Letter to Parents 17th Aug 2021
Dear Parents / Guardians,
I sincerely hope that you and your family are well and have enjoyed some of the recent good weather in advance of the return to school. You have probably been following closely much of what has been going on in the media around return to schools and wondering what it will be like in Coláiste Phobal Roscrea for 2021-22. It is our express aim to have all students return to school next week. To achieve this please read this letter carefully as it outlines what measures we all must take to ensure this can happen.
In Coláiste we pride ourselves as being a school with a unique closeness between our students and our staff. While present in school during the last academic term, students and staff became familiar with the new normal in school. The measures introduced then continue to be in place. I want to outline these to you all again so that all families will be familiar with the schools operating procedures for this new term.
I am going to list them below so that all parents are aware of the changes before your son/daughter returns to school.
Please rest assured we will do our utmost to make the best of these changes, while also striving to keep everyone in our school community safe. I would encourage you to sit down and discuss the return to school and what it will be like with your son/daughter and to please try and frame the new developments for him/her in a way that should reassure him/her. There is a lot contained in this email and I would ask you to save it carefully for reference in the weeks ahead.
We ask all students and parents/guardians to consider the following points before the start of the new term:
- Daily attendance and good punctuality at school is a requisite for high quality learning.
- All students should present in full uniform which is neatly worn. Refer to uniform list that you received in General Circular over the summer.
- Show respect and courtesy always towards your peers, and your teachers in CPR.
- All students should set high expectations and standards for their schoolwork.
- Work willingly and openly with all staff to reach their personal goals.
- In this new challenging situation any student who does not cooperate or risks the health and safety of themselves or others will be asked immediately to go home and continue their studies via our online platforms. There is no space for horseplay or foolery this year and anyone who deviates from these new expectations will have to remove themselves from the school.
- Significant extra additional supervision has been implemented in the school to ensure everyone complies with what’s expected of them
- Parents / Guardians / Students need to familiarise themselves with the Symptoms of Covid-19 i.e. Fever or Chills, Cough, Shortness of breath, Fatigue, Aches and Pains. Students should immediately inform their Teacher should they experience any of these symptoms.
- “Stay at home if unwell” Policy is in operation at Coláiste Phobal Roscrea. This means that if any student displays symptoms of Covid-19 they should stay at home. Should a student display symptoms in class, they will be immediately isolated on the school premises and the parent /guardian will be contacted to collect the student.
- We have two isolation rooms identified on the school campus.
Please note the school is no longer accepting cash as a means of payment. We encourage parents and guardians to use our online payment system ‘Way2Pay’ which maintains an electronic record of all payments. A link will be sent to your phone from Way2Pay. If you have difficulty using this system, please contact Way2Pay on 01-5424167 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, we can accept personal cheques, postal orders or credit union drafts. However, these must be made payable to Tipperary ETB.
Return to School Dates & Year Head details:
All students will receive induction and training, including specific Covid-19 safety measures, so as to help them to adjust to their new environment. Students will be supported by their Year Head and the student support team and each class will have a class tutor. Students should bring the minimum amount of materials in their school bag on their first day of return i.e. pens, copybook/refill pad. On this day they will receive their school journal and timetables.
Thursday 26th August 9.00 – 1.00 – 1st year students only return. 6th year Cairde’s to attend today also.
Student induction programme: Throughout the morning students will meet their Year Head, and their tutors. They will be getting their VS ware photo taken, getting used to their timetable and receive their books from book rental. There will also be an orientation session with their Cairde (6th year student) so students can get to know each other.
Year Head: Ms. Cait Leyne – First years will not be in school again until August 30th.
Friday August 27th – 6th Year Students only return (Finish at 2:05) Year Head: Mr. Ml. O’ Connor.
Monday August 30th, – 1st, 3rd (Year Head -Mr Haugh) & 6th year students return (Finish at 3.43)
Tuesday August 31st, – 1st, 3rd, 5th (Year Head – Ms McDonnell) & 6th year students return (Finish at 3.43)
Wednesday September 1st, – 1st, 2nd (Year Head – Ms Ward) 3rd, 5th & 6th year students return (Finish at 3.43)
Thursday September 2nd, – All students back (TY Year Head – Ms Mulrooney).
Reopening our School 2021:
- For the 2021/22 Academic Year, the school building will open for students from 8.15 am only. Students will be required to use designated areas for entry before class commences. Once students enter the school in the morning, they are not permitted to leave the campus for any reason, including going to the shop.
- Entry routes:
- 1st, 2nd & 3rd Years – Front door via Reception, hand sanitize and go to Canteen
- TY, 5th & 6th Years – Double Doors under the bridge by room 48, hand sanitize and go to GYM
- Additional student recreational spaces have been created at the canteen side of the college and as a result, cars cannot be driven onto the campus or past the main gates.
- All classes will remain 58 minute in duration, 6 classes per day Monday to Thursday, 5 classes Friday. No double classes. No lunch break on Friday as buses need to start runs at this time in order to be back for their primary school runs.
Break times will be staggered in order to reduce mixing between year groups. We will encourage students to use the outdoor spaces attached to our campus during break and lunchtimes on all dry days.
No Students will have the use of lockers this year, as social distancing will not be possible here.
- To help students with this, as I’ve outlined, our 58-minute class timetable will remain. This will reduce the number of movements of classes and the number of books required by each student. Students will be required to bring in only the books they need and can carry in their school bags. All options to reduce the weight of school bags will be used and teachers will be using specific strategies, which promote the blended use of textbooks for homework and skills development in the classroom. We will liaise with students and teachers regarding how this is working throughout the year and communicate regarding any changes with parents.
School Cleaning & Physical Distancing:
- All areas of the college have undergone extensive deep cleaning and maintenance during the summer. Additional cleaning will take place during the school days, concentrating on toilet areas, and touch points.
- Additional cleaning staff have been employed and there now will be a full time cleaner on the premises every day.
- Every possible attempt has been made to reduce class sizes and to ensure adequate physical distancing both in the classrooms and recreational spaces. Having created a full new arrangement of the timetable and rooming allocations in recent weeks we know that we have done the very best with the resources and capacity that we have.
- Face coverings are mandatory on campus for all due to the increased transmissibility of the Delta Variant.
- Corrections and assessment:
- Copybooks will not be collected for now, students will take a photo of work completed and email or submit it on MS Teams to their teacher. Each year group will receive training in the use of their MS Teams account.
- Included in the student school charges this year is the Microsoft office suite of programs. As a student of CPR your son /daughter will receive their own email address and password. They will be trained in its use and setup. They will also as part of this be given the access to all these programs and they can download them to 5 devices at home. Resources will be shared with students as much as possible via their digital MS Teams account to minimise the use of handouts.
- Access to IT at home: while we are preparing for a return to school we also need to be prepared for home-schooling, therefore we will be training all students in use of MS Teams and their education suite of resources.
Communication systems and supports at the college:
VS Ware: please use your username and password to access to our school’s VS Ware platform. VS Ware App is available to download from the App & Play Store. Having the App is important as it will be used for absence notes, late notes and permission to leave school notes. First Year students parents will be set up with access in the coming weeks. Timetables will be available to view on VS Ware in the days before your son’s/daughter’s return to school.
- Students and staff will use the MS Teams platform at the college as part of their learning and skills development.
- Calendar: We maintain a calendar of school dates, events and activities, on the school website.
- Contacting us: The office and school will only be open via pre-arranged appointment to parents and visitors this year. Please phone the office if you require an appointment.
Whilst normally we encourage full attendance in school, this year we will be operating “Stay at home if unwell” Policy at Coláiste Phobal Roscrea. This means that if any student displays symptoms of Covid-19 they should stay at home. Should a student display symptom’s in class, they will be immediately isolated on the school premises and the Parent /Guardian will be contacted to collect the student.
If you are called to the school to collect your son/daughter, please remain in your car and phone reception to say you are outside. Your details and that of your child will be verified before your child is released. You will then give permission to reception to sign out your child.
The office is not manned at break or lunch so no sign outs can occur at this time.
- Most contact with staff will be done over the phone this year. We will be limiting external visitors to the school.
- Email and phone details: Please contact the school office if you have changed your email or contact phone number. Parents must also provide an emergency contact number of someone who will be available to collect their son/daughter from school if he/she is unwell.
- In addition to our Year Head supports the following personnel are available to and form part of our student support team.
Career Guidance Counsellor: Ms. Leyne & Mr. O’Brien
School Chaplain: Fr. Kenny
Additional Needs Coordinator: Ms. Ormond
Student Support team: Above personnel along with Ms. McDonnell, Ms. O’Gorman, Mr. Flynn & Mr. O’Connor
I know that the changes outlined in this letter are significant but rest assured that our focus has been on ensuring that the doors of the college reopen for the 2021/22 academic year whilst maintaining our delivery of excellence in education for each Coláiste Phobal Student.
That being said, there is a huge responsibility being placed on us both as educators, and parents and we do have a collective duty to look after the educational, emotional, mental and social wellbeing of our students. We will no doubt need to tweak and modify our routines further once students arrive back in the building and see what further improvements can be made on our current plans.
This will be a challenge and school will be different, but we will do what Coláiste Phobal Roscrea has done for the previous 22 years and that is to protect, mind and guide our students and help them to learn and prepare for life.
Michael O’ Connor
Covid-19 Specific Information
- Just a reminder if your son/daughter has or has had to travel abroad to a country that is not on the green list he/she must self-isolate for 14 days on return and under no circumstances can he/she return to the school building.
- If your son/daughter is returning from a country that is on the green list it is advised that he/she return home a week in advance of school commencement and be symptom free.
- Please follow government guidelines for up to date information in relation to travel https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/75d92-covid-19-travel-advice/.