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Timahoe National School, Timahoe, Portlaoise

Reopening of Schools

    Information on the Return to school – August 2021
     Underlying Principles

  • The school has a responsibility to make effort to ensure the safety, health and well-being of all members of the school community – children, parents and staff. This plan has been formulated to better ensure that the school can exercise that duty of care.
  • Assuming it is in keeping with public health advice and guidelines issued by the Department of Education and Skills, it is preferable for all children to 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 co-operation of all members of our school community, it is possible to minimise the risk of the virus being introduced to school and the consequential 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.

Key points each day:

  • All children return to school and classes operate within a bubble system.
  • Each class group will be its own bubble.
  • Class bubbles will not mix during break/lunch time. Each bubble will have its own designated play area.
  • Classes will use their own entry/exit points to the school, as outlined below.
  • Social distancing, cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene and hand washing are to be observed.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at all entry points and in all class and support rooms.
  • All children will sanitise entering the classroom which will be supervised by the teacher.

   Morning Drop-Off                      

  • Morning Drop-off will begin at 8.45am for Classes Senior Infants - 6th
  • All children from Senior Infants - 6th class will go directly to their own classroom each morning where they will be supervised by their Teacher.

Social distancing between family groups walking up the path will be required.
Parents asked to ‘drop and go’
All classes will have their own entry/exit door as per colour coded maps.

  • Senior Infants to use their classroom Fire Exit Door
  • 1st to use their classroom Fire Exit door
  • 2nd/3rd to use their classroom Fire Exit door
  • 4th class to use the main front door
  • 5th class to use the GP hall door
  • 6th class to use the new extension door (around the back)

                                                   Junior Infants
Junior Infants starting time is at 9.10am for WEEK 1 with a 12.10pm pick-up
Junior Infants Day will be 9.00am - 1.40pm from WEEK 2 onwards
Parents to be socially distanced while queuing to drop off your child to the teacher at  the Junior Infant Door. 

Wearing a mask is essential in this queue
Junior Infant Parents can park in Fr Breen's driveway, in the village or use the small amount of parking at the front of the school while dropping children to the Junior Infant door.

During morning drop-off:

  • No parents/guardians of children from Sen Infants - 6th are permitted to leave their cars or enter the school premises during morning drop-off.
  • Children cannot be on the premises before 8.45am(they may wait in their cars at the set-down)
  • Parent/Guardians who walk/cycle with their children to school, stop at the pedestrian crossing or front gate and a staff member will help the children find their classroom.
  • Bikes can be safely placed in 6th courtyard at the back of Junior Infants.
  • Naíscoil buses drop-off at 9.30am


Collection : 

  • Naíscoil - 12 noon bus collection
  • Naíscoil  - 2pm bus collection
  • Junior Infants – 1.40pm from WEEK 2

Parents of infant classes must leave the grounds immediately once they have collected their child/children

  • Senior Infants – 1.30pm Please note this staggered time is to prevent the mixing of the Junior Infant and Senior Infant class bubbles

Senior Infant parents to queue using social distancing outside Senior Infant room 
Wearing of a mask is essential in this queue

For families where there are siblings in both Junior and Senior Infants collection from the back door of the Junior Infant Classroom can take place immediately after collection from the Senior Infant Room at 1.30pm
We will be in contact with families that this arrangement applies to so that you know where to go to.

1st - 6th classes
To facilitate social distancing and to avoid the mixing of class bubbles, dismissal will begin at 2:25pm
Classes will be dismissed in the following order (based on their classroom location within the building)

  • 1st class
  • 2nd.3rd Class
  • 6th Class
  • 4th Class
  • 5th Class

Children being collected by car outside the school grounds or children who walk home will be dismissed by their teacher at the set-down pedestrian gate. 
Children using the other pedestrian gate (heading in Stradbally direction) will be directed out the gate and up along the inside of the ditch to Fr. Breen’s carpark. Strict social distancing will apply and class bubbles are not to be mixed.
All other children from the class will form a line with another staff member on the basketball court and will be dismissed once their parents enter the set-down by car. Parents pick and go promptly.
NB – Please make sure your child knows which location they are to be collected from in advance of Monday 31st August. This will allow us to plan accordingly.
The dismissal of the children is among the most complex aspects of the return to school. It will take time but we would appreciate your cooperation and patience in this regard. We will be regularly reviewing the protocols in place to ensure the dismissal runs as smoothly as possible.

Children who should not attend school:
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 with Covid-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 Covid-19 and the outcome of the test is pending.
  • Children with underlying health conditions who have been directed by a medical professional not to attend school
  • Children who are generally unwell.

Supporting the 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 learning support teacher, where relevant) will assist in leading learning from home.
Supporting Pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN)
It is recognised that pupils with SEN will require particular support at the time of transition back to school including supporting their well-being, reducing potential anxiety and planning learning experiences that account of the effect of school closures on their progress.
The school SEN team is working to enable guided visits for SEN pupils to see their new classroom and meet the teacher.
Please refer to the NCSE website which has resources to support transition from home back to school.
Parent-Teacher Communication
The school will maintain the Aladdin Connect feature for all parents.
Teachers will put a post on Aladdin Connect on Monday mornings to allow parents to reply with any queries/ messages they may have.
School visits have to be limited. It will not be possible to drop into school unannounced.
Access to School 
Arrangements for necessary visitors such as contractors and parents will be restricted to essential purposes and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the principal.
Unfortunately, in these times, without prior approval you are not permitted to enter the school premises.
Should you seek to enter the premises to speak to a member of staff or the principal, you must first ring reception, and you will be given an allotted day and time.
In the section below on classroom requisites, the only two items which you child is being asked to bring to school are a hard plastic lunch-box and a drink. Please ensure that you child has her/his lunch every day when you drop them to school as unannounced visits to the school for dropping in forgotten items will not be permissible.
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. DES guidance dictates that it is not appropriate for a class to be divided into groups and accommodated in other classes and that in such circumstances, it may not be possible for the class to attend on that day. If that is the case, as much notice as possible will be given to parents.
The school will, as always, have substitute teachers’ names to hand and will be actively revising and updating these lists often in these challenging times.
It is not intended to cause worry at this stage by bringing this to the attention of parents/guardians but if such a scenario were to happen we all need to know and understand what the school would have to do. We will keep up-to-date on DES advice and if such a course of action is advised as not being necessary i.e. if the need for class bubbles to remain separate is relaxed, then that will be the advice followed.
Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19:
Pupils should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. If a pupil displays symptoms of Covid-19  while in the building, the following are the procedures that will be implemented:

  • Parents/guardians will be contacted immediately
  • The child will be accompanied to the designated isolation area via the isolation route by a member of staff. The staff member will remain at least 2 metres away from the symptomatic child and will also make sure that others always maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from the symptomatic child.
  • A mask will be provided for the child presenting with symptoms. She/he should wear the mask if in a common area with other people or while exiting the premises
  • An assessment will be made as to whether the child who is displaying symptoms can immediately be brought home by parents, their doctor called (by parents) and continue self-isolation at home.
  • The school will facilitate the child presenting with symptoms to remain in isolation.
  • It is essential that parents or guardians are contactable so that the child can be collected immediately and brought home.
  • If for any reason the parent/guardian cannot be contacted the school will contact the nominated substitute.
  • The key thing in this instance is immediate collection.
  • The child presenting with symptoms will be advised to cover her/his mouth and nose with the disposable tissue provided when she/he coughs or sneezes and to put the tissue in the waste bag provided.
  • In the unlikely event that a child is too unwell to go home or advice is required, the school will contact 999 and inform them that the sick child is a Covid-19 suspect.
  • Arrangements will be made for appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved.

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.
While it is not envisaged that PPE will be worn by staff in general, staff who are attending to particular care needs or who are administering first aid will wear appropriate PPE including gloves and face masks. 
All staff will be issued with a PPE pack including visor/mask/gloves and sanitiser prior to our return.
Classroom Requisites including Book Rental

  • Children will be provided with a clear plastic box in class that will store all their books, copies, pencils, and other stationery items.  This will be your child’s “book box”
  • No school-bag is needed.
  • Homework folders will be organised by each class-teacher.
  • Children bring their own lunchbox and water bottle only each morning.
  • Child’s coat to be placed on their own chair.

Break Times

  • Class bubbles will have their own designated play area.
  • Staggered breaks will be necessary to ensure class bubbles are not mixed.
  • Children to bring a hard plastic lunchbox only that can be stored in the child’s own in-school book box.
  • Children to bring a drink which will be kept on their table.
  • Please ensure that your child has her/his lunch each day.
  • For Junior classes, lunches should be easily opened, for child's own comfort and ease. 
  • You will be required to wash your child’s lunchbox and bottle with hot water and soap daily at home.

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.
Children in mainstream classes should not bring toys to school

  • All Junior and Senior Infant children are permitted to wear their School Tracksuit for September and October to facilitate correct hand washing practices.
  • All other classes to wear school uniform unless it is their designated PE day or their teacher has specified otherwise.
  • Please note we have not been advised that uniforms require daily washing.
  • Naíscoil pupils do not wear a uniform.

Book Rental
Our Book Rental and Classroom Requisite Scheme will continue for 2021/2022
All items including books, readers, workbooks, copies of all type, photocopying, testing, digital resources and all stationery including folders and zip pocket folders for homework in order to comply with quarantining are covered by the fee.
The cost has been updated for 2021/2022 in line with expenses reviewed from last year and is outlined on the school website at

Book Rental collection can be done electronically via Aladdin Connect or sent in to the class-teacher or to Anne Kelly at reception when school re-opens at the end of August.
If you wish to pay in instalments please call Anne K anytime from August 30th and that can be easily arranged.

Where possible, PE should take place outdoors and use of equipment should be confined to the sets that will been distributed to class groupings. Where shared equipment is being used it will be cleaned between classes. 
Supporting the Wellbeing of School Communities
There are five essential principles for wellbeing promotion at times like this. These are promoting
•A sense of safety
•A sense of calm
•A sense of belonging and connectedness to school
•A sense of self-efficacy and school-community efficacy
•A sense of hope
Supports will include
• Webpage with access to all information relating to the reopening of schools, including 2 customised directional maps(currently being uodated) for parents to see safe pathways planned for pupils to enter the school building.
 • Wellbeing Resources including webinars for primary schools - supporting wellbeing as schools reopen and wellbeing Toolkit for Teachers with a range of easily downloadable, user-friendly materials
See link below for details: