefed on returning to school.  We may also send text messages and emails to share information and updates with you promptly and regularly.  

The Department of Education has updated its website with comprehensive information and support for parents and guardians. You can access this site via this link (Click Here or https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/your-questions-answered/)   

Thank you for your continued support of our school and we look forward to being in contact with you soon again.

Go raibh maith agat agus tabhaire aire duit féin agus do chúraim.

Le meas,

Kevin Ó Raghallaigh
Príomhoide / Principal