We would like to share an update on some of the changes we have made here at The Academy in order to ensure that all staff and students are kept safe and feel comfortable in the coming academic year.
We are planning for a full return to school on Monday, August 31st. We can comfortably adhere to the guideline of a minimum of one meter physical distancing at all times. The desks have been arranged in every room to accommodate required social distancing. A full deep clean of the school has also been carried out during the summer and a rigorous cleaning process will be implemented throughout the school day – at morning, lunch and evening times. Hand sanitising units have been installed outside each of the classrooms and throughout the school building. Ideally, we will keep this virus out of our school entirely, so first and foremost we must emphasise that any student feeling unwell should not attend school. Additionally, we have outlined below some of the measures that we are putting in place in order to further facilitate social distancing to curtail the possible spread of the virus.
The overall aim to allow for a safe return to school and to avoid any further disruption to teaching and learning is to 1) increase separation, and 2) decrease interaction. With this in mind, below are the additional considerations and changes which we have made.
Click on the video below to watch on overview of some of the new measures we have introduced:
Wearing of Masks/Visors
Following the government announcement on Friday 7th August 2020, it will be compulsory for all staff and students to wear a protective face covering. While this will no doubt be a little strange at first, it will quickly become something that we all just get used to. The importance of good respiratory hygiene cannot be underestimated in combatting the spread of the virus. We ask that students provide their own face covering, one which they know how to use and feel comfortable wearing. Further information from the HSE about masks, including those who may be exempt from wearing one, is available here.
Corridors & Common Areas:
A two-way “keep to the left” system will be in operation throughout the school. There are some areas of the school where a one-way system will be in operation as required, i.e. at certain pressure points along the corridors – these will be clearly marked.
Lockers will not be available for students this year. The reasons for this are two-fold:
(1) to adhere to physical distancing and avoid congestion at locker areas and,
(2) students will have books/notes at home in case of further lockdown / self-isolation.
Therefore, it will be very important for students to be well organised and to only bring books required each day to school.
Lunchtime will be from 12:50pm – 1:30pm (40 minutes as per usual) for all students. 5th & 6th Years will have separate rooms assigned to them, allowing for safe, socially distanced areas for lunch. Unfortunately, we have had to make the decision to remove the microwaves from the common area, as this is a significant point of congestion and would be unworkable in the current climate. We encourage students to either bring a packed lunch or to eat out. As with all of these modifications, this decision has been made in the short term, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and may be reviewed at a later stage. A one-way system will be in place to facilitate the large numbers of students leaving for lunch. The two fire exits at the back of the building will be opened to allow students to leave, and they can re-enter at reception – this will be an exit route at lunchtime only.
As students may be eating in a classroom or in the study hall, we ask that all students clear any rubbish from desks and place chairs under desks after lunch. Again, this is about showing courtesy to teachers and fellow students by ensuring that all rooms are clean and tidy learning environments for everyone.
Windows will be opened in all classrooms, especially at lunchtimes, to ensure good ventilation at all times.
For contact tracing purposes, teachers will be taking attendance in all classes and study periods, as usual. Parents will be contacted in the event of poor or unexplained attendance. Students will continue to be given access to attend FlyeFit, provided they have written permission from their parents and the Principal.
Day Time Study
In the event where the study hall is at capacity, additional rooms will be used as overflow rooms when required.
Evening Study will operate on Wednesdays & Fridays from 4pm – 7pm and all other days from 5pm – 8pm (except the first week back). In order to ensure student safety, there will be no Supervised Study available on Saturdays, but it will be available on Sundays from 9:30am to 3:30pm. There will be a strict book-in system in place and study will be limited to a maximum of 90 students. Specific doors will be clearly marked with “Entry Only” and “Exit Only” signs. There will be a sign-out book for any students leaving the room. Students will be permitted to eat in the Study Hall only at break times e.g. lunchtime, Wednesdays & Fridays from 4:30pm – 5:00pm and all other days from 3:30pm – 4:00pm.
Suspected case of COVID-19
As mentioned above, students and staff are requested not to attend school if they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 i.e. a fever, a cough, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties, loss or change to sense of smell or taste. If we all adhere to this general guideline, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of further closures and disruption. Should any student present with symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day, Liz and Sarah will be the point of contact and an isolation room will be available. The school response will be informed by the Department of Education and HSE guidelines.
Self-isolation – What happens if you can’t attend school?
We have been doing significant planning and preparation for the event of students missing class due to self-isolation, or if we are faced with further school closures. Our primary concern is that teaching and learning continue uninterrupted for the duration of the school year. As such, we have invested in lecture capture equipment in all classrooms that will enable us to live-stream our day school classes directly to our Moodle platform. This means that students who are unable to attend school can log in remotely and watch their classes online.
With all of these measures in place, students and parents can be confident of a comprehensive and all-inclusive educational experience at The Academy this year. We will do everything in our power to ensure that we all work together to curtail the spread of this virus, and hopefully enjoy a year with minimal.
We look forward to welcoming all our students and teaching staff back on Monday 31st August!
Principal at the Dublin Academy of Education