Dear Parents/ Guardians,
Hope everyone had an enjoyable summer holidays. The holidays seem to have flown by and we just have a few days remaining before we start back in school on Thursday August 26th. We are eagerly looking forward to seeing all the children again. All children, including our new Junior Infants, will start back at 9am. The school will open at 8.50am. On Thursday 26th and Friday 27th the new Junior Infants will go home at 12 Noon. From Monday August 30th the new Junior Infants will go home at 1.40pm similar to the Senior Infants.
We are really looking forward to this school year. We hope it will be an un-interrupted year as the last two school years have been blighted due to school closures as a result of Covid-19. The strong vaccination programme is a big positive compared to this time last year but as we all know the daily Covid-19 infection rates in Meath and throughout Ireland are very high due mainly to the Delta variant. As a result we will have similar systems in place to last year to help reduce the risk of children contracting Covid-19. We will continue to apply physical distancing in a practical and sensible way, recognising that the learning environment can’t be dominated by a potentially counterproductive focus on this issue.
Prior to returning to school next week ALL families must return the “Return to School – Parental Declaration Form” for ALL children. This form is to be filled out online and can be found in the yellow box on the school website (rathfeighns.org). It is easy and very quick to complete.
Each morning the school will open at 8.50am. Children should remain in their parents’ cars until the doors to the school are open. Children must not congregate at the doors of the school before the school doors are open at 8.50am. The children in 3rd-6th class will enter the school in the morning time via the door into the school hall. The children in Junior Infants-2nd class will enter the door at the far side of the school near Mrs Vaughan’s room. Our Lead Representatives will be at these entrances daily to ensure the children are properly vaccinating their hands. When in the school building the children will go to their classrooms which will be supervised by the class teacher. Children who arrive to school after 9am must be signed in by a parent/guardian at reception using their own pen. At home time the Junior and Senior Infants will be collected from the door near Mrs Vaughan’s room. The children in First-Sixth will be collected near the small yard near the ball-court.
In Junior Infants to 2nd class there is no requirement for social distancing in the classroom but the children will be organised into pods (within the class bubble). A pod is a group of children (normally 4 to 6) who will sit together and who will stay in their pod while in the bubble, or classroom. In 3rd-6th class there is a requirement for social distancing in the classroom of 1 metre. We will have two children sitting at opposite sides of one desk (1.2 metres apart) facing each other but we will have Perspex in the middle of each desk. The teachers’ desks will have Perspex on three sides of the desks to improve teacher and children safety. While the teachers are teaching in the classroom they will wear a face mask.
We will have staggered break times during the school day. The children in Juniors-Second class will play outside at different times to the children in Third-Sixth.
While all children will be welcome back to school, we would remind parents/guardians that, where children are displaying colds, coughs or flu like symptoms, they should not be sent to school. Children who display such symptoms in school will be isolated and parents asked to collect them from the school.
On Thursday August 26th the teachers will make children aware of the proper hygiene procedures regarding hand washing and etiquette related to sneezing, coughing or spitting. We would be grateful if you could also emphasise safe behaviour in this regard to your children at home as part of the preparation for returning to school. Parents/guardians should not congregate in close proximity when collecting children at home time and should only come into the school building in exceptional circumstances (wearing a face mask). In these exceptional circumstances parents/guardians must sign in at reception using their own pen.
Please find attached two flyers which have advice for parents on their children returning to school. The Government, yesterday, has updated the www.gov.ie/backtoschool website which has videos and advice for parents/guardians and it is advisable to view these.
Bridget Copeland has done a wonderful job (ably assisted by Anna) organising the Book Rental Scheme again this year. We are really fortunate to have this in place in our school as it saves parents/guardians having to source and cover books at this busy time of year. Thanks Bridget. On returning to school on Thursday 26th August the children will be able to collect their books in their classrooms.
Our Graduation class of 2021 were due to receive the sacrament of Confirmation in July. This was cancelled by the Government due to increases in Covid-19 rates. I sent an e-mail and text to parents/guardians on August 17th with details of the new Confirmation date. It will now be held on Tuesday August 31st at 5pm in St Mary’s Church Navan. We haven’t been given any further information as of yet. As soon as I get more information regarding the ceremony I will let parents/guardians know. The next few weeks will be an exciting time for the children starting in secondary schools and I wish them all the best of luck as they begin a new chapter in their lives.
Unfortunately the First Communion was one of many events cancelled last year. I am hopeful that it will take place in the coming months but as of now we haven’t been given a date. When I get the date from Fr. Thomas I will inform parents/guardians immediately.
A special thanks to Ingrid who has done a fantastic job getting the school ready for the re-opening on Thursday. Ingrid will be continuing in Jackie’s absence for another few months. We wish Jackie a speedy recovery.
The one thing that is certain during this pandemic is the uncertainty! We don’t know what’s around the corner. Hopefully good news! We will face this school year with the same positivity as last year. We will try to eliminate the word “can’t” from our vocabulary.
A huge amount was achieved last year in the school despite the school closure from January to March and Covid-19 restrictions – Gaelic football and hurling coaching, Halloween Fancy Dress and pumpkin competition, Student council Christmas Raffle, gardening with Mary McCarron, Picker Pals Litter programme (1st/2nd), Science-in-a-box (5th/6th), Relay marathon, two Parents’ Association fundraisers, Sports Day, 6th class Graduation, Art mural, work on our new Sensory Room and a successful remote learning programme etc. We are confident that this will be another great year in our school even if there are restrictions in place. We are particularly excited about the opening of our Sensory Room which will undoubtedly be very beneficial to the children.
Positivity and teamwork is central to everything we do in the school. We hope this will be another good year academically and socially for the children with lots of great memories.
“When you can’t find the sunshine – be the sunshine”.
On behalf of myself and the Board of Management I would like to wish the children, parents/guardians, Parents’ Association and all our staff an enjoyable, happy and safe year.
Seamus Tansley (Principal)