Mountrath Community School

5th September Letter to parents, students, staff

05-September-20
5th September 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Students.

Just a short newsletter to keep you abreast of all the happenings in the school. This week we welcomed back all of our students and staff and we were delighted to see everyone albeit in strange circumstances. We are very used to smiling students and staff but now the smiles are hidden behind masks which is a very big change for everyone. It was lovely to be able to welcome everyone back and we also have to acknowledge that there was 100% compliance with wearing the masks. Again a big thanks to all who were involved in making the adaptations to the school to ensure that we could open the building safely.
Just a few things that are different:
Arriving in the morning
Students arrive at different times.
  • 1st and 2nd years will now use the entrance at the end of the practical corridor. (the entrance nearest the gate)
  • 3rd and 4th years will enter at the Gym
  • 5th and 6th years will enter in the normal student entrance
Students arriving before 8.40 must wait in the hall where supervision will be provided – the hall will be zoned and students are expected to observe social distancing.
Break and Lunch Hour:
We are now working off a timetable that is hour long. We had decided to do staggered breaks and lunches. However it would have meant 300 people being in the hall for lunch and also that there would have been 3 hour long classes in the afternoon for half the school. Instead the school is running to the same timetable. Breaks and lunch will be taken in the classroom and then students may go outside. If students are in a practical class when the break or lunch bell rings then they will go to the hall or the canteen. Students will be able to go outside if the weather is good using the one way system and observing social distancing. Students will be entering the building after lunch at different times to facilitate social distancing.

Canteen
The canteen is closed for the foreseeable future. We would like to pay tribute to Mary, Chris and Nicole, who have run the canteen on behalf of the Schoolfood Company for the last number of years. Mary has been with the school since the beginning and was in Ballyfin before that. They have always looked after students and staff in a very caring way and we hope to see them back working in the school when things return to normal and thank them for all their work and kindness.
Student belongings / Lunches
Students must bring all their gear with them to school. Parents are asked not to bring anything to the reception to be delivered to students. We are trying to reduce the contacts between people.
Communications
Parents are requested not to arrive at the school with out making an appointment first.
Powerpoint
We are attaching the powerpoint presentation shown to each student this week so that you too may familiarise yourself with the changes and that you may also reassure yourself that everything is being done to ensure the safety of students and staff.
Google Classroom
Staff will ensure that students are very familiar with Google Classroom over the next few weeks to ensure that if we are closed again that everyone will be able to cope with a blended learning model. Every student should ensure that they have the class code for each class. Students will be asked to bring in one book per day per subject to alleviate the carrying of books. Students will carry a refill pad which they will put in a folder every evening- It is very important that this is done right from the beginning so that work does not get lost.
Lockdown
We informed the students that it is possible that we will be shut again – but like with the Laois, Offaly and Kildare lockdown it will not last for long. We know that many people are very anxious about the reopening of schools. However, if we all play our part we can reduce the risks significantly. Please encourage your children to:
  • Wash Hands regularly
  • Sanitise regularly
  • Claen desks/ seats before/after use.
  • Observe social distancing.
Personal Devices
We have said that students will be able to use their own devices in school. However the student wifi will not be set up for another week. We would ask that student should not bring devices for the first week. We would also ask that parents and students familiarise themselves with the Acceptable Use Policy in the journal. Taking videos / photos of student/ staff without permission is strictly forbidden and will be dealt with according to our Behaviour policy. Abuse of the devices or social media may result in the privilege of using devices being taken away as students and teachers need to feel safe and secure within the building.
Charges
Thank you to all who have paid the charges so far. We are anxious to make the school a cashless zone to reduce any risk to the school community. To pay the charges currently, you can go to your compass page and click on the link for the charges.
PE Uniform
We understand that there is again a delay with the PE uniform – Until this is rectified students may wear a dark coloured tracksuit bottoms, a navy tee shirt and the school jumper. As we are not allowed to use changing rooms, students will be allowed to wear their PE uniform for the whole day when they have PE. The PE department have said that they would use low intensity sports.
We hope that this answers some of your questions. Please feel free to contact the yearhead if you have any cause for concern. We were delighted to see our students and staff back and look forward to the coming year.
Stay Safe!
Siobhán McCarthy Monica White Denis Boland All at MCS
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Dysartbeigh, Mountrath, Co Laois, Ireland.
057 8741 080
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