27th April Newsletter

Newsletter to Parents
27th April 2020.

Dear Parents,

Once again all we wish you all well and hope that you are not finding the current restrictions challenging. At this juncture we have no further information as to where school openings will fit in when the government choose to begin lifting restrictions. It is unlikely that schools will be reopened in the very near future or how we will manage social distancing once the reopening does eventually happen. However you can be assured that we at Scoil Íosa will be more than up for the challenge and with your help we will overcome any obstacles in our way. In the meantime I would like to bring the following notices to your attention.

Online Learning.
Over the course of the last week, we have performed an analysis of the uptake and engagement with the online learning platforms. At present we are disappointed to find that just over 50% of our pupils have participated in the work with varying degrees of engagement. While this is a problem for all, we have attempted to find reasons for the lack of participation and ways in which to address the issues. Online learning has been a challenge to all as in truth the necessity to resort to this form of teaching was unavoidably foisted upon us with very little notice. The teachers have worked hard to make it a success but were aware from the outset that there would be inevitable hiccups. Some of the problems encountered include families not having access to the technology, computer time being prioritised for older pupils in secondary school who are sitting state exams, more than one child needing the computer, parents working from home needing the computers, poor broadband and a lack of printers. All of these are outside of our control but as a school we do have a responsibility to our pupils and it is incumbent on parents and teachers to make sure that children do not fall behind in their work. If any parent has a problem/cannot access the work for whatever reason, please email your class teacher who will do everything to get the work to the children. This includes directly emailing the work to the children. The online learning will continue to be the main focus of the work and all work will be uploaded to the Covid19 folder as before. This folder is the conduit to all work regardless. Please make contact if this isn’t feasible. Finally continue to engage with ReadTheory on a regular basis. This is a developmental programme which allows the teachers to view the pupils work, progress, time spent and level attained. ReadTheory and Khan Academy will form the basis of assessment data on the children moving forward and will inform planning of work for children as they move to their new classes for the next school year. A list of all teacher email addresses is included on the website under the contact tab.

Health and Fitness.
Much has been reported in the media of the perceived effect of lockdown and restrictions on the mental health of families. The close proximity and the uncertainty around the length of the restrictions are proving to be challenging for many families. In current times we should all look after our mental health and try to keep active and fit if at all possible. It goes without saying that our pupils should be outside getting fresh air, moving, keeping active, baking and helping with painting, gardening, in the bog and just being children. I realise that in many cases they miss the company of their friends and the social contact that school ordinarily provides. Given that our learning programme is online and computer led at present, it is important that childrens’ down time is not spent gaming on computers or spending excessive time on social media platforms. There are several available opportunities to engage in health and fitness activities online as an alternative to the aforementioned activities. Items such as Joe Wicks fitness tutorials, Andy Moran’s online fitness sessions and one which is provided by Mayo Sports Partnership via Tracy Cunnane (Link available on the school website) should be considered particularly in the event of a rainy day. The old adage ‘Mens Sana in Corpore sano’ – (A healthy body leads to a healthy mind) has never been more appropriate.

Confirmation letters will issue in the next two weeks regarding applications for enrolment to Scoil Íosa for the upcoming school year. Any remaining enrolments should be registered by email/post as soon as possible. A copy of the enrolment form will be uploaded to the school website or will be mailed to you on request.

Junior/Senior Infants Reading.
We are well aware of the challenges in ensuring that the literacy development of all of our children is adequately catered for in these challenging times. Chief among this is our pre reading and reading development for our infant pupils. With this in mind Ms. Worden has researched online content on behalf of the infant teachers who have collaborated to choose a programme called ‘Reading Eggs’ as an excellent resource to help to advance the childrens’ reading skills. Information about this is included in this weeks update to the Covid19 folder. We strongly recommend that all of our infant pupils (Junior Infants and Senior Infants) should participate. Ms. Worden has registered all of the children and has been issued login details for all. Parents should email Ms Worden at eworden@iosaballyhaunis.com to receive their individual login details. This programme will be monitored by the teachers and will allow the individual teachers to track the pupils progress which will allow them to produce appropriately differentiated content for the children regardless of level.

Correction/Monitoring of Work.
A few parents have been in contact enquiring as to how the work undertaken by the children can be corrected. There are a few suggestions as to how this can be achieved. Firstly, the work can be photographed and emailed to the teacher (see contacts tab in website), the work can be mailed to the teacher c/o Scoil Íosa, Abbeyquarter Ballyhaunis or parents can keep a folder/portfolio of the work completed for presentation to the teachers on return to school. Face to face contact is not encouraged at present. We are determined to make the whole new learning process a two way entity and would welcome any input from parents in this regard. Thanks to those who have already been in touch and we look forward to any further suggestions.

Your prayers are requested for the soul of Sally Maaz, a student in Ballyhaunis Community School who sadly passed away in the last couple of days. She was the sister of one of our pupils in fifth class. Our thoughts are with the family and with the Syrian community at this difficult time. RIP.

Finally, On behalf of our wonderful staff I thank you all sincerely for your continued participation with us as we try to keep our pupils up to date with their school work. We realise that it is a frustrating and difficult time but challenging times bring challenging consequences and we must trust the professional authorities to guide us during these dark and dangerous times. Normality can only be achieved with sacrifice and I implore you to keep observing the restrictions, social distancing and to observe the distance restrictions where at all possible. With a united effort we will be back to normal soon. In the meantime, enjoy the good weather and the upcoming Bank Holiday, make sure yourselves and the children are getting exercise and keeping fit and healthy in mind and body. I’ll update all parents with news as it becomes available.

Míle Búiochas,
K. Dennedy & Staff of Scoil Íosa.