As we move towards the last few weeks of what has been a testing school year, I hope that this newsletter finds our parents and pupils in good health and in good spirits. Hopefully you have all enjoyed the fantastic weather which we have been blessed with over the last couple of weeks and that this has helped to somewhat ease the pressures of lockdown. It would now appear that the schools will not reopen until the beginning of the new school year and at the time of writing we have no indication from the Department of Education as to how this will be undertaken. Once we do receive direction we will consult with parents as to how best to achieve a safe, fair and equitable reopening within the social distancing guidelines. Hopefully by the time of reopening the worst of the pandemic will have passed and we will be able to move towards some semblance of normality. In the meantime the teachers and staff will continue to provide help and guidance for your children until the final day of term (Monday June 22nd).
Teachers will continue to upload work to the Google folder until the end of term. As with the conventional school year, the intensity of the work set will ease off as the final weeks are upon us and the time will be spent finishing off programmes, doing fun projects and as we would do in school, spending more time outdoors reaping the benefits of the fine weather. I would remind all parents that the time since we were forced to close hasn’t been treated as a holiday and that it is expected that the work set by the teachers should be completed. I thank those families who have kept in touch and who have forwarded work to the teachers for correction. I know that the teachers have been keen to keep the learning process interactive and to continue to offer help, encouragement and guidance to their pupils. To those families who have not managed to return work for one reason or another, I ask that you keep this work together as a portfolio and that this is returned to the school as the opportunity allows. This will be corrected and feedback given in due course. We must remember that this has been a difficult time for our children and that having school work lends itself to having some semblance of normality albeit a very new normal. We strongly advise that the children should continue to engage with the Khan Academy and the ReadTheory platforms at least until the end of the school year as these will be used as an assessment resource by the teachers as we move ahead.
The teachers have been accessing the school over the last couple of weeks to organise the childrens’ books, copies, artwork etc for collection by the parents. We also need to collect in school books and other property particularly book rentals (Abair Liom, Starlight English Books), Class Novels, class library books or books from our Oxford Reading Tree programme which the children may have borrowed. To this end we have organised three days during which the school will be opened to allow parents to collect the children’s property and to return any books or other items to the school. The days allocated are :
- Monday June 8th : 11a.m. to 2:30 pm
- Tuesday June 9th : 11a.m. to 2:30 pm
- Wednesday June 10th : 11a.m. to 2:30 pm
All books will be available from the school hall and will be organised on a class by class basis on tables. All of the books have been sorted and bagged appropriately. Parents should access the school by the rear door by the ramp in the senior playground. The main school door/reception will not be accessible nor will any of the classrooms. Parents will be directed via a one way system and once the books are deposited/collected will exit the school via the hall door. Social distancing will be in operation at all times as per HSE requirements. Parents should go to the appropriate table and collect their child’s belongings, they should then take a large envelope (as provided) and place any school books in the envelope(s) and should write their child’s name clearly on the outside of the envelope. Once this is done parents should depart the premises. As the school will undergo a deep cleaning process prior to our return to school, all books must be collected, if you cannot collect the books on the given days please arrange for a friend to collect them. Books remaining unclaimed will not be returned to the classrooms with the school authorities not accepting any responsibility for them beyond the listed dates. Please note that any schoolwork completed by the children which has not been forwarded to the class teacher may also be returned to the school for correction at this time should you so desire. We thank you in advance for your help and cooperation in this matter. Please park in the hard court area to the rear of the school.
It is a source of great disappointment to our teachers and indeed our school community, that our sixth class pupils will depart the school without their usual send off. At this time of year we should be preparing for our graduation ceremony and the pupils would have organised their cake sale and no uniform day for charity. Some schools have taken the course of organising a ‘virtual’ graduation ceremony but unfortunately this is not feasible in our circumstances. It is our opinion that all departing sixth class children should have the occasion marked without exception. Our online learning platform has taught us that many of our pupils do not have access to the technology necessary to enjoy a virtual occasion and as such renders this redundant as a viable option by which to mark the occasion. However in discussion with other staff we do feel that there should be some ceremony by which the pupils will have their graduation marked and we have looked at other options. At this stage we have a provisional plan in which (within HSE constraints) the pupils who have departed in Sixth class would be invited back to the school for the ceremony once it is safe to do so. At present we are looking at the closing date for the October half term when we traditionally mark the beginning of the new school year with a mass/assembly. We hope that with the cooperation of the community school, our ‘former’ sixth class pupils would be invited back to participate in the ceremony. Obviously this is very much in the planning stage and will depend on how we are allowed to proceed by the relevant authorities. In the meantime we ask that parents forward a picture/baby photograph/ photo of time in school to Mr. O’Brien (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will upload a PowerPoint presentation to the school website documenting the childrens’ time in the school. This is usually displayed during our graduation ceremony and it might be a small gesture of acknowledgement for our departing pupils.
Photographs of Work
A number of the teachers have commented that some parents have sent on photographs of the children engaged in all kinds of activities during the lockdown. These have included pictures of the children engaging in physical activity, baking, gardening, working in the bog, completing school work, celebrating Easter or Eid Al Fitr or similar. We are delighted to receive these pictures and ask that as many families as possible send these in so that we can share these on our social media platforms, on our school website or on a large display when we return to school. I feel that this is a great way to acknowledge the efforts of the children and to celebrate the resilience shown by families during the lockdown. It would be an appropriate celebration of the varied efforts of our children in these difficult times. Please forward these to you class teachers by email.
We thank our parents and all in our Scoil Íosa family for your continued efforts in furthering your children’s progress. It would not be possible to function without the level of cooperation we have received. It is both humbling and gratifying to receive positive feedback from our parents and in truth helps in no small manner to keep us going in these uncertain times. I’m sure there will be better times ahead. Until then, keep safe, keep healthy and do the right thing to defeat this pandemic.
K Dennedy on behalf of the staff of Scoil Íosa.