Mullingar Community College

New Health and Safety Protocols

25-August-20

Dear Parent/Guardian;

I hope you and your families are keeping well and that you are looking forward to students returning to their school community. As the welfare, health and safety of our students and staff is of paramount importance, the school has taken considerable steps to ensure that a full and safe return to school is achieved in the coming weeks. I am contacting you to inform you of the new Health and Safety protocols that have been implemented in Mullingar CC to ensure the safety of the entire school community.

The public health advice makes clear that the most critical part of managing the risks of COVID-19 related to schools doing everything practical to avoid introduction of COVID-19. Mullingar Community College has implemented, and will adhere to all measures, as specified in the DES Covid-19 Response plan for the safe and sustainable reopening of post-primary schools and relevant HSE advice during this time.

It is our collective responsibility to follow the new health and safety protocols that are now in place in Mullingar Community College. We trust and expect that the parents and guardians of Mullingar Community College students will support the dedicated efforts of all our staff to adhere to the measures that have been implemented that aim to ensure the safety of all members of the school and wider community.

Student Return to School Access Form:

In line with public health guidelines; the “Student Return to School Access Form” must be returned to the school at least 3 days prior to your child starting/returning to school. This form will also be sent to you online on the 25th August and you can choose to complete this online if you prefer. In relation to Question 5 on this form; if you believe the new Health and Safety protocols outlined below do not suffice for your child’s condition, then please contact the school secretary to make a phone appointment to speak to the Principal. Please note-this is Question 12 on the online version of the form.

School Policies:

Please note that school policies will be updated by the Board of Management to reflect and enforce the new COVID-19 Health and Safety guidelines that are required to ensure the health and safety of the entire school community at all times.

New Important Health and Safety Rules:

Please take note of the following important rules and routines that have been implemented in response to Covid19.

Face Masks:

  • Face masks are mandatory where 2 metres social distancing cannot be adhered to. As Mullingar CC has 1 metre spacing between student desks, face masks are mandatory.
  • These must be appropriate to the school setting (no scarves, bandanas, etc).
  • These should be washed daily in accordance to HSE guidelines - https://www2.hse.ie/
  • The wearing of visors may be facilitated after consultation with the Principal. You must ring the school secretary to arrange a phone appointment with the Principal to discuss this issue.

Awareness of Covid-19 Symptoms:

  • Any student displaying, or reporting, any COVID-19 symptoms MUST NOT, under any circumstances, attend school.
  • Common symptoms of COVID19 are cough; high temperature; loss of smell or taste; shortness of breath.
  • Please visit https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/symptoms.html for a summary of all COVID-19 symptoms
  • Any student who feels unwell during school must bring this to the attention of the class teacher immediately.
  • Parents/Guardians of students displaying or reporting COVID-19 symptoms will be contacted immediately. You must arrange for the collection of your child from school immediately.
  • If parents/guardians are unable to immediately collect their ill child, other arrangements must be made for students to go home quickly and safely.
  • Students must remain at home for 14 days if they have travelled abroad.
  • Parents/Guardians should contact their GP for advice regarding any symptom presentation.

A-Z list of other Health and Safety changes introduced in Mullingar CC:

Please take note of this A-Z list of changes that all students must adhere to.

Arriving to school:

  • The school will open at 8:20am for students wishing to attend Breakfast Club or students who arrive to school on a bus. Other students should not arrive at school before 8:40am. (Not earlier than 20 mins before their first class starts).
  • Students not attending Breakfast Club must proceed directly to their Base Classroom and sit in their classroom once they arrive inside the school building. Please note procedures around use of lockers later in the document.
  • Each year group will be assigned an entry door at the start of the school day. Exit doors will be based on the one-way system which will be explained to all students at Induction. This must be strictly adhered to. These are as follows:
    • 2nd and 5th years enter via the side Canteen Door beside Mr. Kenny’s Office in the morning.
    • 1st; 3rd and 6th enter years via the Main Front Reception Door in the morning.
    • All students arriving to school for Breakfast Club enter via the Canteen Door.
  • Start and finish times will be staggered up to 20 minutes to ensure a controlled and safe arrival to school every day. Details of this will be provided on a weekly basis to students and to parents/guardians via text message on the preceding Friday afternoon
  • Students are asked to not arrive to school more than 20mins before their first class starts unless getting a bus to school and/or attending Breakfast Club which opens at 8:20am.
  • Each year group will be assigned toilet facilities in an assigned area that they must always use these designated toilet facilities to avoid cross contamination with other year groups.
  • The school is encouraging all students to cycle or walk to school where possible.

Break and Lunchtimes:

  • To minimise the risk of infection; each year group will be assigned an inside and outside area of the school for break and lunchtime.
  • Students will eat their lunch in their Base Classrooms and then be escorted outside to their assigned area for fresh air. They must not enter the area of another year group under any circumstances.
  • Weather permitting; students will be provided with at least one movement break during the school day to provide them with an opportunity to avail of 2 metres social distancing; remove their facemasks and get fresh air.

Canteen:

  • The canteen will operate under a new online ordering system this year. Usernames and passwords will be texted to you soon.
  • To reduce the risk of infection; all school lunches will be pre-packed. This will start on September 7th for students who have pre-ordered their lunches the week before.
  • Students must bring their snack/lunch with them as parents/guardians can only visit the school, without an appointment, in the event of an emergency.
  • In line with public health advice; the water dispensing unit has been removed from the canteen. Students must bring their own water to school.

Classrooms:

  • Classrooms been reconfigured in line with DES guidelines to ensure 1 metre social distancing where possible.
  • Students will be assigned Base Classrooms where they will be based in general. This is to reduce movement around the school and to keep year groups within ‘Hubs’ as much as is possible.
  • Seating arrangements within option classes will ensure that students associated by base class remain together in so far as is possible.
  • Students must sit in their assigned seats promptly and without delay.

Cleaning:

  • The school will be cleaned in line with DES guidelines which means each school setting will be cleaned at least once a day.
  • Regular cleaning of the school environment will significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.
  • A full range of COVID-19 signage, hand sanitiser etc, has been ordered. Signage will be displayed throughout the school building as a guide and reminder to all of health and safety protocols and practices.
  • Students and staff will sanitise their work areas (desks and chairs) upon arrival to and ahead of departure from classrooms in line with DES guidelines.
  • Hand sanitising stations will be placed in all rooms, common areas and at entrances and exit doors.
  • Students need to understand the importance of good hand hygiene. The HSE website contains important information - https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/how-to-wash-your- hands.html
  • Student materials (bags, coats, etc) must not be left lying around as, under public health guidelines, these will be removed and binned regularly.

Contact Details:

  • It is important that the school has the correct contact details for you in case we need to contact you in the event of an emergency and to provide important updates.

COVID-19 Isolation Rooms:

  • The school has identified four COVID-19 Isolation Rooms should a suspected case of COVID-19 develop during schooltime.

COVID-19 Compliance Team:

  • The school has formed a dedicated COVID-19 Compliance Team which will ensure that the school is following all COVID-19 rules and regulation.
  • The COVID-19 Compliance Team is led by the Lead Worker Representative (LWR) who is Mr. Colin Whyte.

Hand Sanitizing:

  • 40 Hand Sanitising dispensers, and four hand sanitising stations, will be located around the school. Students will be encouraged to wash and sanitise their hands regularly.

Lockers:

  • To ensure a controlled and safe opening; and to support social distancing; students will not be using their lockers for the first three weeks of school.
  • Students will only be required to have their pencil case (pens; pencils, etc) and copies for the first three weeks to ensure schoolbags are not heavy.
  • A system for student locker usage will start on the 21st September which ensures safe social distancing.

One-Way System:

  • A strict one-way movement system will be in operation within the school.

Sharing Materials:

  • To reduce the risk of infection; students will not be sharing any classrooms materials with other students so please ensure you have all resources required for each class.

Social Distancing:

  • All classes have been reconfigured to ensure at least 1 metre between students.
  • Students will be restricted in their movements at break and lunchtime and will be confined to designated areas to avoid mixing with other year groups.
  • We ask that students respect and ensure social distancing during break and lunchtime.

Staggered Start and Finish Times:

  • To reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection; school start times and end times will be staggered by up to 20 mins.
  • Details will be provided to your child and texted to all parents/guardians the preceding Friday to outline the schedule for the week after.
  • To ensure a safe and controlled start to the day; the school asks that students arrive no earlier than 20mins before the start of their school day unless using Breakfast Club which opens at 8:20am and/or arriving to school by bus.

Training:

  • On their first day in school; all students will receive Induction Training on infection control and the new health and safety procedures in Mullingar CC.
  • LWETB Student Induction material will be sent to you this week for your child to watch in preparation for the return to school.

Uniform:

  • On days that students have PE; they may wear in their Mullingar CC PE Uniform. They will wear this uniform throughout that day.
  • In line with public health guidelines; we would ask that school uniforms are washed regularly.

Visitors Policy

  • Due to COVID-19, a strict protocol is now required to ensure the health and safety of all staff and students. Parents visiting the school will be required to do so by appointment only unless in the case of an emergency.
  • The school is discouraging all face to face meetings. Unless urgent; all matters will be dealt with over the phone or via MS Teams.
  • When you visit Reception, a Sign-in and Sign-out system will be in place.
  • Any visit to the school that results in a meeting with member of school staff will require the completion of a COVID-19 Track and Tracing Log.

Other relevant information:

Book Rental:

  • A reminder text link will be sent to you on the 25/08/2020 to allow you to pay this online. Please pay this as soon as is possible.

Starting the new school year:

  • As outlined above, up until Friday September 18th students will only require their pencil cases (pens, pencils, etc) and copies for each class.
  • Students are required to bring their own water as the water dispenser has been removed due to public health advice.
  • Students should bring a healthy snack with them for morning break and lunch until the school canteen starts on the 7th September. To reduce the risk of infection; we ask parents/guardians to not visit the school to drop of food and/or materials.
  • Student lunches will commence on Monday September 7th – online ordering details will be sent to you before this.
  • Staggered start and end times will be in operation – details will be provided to you on a weekly basis.

School closures:

Mullingar CC will endeavour to ensure the school remains open, but parents/guardians must be prepared for the event of sudden school closures. Staff members are bound by the same health advice as students and must stay at home if feeling unwell. This may lead to a situation

where there are not enough staff members in the school to supervise all the students. Health

and safety considerations means that year groups may have to be left at home at short notice. This will be done on an equitable basis and we will stagger the stay at home decisions to ensure different year groups are required to stay at home. We will aim to give you notice the evening before where possible. For this reason, it is important we have your correct contact details.

Opening dates and school times here

This is the return to school dates and times. Please note a change in the schedule to ensure each year group gets more dedicated Induction and Training time to ensure a safe return to school.

  • Monday 31st August:
    • 1st years: 9.00am – 12:35pm
  • Tuesday 1st September:
    • 1st years: 9.00am – 12:35pm
  • Wednesday 2nd September:
    • 1st years: 9.00am – 3:05pm
    • 2nd years: 9.00am – 1:15pm
  • Thursday 3rd September:
    • 1st & 2nd Years: 9.00am – 3:05pm
    • 6th years: 9:00am - 12:35pm
  • Friday 4th September:
    • 1st; 2nd & 6th years: 9:00am – 3:05pm
  • Monday 7th September:
    • 1st; 2nd; 6th year: 9:00am – 3:45pm
    • 3rd years: 9:00am – 1:15pm
  • Tuesday 8th September:
    • 1st; 2nd; 3rd & 6th years: 9:00am – 3:45pm
    • 5th years: 9:00am – 12:35pm
  • LCA 1: 9:00am – 1:15pm
  • LCA 2: 9:00am – 1:15pm
  • Wednesday 9th September:
    • All year groups: 9:00am – 3:05pm

Student Return to School Access Form:

Please remember the Student Return to School Access Form must be returned to the school at least 3 days prior to your child starting/returning to school.

I recognise the changes outlined above will mean vast changes for your child when they come to Mullingar CC in the coming weeks. We all know that schools will be very different places for students and staff in 2020/2021. However, please bear in mind that all the changes we have implemented are aimed to ensure the health, safety and Wellbeing of all members of Mullingar CC. By working together to implement these changes in Mullingar CC, we significantly reduce the risk of the COVID-19 virus entering the school and provide the school community with the greatest chance to ensure that face-to-face teaching and learning can continue in 2020-2021.

If you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact the school secretary to arrange a phone appointment with the Principal / Deputy Principal.

Yours sincerely,

Seamus Mohan

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