COVID-19 Guidance for re-opening schools

Bekan School COVID-19 Policy Document

Underlying Principles

• Bekan N.S. has a responsibility to make effort to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of all members of our school community — children, parents and staff. This plan has been formulated to better ensure that the school can exercise our duty of care and to ensure that school can reopen safely for all pupils.
• The current advice from the Department of Education is that all children return to school for all five days of the school week and for a full school day. This plan has been formulated to achieve that aim.
• It is not possible to eliminate the risk of infection. However, with the cooperation of all members of our school community, it is possible to minimise the risk of the virus being introduced to school and the consequent risk of its spread.
• As well as co-operation, the flexibility and goodwill of all will be required to ensure
the plan can be implemented.


• All children return to school and classes will operate within a bubble. In classes 3rd – 6th each bubble has a number of pods of 4-6 children with the aim of socially distancing of 1m between pods. Pods will be distinguished by letter.(e.g. Pod A/B/C). Pods may be revised between terms where a period of two weeks or more has lapsed.
• Breaks and lunch will be staggered and will operate with protocols around no crossmixing of bubbles. Each bubble will have a dedicated yard space and will be unable to mix with children outside this group.
• The day will include as normal with a 10 minute morning break 30 minute lunch
• Hand sanitiser will be available at the main entry points of the school with child friendly hand sanitiser stations in all class and support rooms.

Increasing Separation. This will be achieved by re-configuring the classrooms to maximise
physical distancing. Each class will be referred to as a bubble and we will ensure that there is
as little contact as possible between children in different bubbles. Within the 3rd – 6th class
bubbles, children will be organised into pods. A pod is a group of children (normally 6) who
will sit together and who will stay in their pod while in the bubble, or classroom.

Decreasing Interaction. This will be achieved by decreasing the potential for children from
different bubbles to interact. There will be marked routes for various bubbles to enter and
exit the school and to access their classrooms. Bubbles will have different mid-morning and
lunch-time access to the playground. We will make these routines enjoyable activities for
the children, emphasizing safety at all times. This is the proposed timetable for staggered
breaks and we will review it again at the end of September.

Class Small Break Lunch Break
Ms. O’Brien 11:00-11:10 12:45-1:15
Mr. Reilly/Ms. McGing 11:20-11:30 1:20-1:50
Ms. McNeive 11:00-11:10 12:45-1:15
Ms. Kennedy 11:20-11:30 1:20-1:50
Ms. Byrne 11:20-11:30 1:20-1:50
Ms. Lyons 11:00-11:10 12:45-1:15

Learning Support

In keeping with our Special Education policy, learning support will be provided by a blended
approach of in-class support and withdrawal. The provision of support will be organised to
ensure our support teachers will work within the confines of a bubble where possible rota
will be in place for Special Education Teachers who cover for class teacher absences so that
equity and fairness is applied to all children who need special educational support.

• Where a support teacher is working alongside a class teacher in a classroom, both
teachers must be mindful of maintaining social distance from one another.
• Where children receive support in one of the SET rooms, social distancing of 1 metre
will be maintained between each child in the group.

Entry of Non-school Staff on Premises to be by Appointment Only

Unfortunately, no adults other than staff members can enter the building unless you have
an appointment with a staff member. Appointments can be made through the school
office. Staff will need to find a suitable place for meetings and need time to sanitise
beforehand so your cooperation on this matter is appreciated.

It is imperative that
• adults do not come within 2m of each other
• parents do not try to have meetings with members of staff in the playground at drop-off and collection times – meetings between parents and teachers can only take place by prior arrangement.(This may have to be more restrictive depending on guidance – it is quite possible that the recommendation will be for remote meetings/telephonic communications.)
• all parents adhere to the drop-off and collection plans as outlined below

Drop-off Plan
The school will be open between 9:20 and 9:30 to receive pupils. We will open the wide
gates to facilitate easy and safe access to the yard. Pupils will go straight to their classroom
(no gathering will be permitted on the yard) and their teacher will be in the classroom to
ensure safety measures such as hand washing and sanitizing are carried out before they go
to their desk. Mrs. Kennedy’s Class will now enter and leave the building via the back door.
There will be staff present on the yard to ensure safe entrance.

Collection Plan
Junior Infants and Senior Infants will finish at 2:10. Parents will need to stay 2m apart when
collecting children at the school. We will stagger dismissal between 3:05 and 3:10 so that
pupils can leave the school safely.

Pupils will be assigned seats on the buses. Siblings will sit beside each other in the first instance. After that children will only sit beside another child from their class bubble.

Collection of Children during the School Day
If an adult has to collect a child during the course of the school day, the following
arrangements will apply:
• When the adult arrives at the school, they should either phone the office or use the
intercom at the front door of the school to alert the office that they have arrived. A
staff member will come out and arrange to get your child
• The adult who is collecting will be asked to sign the child out
No adult should enter the school building, unless invited to do so

Illness and Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19

• Parents/guardians must keep children at home if they display any Covid-19 Symptoms. Please see
• Staff must not attend school if they display any symptoms.
• A designated isolation area has been identified.
• If a staff member/pupil displays symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, the following procedure will be implemented:

o The pupil/staff member will be accompanied to the isolation area. A distance of 2 metres will be maintained. If this is not possible, the person accompanying the child must wear a face covering.
o If a pupil has a suspected case, parents/guardians will be contacted immediately by telephone. To help us in this regard, Parents are asked to make sure that their contact details are kept up to date at all times.
o Staff members who are symptomatic should immediately inform the Principal/Deputy Principal and go to the isolation area.
o A face covering will be provided to the staff member/child who is symptomatic.
o The staff member or child who is symptomatic should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects.
o If the staff member/child is well enough to go home, arrangements will be made for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible.
o Anyone who is symptomatic is advised to inform their general practitioner immediately by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used to travel home.
o If the staff member/child is too unwell to go home or advice is required, the school will contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick person is a Covid-19 suspected case.
o The isolation area and work areas will be thoroughly cleaned in line with the guidelines.
o 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 pupil confidentiality is essential at all times.
o It is important to remember than any of us can get sick or unwell, and if we do, we need understanding and support from those around us. It is essential that anyone who fee/s unwell makes that known to the Principal/Deputy Principal as soon as possible.


If your child is in one of the following categories, they should not attend school:
• Children who have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Children who have been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed withCovid-19
• Children who have a suspected case of Covid-19 and the outcome of the test is pending
• Children who have been in contact with a person who has a suspected case of Covid19 and the outcome of the test is pending
• Children with underlying health conditions who have been directed by a medical practitioner not to attend school
• Children who have returned home having been abroad, who have not completed 14 days self-isolation
• Children who are generally unwell

Supporting learning of Children who cannot attend school
If a child is not able to attend school for an extended period of time, the class teacher
(and/or the support teacher, where relevant) will provide suggested activities to support the
child’s learning at home.

Impact of a Suspected or Confirmed Case of Covid-19 in a Class

If the school is notified that a person in your child’s class has a suspected or confirmed case
of Covid-19:
• The parents of all children in the class will be notified
• Public health advice will be sought and followed

Personal Equipment

• It is requested that all children from Junior infants to 6th Class will bring their own
pens, pencils, colours, rubbers, etc., to school in their own pencil case to avoid the
sharing of equipment. No sharing of school supplies is allowed.
• Each child will have a pencil case for school and this remains in school.
• It is further requested that all items have the child’s name on them for ease of

Shared Equipment

By necessity, some classroom equipment needs to be shared including tablets, laptops and
the equipment used for structured activities and play in Infant classrooms. Cleaning of such
shared equipment with wipes or other cleaning products will take place at regular intervals
to minimise the risk of the spread of infection.

Handwashing and sanitisation

• Children will hand wash on being to the toilet and before the eating of food. They
will also sanitise at regular intervals
• Children will sanitise before and after play.
• The tables and chairs in SET rooms will be wiped clean in between different groups


• Staff are required to wear face coverings. Staff who are attending to particular care
needs or who are administering first aid will wear appropriate PPE including gloves
and face masks.
• No sharing of PPE is permitted.

Staff Room

• Physical distancing in the staffroom is required.
• Staff to sanitise before entry.
• Staff must place their own utensils/crockery into dishwasher after each use.

Teacher Absence and Substitution

In the event that a teacher is unable to attend school, every effort will be made to secure a
substitute teacher for the class. If a substitute teacher is not available, it is not appropriate
for the class to be divided into groups and accommodated in other classes. In such
circumstances, a special education teacher will cover the class . In extreme cases where it
may not be possible to secure a teacher for that day it may not be possible for the class to
attend on that day. If this is the case, as much notice as possible will be given to parents.
This will depend on the number of substitute teachers available and the number of staff that
may be ill on any particular day.


There will be no yard on a wet day. Children will remain within their respective
pods/bubbles (They will be provided with games for their pods such as
chess/draughts/cards etc.)


Signage will be on display throughout the school suggesting social distancing and safety

Temperature checks

Children will not have their temperature taken as a matter of course. However, in case
where COVID-19 is suspected the school has a number of infra-red thermometers that may
be used to check temperature when a child feels ill. This will inform management as to the
need for isolation and further action to be taken. Staff will take their own temperature each
morning before the commencement of the school day. This will be recorded in a designated

Other Suggestions

• Teachers can bring class on Daily Mile as they wish.
• Teachers may suggest to parents/children to wear another layer of clothing as rooms
will be ventilated during breaks. Heat will be timed appropriately.

School Cleaning

The school will have a special COVID cleaning arrangement. This will be carried out daily
after each school day. All door handles and surfaces will be cleaned each evening.

Updates adopted on 25th February 2021

Procedure for Returning to School

Parents will be requested to complete a declaration form stating that to the best of their
knowledge their child is not unwell or displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.

Procedure for Returning to Work (RTW)

A RTW form should be completed and returned to the school before returning to work.
Bekan School will request staff (verbally or in writing) to confirm that the details in the prereturn to work form remain unchanged following subsequent periods of closure such as
school holidays.

Infection Prevention Control Measures – To prevent Introduction and Spread of COVID-19
in Schools

1. Staff and pupils to self-isolate or restrict their movements at home if they display
any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and contact their family doctor to arrange a test
2. Staff and pupils not to return to or attend school in the event of the following:
• if they are identified by the HSE as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19
• if they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus
• If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff are advised to consult and follow latest Government advice in relation to foreign travel.
3. Staff and pupils to cooperate with any public health officials and the school for
contact tracing purposes and follow any public health advice in the event of a case or
outbreak in the school;

Hand Hygiene

Pupils must have access to hand washing facilities after activities that are likely to soil
hands, for example playing outside or certain sporting activities as hand sanitiser does not
work on dirty hands

Alcohol-based sanitiser must not be stored or used near heat or naked flame


Windows should be open as fully as possible when classrooms are not in use (e.g. during
break-times or lunch-times (assuming not in use) and also at the end of each school day)
and partially open when classrooms are in use. The guidance provides that good ventilation
can be achieved in classrooms without causing discomfort, particularly during cold weather

Use of PPE in Schools

Medical Grade Masks Bekan School will provide medical grade masks in the EN16483
category to all SNAs and teachers in the school and to those staff by necessity that need to
be in close and continued proximity with pupils with intimate care needs including School
Bus Escorts

Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19

School staff are encouraged to download the HSE COVID-19 tracker app to assist Public
Health for contract tracing purposes both in and out of the school setting

Staff Duties

Staff must not return to or attend school in the event of the following:
• if they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus
• If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff are advised to consult
and follow latest Government advice in relation to foreign travel.

•Staff must cooperate with any public health personnel and their school for contact tracing
purposes and follow any public health advice given in the event of a case or outbreak in
their school
• Staff must undergo any COVID-19 testing that may be required in their school as part of
mass or serial testing as advised by Public Health