Dear Parents,

The last few days have seen huge changes to how we live and interact with one another as a society. I realise that for many of us school is far from our minds as we focus on the broader issue of our health and well-being and that of our loved ones. However, I am conscious that some of our students may be struggling with this uncertainty in their world and what it means for them. As teenagers they can naturally be seeking to find their own place in the world and when that world lacks certainty it can throw them even further. Their reactions to this can range from anger to anxiety or from being silent to wanting to talk about nothing else.

To a large extent, they will take their cue from those around them, many of them may retreat to their phones, where their friends are and the world of social media. This can be an environment fraught with misinformation and inaccuracies and will only serve to build a sense of worry. I can only urge you to talk to them and reassure them as best as you can as parents. The Department of Education has given some useful advice on how to approach this here: Talking to Young People about Covid-19

In addition, your son/daughter may be looking to go out and meet up with friends over these days. I would urge you to talk to them and give them the advice that has been issued  by the Chief Medical Officer, the next week is crucial to how we manage this outbreak. These points are listed below:

1. Reduce your social contacts – see only a handful of people in your network

2. Distance yourself 2 metres from people in shops & supermarkets

3. Stop shaking hands or hugging when you say hello

4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

5. Wash your hands regularly and practice cough and sneeze hygiene

6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

7. Check on your vulnerable family members and neighbours

8. Work from home where possible

From an educational point of view, your son/ daughter may appreciate some routine around school. They will have a school email address and Office 365 set up in place to allow teachers to guide and advise them remotely. This does not replace classroom contact and is a new situation for every secondary school in the country. Never before has this been practiced on such a large scale. Your son/daughter may find that some teachers are giving too much work or others not enough, please understand that this is a change in circumstances for their teachers also. I will be advising all staff and students contact through office 365 to work within the school timetable and within the hours of between 9.00 – 4.00. Students and teachers will both need to work together and communicate with each other to find the most effective way to settle into this new, all digital Coláiste Phobal Roscrea.

It is important though, that students realise they can take charge of their own learning also and that means doing only what is possible. Students should try to keep going with their learning but no more than if they got too much homework in the school they need to let their teachers know how they are getting on. It is important that your son/daughter know there is no additional pressure from the school, I fully realise that some students will have challenges regarding connectivity and online access that others will not have and that some will handle this whole situation very differently
to others. For some lucky few they may seem oblivious to the world around them. As their Principal all I will ask of them is exactly what I would ask of them if they were standing in front of me in school, ‘Do the very best that you can do’.

Pre Exam Results – 3rd & 6th Years:
These have  been posted home, students should remember these are a snapshot in time and that all exam students across the country are in the exact same situation. All they can do is continue to use their time to work wisely. View this closure as an opportunity and not an obstacle.

School Tours – 2nd & Transition Years:
A travel embargo is now in place across all Europe so all proposed tours are cancelled. This is in the safety of everyone and while disappointing, it is understandable. We will be seeking to retrieve as much of these fees back as possible. This will take time though.

Finally, while we are not open as a school building we are still available as a school community. For us in Roscrea Community College that means looking after and caring for one another. If we can help in any way, if you have any queries or worries about your son/daughter, please contact us via email and what help and advice we can give, we will.

May you all stay safe and healthy,

Beannacht libh,

Mr. Michael O Connor