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St Francis’ Primary School

Bunscoil Naomh Proinsias

Principal: Miss O O'Dowd

Back to School August 2020

14th August


Dear Parents/Guardians,

We are now in a position to share with you, Schools Guidance on Re-Opening, which we received yesterday from the Minister of Education Peter Weir.

Please be advised that the “journey back to normality” for the education system will not be one where schools operate on a “business as usual” basis from the beginning of term.


Induction week: Children will attend school 2 prearranged days from 9-12 noon.

St Francis’ PS will re-open week beginning 24th August and in that first week we will keep to our half class return as previously communicated.  We will remind you by text next week the days your son/daughter/children should attend that week.

As we reopen the school our induction process will focus on the pastoral needs of our pupils, their health and wellbeing, reconnecting with school, helping them settle back into the new school day and the changes to their learning environment. This will allow us to assess the specific needs of our children in developing a recovery curriculum.

During these two days, staff will also reinforce Public Health (PH) advice regarding hand washing, avoiding touching eyes, face, nose or mouth, coughing etiquette which requires coughing into the elbow, and social distancing (2 metres from adults and 1 metre from peers where possible). Staff will also ensure that pupils become familiar with new classroom layouts, the new one-way system in corridors and the introduction of the ‘class bubble’ concept;  each class will operate as its distinct bubble as much as possible and there will be minimal interaction between bubbles. Classes may at times operate as a year group bubble.

School meals are not available in Induction Week.  Children should bring a healthy snack and water bottle.

Full school uniform should be worn, and DE would suggest that children wear a clean uniform every day. We will allow flexibility around the wearing of uniform and school PE t-shirts with dark track bottoms can be worn on alternate days.

School Bags are not to be brought to school as per DE Guidance to reduce the potential spread of Covid-19

September 1st (School closed Monday 31st August)

School will continue for all pupils on Tuesday 1st September, and as per the guidance, staggered arrival and pick up times will be introduced to limit interactions and avoid gatherings at the school gates.  We have 3 gates to the school and your child will be allocated a specific gate and time to begin and end the school day and this will be communicated to you next week. We strongly advise that children in classes from Primary 4/Rang 4 to Primary 7/Rang 7 come onto the school site without an adult and proceed directly to their classroom at their allocated time. Children in classes Primary 1/Rang 1 to Primary 3/Rang 3 will be allocated a specific zone in the school grounds where they can wait to be collected by their teacher/ classroom assistant. While waiting for collection, social distancing should be observed. Parents will not be allowed to enter the school building at arrival/collection times. Parents/ carers should always adhere to 2 metre social distancing.


As per Department of Education (DE) advice, those arriving by car will be encouraged to park further away from the school and then walk with their children (‘park and stride’) to avoid congestion. (Fr Wright has kindly given parents permission to park in St Paul’s car park which is a 3-minute walk to the school gate) Car sharing with children of other households should be avoided. Parents will NOT be able to park cars on the school grounds. We will provide a Drop Off – Turning Circle for the morning run within the front playground but there will be strictly no parking in this area.


Lunch & Dinners

Those children bringing a lunch to school must bring it in a hard plastic lunch box (which can be wiped) and a water bottle. Please ensure that everything in the lunch box is accessible to your child without assistance. As previously stated, school dinners will be available from 1st September and will be provided in the canteen but ONLY for those children who are eligible for Free School Meals. Dinners should be ordered, as usual, on the school money app. Break and lunch times will be staggered to ensure minimal interactions outside of class bubbles.


Throughout the school day we will have a team of cleaning staff to frequently clean toilets, surfaces, desks, handles etc.

Our Early Bird Club and After School clubs will not be provided in September. We will keep this situation under review as we know how vital these services are to our families.

Our school’s Pupil Behaviour Policy will be reviewed to ensure that it covers COVID-19 related incidents. The policy will be used as a means to prevent flagrant abuse of the COVID -19 risks and will 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 and deliberately cough or spit at pupils or staff, putting them at risk. This is direct advice from the Department of Education to ensure pupil and staff safety.

As part of our commitment to keeping St. Francis’ PS as safe as we can, we are asking each child and parent/guardian to complete a COVID-19 Home School Agreement which will be given out on Induction Week. Please read through it carefully, discuss with your child(ren) and return signed.  Children from P.3 upwards are expected to sign it. It is imperative that we hold up to date contact numbers for all children. A data collection form will also be given home with each child on Induction day and again must be returned by 1st Sept.


Following DE guidance on Home to School Transport, busses should only be used where there is no alternative available.  All pupils should therefore seek to use alternative methods of travel. Please note it is mandatory for all pupils to wear a face covering on public transport.


Covid-19 Symptoms

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 must follow the Public Health Agency (PHA) guidance ‘COVID-19: Information for the Public’. This includes:

  • parents ensuring that their child does not travel to or attend school if they or a member of their household has symptoms.
  • If a child or young person develops symptoms whilst at school, he/she should be collected by their parents and must not travel home using school transport or public transport.
  • Parents should ensure their child knows that if they become aware of COVID-19 symptoms while on board a vehicle, they should inform both the transport driver and school staff immediately upon arrival at school.

It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that all children and young people travelling to school clean their hands before they leave their home. Where transport providers have made hand sanitiser available on board a vehicle, all pupils should use it upon entering a vehicle, when arriving at school and again when leaving school, boarding a vehicle and arriving home.


Parents should ensure that their children carry tissues on home to school transport and that their children are aware of the need to follow the PHA’s “Catch it, bin it, kill it” messages.

In order to reduce the potential risks associated with pupils sharing food or drinks on board a school transport vehicle, no pupil should eat or drink on board unless it is for a medical reason.


Pupil attendance

Please note below the following advice from DE in relation to attendance. Should any apply to your child/family member please contact Miss Rice to discuss.


Pupils Who Live with Someone Who is Clinically Vulnerable

If a child or young person lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable, including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting. If in doubt, advice should be sought from the Hospital Consultant or GP of the clinically vulnerable person.


Pupils Who Were Shielding (clinically extremely vulnerable people)

Advice with regard to shielding eased over time and as of 1 August 2020 ‘shielding’ has been paused. Pupils should follow the guidance of their hospital consultant or GP if in doubt about school attendance.


Pupils Who Are Living with Someone Who Was Shielding

Pupils who have household members who were considered clinically extremely vulnerable (at high risk of severe illness and requiring 'shielding'). These restrictions eased over time and from 1 August 2020 ‘shielding’ has been paused. Such children should have an individual risk assessment conducted before the most appropriate place of care is determined.


We are mindful that the information above is extensive, however, we are committed to ensuring that the school return for all children is a safe and positive experience and we will do everything possible in these challenging circumstances. We will be in contact next week to provide you with details about start/finishing times, entry/exit gates and zones to leave/collect children in school grounds.


Thank you for your continued support and co-operation and enjoy the final days of summer.


Yours sincerely

Orla O’Dowd