Covid-19 Response Plan

Introduction

This Covid-19 Response Plan is designed to support the staff and Board of Management in putting measures in place that will prevent the spread of Covid-19 in St. Enda’s NS, Lisdoonvarna.

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 development 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, pupils and parents. 

The assistance and cooperation of all staff, pupils, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors is critical to the success of the plan.

Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this document. However, should errors or omissions be identified, please notify us so that appropriate measures can be taken to rectify same.

Note: The plan is a live working document and may be reviewed and amended to take into account new guidance from www.Gov.ie, www.dbei.ie www.hse.ie, www.hpsc.ie, www.hsa.ie; www.education.ie;   

Planning  and Preparing for Return to School

The Board of Management aims to facilitate the resumption of school based teaching and learning and the return to the workplace of staff. The return to the work must be done safely and in strict adherence to the advice and instructions of public health authorities and the Government.

Details for the reopening of the school facility and the applicable controls are outlined in this document. 

School Buildings

  • All  maintenance work has been carried out in time for the reopening of the school.
  • All equipment in the school has been checked for signs of deterioration or damage
  • Arrangements have been put in place for all equipment, desks, benches, doors and frequent touched surfaces points, to be cleaned before reopening.
  • All bin collections have resumed.

Signage

Signage, outlining the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, supporting good hand and respiratory hygiene and requesting social distancing will be displayed in prominent areas such as offices, corridors, staffroom area, classrooms and toilets.

1.    Procedures for Returning to Work (RTA)

In order to return to the workplace, staff must complete a Return to Work (School) form, which is available electronically or from the Principal.  A RTW form should be completed and returned to the school  before returning to the workplace.  Staff will be asked to confirm that the details in the RTW Form remain unchanged following subsequent periods of school closure or an absence greater than three days.

The Principal will provide: details of the Induction Training for completion by staff and details of any additional health and safety measures in place in the school to facilitate the staff member’s return to the school facility.

2.   Return to work safely and Lead Worker Representative 

This Covid-19 Response Plan was developed by School Leadership and implementation of this plan and the associated control measures will lie primarily with the Board of Management and the School Leadership.

In line with the Return to Work Safely protocol, an agreed procedure between management and staff was followed in appointing a Lead Worker Representative, Deputy Lead Worker Representative Assistant Lead Worker Representative and an  to carry out this  specific role.

Lead Worker Representative –                                        Helen Colfer

Assistant Lead Worker Representative                      Catherine Sides

The role of the worker representatives is to ensure that Covid-19 measures are adhered to in the workplace as follows

  • Work collaboratively with the employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees in relation to COVID-19.
  • Promote good hygiene practices such as washing hands regularly and maintaining good respiratory etiquette along with maintaining social distancing in accordance with public health advice.
  • Assist with the implementation of measures to suppress COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • Monitor adherence to measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Consult with colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • Make representations on behalf of their colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace.

If a staff member has any concerns or observations in relation to the Covid-19 Response Plan and control measures or the adherence to such control measures by staff, parents/guardians, contractors or visitors, he/she should contact the lead worker(s) who will engage with the Principal/BOM.

All staff, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors have a responsibility both as individuals and collectively to have due regard for their own health and safety and that of others and to assist with the implementation of the Covid-19 Response Plan and associated control measures. 

3.   Safety Statement and Risk Assessment 

COVID-19 represents a hazard in the context of health and safety in the school environment. School management along with Board of Management have a carried out a Risk Assessment to identify the potential risks to our school community and to examine the control measures required to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in school settings.  

This will be reviewed on a regular basis.  We will also be reviewing our emergency procedures involving, fire safety, first aid, accidents and dangerous occurrences to consider any new risks that could arise due to the COVID-19 School Response Plan. Any changes to the schools existing emergency procedures will be documented on an ongoing basis. 

4.  General advice to prevent the spread of the virus  

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 it is important to know and recognise the symptoms. They are:

  • High temperature
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • Loss of smell, of taste or distortion of taste

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a school is to minimise the risk of introduction of the disease into the school setting in the first place.

This can be achieved through the following measures:

  • Promote awareness of COVID-19 and its symptoms amongst staff, pupils, parents and visitors.
  • Advise staff and parents of pupils who are unwell and/or who have symptoms of COVID-19 or other acute infectious diseases not to attend school, to phone their GP and follow the HSE guidance on self-isolation.
  • Advise staff and parents of pupils who have been identified by the HSE as contact of a person with COVID-19 not to attend schools and to follow the HSE advice on restriction of movement.
  • Advise staff and parents of pupils who are living with someone is displaying Covid-19 symptoms and/or is awaiting a Covid test not to attend school.
  • Advise staff and parents of pupils who have travelled outside Ireland to consult and follow the latest government advice in relation to foreign travel.
  • Ensure that staff and pupils know what to do if they develop symptoms at school.
  • Everyone entering the school building should be required to perform hand hygiene with hand sanitiser.
  • The COVID Tracker app is a free and easy-to-use mobile phone app that will:
    • alert you if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (corona virus)
    • keep other app users safe by alerting them if you test positive for COVID-19
    • give you advice on what to do if you have symptoms

You can download the free app from Apple’s AppStore or the GooglePlay store

  • Visitors to school during the day should be by prior arrangement and should be received at a specific contact point.  A contact log will be kept of all visitors to the school.

Staff, pupils and visitors should at all times adhere to the up to date advice and instructions of the public health authorities in relation to protecting oneself and others against the risk posed by the Covid-19 virus. 

Updated advice from the HSE is available on its website – https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/  

St. Enda’s N.S. will arrange for all updated advice from The Department of Education and Skills to be circulated to staff, pupils and visitors in a timely manner.

5.   Managing the risk of spread of COVID-19  

  1. Wash your Hands Frequently

Regular hand washing with soap and water is effective for the removal of COVID-19.

Pupils and staff should perform hand hygiene:

  • On arrival at school;
  • Before eating or drinking;
  • After using the toilet;
  • After playing outdoors;
  • When their hands are physically dirty;
  • When they cough or sneeze.

The school community will follow the HSE guidelines on hand washing:

For advice from HSE on how to wash your hands the following link will be helpful: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/how-to-wash-your-hands.html 

2. Hand Hygiene and Hand Sanitisers

Hand hygiene can also be achieved by the use of hand sanitisers (when hands are clean).

Hand sanitisers are more readily deployed in school settings to avoid disruption to teaching and learning and to avoid congestion of staff and pupils waiting to use hand washing facilities.

They will be available at entry and exit points, as well as being dotted around the school.

3. Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose and Mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.

4. Physical Distancing

Physical distancing is recommended to reduce the spread of infection in the workplace.   Staggered arrivals/departures times as well as lunch breaks have been introduced.  Classrooms, staffrooms, SET timetabling, supervision rotas, entry /exit points to the building, assembly points have all been reconfigured to ensure physical distancing requirements between all members of the school community are being met.  

Note: Guidance on the physical distancing requirements is informed by public health advice for schools and will be updated should this advice change at any stage

5. Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and Covid-19.

Good hygiene practices and washing your hands properly and regularly can help stop the spread of the virus. It is, therefore, crucial that all staff adhere to this advice and adopt the following practices as strictly as possible.

Do

  • Wash your hands properly and often
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
  • Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Do Not

  • Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups, cutlery, etc.

    6. Certain School Activities

Certain school activities such as singing, the playing of wind instruments, lunch time and after school sports training and so on will be postponed due to the potential risk posed.

7. Classroom Layout:

Classroom spaces will be reconfigured to maximise physical distancing. 

The room will be cleared of any unnecessary furniture/shelves etc. on the walls.

All available space in the school will be utilised and reconfigured in order to maximise physical distancing.

A distance of 1m will be maintained between identified pods and where possible between desks or between individual pupils except in the case of junior infants – second class.  The teacher’s desk should be at least 1m and where possible 2m away from the pupil desks.

This will be reviewed on a regular basis for best practice and in line with HSE guidelines.

8. Staffroom

The number of people allowed in the staffroom at any one time will be restricted to maintain social distancing.

  1. People at Very High Risk (Extremely Vulnerable):

Current public health guidelines have identified groups who are defined as being at very high risk. The HSE has set out these groups …………

The list of people in very high risk groups include people who:

  • are over 70 years of age – even if you’re fit and well
  • have had an organ transplant
  • are undergoing active chemotherapy for cancer
  • are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
  • have cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • are having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • are having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, lung fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and severe COPD
  • have a condition that means you have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
  • are taking medicine that makes you much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppression therapies)
  • have a serious heart condition and are pregnant

The advice for this group is available from the HSE.  Staff who are in this group should self-declare on the Return to Work form if they believe that they are at very high risk.  Details of the leave arrangements that will apply will be updated by the Department of Education and Skills.

If the Board/Principal is unsure whether or not staff fall into the very high-risk category, advice will be sought from the Occupational Health Service.   

6.  Control Measures  

A range of essential control measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 virus and to protect the safety, health and welfare of staff, pupils, parents/guardians and visitors as far as possible within the school.

These control measures are outlined in this document.

The control measures shall continue to be reviewed and updated as required on an ongoing basis.

It is critical that staff, pupils, parents/guardians and visitors are aware of, and adhere to, the control measures outlined and that they fully cooperate with all health and safety requirements.

Staff, in particular, should note that they have a legal obligation under Section 13 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to comply with health and safety requirements and to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves, their colleagues and other parties within the workplace.

The following control measures have been put in place:

  1. Return to Work Form

Staff will be required to complete a RTW form at least 3 days prior to any return to the school facility (see section 2 above). The purpose of the RTW form is to get confirmation from staff that, to the best of his/her knowledge, he/she has no symptoms of Covid-19 and is not self-isolating or cocooning or awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test.  

2.  Induction Training

All staff will undertake and complete Covid-19 Induction Training prior to returning to the school building. The aim of such training is to ensure that staff has full knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • Latest up to-date advice and guidance on public health
  • Covid-19 symptoms
  • What to do if a staff member or pupil develops symptoms of Covid-19 while at school
  • Outline of the Covid-19 response plan

Staff will be kept fully informed of the control measures in place in the school and their duties and responsibilities in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and with any changes to the control measures or guidance available from the public health authorities.

If a staff member is unsure about any aspect of the Covid-19 Response Plan, the associated control measures, or his/her duties, he/she should immediately seek guidance from the Principal.

Note:  Induction Training videos for reopening schools has been developed by the Department in consultation with stakeholders and has been made available for all schools staff

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/dd7fb-induction-training-for-reopening-schools/#primary-school-induction

3. Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

It is crucial that all staff, pupils, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors are familiar with, and adopt, good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

Guidance documentation and Information posters will be available at various locations within the school facility.  Information posters will be prominently displayed at appropriate locations within the school facility including offices, corridors, staffroom area, classrooms and toilet areas. Such are intended to inform but also remind everyone about the importance of hygiene in preventing the spread of Covid-19 virus and protecting health and safety.

Hand washing facilities and/or hand sanitisers are available at multiple locations within the school facility and should be available in each classroom.

4. Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE will be worn within the school facility according to current occupational and public health guidance. For a limited number of staff, PPE will need to be used occasionally or constantly due to the nature of certain work activities or work areas.  PPE will be used when dealing with a case/suspected case of Covid-19.  Teachers should wear face coverings, when a physical distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained.

Such include roles where: 

  • Performing intimate care
  • Where a suspected case of Covid-19 is identified while the school is in operation

Appropriate PPE will be available for dealing with suspected COVID-19 cases, intimate care needs and for first aid.  This will be updated in line with advice from the HPSC (Health Protection Surveillance Centre).

Where staff provide healthcare to children with medical needs in the school environment they should apply standard precautions as per usual practice.  In line with Revised HPSC guidelines for SNAs published on 7 January 2021, it is recommended that surgical grade masks be worn by all  SNAs.  The Department is confirming this level of PPE should be provided for all Special Education teachers (SETs) also.

We are mindful that the use of a face covering will conceal facial expression and can make communication difficult and as such may not be practical in a school setting. However, the wearing of a visor as an alternative to a facial covering may be considered where there is a concern that physical distancing cannot be maintained, there will be prolonged close contact and/or that exposure to fluid/respiratory droplets is likely.  A visor and face mask will be provided to all staff members to be worn where deemed appropriate and necessary.

5. Wearing of Gloves:

The use of disposable gloves in the school setting by pupils or staff is not appropriate.  It does not protect the wearer and may expose others to risk from contaminated gloves. However, when it is deemed necessary to wear gloves, correct protocols should be followed when donning and doffing them.  Routine use of disposable gloves is not a substitute for hand hygiene.

6. Aprons

Aprons may also be appropriate in certain circumstances including for intimate care needs or for staff assigned to cleaning an area where a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 was present.

Staff have been offered the option of reusable washable tunics for protection where desired as a matter of personal preference.

7. Equipment

Where practical, equipment such as toys, art supplies, electronic devices, library books, sport equipment, musical instruments, textbooks and so on will not be shared.  Where sharing is required, such equipment will be cleaned / disinfected /quarantined between uses.

8. Cleaning

Arrangements for more regular and thorough cleaning of areas and surfaces within the school will be made.  

Regular and thorough cleaning of communal areas and frequently touched surfaces shall be conducted, in particular, toilets, sinks, door handles, classroom tables and chairs and staffroom area.  Cleaning will be performed regularly and whenever facilities or surfaces are visibly dirty.

All staff will have access to cleaning products and will be required to maintain cleanliness of their own work area.  Under no circumstances should these cleaning materials be removed from the building.

Staff must use and clean their own equipment and utensils (cup, cutlery, plate etc.) or may to opt to have their own personal set of utensils.  Staff will disinfect their place in the staffroom when leaving.

Access to the school facility will be in line with agreed school procedures.

Arrangement for necessary visitors such as contractors and parents/guardians with be restricted to essential purposes and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the Principal.  Agreed protocols must be followed.  

The prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a crucial step in restricting the spread of the virus and protecting the health and safety of the individuals themselves and other staff, contractors and visitors at the workplace. A detailed sign in/sign out log of those entering the school facilities will be maintained.

The school should maintain a log of staff and students contacts.  

9. Ventilation:

The Department has published guidance setting out the practical steps for good ventilation in accordance with public health advice ‘Practical Steps for the Deployment of Good Ventilation Practices in Schools’ The guidance sets out an overall approach for schools that 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.

10. First Aid/emergency procedure

The standard First Aid/Emergency procedure shall continue to apply in St. Enda’s N.S. 

In an emergency or in case of a serious incident, call for an ambulance or the fire brigade on 112/999

Contact the principal or nearest first aider giving details of location and type of medical incident.

7.   Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19 

Staff or pupils should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. The following outlines how St. Enda’s will deal with a suspected case that may arise during the course of work.

A designated isolation area has been identified within the school building. The possibility of having more than one person displaying signs of Covid-19 has been considered and a contingency plan for dealing with additional cases has been put in place.

Designated Isolation Area 1     Bathroom near hall

Designated Isolation Area 2     Bathroom beside Isolation Area 1

PPE equipment, lidded bins, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitiser, waste disposal  bags have been placed  in these areas

If a staff member/pupil displays symptoms of Covid-19 while at work in St. Enda’s N.S. the following are the procedures to be implemented:

  • If the person with the suspected case is a pupil, the parents/guardians should be contacted immediately
  • Isolate the person and have a procedure in place to accompany the individual to the designated isolation area via the isolation route, keeping at least 2 metres away from the symptomatic person and also making sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from the symptomatic person at all times
  • Provide a mask for the person presenting with symptoms if one is available. He/she should wear the mask if in a common area with other people or while exiting the premises
  • Assess whether the individual who is displaying symptoms can immediately be directed to go home/be brought home by parents and call their doctor and continue self-isolation at home
  • Facilitate the person presenting with symptoms remaining in isolation if they cannot immediately go home and facilitate them calling their doctor. The individual should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Advice should be given to the person presenting with symptoms to cover their mouth and nose with the disposable tissue provided when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the waste bag provided
  • If the person is well enough to go home, arrange for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible and advise them to inform their general practitioner by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used
  • If they are too unwell to go home or advice is required, contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick person is a Covid-19 suspect.
  • Carry out an assessment of the incident which will form part of determining follow-up actions and recovery
  • Arrange for appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved.
  • Where there is a suspected or confirmed case of Covid- 19 among school staff or pupils, the school will maintain confidentiality at all times and will follow the instructions of the HSE Public Health.
  • HSE Public Health will inform all staff/parents who come into close contact with the case via the contact tracing process.  They will contact all relevant persons where a diagnosis of Covid -19 is made.  They will advise on appropriate action, on a case by case basis, that should be taken vis a vis the operation of the school.

8.  Staff Duties 

Staff have a statutory obligation to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of their colleagues and other parties. In order to facilitate a safe return to work, these duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Adhere to the School Covid-19 Response Plan and the control measures outlined. The cooperation and assistance of all staff is essential to reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19 and to protect health and safety as far as possible within the school.  All staff have a key role to play
  • Must inform the principal if there are any other circumstances relating to COVID19, not included in the form, which may need to be disclosed to facilitate their safe return to the workplace.
  • Coordinate and work with their colleagues to ensure that physical distancing is maintained
  • Consider downloading the Covid Tracker App
  • Make themselves aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and monitor their own wellbeing
  • Self-isolate and contact their GP promptly for further advice if they display any symptoms of Covid-19
  • Not return or attend school if they have symptoms of Covid-19 under any circumstances.
  • Not to return to or attend school in the event of the following:
  • if they are identified 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.
  • If they develop any symptoms of Covid-19 whilst within the school facility, they should adhere to the procedure outlined above
  • Complete the RTW form before they return to work after a school closure or an absence greater than three days.
  • Must inform the Principal if there are any other circumstances relating to Covid-19, not included in the form, which may need to be disclosed to facilitate their safe return to the workplace
  • Must complete Covid-19 Induction Training and any other training required prior to their return to school
  • Must be aware of, and adhere to, good hygiene and respiratory etiquette practices
  • Keep informed of the updated advice of the public health authorities and comply with same.
  • 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
  • Undergo any COVID-19 testing that may be required as part of mass or serial testing as advised by Public Health

9.   Covid Related Absence Management 

The management of a Covid-19 related absence will be managed in line with agreed procedures with DES.

10. Review

This document is a live document and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis in consultation with all interested parties.


Signed: _________________________________ Date:__________________
Chairperson of Board of Management

Signed: _________________________________ Date: __________________
Principal