Mountrath Community School

Letter from 12th Sept to parents, staff and students.

12th September 2020
Dear All,
This is the end of our first week back in school. It went well all things considered.
The new “normal”
Students and teachers settled quickly in to the new “normal”. Teachers and students have had a lot to adapt to. 1st to 3rd year students are classroom based with the result that teachers have lost their classrooms. Life has definitely become more difficult for teachers, who would normally have their resources at their fingertips but are now finding themselves possibly in 6 different environments a day and having to deal with the differences each room brings. Students, on the other hand, cannot wait to go outside at break and lunch tiring quickly of the one room.
Both teachers and students are finding the masks a challenge but everyone got more used to them by the end of the week. We are asking students to wear face coverings when outside if they are not eating and to observe the social distancing. We are also asking them to keep to their own zones to limit the amount of contact with other years. We are all aware that numbers in the country are going up and we need to do all we can to prevent Covid 19 getting a hold on our communities.
Reaction to 1 hour classes
This seems to have gone down well with students overall. Older students have said that they find the day going quicker. Some teachers find the hour better but others said that it is dependent on the subject and the group of students. It is also easier given the lack of lockers that students only have six subjects. In order to ensure that students do not have to carry too much, we have asked to teachers to tell students to bring in one book per day. One refill copy for all subjects – Possibly a graph paper copy- is all that is necessary. However, this takes organisation on the students’ part also as they will have to have a big folder at home where they separate their notes at night. Students need to start this process and organise themselves properly. We are aware that 1st years have been bringing in more books than necessary and hopefully this will be sorted in the coming weeks.
LC Results:
The week was further complicated by the LC results coming out on Monday and all the processes involved in that. We congratulate our class of 2020 and their teachers on their results. One in five students attained over 500 points and Martin Fitzpatrick achieved 625 points. It was very strange not to be able to meet the students getting their results and that somehow felt very wrong. We are also aware that there were disappointments and anomalies in grade changes. We felt that some of the grade changes – whether up or down- were inconsistent and in some cases inexplicable. The process of Calculated Grades was a very traumatic one for students, parents and teachers. We salute our Leaving Cert class of 2020, their teachers and parents for their resilience and fortitude. We hope that our students will now move on to the next stage of their lives whether it is going to college, doing a PLC, doing an apprenticeship, going straight into employment.
We would ask you to remind our students that normal school rules apply. We know that it is difficult coming back into school after so many months but we would appreciate your support in this regard. We have had incidents during the week that should not happen in a school situation. In one case videos of an incident were circulated. This is absolutely against school rule and carries consequences. We are very anxious that our students feel safe and secure in their environment and we will do our best to ensure this but we obviously require the cooperation of Students and parents to do this.

Blended Learning
The 90 Chromebooks purchased by the school have been on the go all week as teachers and students carry on with blended learning. We are trying to establish a routine, which will continue, if and when the school is shut again. You are probably all aware that there is an established case of Covid in a nearby school. In this case only the direct class of the student was sent home. In such a situation the HSE will decide what has to happen in the school and how much of the school would be shut. However learning will continue online and it is very important that routines are set up now to enable this.
Board of Management
We are at the beginning of a new Board and will be seeking 2 representatives from the parent body. The Board should actually have been appointed in August so we need to do this with some urgency.
Community and Comprehensive schools are governed by Boards of Management which are given statutory recognition by the Education Act, 1998.
The composition of Boards of Management of Community Schools is as follows:
  • Three Nominees of Religious Trustees or other private Trustee body e.g. Educate Together
  • Three Nominees of Education and Training Board Trustees
  • Two Nominees of parents (elected, of whom one must be a mother)
  • Two Nominees of teaching staff (elected)
  • Principal (non-voting)
  • Total: Eleven
The Brigidine Order has sadly withdrawn from the patronage of Mountrath Community School due to declining numbers. We would like to pay tribute to all that the Order has done for Mountrath Community School and indeed for the town of Mountrath. The Patrician Order is now represented by the Patron Body Le Chéile. Le Chéile have 3 Representatives on the Board. The outgoing representatives were Br Cormac of the Patrician Order, Sr Mary of the Brigidine Order and Mary Kavanagh, Chairperson and former Principal of the Brigidine Convent.
We have 3 representatives from the Laois Offaly Education Training Board. Outgoing members included Mr Paul Fields, Ms Vivienne Keenan and Ms Caroline Dwayne Stanley.
The outgoing parent Representatives were Mr Pierre Hanneffy and Ms Caroline Page.
The outgoing teacher Representatives were Mr Colm O’Toole and Ms Shirley Bowe.
We are grateful to all of the outgoing Board members for their contribution to Mountrath Community School.
The following are the procedures governing the election of Parent Representatives. It will not be possible given the Covid 19 situation to have an AGM so we are asking that if you are interested/ or know of someone else interested in being a Parent Representative on the Board that you forward your nomination to before 4pm on Friday, the 18th September 2020. If there are more than two nominees, each candidate will be asked to write a short address to the parents. This will be circulated to the parents with the Ballot papers to be returned by Friday the 25th September 2020.
It is hoped to have the first Board meeting in the week beginning the 28th September 2020.
The term of office for the Board is 3 years.

Parents elect two Board members. The outgoing Board of Management should arrange for the election of Parent nominees. To be eligible for election, a parent must have a child attending the school at the time of the election.
Note: When elected, the Deed of Trust does not oblige a parent to resign from the Board when s/he no longer has a child attending the school. However, s/he may be removed from office by her/his electorate.
It should be noted that the electorate for nominating candidates for election and for electing parents to the Board of Management includes all parents/guardians of children attending the school at the time, whether they be members of the Parents Association or not. "Parent" is not defined in the Deed of Trust, but the Board could reasonably assume that the person/s exercising parental control over the child, either as natural parent/s or legal guardian/s, can be deemed, for the purpose of election, to be the parents. Boards are advised that a reasonable effort should be made to inform all parents/guardians in writing of the proposed election.
It is a matter for each Board to decide how to arrange for the nomination and election of parents. The Board may decide to hold a special general meeting of parents for the purpose of nominating candidates, or may decide to send a nominating paper to all parents with the letter of notice setting out the procedures to be followed. When nominations have been made, official pre-numbered ballot papers are prepared, if there are more than two candidates.
In Community Schools one of those elected must be a mother. If there is only one female candidate, she must be declared elected, even if there are a considerable number of male candidates. Since one seat is reserved for a mother, the election is then confined to the filling of the other seat which is open to either a mother or a father.
When issuing the ballot papers to the electorate short election addresses from each of the candidates may be circulated, if that procedure is agreed by the Board.
Whether to opt for a straight vote, with the option of voting for one or two people, or to use a P.R. system is a question for determination by each Board. What is important is the maintenance of high standards of fairness. This can best be guaranteed by putting the election and count under the control of an independent presiding officer and by providing her/him with the support and resources to prevent abuses such as impersonation.
It is important (especially if a straight vote system is being used) that there is a tie-breaking system, such as the toss of a coin, announced in advance of the elections. This is advisable as, with a relatively small electorate and the likelihood of a low poll, it is possible that two candidates may be tied on the same vote.
If a P.R. system is used it is important that the presiding officer is well versed in its operation and has given an advance outline of the process to be followed.
It is wise to keep ballot papers safely and in a carefully sealed envelope for a period of one year after an election.

We thank you all for your cooperation and support.

Have a nice weekend. J
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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