Letter (13) 07052020

Dear Parents                                                    Issue: 13                                                         May 7th 2020

Principal’s Address:

We hope you are all remaining healthy and safe in these strange times. It is hard to believe it is now almost 8 weeks since we had to close the school – within this time we have missed out on almost 30 school days, our sacrament celebrations of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion and many more events we had scheduled for our last term.

The staff miss each and every student and their colleagues every day. It is amazing how this situation has made us reflect on the fact that school is so much more than a place of learning.  It is a vibrant, social, caring and fun place with so much human interaction each day. We miss it and we miss every person that makes our school what it is!

At this stage, we really want to reassure parents that you are doing enough for your child – please don’t worry about your child in the academic sense. Our teachers will re-engage with the students once we re-open. The current plan is that this will be in September as per the government roadmap you were all recently emailed. This re-opening will be different to all other re-openings after a summer but how exactly it will be different we are not quite sure yet. While we await public health and Department of Education guidelines nearer the time for official direction, I feel it would be remiss of Management not to be considering right now what September 2020 might really look like. Discussions of this nature are taking place and as soon as I am in a position to share anything concrete with you I will. What I can say with certainty is that we will work from where your child is at when they return – don’t feel under pressure to have them at a certain level, we know our job, we are professionals and we will work with the children at the stage they are at when they return to school. We are planning around this also.

There will be no standardised tests this year. End of year report cards will be completed in June, as normal, but will be available on Aladdin Connect instead of being sent in the post.

Every student and every school is in the same position with all of this – the main thing is that we are healthy and safe, no child will learn if they are anxious or overwhelmed and they too are living through a lot of uncertainty at the moment so we need to reassure them and ensure they are feeling happy and safe.

For any parent of a student in 6th class – you are in our thoughts. This is not the way we envisaged this stage of primary school coming to an end for your child. We know they are feeling a lot of loss at this time with regard to their JEP Programme, school tour, 6th class tour, cycling training, internet safety talk, graduation mass, sports day and the many sporting fixtures that 6th class get to partake in each year. It is hard for them to accept, as these are events the classes look forward to up along the school, the best part of being in 6th and we feel for each of them. We’re discussing in detail how we could possibly hold some of these events in alternative ways or/and at different times at the moment!! We will definitely work something out! What exactly these arrangements are is impossible for me to say at this point. Details will however be circulated very soon! We couldn’t have our 6th class pupils leave without doing all we could in this regard!

We also think about our graduating 1st class boys. We were looking forward to spending the last number of weeks with them and celebrating their graduation mass. Regarding the latter, plans are being discussed to come up with an alternative plan! Unlike our 6th class graduating girls, it comforts us to know that this is not the end of the primary school experience for our 1st class boys. They have many years of tours, sport and enjoyment ahead of them in the Boys school. We wish them the very best of luck in their transition and we were privileged to have played a part in their formation.

The secondary schools have reached out and are liaising with our staff to ensure the transition between the primary and the secondary school will happen as normal as possible this year. They too are at pains to point out that they will be taking into account the closures when they take in their cohort of 1st years. We will be in contact with parents of 6th class pupils shortly with regard to paperwork required by the secondary schools. Mrs Monson will also be looking for your consent to share information in relation to your child with the secondary schools. This welcomed sharing of information between schools is imperative so as to ensure a smooth and accommodating transition to your child’s new environment. It’s a massive change for pupils every year but one we know that all our girls will be more than capable of. We’ve every confidence in them despite the broken year we’ve all had.

Even though we are not physically in the building, both the schoolwork for students and the administration work of the school is still taking place. In fact it is busier than ever as C-19 has forced us to change and come up with new ways of doing the most simple of things. Staff like you all at home are trying to work remotely while at the same time trying to organize and mind their own young children in some cases.

Teachers are not the only ones doing a fantastic job, you the parents have been brilliant during this very challenging time also. The way you’ve prioritised your children’s education while trying to juggle working commitments and possible care of ageing parents deserves a special mention. Doing all this while adhering to social distancing rules and restrictions to movement has layered the difficulty levels enormously for you. You’ve been simply amazing throughout this whole crisis also.

It’s challenging but I know we’ll all get there. Crises never last forever and there will be many silver linings when this is all over i.e. more grateful for the simple things, more IT savvy etc. The staff have had virtual meetings/collaborations and the Board of Management have been a fantastic support.

Staff are also being facilitated to video conferencing their pupils over the coming days and weeks! The 1st zoom conference call by a teacher to their pupils is taking place today! Virtual class-rooming! History in the making for SCN! Check your inbox regularly and connect with your class teacher for clarifications!

The BOM recently prepared our new Admissions Policy. Many thanks for the feedback received. As soon as it’s approved by the patron it will be ratified and adopted by the BOM.

In the roadmap issued by the government, we were delighted to see that staff will be allowed access to the school building from May 18th for ‘… teachers for organisation and distribution of remote learning.’ This will hugely support staff. Parents will also like to know that you can now contact the school either by phone or email should you wish to collect outstanding schools books etc for your child. I’ve made arrangements to accommodate all such requests. Many thanks to Eithne for making this new arrangement possible.

The school has been deep-cleaned since the closure and Hand Sanitisers have also been ordered and will be in place so that we are prepared when we get the green-light to re-open the school.

As the Department of Education and Skills have requested, continuity of learning continues to take place – please find the daily Aladdin communication from your child’s teacher. Please see this as a menu of options that you can work on as suits your family situation at present. We understand that with the broadest definition of learning in the home, this will be by no means the only learning that takes place. If your child is overwhelmed, pick and choose from the work and find what works best for your child – link in with the class teachers and they will guide you with this.

Most importantly, stay safe and well.

We look forward to seeing you all again and I’ll be in touch soon.

Tabhairigí aire,

Fergal Naughton

PS: “People will have to get used to a “new normal” in behaviours as society comes to terms with Covid-19 in the long term,” chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned. “Society will have to develop new behaviours, that are not part of how we used to do things”, he told the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) briefing recently. “It will become “socially unacceptable” for people to go to work or school with cold or flu symptoms,” he said. “The message will be, almost like smoking in company, this is something we don’t do anymore. We have to get used to a new normal.”

While there’s some certainty now in relation to when we return to school there has been no government communication at all in relation to what this return to school will look like or how it will be attained. The recently published state roadmap falls very short on specifics on these points. It’s my understanding that guidelines re these specifics will issue as soon as the public health picture becomes clearer nearer to September. 

Aladdin Connect:

  • Sincere thanks to all parents for engaging with the school via the platform of Aladdin Connect. The teachers and I are delighted with how the process is working.
  • Please check the Aladdin app for SCN communications, as this is how texts are now being received by everybody.

Parent Feedback:

  • We are entirely grateful for the 215 responses made to the on-line survey (and counting)!! It has been very informative and we will be taking on board what you went to the trouble to communicate. It is already helping to guide us through the unchartered territory we find ourselves in. Staff were also hugely encouraged and are most grateful for the appreciation/compliments you have expressed via the survey.
  • You can see the summary of all results in the attached document.

Staying Connected:

  • Please follow us on Twitter at @chroinaofa to keep up-to-date with news, information and tips for parents during this school closure. We are also tweeting some of the many wonderful things the children of SCN are getting up to during this closure. Many thanks to those of you who have made contributions to date. Our Twitter page has a link to our school website also (www.scoilchroinaofaathenry.ie), where you can log on to our school blog.
  • The School Blog continues to be active during this closure. Please send any news item you would like featured to Mrs Cronin at [email protected]. We love to see what the children of SCN are getting up to and escpecially to share our news with our school community. It’s our way of staying in touch
  • Please visit our Covid 19 Resources Hub in the Parent Hub on the SCN website to access information, advice and recommended resources including useful Padlets for all curricular areas and one specifically for Irish. It is updated regularly so check in regularly to be fully informed. If you have anything you would like to add to it, please email Mrs Cronin at the above email address.
  • Special Education Teachers are connecting with their pupils using Aladdin Connect and e-mail.
  • SNAs are awaiting Departmental guidelines with a view to staying in touch with their pupils at this time. This is a very welcomed development. Details should issue very soon.
  • Some devices are being purchased for a Scoil Chroí Naofa device loan scheme at this time to support families who may have a need in this way!!  Details of the school scheme will issue very soon

First Confession & First Communion:

  • The girls in 2nd class were due to make their First Communion at the end of May. A date had not yet been scheduled for the First Confession before the school closure, but it should have happened April / May of this year. Trish Farrell (co-ordinator of the Do This In Memory programme) has been in touch with Fr Benny to see what will happen this year, given all the current restrictions. Fr Benny confirmed that he is in touch with the diocese about this and will let us know as soon as a decision has been made. The diocese are monitoring the on-going developments and will follow the guidelines set out by the government in relation to public health.
  • Miss O’Byrne and I will be making a video-conference call on the morning the communion was to happen with the pupils!! Miss O’Byrne will be in touch with the details!

School Year 2020 / 2021:

  • Parents are asked to voice any points they have in relation to class splits / organisation in respect of their child(ren) for the 2020 / 2021 school year as soon as possible and not later than 14/05/2020. Please do so by email to the school only. While points raised will be given consideration, no promises can ever be given in relation to requests made. Parents are to note that every child in SCN will have to be placed in a split class setting at least once in their primary school cycle. This is true of most primary schools in the West of Ireland. The teachers have not been assigned to their new classes yet. You will be notified of same in due course.
  • Class allocations, Booklists, Book Rental and Classroom set ups etc are all being worked on at the moment, details will issue in good time.

Is mise le meas

Fergal Naughton      

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