This Covid-19 Response Plan is designed to support the staff and Board of Management (BOM) in putting measures in place that will prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Loreto Primary School Rathfarnham
The Covid-19 Response Plan details the policies and practices necessary for our school to meet the Government’s ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’, the Department of Education and Skills plan for school reopening and to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the school environment. The plan incorporates current advice about measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the community issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
It is important that the resumption of school-based teaching and learning and the reopening of school facilities comply with the protocol to minimise the risk to students, staff members and others. As the advice issued by NPHET continues to evolve, this protocol and the measures management and staff need to address may also change.
The response plan will support the sustainable reopening of our school where the overriding objective is to protect the health of staff and pupils while promoting the educational and development needs of the children in the school.
In line with the Return to Work Safely Protocol, the key to a safe and continued return to work, and re-opening of our schools requires strong communication and a shared collaborative approach between the Board of Management, staff, pupils and parents.
This document aims to provide details of:
- COVID-19 School Policy
- Planning and Preparing for Return to School
- Control Measures
- Impact of COVID-19 on certain school activities
- Hygiene and Cleaning
- Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19
- Special Education Needs
- Staff Duties
- Covid related absence management
- Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme
The assistance and cooperation of all staff, pupils, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors is critical to the success of the plan.
Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this document. However, should errors or omissions be identified, please notify us so that appropriate measures can be taken to rectify same. Note: The plan is a live working document and may be reviewed and amended to take into account new guidance from www.Gov.ie, www.dbei.ie www.hse.ie, www.hpsc.ie, www.hsa.ie; www.education.ie
COVID-19 Policy Statement
Loreto Primary School Rathfarnham is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our staff and a safe learning environment for all our pupils. To ensure that, we have developed the following COVID-19 Response Plan. The BOM and all school staff are responsible for the implementation of this plan and a combined effort will help contain the spread of the virus. We will:
- continue to monitor our COVID-19 response and amend this plan in consultation with our staff
- provide up to date information to our staff and pupils on the Public Health advice issued by the HSE and Gov.ie
- display information on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and correct hand-washing techniques
- agree with staff, a worker representative who is easily identifiable to carry out the role outlined in this plan
- inform all staff and pupils of essential hygiene and respiratory etiquette and physical distancing requirements
- adapt the school to facilitate physical distancing as appropriate in line with the guidance and direction of the Department of Education
- keep a contact log to help with contact tracing
- ensure staff engage with the induction / familiarisation briefing provided by the Department of Education
- implement the agreed procedures to be followed in the event of someone showing symptoms of COVID-19 while at school
- provide instructions for staff and pupils to follow if they develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during school time
- implement cleaning in line with Department of Education advice
All school staff will be consulted on an ongoing basis and feedback is encouraged on any concerns, issues or suggestions. This can be done through the Lead Worker Representative(s), who will be supported in line with the agreement between the Department and education partners.
Chairperson Board of Management 19th August 2020
The Board of Management met via Microsoft Teams on 11th February and ratified the changes with Ventilation etc
The new updated additions to this policy are inserted in Red.
Chairperson of Board of Management
11th February 2020
The updated policy has been ratified by the Board of Management on the 22nd September 2021 the first meeting of the Board for the academic year 2021-2022. The required changes are in blue.
Chairperson of Board of Management
22nd September 2021
Planning and Preparing for Return to School
The Board of Management aims to facilitate the resumption of school-based teaching and learning and the return to the workplace of staff. The return to the workplace must be done safely and in strict adherence to the public health advice and any guidance issued by the Department of Education. Details for the safe reopening of the school facility and the applicable controls are outlined in this document.
Before reopening the school for the 2020/21 school the school had processes in place to include the following:
- arrangements to keep up to date with public health advice, changes to any government plans for the safe reopening of society and Department of Education updates
- arrangements to pass on this information in a timely manner to staff, pupils, parents and others as required
- ensured that staff had reviewed the training materials provided by the Department of Education
- provided staff with access to the Return to Work (RTW) form
- identified a Lead Worker Representative
- displayed posters and other signage to prevent introduction and spread of COVID-19
- made the necessary changes to the school or classroom layout to support the redesign of classrooms to support physical distancing
- removed unnecessary clutter to facilitate ongoing cleaning of the school, taking into account the importance of having educational materials to create a stimulating learning environment
- updated the health and safety risk assessment
- made necessary arrangements to limit access to the school to necessary visitors and maintain records of contacts to the school
- reviewed the school buildings to check the following:
– did the water system need flushing at outlets following low usage to prevent Legionella disease?
– had school equipment and mechanical ventilation been checked for signs of deterioration or damage before being used again?
– had bin collections and other essential services resumed?
- Induction Training
- Procedure for Returning to Work (RTW)
- Lead Worker Representative
- Making Changes to School Layout
- Health and Safety Risk Assessment
- Access to School and Contact Log
All staff undertook and completed COVID-19 Induction Training prior to returning to the school building. The aim of such training was to ensure that staff had full knowledge and understanding of the following:
- latest up to-date advice and guidance on public health
- COVID-19 symptoms
- what to do if a staff member or pupil develops symptoms of COVID-19 while at school
- outline of the COVID-19 response plan
Staff will be kept fully informed of the control measures in place in the school and their duties and responsibilities in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and will be updated with any changes to the control measures or guidance available from the public health authorities.
If a staff member is unsure about any aspect of the COVID-19 Response Plan, the associated control measures, or his/her duties, he/she should immediately seek guidance from the Principal, who is supported in this role by the Board of Management.
A national information campaign to support parents and pupils happened in advance of schools reopening on issues such as COVID-19 awareness and to help minimise the risk of introduction and spread of the virus in schools.
- Procedure for Returning to Work (RTW)
In order to return to the workplace, all staff members completed a Return to Work (RTW) form, which is available electronically or from the principal. A hard copy is available also at
A RTW form was completed and returned at least 3 days before returning to work.
The principal also provided details of the Induction Training for completion by staff and details of any additional health and safety measures in place in the school to facilitate the staff member’s return to the school facility.
People at very high risk (extremely vulnerable):
Some school staff may be unable to return to school. Current public health guidelines have identified these people as being in groups who are defined as being at very high risk. This will be updated in line with public health advice.
The list of people in very high-risk groups include people who:
- are over 70 years of age – even if fit and well
- have had an organ transplant
- are undergoing active chemotherapy for cancer
- are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- have cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- are having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- are having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- have severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, lung fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and severe COPD
- have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
- are taking medicine that makes you much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppression therapies)
- have a serious heart condition and are pregnant
The advice for this group is available from the HSE. Details of the arrangements that will apply for these staff, which will be in accordance with those applying for the public service generally, will be updated by the Department of Education following consultation with management bodies and unions and a circular will issue to all schools.
Staff who are in this group should self-declare on the Return to Work form if they believe that they are at very high risk. Details of the leave arrangements that will apply will be updated by the Department of Education and Skills.
If the Board/Principal is unsure whether staff fall into the very high-risk category, advice will be sought from the Occupational Health Service.
- Lead Work Representative
LWR is Ms Teresa Redmond
Assistant LWR Mrs Lynn Cryan
In summary, the role of the Lead Worker Representative is to:
- represent all staff in the workplace regardless of role, and be aware of specific issues that may arise in respect of different staff cohorts
- work collaboratively with school management to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees in relation to COVID-19
- keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 public health advice
- In conjunction with school management, promote good hygiene practices such as washing hands regularly and maintaining good respiratory etiquette along with maintaining social distancing in accordance with public health advice
- assist school management with the implementation of measures to suppress COVID-19 in the workplace in line with the Return to Work Safely Protocol and current public health advice
- in conjunction with school management, monitor adherence to measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19
- conduct regular reviews of safety measures
- report any issues of concern immediately to school management and keep records of such issues and actions taken to rectify them
- consult with the school management on the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan in the event of someone developing COVID-19 while in school including the location of an isolation area and a safe route to that area
- following any incident, assess with the school management any follow up action that is required
- consult with colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace
- make representations to school management on behalf of their colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace
The role of the Assistant LWR will be to:
Assist the LWR in carrying out the tasks above
All staff, pupils, parents, contractors and visitors have a responsibility both as individuals and collectively to have due regard for their own health and safety and that of others and to assist with the implementation of the COVID-19 Response Plan and associated control measures.
The school has displayed signage outlining the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and to support good hand and respiratory hygiene in prominent areas such as offices, corridors, staffroom area, classrooms, SEN rooms, the yard, the hall and toilets.
- 4. 1Making Changes to School Layout
Maintaining physical distancing in the school environment is recommended as one of the key control measures to minimize the risk of the introduction and spread of COVID-19.
Classrooms have been decluttered. Desk layouts were reconfigured to support physical distancing in line with the guidance in advance of school reopening.
The Yard has been divided into ten areas which will necessitate two breaks and two lunch breaks
First break will be 10.35-10.45
Second Break 10.50-11am
Lunch breaks will be as follows 12.10 – 12.40 and 12.45-1.15
- 5. Health and Safety Risk Assessment
COVID-19 represents a hazard in the context of health and safety in the school environment. A template risk assessment to identify the control measures required to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in school settings is attached at Appendix 2. In line with this, the school reviewed our emergency procedures involving, fire safety, first aid, accidents and dangerous occurrences to consider any new risks that arise due to the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan. Any changes to the schools existing emergency procedures were documented.
The school also reviewed our existing risk assessments to consider any new risks that arise due to the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan. Any changes to the school’s current risk assessments will be documented.
First Aid/Emergency Procedure
The standard First Aid/emergency procedure shall continue to apply in Loreto. The First Aid station will be out in the Yard near the Principal’s Office. In an emergency or in case of a serious incident, schools should call for an ambulance or the fire brigade on 112/999 giving details of location and type of medical incident.
- 6. Access to School and Contact Log
Access to the school building will be in line with agreed school procedures.
Arrangements for necessary visitors such as contractors and parents will be restricted to essential purposes and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the principal. The Department of Education Inspectorate may also need to visit schools to support them as appropriate in the implementation of public health advice relating to creating a safe learning and working environment for all.
The prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a crucial step in restricting the spread of the virus and protecting the health and safety of the individuals themselves and other staff, contractors and visitors at the workplace. A detailed sign in/sign out log of those entering the school facilities is maintained. The school will maintain a log of staff and pupil contacts. See Appendix 3
The Data Protection Commission has provided guidance on the data protection implications of the return to work protocols.
Schools are reminded that all school records and data must be maintained and processed in compliance with the GDPR and the Data Protection Acts. The responsibility for compliance with the legislation rests with each school in their role as data controller.
- 7. Control Measures
- a) Know the Symptoms of COVID-19
- b) Respiratory Hygiene
- d) Physical Distancing
e)Use of PPE in Schools
One of the key messages to manage the risks of COVID-19 is to do everything practical to avoid the introduction of COVID-19 into the school. If infection is not introduced it cannot be spread. The risk of spreading the infection once introduced exists in all interpersonal interactions; student-student, teacher-teacher and teacher-student and must be managed in all settings.
A range of essential control measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 virus and to protect the safety, health and welfare of staff, pupils, parents and visitors as far as possible within the school. The control measures shall continue to be reviewed and updated as required on an ongoing basis.
It is critical that staff, pupils, parents and visitors are aware of, and adhere to, the control measures outlined and that they fully cooperate with all health and safety requirements.
Staff should note that they have a legal obligation under Section 13 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to comply with health and safety requirements and to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves, their colleagues and other parties within the workplace. The Health and Safety Statement and the Health and Safety Management System has been updated inline with Covid 19 and has been circulated to all Staff.
How to Minimise the Risk of Introduction of COVID-19 into Schools:
- promote awareness of COVID-19 and its symptoms amongst staff, pupils, parents and visitors.
- We will advise staff and parents of pupils who have symptoms of COVID-19 or other acute infectious diseases not to attend school, to phone their GP and follow the HSE guidance on self-isolation.
- We will advise staff and parents of pupils not to return to school in the event of the following:
- If they have been identified by the HSE as contact of a person with COVID-19
- If they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus
- If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff and parents are advised to consult and follow the latest Government advice in relation to foreign travel
- Advise staff and parents of pupils to cooperate with any public health officials and the school for contact tracing purposes and follow any public health advice in the event of a case or an outbreak in the school.
- We will ensure that staff and pupils know what to do if they develop symptoms at school.
- everyone entering the school building should be required to perform hand hygiene with hand sanitiser.
- visitors to school during the day should be by prior arrangement and should be received at a specific contact point.
- physical distancing (of 2 metres) should be maintained between staff and visitors where possible
Know the Symptoms of COVID-19
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 it is important to know and recognise the symptoms. Full guidance on COVID-19 symptoms is available from the HSE but they include:
- fever or high temperature (38 degrees C or above)
- new persistent cough
- shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
- loss of smell, of taste or distortion of taste
Less Common Symptoms
- nasal congestion (runny or blocked nose)
- conjunctivitis (also known as red eyes)
- sore throat
- muscle or joint pain (aches and pains)
- different types of skin rash
- nausea or vomiting
- chills or dizziness
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and safely into a nearby bin.
By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
Good hygiene practices and washing your hands properly and regularly can help stop the spread of the virus. It is, therefore, crucial that all staff adhere to this advice and adopt the following practices as strictly as possible.
- Wash your hands properly and often
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
- Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- Share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups, cutlery, etc.
Wash your hands frequently
Regular hand washing with soap and water is effective for the removal of COVID-19. Sinks have soap that emulsifies easily in cold water and paper towels.
Follow the HSE guidelines on handwashing:
For advice from HSE on how to wash your hands the following link will be helpful: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/how-to-wash-your-hands.html
Hand Hygiene and Hand Sanitisers
Hand hygiene can also be achieved by the use of hand sanitisers (when hands are clean). A hand sanitiser unit has been installed in every classroom and SEN room. One will be available at the entry/exit point of the school building. When hand rubs/gels are being used in school, care should be taken to ensure that pupils do not ingest them as they are flammable and toxic. Young children should not have independent use of containers of alcohol gel and alcohol based sanitiser must not be stored near heat or a naked flame.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.
Staff and pupils should understand why hand hygiene is important as well as when and how to wash their hands.
Paper towels are available for hand drying in the toilets.
Posters displaying hand washing techniques and promoting hand washing have been placed on walls adjacent to washing facilities.
Frequency of Hand Hygiene
Pupils and staff should perform hand hygiene:
- on arrival at school
- before eating or drinking
- after using the toilet
- before & after playing outdoors
- when their hands are physically dirty
- when they cough or sneeze
Physical distancing can be usefully applied in primary school settings allowing for some flexibility when needed. It must be applied in a practical way to recognise that the learning environment cannot be dominated by a potentially counterproductive focus on this issue. Physical distancing will look different across the various ages and stages of learning. Care should be taken to avoid generating tension or potential conflict and some flexibility in the implementation of measures may be required at times.
It is also recognised that it is not always possible for staff to maintain physical distance from pupils and it is not appropriate that they would always be expected to do so where this could have a detrimental impact on the pupil i.e. if a child sustains an injury and requires first aid.
However, where possible staff should maintain a minimum of 1 metre distance and where possible 2 metres. They should also take measures to avoid close contact at face to face level such as remaining standing rather than sitting beside/crouching down.
Physical distancing falls into two categories:
- Increasing separation
- Decreasing interaction
Desk layouts have been reconfigured to support physical distancing in line with the guidance in advance of school reopening.
The rooms have been cleared of any unnecessary furniture/shelves and so on.
The teacher’s desk is at least 1 metre and where possible 2 metres away from pupil desks.
The extent to which decreasing interaction is possible in a primary school depends on the school setting and a common-sense approach is required recognising the limits to which this can be achieved between pupils.
In primary schools, a distance of one metre should be maintained between desks or between individual pupils. It is recognised that younger children are unlikely to maintain physical distancing indoors. Therefore, achieving this recommendation in the first four years of primary or special schools, is not a pre-requisite to reopening a primary or special school for all pupils.
Where possible workstations are allocated consistently to the same staff and children rather than having spaces which are shared.
Pupils and their teachers were structured into Class Bubbles (that is, a class grouping which stays apart from other classes as much as possible) and discrete groups or “Pods” within those class bubbles, to the extent that this is practical.
There should be at least one metre distance between individual Pods within the Class Bubble and between individuals in the pod, whenever possible.
Generally speaking the objective is to limit contact and sharing of common facilities between people in different Class Bubbles (and Pods within those Class Bubbles) as much as possible, rather than to avoid all contact between Pods, as the latter will not always be possible.
The aim of the system within the school is that class grouping mix only with their own class from arrival at school in the morning until departure at the end of the school day. The Pods within those Class Bubbles is an additional measure, to limit the extent of close contact within the Class Bubble.
Pod sizes should be kept as small as is likely to be reasonably practical in the specific classroom context.
To the greatest extent possible, pupils and teaching staff should consistently be in the same Class Bubbles although this will not be possible at all times.
Sharing educational material between Pods will be avoided/minimised where possible.
Staff members who move from class bubble to class bubble will be limited as much as possible.
Additional measures to decrease interaction include:
- limit interaction on arrival and departure and in the corridors and hall.
- social physical contact (hand to hand greetings, hugs) are discouraged
- where pupils need to move about within the classroom to perform activities (access to a shared resource) it should be organised to the greatest degree possible to minimise congregation at the shared resource
- staff and pupils will avoid sharing of personal items
- encourage pupils to avoid behaviours that involve hand to mouth contact (putting pens/pencils in the mouth)
- where teaching and learning involves use of keyboards or tablets, the contact surface of the device will be cleaned regularly and hand hygiene encouraged
Rooms should be well ventilated before occupancy each day. This can be achieved by ensuring that at the end of the school day each evening, the windows in each room should be opened (as wide as practical and safe while also considering security issues) for at least 15 minutes to ventilate the room fully.
- Windows should also be open at break times and at lunchtimes for at least 15 minutes where possible. 5
- Classrooms for the first class on the following school day (where the above end of day ventilating has occurred) can consider maintaining partially opened windows as per guidance below to keep the room fresh and prevent stuffiness and condensations etc.
- . Achieving fresh air via a number of windows partially opened as required rather than one window fully open can help to maximise the use of window driven natural ventilation distribution across the room without causing discomfort.
- . In colder weather any local chilling effect can be offset by partially opening the windows nearest and above the radiators.
- . Make sure that air movement is not blocked by furniture or window blinds and curtains
- Keeping open the internal doors into classrooms for periods of time may assist with increasing air movement and ventilation rate.
- All Staff will ensure there is appropriate ventilation of staffrooms, offices and other areas used primarily by staff, and in the context that some of these areas are used by different groups of staff at different times. This is in addition to the use of face coverings and adequate cleaning.
- The Department of Education have provided 11 CO2 monitors for the school. They will be shared one monitor between neighbouring classes.
Physical Distancing outside of the classroom and within the school
School drop off/collection
Arrangements for dropping off/collecting pupils has been arranged to encourage physical distancing of 2 metres where possible.
Walking/cycling to school is encouraged as much as possible.
A distance of 2 metres between parents and guardians and between parents and guardians and school staff should be maintained. If 2 metres cannot be maintained, as much distance as is possible and guidance on face covering should be observed. The wearing of masks is encouraged.
Aim of any arrangements is to avoid congregation of people at the school gates where physical distancing may not be respected.
Staggered drop off/pick up times were used for the first two mornings back. This was a success.
To avoid pupils congregating as they arrive at school, children head straight to their designated class group assembly point from 8.40 onwards. All teachers collect their class at 9am to facilitate start of teaching at 9.05 am sharp..
A distance of 2 metres is recommended for physical distancing by staff. This is particularly relevant to distancing between adults when they are not engaged in teaching such as the staffroom and arriving to work.
If 2 metres cannot be maintained in staff groups, as much distance as is possible and guidance on face covering should be observed.
Physical distancing will be observed between staff members within the staffroom through the use of staggered breaks etc.
Staff meetings will be held online or in small groups in large areas to facilitate physical distancing .
We will implement a no hand-shaking policy.
Minimise gathering of school staff at the beginning or end of the school day.
Staff can rotate between areas/classes but this should be minimised where possible.
Briefly passing someone in a hall/corridor is very unlikely to contribute significantly to the spread of infection if people do not have physical contact and avoid informal group discussions.
The risk of transmission from contact with outside surfaces or play areas is low.
Class breaktimes will be staggered as per rotas below:
- Children are encouraged to perform hand hygiene before and after outdoor activities.
- On wet days, children will be supervised in their classroom as before. The teacher/s on duty will go from class to class but limit entering the bubbles in so as far as is possible.
- It is not possible to maintain physical distancing when pupils in primary play together outdoors, but in so far as practical it is helpful to keep to consistent groups. Bearing this in mind, our yard has been divided into ten class-specific areas.
- Equipment sharing is minimised and shared equipment will be cleaned between uses by those who use it.
Use of PPE in Schools
PPE will not be required to be worn within schools according to current occupational and public health guidance. However, for a limited number of staff, PPE will need to be used occasionally or constantly due to the nature of certain work activities or work areas.
This might include roles such as:
- assisting with intimate care needs
- where a suspected case of COVID-19 is identified while the school is in operation
- where staff are particularly vulnerable to infection but are not on the list of those categorised as people in very high-risk groups, or may be living with those who are in the very high-risk category
Appropriate PPE has been provided for dealing with suspected COVID-19 cases, intimate care needs and for first aid. Where staff provide healthcare to children with medical needs in the school environment, they should apply standard precautions as per usual practice.
Cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who:
- Has trouble breathing;
- Is unconscious or incapacitated;
- Is unable to remove it without help;
- Has special needs to who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering.
The Board of Management has provided visors for all staff. As a staff, we have decided to wear masks and or visors while teaching.
The use of disposable gloves in the school by pupils or staff is not generally appropriate but may be necessary for intimate care settings. Routine use does not protect the wearer and may expose others to risk from contaminated gloves.
Routine use of disposable gloves is not a substitute for hand hygiene.
Impact of COVID-19 on certain school activities
- Younger classes will use the hall for PE. It is not possible for the older classes to do so.
- The Board of Management have decided that no after- school activities will take place in the school until end of April at the earliest and resumption of any activities will only take place in line with Department of Education and Public Health guidelines.
All toys will be cleaned on a regular basis for eg weekly. This will remove dust and dirt that can harbour germs.
Toys that are visibly dirty or contaminated with blood or bodily fluids will be taken out of use immediately for cleaning or disposal.
If cloth or soft toys are used they will be machine washable.
Jigsaws, puzzles and toys that young pupils to those with special educational needs may be inclined to put into their mouths should be capable of being washed and disinfected.
At this time soft modelling materials and play dough will be for individual use only.
Cleaning Procedure for Toys
- Wash the toy in warm soapy water, using a brush to get into crevices.
- Rinse the toy in clean water.
- Thoroughly dry the toy.
- Some hard plastic toys may be suitable for cleaning in the dishwasher.
- Toys that cannot be immersed in water that is electronic or wind up should be wiped with a damp cloth and dried.
- In some situations toys/equipment may need to be disinfected following cleaning for example: toys/equipment that pupils place in their mouths. Toys/equipment that have been soiled with blood or body fluids or toys where a case of COVID-19 has been identified.
- If disinfection is required: A chlorine releasing disinfectant should be used diluted to a concentration of 1,000ppm available chlorine. The item should be rinsed and dried thoroughly.
Art – Pupils will work with their own equipment and will not share supplies eg glue, paintbrushes.
Electronics – Shared electronic devices such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards will be cleaned after each use using disinfectant wipes.
Musical Equipment/Instruments – To the greatest extent possible, instruments should not be shared between pupils and if sharing is required, the instruments should be cleaned between uses.
Library Policy – Where practical pupils should have their own books. Textbooks that are shared should be covered in a wipeable plastic covering that can be wiped with a suitable household cleaning agent between uses. Pupils should be encouraged to perform hand hygiene after using any shared item.
Shared Sports Equipment – Minimise equipment sharing and clean shared equipment between uses by different people.
Hygiene and Cleaning in Schools
The school will take particular care of the hygiene arrangements for hand washing and toilet facilities.
The school will be cleaned at least once per day. Additional cleaning if available should be focused on frequently touched surfaces – door handles, hand-rails, chairs/arm rests, communal eating areas, sink and toilet facilities.
In addition to daily cleaning, the school is cleaned using a fogging mist machine every week.
All staff will have access to cleaning products and will be required to maintain cleanliness of their own work area.
Staff will thoroughly clean and disinfect their work area before and after use each day.
There will be regular collection of used waste disposal bags from offices and other areas within the school facility.
Cleaning/Disinfecting rooms where a pupil/staff member with suspected COVID-19 was present
The room should be cleaned as soon as practicably possible.
Once the room is vacated the room should not be reused until the room has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and all surfaces are dry.
Disinfection only works on things that are clean. When disinfection is required it is always as well as cleaning.
Person assigned to cleaning should avoid touching their face while they are cleaning and should wear household gloves and a plastic apron.
Clean the environment and furniture using disposable cleaning cloths and a household detergent followed by disinfection with a chlorine based product (household bleach).
Pay special attention to frequently touched surfaces, the back of chairs, couches, door handles and any surfaces that are visibly soiled with body fluids.
Once the room has been cleaned and disinfected and all surfaces are dry, the room can be reused.
If a pupil or staff diagnosed with COVID-19 spent time in a communal area like a canteen, play area or if they used the toilet or bathroom facilities, then the areas should be cleaned with household detergent followed by a disinfectant (as outlined in the HPSC interim health advice) as soon as is practically possible.
- Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19
- The School Management encourages school staff to download the HSE COVID-19 tracker
Staff or pupils should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. The following outlines how a school should deal with a suspected case that may arise in a school setting.
A designated isolation area has been identified within the school building. This is the room known as Sr Loreto’s room. The possibility of having more than one person displaying signs of COVID-19 has been considered and the sensory room will act as a second isolation room if needed. These designated isolation areas are behind a closed door and away from other staff and pupils.
If a staff member/pupil displays symptoms of COVID-19 while at school the following are the procedures to be implemented:
If the person with the suspected case is a pupil, the parents/guardians will be contacted immediately, and the following procedures will be adhered to
Isolate the person and have a procedure in place to accompany the individual to the designated isolation area via the isolation route, keeping at least 2m away from the symptomatic person and also making sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2m from the symptomatic person at all times;
The isolation area does not have to be a room but if it is not a room it should be 2m away from others in the room;
Remember that the virus is spread by droplets and is not airborne so physical separation is enough to reduce the risk of spread to others even if they are in the same room;
The staff member caring for a pupil should wear a face covering or mask. Gloves should not be used as the virus does not pass through skin;
Provide a mask for the person presenting with symptoms if one is available. He/she should wear the mask if in a common area with other people or while exiting the premises;
Assess whether the individual who is displaying symptoms can immediately be directed to go home/be brought home by parents who will call their doctor and continue self-isolation at home;
Facilitate the person presenting with symptoms remaining in isolation if they cannot immediately go home and facilitate them calling their doctor. The individual should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Advice should be given to the person presenting with symptoms to cover their mouth and nose with the disposable tissue provided when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the waste bag provided;
If the person is well enough to go home, arrange for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible and advise them to inform their general practitioner by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used;
If they are too unwell to go home or advice is required, contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick person is a Covid-19 suspect;
Carry out an assessment of the incident which will form part of determining follow-up actions and recovery;
Arrange for appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved – (details at Section 7).
The HSE will inform any staff/parents who have come into close contact with a diagnosed case via the contact tracing process. The HSE will contact all relevant persons where a diagnosis of COVID-19 is made. The instructions of the HSE should be followed and staff and pupil confidentiality is essential at all times.
Mason Hayes Curran solicitors have advised that the information below be included in the Covid Response Plan with regard to GDPR
Is there an obligation on the school to inform anyone other than the parents if a student is sent home due to his/her symptoms?
No. The parents make the referral to the GP. The GP may recommend testing and, if following testing the student is confirmed positive, the HSE will begin the process of contact tracing. This means the school will in all likelihood be contacted in order for the HSE to assess the public health risk. From this point onward the process will be led by the HSE.
The HSE will contact schools to request certain information. The HSE will also seek assistance with the dissemination of information on the grounds that schools will be able to do so more quickly. There may be a situation where a class needs to stay at home.
The principal may be obliged to inform relevant staff on a need to know basis in order to manage the situation, i.e. class teacher. All families are entitled to confidentiality. The school cannot make the name known to the school community.
What is the position regarding communication if a staff member has symptoms?
Equally the same protocol applies to staff. Whilst it may be obvious to staff as to which member has symptoms, it is the prerogative of that staff member to disclose or not disclose that information. Staff should be familiar with the protocols and of their data protection responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the HSE to inform close contacts.
The school is bound by data protection legislation not to identify students/staff that may have symptoms or ultimately test positive. The school should also make it clear to the administrators of any parent association and/or class based WhatsApp groups that the members of the group should not engage in commentary in the event of a case being identified.
Special Educational Needs
Additional considerations for those with Special Educational Needs
Continuum of Support
Our school will utilise the usual school support structure-the Continuum of Support. This structure, as per our SEN policy, allows the school to provide support for all pupils. The Continuum of Support framework also recognises that some pupils will require more targeted support while others will require an individualised approach. Pupils with the greatest needs in our school will receive support.
For children with special educational needs (SEN) maintaining physical distancing in many instances will not be practical or appropriate to implement. The focus should therefore be on emphasising that parents/guardians should have a heightened awareness of signs, symptoms or changes in baseline which suggests illness/COVID-19 infection and where symptoms are present children should not attend school.
Similarly staff should be aware of their responsibility not to attend work if they develop signs or symptoms of respiratory illness.
Children who are unable to wash their hands by themselves should be assisted to clean their hands using soap and water or a hand sanitiser (if their hands are visibly clean) as outlined previously.
The size of the group will depend on the SET ‘s room to allow for 1m social distancing between pupils at this time.
Some children may have care needs (physical or behavioural) which requires the use of aids and appliances and/or medical equipment for example toileting aids, moving and handling equipment, respiratory equipment. Where cleaning of aids and appliances is carried out in the school it is recommended that a cleaning schedule is provided, detailing when and how the equipment is cleaned and the cleaning products to be used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
The following points can guide the development of such cleaning schedule:
- Equipment used to deliver care should be visibly clean;
- Care equipment should be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. Cleaning is generally achieved using a general purpose detergent and warm water.
- Equipment that is used on different children must be cleaned and, if required, disinfected immediately after use and before use by another child e.g. toileting aids;
- If equipment is soiled with body fluids:
- First clean thoroughly with detergent and water;
- Then disinfect by wiping with a freshly prepared solution of disinfectant;
- Rinse with water and dry.
Special Needs Assistants
Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) can move between pods/bubbles when their post is shared between two pupils in different classes. SNAs must wear a mask and or visor and take personal responsibility for washing and sanitising hands between pods and bubbles.
Returning to school curriculum guidance for primary school leaders and teachers is outlined in this link: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/a0bff-reopening- our-primary-and-special-schools/#supporting-the-wellbeing-of-school-communities-as-schools-reopen-guidance-for-schools
Our mainstream and SET teachers will adapt their lesson planning and pedagogy to cater for their pupils’ learning needs.
Teachers will be giving greater time to curricular areas such as:
- Mandatory aspects of SPHE such as Stay Safe and RSE shall be taught early in the term
- Visual arts, drama and music
Staff are advised no to return to work if the display any symptoms of COVID-19
If they have been identified by the HSE as contact of a person with COVID-19
- If they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus
- If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff and parents are advised to consult and follow the latest Government advice in relation to foreign travel
- Advise staff to cooperate with any public health officials and the school for contact tracing purposes and follow any public health advice in the event of a case or an outbreak in the school
- Undergo any Covid-19 testing that may be required in the school as part of mass or serial testing as advised by Public Health
Staff have a statutory obligation to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of their colleagues and other parties. The cooperation and assistance of all staff is essential to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 and to protect health and safety as far as possible within the school. All staff have a key role to play. In this regard and in order to facilitate a safe return to work, these duties include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Adhere to the School COVID-19 Response Plan and the control measures outlined.
- Complete the RTW form before they return to work.
- Must inform the principal if there are any other circumstances relating to COVID19, not included in the form, which may need to be disclosed to facilitate their safe return to the workplace.
- Must complete COVID-19 Induction Training and any other training required prior to their return to school.
- Must be aware of, and adhere to, good hygiene and respiratory etiquette practices.
- Coordinate and work with their colleagues to ensure that physical distancing is maintained.
- Make themselves aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and monitor their own wellbeing.
- Self-isolate at home and contact their GP promptly for further advice if they display any symptoms of COVID-19.
- Not return to or attend school if they have symptoms of COVID-19 under any circumstances.
- If they develop any symptoms of COVID-19 whilst within the school facility, they should adhere to the procedure outlined above.
- Keep informed of the updated advice of the public health authorities and comply with same.
COVID-19 related Absence Management
The management of a COVID-19 related absence will be managed in line with agreed procedures with the Department of Education.
Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme
The Department recognises the need for school staff wellbeing and collective self-care. Support for school staff wellbeing will be provided by Department Support Services including the PDST and CSL, as well as by the HSE’s Health Promotion Team. An Occupational Health Strategy is in place as a supportive resource for staff in schools. The aim of the Occupational Health Strategy is to promote the health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace, with a strong focus on prevention. The Occupational Health Strategy comprises the Employee Assistance Service and the Occupational Health Service. The Employee Assistance Service (EAS) is provided by Spectrum.Life under the logo of ‘Wellbeing Together: Folláinne Le Chéile’.
Under the EAS, employees have a dedicated free-phone confidential helpline 1800 411 057 available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing advice on a range of issues such as wellbeing, legal, financial, mediation, management support etc. Where required, short-term counselling is available to employees and their families (over the age of 18 years and living at home). A bespoke wellbeing portal and app which offers access to podcasts and blogs on topics around wellbeing and mental health, family life, exercise and nutrition is also available. In addition online cognitive behavioural therapy is provided. As part of the services provided by Spectrum. Life a Mental Health Promotion Manager is available to develop and deliver evidence based mental health and wellbeing initiatives to reduce stigma and improve mental health literacy and to increase engagement with the service. They will also be providing a series of webinars and presentations to promote staff wellbeing in schools as schools reopen and during the upcoming school year.
Other specific arrangements:
- As always was the case, no sharing of lunches or drinks among children. Children should bring their lunch and drink in a plastic container which must be washed daily.
- The photocopier and shared printer is now in the reception area and all associated contact areas to be wiped down with disinfectant wipes after each user is finished
- Sending pupils between classrooms with messages is not permitted
- All school books have wipe down covers
- Our cleaners have been provided with appropriate PPE for use when using misting machine.