Please read the following letter from St Joseph’s Principal, Mr Murray. This letter has also been posted to all our parents and guardians.
Dear Parents, Guardian and Pupils, I hope you are all well and that you are looking forward to the return to school as much as I am. As mentioned in previous correspondence posted on the school website and Facebook, it is our intention to bring back all pupils on a full time basis, five days a week from the 1st of September (Year 11 and 12 pupils will return earlier). The Minister for Education published updated guidance on the 13th of August regarding the “New School Day”. In order for St Joseph’s to facilitate the reopening of the school for all pupils and adhere to the new guidance the following new arrangements will need to be put in place. ACCOMMODATION Key Stage 3 classes will remain in “protective bubbles”. Next year we will have 12 KS3 classes. These classes will be accommodated in the Plunkett Street side of the building. These classes will remain in one room and teachers will move to the classes. This is the only way for the
protective bubbles to remain effective. This means that for the time being practical classes will not be able to take place at KS3. Pupils will be asked to stay in the same seat in their bubble at all times. PE will continue as it can be delivered outside.
KS4 class will be taught in the rest of the school, with social distancing in place and with practical lessons also taking place. BEGINNING AND ENDING TO THE SCHOOL DAY Pupils will be expected to be in school for 9.00am. Pupils will enter the school through different entrances to allow for social distancing. The entrance each pupil is expected to use will be explained to them on induction day. KS3 pupils will finish school at 2.50pm and will leave through the door they entered. KS4 pupils will finish at 3.00pm and will also leave through the door they entered. Pupils are encouraged to go directly home and not congregate around the school. EQUIPMENT The guidance states that schools should “consider discouraging or prohibiting children from bringing anything from home and, at the end of each school day, limiting/preventing shared resources from being taken home”. To encourage this good practice, we are asking that pupils bring in a sterilised pencil case and equipment on the 1st of September. This is to be left on their desk in their classroom bubble at KS3 and left in their form room at KS4. Pupils should not be bringing in school bags to school. PACKED LUNCHES So that as little material as possible is not brought home from school pupils must not bring in lunch boxes. Lunches should be brought to school in sandwich bags that can be discarded once the meal has been eaten. Water will be available in the canteen at lunch time. Easily sanitised water bottles may be brought into school. These must be sanitised before coming to school and when leaving. HOMEWORK So that pupils are eased back into the routine of school and so that materials are not being transported back and forwards from school there will be no KS3 homework for the time being. KS4 homework will be completed through the use of “Google Classroom”. HYGIENE The Department of Education have stated that hand washing should occur “particularly when entering/leaving the building and always before/after eating”. This will be facilitated during the school day. Pupils may wish to bring their own hand sanitiser; however, the guidance has stated that “sanitiser is not a substitution for hand washing”. Pupils should: • Be discouraged from touching their eyes, face, nose and mouth. • Carry tissues to cough into it and then dispose safely of it into the nearest bin. • Be shown how to cough into their elbow if they do not have a tissue / paper towel. The school will be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each school day with particular attention given to desk surfaces, chairs, doors, light switches, banisters, sinks and toilets. UNIFORM Department of Education have requested that pupils “wear clean uniform or fresh clothes each day”. We understand that blazers and ties can not be washed and dried each day. Therefore, we are permitting pupils to come to school without blazers or ties. To ease the burden on parents we are allowing pupils to alternate between the options below: OPTION 1 Black Leather Shoes Black Trousers White Shirt School Jumper (optional) OPTION 2 Black Trainers St Joseph’s Tracksuit Bottoms St Joseph’s Jersey St Joseph’s Half Zip/Round Neck Jumper Contact will be made with parents should a pupil attend in any clothing that is not listed above. PE will continue to be delivered. Pupils are to attend school in their PE uniform on days they have this subject. Changing rooms will not be open. FACE COVERINGS The guidance states that “face coverings are not generally recommended for routine use in schools”. As a precautionary measure we would encourage pupils to wear a face covering in school and we have no objection should you wish your son to wear a face covering. APPOINTMENTS As a school we have always tried to accommodate anyone who arrives at St Joseph’s looking to speak to a member of staff. This can not be continued in the current climate. Should you wish to make an appointment please contact the school and we will schedule a meeting with the relevant member of staff. BEHAVIOUR POLICY The Department of Education stated that “school’s pupil behaviour policy may need to be reviewed to ensure that it covers COVID-19 related incidents, and as a means to prevent flagrant abuse of the COVID -19 risks, should make provision for the school to be able to sanction, up to and including exclusion, pupils who wilfully refuse to adhere to arrangements of social distancing” We have updated our policy as advised. CHILDREN SHOWING SYMPTOMS OR FAMILY MEMBERS DISPLAYING SYMPTOMS Children showing any symptoms of COVID-19 should not travel to school and a COVID 19 test should be arranged as soon as possible. Parents should not send their son to school if they or a member of their household has symptoms. If a pupil develops symptoms whilst at school, they will be kept in isolation until they can be collected by a parent. Pupils will not travel home from school on public transport. PUPILS OR FAMILY MEMBERS DISPLAYING SYMPTOMS If a pupil or family member tests positive the guidance is as follows: • if you have symptoms of coronavirus or a positive test, you will need to stay at home for at least 10 days; • if you live with someone who has symptoms or a positive test, you will need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms; • however, if you develop symptoms during this 14-day period, you will need to self-check in accordance with Test and Trace guidance and stay at home for10 days from the day your symptoms started (regardless of what day you are on in the original 14-day period); • 10 days after your symptoms started, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to continue to self-isolate. If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal. You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 10 days, as a cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone; • if you have symptoms and live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else they can stay for the 14-day isolation period; • it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community. All the above information will remain in place until restrictions are eased by the Department of Education. I understand there is plenty to digest in this letter and I want to make it clear that we are trying to reopen St Joseph’s for the benefit of our pupils in the safest way possible. Staff and pupils will be moving towards a school day none of us are familiar with. I ask that you be patient with us and understand the difficult position we are being placed in as a school. This guidance above will change as time progress but I will make sure that we communicate with you in the most effective way possible. Best wishes and thank you for your understanding Declan Murray Principal