Return to School

Dear Parents/ Guardians,

We are all looking forward to returning to school on August 26th. It’s been an extremely tough few months for everyone. Our lives have been turned upside down. The children will have missed their school friends and the routine that school brings. Returning to school will be different but we hope to have as safe an environment as possible while having as “normal” a school day as possible. We want the children to enjoy returning to school but there are going to be a few changes which I have outlined below (which may be subject to change in due course).

RE: Physical Distancing and Safe School Attendance

We are currently working on upgrading our procedures and routines within the school to ensure that there is as much Physical Distancing as is possible in our building. We will apply physical distancing in a practical and sensible way, recognising that the learning environment cannot be dominated by a potentially counterproductive focus on this issue. We will have hand sanitisers mounted on the wall in various locations around the school ie entrances to the school, classrooms, corridors, office, staffroom.

Physical Distancing will be achieved in two ways: –

Increasing Separation.  This will be achieved by re-configuring the classrooms to maximise physical distancing. Each class will be referred to as a bubble and we will ensure that there is as little contact as possible between children in different bubbles. We have double classes ie Juniors/Seniors, 1st/2nd, 3rd/4th, 5th/6th but when the children are playing outside children will be playing on different yards e.g. 3rd class children will be playing only with other 3rd class children, 4th class will play only with other 4th class children etc. To ensure that this runs effectively we will have staggered breaks. Juniors, Seniors, 1st and 2nd will go outside to play at a particular time with each grouping playing on a different yard. The children from 3rd-6th will play at a different time with each of these classes playing on a different yard.

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 visors. When the children are completing tasks in the classroom the teachers will wear a mask inside the visor.

Decreasing Interaction. This will be achieved by decreasing the potential for children from different bubbles to interact.  The school will open at 8.45am daily. The children should wait in their parent’s car until the school doors are open at 8.45am. There will be two entry points. Children from 3rd to 6th class will enter the school building via the door to the school hall (as was always the case). Children from Juniors to 2nd will enter the building via the door at the opposite side of the school near Mrs Vaughan’s room. This is to ensure the quick and safe entry into the school. When in the school building the children will go to their classroom which will be supervised by the class teacher. At home-time 5th/6th class children will be collected at the entrance to the staff carpark. All other children will be collected from the small yard near the ball-court.

(All children should have two school tracksuits. We recommend the daily washing of uniforms. Parents/guardians should check their children’s temperature daily).

Book Rental: Bridget Copeland did an amazing job again this year in organising the book rental scheme. On returning to school on Wednesday August 26th the children will collect their books in their classrooms.

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.

Children who have travelled from countries not on the Green List should not attend school during the 14-day self-isolation period

Further information on COVID-19 symptoms in children is available at: –

On Wednesday August 26th the children will be coming to school at the following staggered times.

Junior Infants      – 9am to 9.45am

Senior Infants     – 10am to 10.45am

1st/2nd                   – 11am to 11.45am

3rd/4th                   –  12pm to 12.45pm

5th/6th                   –  1pm to 1.45pm

On a daily basis when the children are entering the school building there will be a Lead Representative at both entry points to the school. The Lead Representatives will ensure the children sanitise their hands. After sanitising their hands the children will go to their classroom immediately which will be supervised by the class teacher.

On Thursday August 27th ALL children will be returning to school.

On Wednesday 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.

Our aim remains to re-open the school in an orderly safe manner, while reassuring the children and making them feel comfortable, safe and relaxed with their friends in the new school environment.  This will be achieved by all of us working towards this common goal. We need “buy in” from everyone (parents/guardians, teachers, staff and children) to ensure that the school environment remains as safe as possible. 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. In these exceptional circumstances parents/guardians must sign in at reception using their own pen. The children need to become more responsible for their belongings. They need to get into a routine daily to check if they have what they need coming to school ie lunch, books, copies, pencils etc. Children won’t be allowed use other children’s pencils etc.

The school hall will not be used for after-school activities. This will be reviewed after Halloween.

Disclaimer: By sending your child to school you are stating that your child is showing no symptoms of coronavirus


The school will now be open at the earlier time of 8.45am. Our Lead Representatives will be at the two entry points until 9am. We fully expect all children to be in the school building by 9am. We will not be tolerating persistent lack of punctuality. Children who are late to school must be signed in by their parents/guardians  at reception using their own pen. Persistent lack of punctuality is a breach of our Code of Behaviour.

This school year will be a learning curve for all of us but I am very hopeful that it will be another good year for our school. There may be a few bumps in the road but hopefully we will all reach the destination happily and safely. Everyone must “buy in” to the process for it to be successful. We must all play our part. As parents/guardians we must not send our children to school if they have symptoms of Covid-19. No exceptions. Children coming to school with symptoms of Covid-19 are putting the health of other children and families at serious risk.

Le meas

Seamus Tansley


Rathfeigh National School’s COVID-19 Policy can be found here: