16th April 2020
I hope you had a nice Easter in spite of the restrictions on movement that were implemented nationally since 27 March 2020 in line with public health guidelines. We appreciate how challenging the current Coronavirus/Covid-19 crisis has been for families, and we are working hard to support all students and parents/guardians in our school community as the crisis evolves. We know from feedback from our staff and interactions with students, that students and teachers miss school-life and attending classes. The past few weeks have presented many challenges, but the resolve of our students, staff and parents/guardians to engage in this steep learning curve in working from home is truly admirable. We are very proud that so many students and our staff worked very hard before Easter to minimize disruption to learning. Everyone in the school community has embraced the new term called ‘Distance Learning’ in an effort to fulfil a continuity of learning.
As you are aware, schools have remained closed to students since 13 March 2020. The current health advice is that all schools will remain closed to students until Tuesday, 5 May 2020 (after the May Bank Holiday weekend).
We have listened carefully to feedback from students, staff and parents prior to Easter. We want to ensure that we focus our efforts for the next two weeks on teaching, learning and the provision of effective feedback to students.
To this end, we plan on holding an on-line staff meeting and subject planning meetings over the next few days to coordinate the most effective work-stream for the ensuing two week period and to provide for enriched feedback to your child/children. Students are asked to revise subjects as per their regular timetable on Monday, 20 April 2020.
Students in Sixth Year and Third Year
We are especially mindful of the decision that affects students in Sixth Year and Third Year regarding the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate examinations.
Information on exam and assessment schedules, including the Leaving Certificate Applied and the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme is available on the website of the State Examinations Commission: www.examinations.ie/misc-doc/BI-SE-67826275.pdf
The Department of Education and Skills and the State Examinations Commission are making every effort to support all students through this challenging time.
Students facing examinations have been asked to keep focused and to keep working in preparation for the exams which are now scheduled for July. More details will be forthcoming in the near future regarding the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate examinations and we will bring this information to your attention without delay.
Supports for Students including Internet Connections and Data Bundles on Mobile Providers
The Department of Education and Skills has been working closely with the tertiary education sector to address issues raised in relation to accessing online provision including broadband issues.
Thankfully, we are seeing progress in some ways to help students with connectivity and data issues.
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton T.D. announced on Wednesday, 15of April 2020 that all major telecoms providers have committed to a number of measures to help people stay in touch and work from home during Covid-19. All major providers have signed up, including BT Ireland, eir, Pure Telecom, Sky Ireland, Tesco Mobile Ireland, Three Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone.
These commitments will be implemented by operators as soon as possible. Each service provider will provide details and implementation updates on their own website. The commitments will remain available to consumers until 30 June 2020 and will be reviewed in advance of that date if needed.
The Covid-19 Consumer Commitments are as follows:
1. Any fixed broadband customers who do not have unlimited usage already as standard will be given the opportunity, if they require, to upgrade their package (which may be on a temporary basis), with their current service provider
2. Any customer who does not have fixed broadband and who relies solely on mobile access to the Internet will have the opportunity to avail of affordable unlimited mobile data access/package from their service provider
3. Fair usage policies will not be automatically applied to unlimited fixed and mobile data packages
4. Service providers may implement appropriate permitted traffic management measures to avoid network congestion
5. Access to healthcare and educational resource websites identified by the Government will be zero-rated for all customers where technically feasible
Customers experiencing issues should contact their service provider in the first instance, before contacting ComReg’s Consumer Care Team at email@example.com or 01 8049668 (from 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Friday and 9.00am to 1.00pm on Saturday, excluding public holidays.
Wellbeing including physical activity
NEPS, the Department’s National Educational Psychological Service, has developed advice and resources for keeping Children and Young People well during Covid-19. These resources aim to support children and young people’s learning and wellbeing at this time.
In the context of wellbeing, NEPS has included a reference in its advice for young people and for parents of young children for the need for physical activity as part of everyone’s daily routine while schools are closed.
For information, the relevant text can be found at the following links:
Advice for Young People: https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/advice-to-young-people-while-schools-are-closed.pdf
Advice for Parents: https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/guide-for-parents-supporting-children.pdf
Supporting Students with Additional Education Needs
The National Council for Special Education has developed resources for parents of children with additional needs who may benefit from specific advice during the period of school closure. All resources are available on the NCSE website and publicised through education partners and Twitter. The NCSE visiting teacher service continues to provide direct telephone/skype support to families and students. The NCSE resources can be accessed at: www.ncse.ie/online-resources and include;
- resources for parents and teachers such as class\age level activities
- practical advice on how to take care of Assistive Technology in the Home and a suite of Occupational Therapy and
- Speech and Language Therapy resources (including a social story animation on attending a Covid-19 test Centre prepared by the HSE).
Temporary reassignment of SNAs
Currently, SNA personnel are being reassigned to assist with efforts to support front-line health workers. We will make every effort to ensure that students who have access to an SNA are receiving supports throughout the next two weeks.
A considerable number of announcements regarding schools and state examinations were made over the course of the Easter break. The main points are summarised below;
Statements and Information:
- 10 April 2020: Minister McHugh Announces Postponement of State Examinations
- 09 April 2020:Briefing on Covid-19 responses in the Education and Training Sector
Assessing Teaching and Learning in our School
Our School’s Digital Learning Hub, which students are familiar with, is the main portal for accessing on-line classes and feedback from teachers. Our staff has received support and guidance from Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board on the most effective strategies to manage on-line learning. Several teleconferencing meetings of all Principals and Deputy Principals of all eighteen post-primary schools of our ETB have taken place since 13 March 2020 and this has proven invaluable in the sharing of best-practice and resources between all of our schools.
Our staff have received advice, guidance and peer support on managing learning, teaching and assessment in the current crisis and we are hopeful that this will help to mitigate the loss in class contact time and ‘Face to Face’ time in the current climate.
Acceptable User Policy (AUP)
Our school’s Acceptable User Policy (AUP) has been revised to reflect the increasingly popular use of teleconferencing platforms. Our school only utilises platforms which fully comply with GDPR requirements. It is important that students understand that the school expects all of its community to observe responsible and ethical use of such platforms in respect of other users – fellow students and staff. Guidance and additional information about our school’s use of teleconferencing is available on our school website under the Digital Learning section.
Contacting the School during Closure
Please do not hesitate to contact us at the school via this email address firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do all we can to address your query as soon as possible.
In the meantime, please follow the advice of the HSE and the Government;
Everyone needs to stay at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
You should only leave your home to:
- shop for essential food and household goods
- attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products
- care for children, older people or other vulnerable people – this excludes social family visits
- exercise outdoors, within 2 kilometres of your home and only with people from your own household – keeping 2 metres between you and other people
- travel to work if you provide an essential service – be sure to practice physical distancing
Follow this advice to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Read a step-by-step guide from the HSE on how to clean your hands.
Take care of yourself and stay safe