Clonaslee College

Safe Return to School 2020/2021

Safe Return to School 2020/2021

Clonaslee College

Covid-19 response plan.png

Safe Return to School 2020/21

Guidance for Parent(s), Guardian(s), Carer(s) and Students


This Covid-19 Response Plan is designed to support the staff, Board of Management (BOM) & Laois Offaly Education Training Board (LOETB) in putting measures in place that will prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Clonaslee College. The Covid-19 Response Plan details the policies and practices necessary for a school to meet the Government’s ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’, the Department of Education and Skills plan for school reopening and to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the school environment. The plan incorporates current advice about measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the community issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). It is important that the resumption of school based teaching and learning and the reopening of school facilities comply with the protocol to minimise the risk to students, staff and others. As the advice issued by NPHET continues to evolve, this protocol and the measures management and staff need to address may also change. The response plan will support the sustainable reopening of our school where the overriding objective is to protect the health of staff and pupils while promoting the educational and developmental needs of the children in the school. In line with the Return to Work Safely Protocol, the key to a safe and continued return to work, and re-opening of our schools requires strong communication and a shared collaborative approach between the Board of management, staff, students and parents.

Student Wellbeing

We are looking forward to welcoming students back and helping them re-engage with learning in school. Many will feel excited, relieved and happy. Some may feel a little anxious and worried about getting back. That is to be expected and it is a normal response at a time of transition and change. Most students will settle in over time as they reconnect with friends and get used to the new school safety routines. Supporting a successful transition back to what will be our new normal is best achieved by prioritising and supporting the wellbeing of our students from support from Student Support Team (SST), Special Educational Needs Team (SEN), Career Guidance, Year Heads, Tutors, management and staff.

It will be helped by fostering resilience using five key principles:

  1. promoting a sense of safety – so that students feel that they are safe, and that those around them are safe
  2. promoting a sense of calm – so that students feel relaxed, composed, and grounded (regulated)
  3. promoting a sense of belonging and connectedness – so that students feel welcome and experience meaningful relationships with friends and staff, who understand and support them
  4. promoting a sense of self-efficacy– so that students believe that they can manage the transition back to school
  5. promoting a sense of hope – so that students believe and trust that things will work out well on their return to school.

Measures and Operational Changes Implemented in School

The measures set out in the Public Health Advice are based on two general recommendations:

  • Minimising the risk of introduction of COVID-19 into the school community
  • Managing the risk of spread if introduced through:
    1. Regular hand hygiene
    2. Maintaining physical distancing
    3. The use of face masks in school
    4. Enhanced cleaning regimes within our school
    5. Application of respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette

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Minimising the Risk

In terms of minimising the risk of introduction of COVID-19 into the school community, it is critical that people stay at home if unwell. Failure to do so puts the school community at risk. Nobody should go to school if they are unwell or any members of their household are unwell with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 it is important to know and recognise the symptoms.

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They are:

  • High temperature
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • Loss of smell, of taste or distortion of taste
  1. If students have any or all of the above symptoms, they should not attend school, parents/guardians should phone their doctor and follow HSE guidance and it is vital the school is notified of the outcome.
  2. Students should not attend school if they have been identified by the HSE as contact for a person with COVID-19 and follow the HSE advice on restriction of movement. Again, it is imperative that the school is notified.
  3. If students develop symptoms at school this must be brought to the attention of a teacher promptly. The student will be isolated and parents/guardians will be contacted. If for any reason the parent/guardian cannot collect the student an additional contact must be supplied.
  4. Every student entering the school building must perform hand hygiene with a hand sanitiser at one of the main entrances and continue to wash hands and sanitise during the day. Hand sanitisers will be available, but we strongly encourage students to carry their own hand sanitiser also.

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  1. Physical distancing will be maintained. Ideally a physical distance of 2 meters should be maintained where possible e.g. outside classrooms, in courtyard and at break/lunch times. Students will be distanced 1m apart in classrooms and face masks must be worn.
  2. The wearing of a face mask to protect and respect each other is compulsory. All students must supply their own masks. Disposable masks are acceptable but we recommend the use of reusable masks which should be washed daily. Face masks must not display any offensive/inappropriate images or wording. Face masks are compulsory in all classes, failure to do so is a severe breach of our COVID-19 control measures and will result in the student being removed and parents/guardians contacted.
  3. Students returning from abroad 2 weeks in advance of returning to school must contact the Principal in the first instance and follow HSE advice on the COVID-19 Green list.

New Measures

  • Class spaces have been reconfigured and utilised to maximise physical distancing.
  • All year groups have been allocated a base room(s) in the school.
  • Allocated seating arrangements will be in place.
  • Students will be based in the same classroom as much as possible. Where a student is required to move from the base classroom to another room, the student must employ our “Clean In, Clean Out” strategy. This strategy entails each student cleaning down the desk they are vacating and cleaning the desk they are moving to. Cleaning materials will be provided by the teacher.
  • All classrooms have been measured and single desks have been placed 1 meter apart as per the Framework to Maintain Physical Distancing in the Classroom in Post Primary Schools.
  • All unnecessary cabinets, furniture etc. have been removed to maximise space in the classroom.
  • Rooms have been allocated based on available space with larger classes based in the largest rooms.
  • Physical distancing between the teacher and class will be observed.
  • Ventilation of rooms will also be a key consideration when students are in classrooms and students may wear jackets in classrooms under the direction of the individual classroom teacher once it does not impact on the teaching and learning environment.
  • Students will be expected to wear their full school uniform at all times, except when taking part in PE classes. We would urge students to remove their uniform immediately on their return home from school and it is kept clean at all times.
  • Students will be responsible for their own property i.e. lunchboxes, drinks bottles, pencil cases, books, etc. It is important to emphasise that sharing of items is not permissible and ensure that lunch boxes and drinks bottles are washed and sanitised every day for use in school the following day.
  • Students will have to bring their own water to school and no longer will water be given to students from the staff room. Bottles can also be purchased from the vending machines.
  • For students eating lunch in school, guidance and instructions will be provided.
  • For students going down to the village during lunchtime we expect that social distancing will be respected while off site. Permission may not be granted to a student to leave the school grounds if health guidelines have not been followed while they have been off site.
  • There is a strict one-way system in operation for movement around the school.
  • There will be no lockers available while the current health guidelines are in place.
  • Deliberately coughing and sneezing on another student/staff member is a breach of COVID-19 policy. Disciplinary action will be taken.
  • Meetings between a parent/guardian of a student with the Principal, Deputy Principal or staff member will be restricted to essential purposes and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the Principal. All visits to the school by parents must be by prior appointment. Please contact the school at or (057) 864 8044. All visitors to the school must sign in for contact tracing, wear a face mask and sanitise on entry into the school.

Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19

Students should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. The following is an outline how the school will deal with a suspected case that may arise in the school setting:

  1. A designated isolation area will be identified within the school building.
  2. If a student displays symptoms of COVID-19 while at school the parents/guardians will be contacted immediately. If for any reason the parent/guardian cannot collect the student an additional contact must be supplied.
  3. There is a procedure in place that the student will be accompanied to the designated isolation area via the isolation route, keeping at least 2m away from the symptomatic person and also making sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2m from the symptomatic person at all times in a dignified manner.
  4. The student will wait in the isolation area until his/her parents/guardians arrive to take them home and who will then call their doctor. The parent/guardian must notify the school of the outcome as soon as possible. If symptoms are severe the school will notify the parents/guardians and will phone 999 or 112 and inform the services that the sick person is a Covid-19 suspect.
  5. An assessment of the incident will be carried out and appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved will be carried out as soon as is practically possible.
  6. The HSE will inform any staff/parents who have come into close contact with a diagnosed case via the contact tracing process. The HSE will contact all relevant persons where a diagnosis of COVID-19 is made. The instructions of the HSE should be followed and staff and student confidentiality is essential at all times.

It is also envisaged that further guidance will be issued later this week (week of 24/08/2020) on the protocols that will underpin the arrangements for dealing with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Supporting Students ‘at very high risk’ to COVID-19

There may be some students for whom the return to school may not be appropriate because the relevant public health guidelines indicate they are at “very high risk”. Please contact the school via email to report any medical conditions that could place your child in the ‘very high risk’ category before the commencement of the school year. Regular and ongoing communication between school and home will be essential to support the student’s engagement with their learning and their continuous connection with their classmates and school community.

Supporting Teaching and Learning in the Home where there is Localised School Closure

In circumstances where there is clear public health advice from HSE Public Health that the school should close, there will be a system in place to engage with students daily i.e. School Wise and/or Office 365. Where possible, arrangements will be made to support students who do not have access to digital technology. The best use of digital technologies will be made to allow continued engagement with students and their learning.

Please be advised that this is a living document and may be subject to change.

APPENDIX 1 COVID -19 Policy Statement

Clonaslee College is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our staff and a safe learning environment for all our students. To ensure that, we have developed the following COVID-19 Response Plan. The BOM/LOETB and all school staff are responsible for the implementation of this plan and a combined effort will help contain the spread of the virus. We will:

  • continue to monitor our COVID-19 response and amend this plan in consultation with our staff
  • provide up to date information to our staff and students on the Public Health advice issued by the HSE and
  • display information on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and correct hand-washing techniques
  • agree with staff, a worker representative who is easily identifiable to carry out the role outlined in this plan in relation to summer provision
  • inform all staff and students of essential hygiene and respiratory etiquette and physical distancing requirements
  • adapt the school to facilitate physical distancing as appropriate in line with the public health guidance and direction of the Department of Education
  • keep a contact log to help with contact tracing
  • ensure staff and students engage with the induction / familiarisation briefing provided by the Department of Education
  • implement the agreed procedures to be followed in the event of someone showing symptoms of COVID-19 while at school
  • provide instructions for staff and students to follow if they develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during school time
  • implement cleaning in line with Department of Education advice

All school staff will be consulted on an ongoing basis and feedback is encouraged on any concerns, issues or suggestions.

This can be done through the Lead Worker Representative(s), who will be supported in line with the agreement between the Department and education partners.

Signed: ____________________ Date: _____________________

Acting Principal

Signed: ____________________ Date: _____________________


APPENDIX 2 Update 25/08/2020

The Government website has been updated with new materials for parents and for students.

These are designed to be age-appropriate and have been developed in consultation with children and young people and parents.

The Minister has asked the important information from the Department and the HSE with regard to returning to school is shared with all parents. Links to each of these are below:

  • Video for parents with key information on supporting children to return to school available here and here
  • Fliers for parents –are also available for download here. The HSE has prepared material on recognising symptoms, which complements the material from the Department on returning to school. This is available here Much of this is summarised in the parent and student presentation but should be read also,
  • Age-appropriate videos for children and young people at different stages. Videos for post-primary students are available here
  • Resources in a wide range of languages. Many schools will enjoy a huge diversity among their student and parent community. To support these parents, we have translated guidance for parents at

The Covid-19 World Service project has also consulted with the Department and has used our key messages to produce a range of videos in a variety of languages which your school community may find helpful – please see more at

It is also envisaged that further guidance will be issued later this week on the protocols that will underpin the arrangements for dealing with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

And we will post these when they arrive to the school.

Ultimately, the key message is that where there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 amongst school staff or pupils, schools will be required to follow the public health instruction of the HSE Public Health.

The re-opening of schools will require everyone to adjust and get used to new arrangements and routines. This change of culture will not happen overnight and will take a bit of time in the initial re-opening period to get fully established and embedded into the daily operation of our school.

We look forward to welcoming our students and staff back later this week and next week.

Clonaslee College,
Co. Laois,

057 864 8044

© 2021 Clonaslee College