5th May Newsletter

Dear Parents,

I hope you are all making the most of the good weather and that the children are getting plenty of fresh air and making themselves useful around the house. Thankfully there seems to be a drop in the instances of Covid19 deaths reported over the past couple of days which gives some signs of hope that we are heading towards controlling the disease. However school must continue for the next eight weeks or so until we reach the official end of the school year. In the meantime please note the following.

Online Learning.
The Taoiseach seemed to bring a little more clarity around when schools will be permitted to reopen. It would appear that this will happen for the beginning of the new school year in late August/September. With this in mind I ask that parents and children do not interpret this as a sign to slacken off on the school work. Please note that the teachers will continue to engage with their pupils until the final day of term which is set at Monday June 22nd. We have become aware of Inspectors from the Department of Education and Skills carrying out spot checks on schools in the locality with a view to checking that the school is functioning and that the pupils are being afforded the opportunity to continue their studies in as normal a manner as possible. We assure parents that our teachers will continue to upload work to the Covid19 folder as usual and that this work is designed to fulfill the programme of study for each class. Everyone bears a responsibility to ensure that the children are not neglected in this regard.

Junior/Senior Infants Reading.
Thank you to parents who have made contact with Ms. Worden regarding the ‘Reading Eggs’ platform. To date around 20% of children have received log in details and are taking part in the activities. I would encourage those who haven’t started the children on this programme to consider it as soon as possible as it is a very worthwhile way in which to work on the children’s reading skills. Given the length of time that some of our infants pupils have been away from school we must take every opportunity to ensure that the children do not lose the skills gained before the school closure.

Forwarding Work.
Over the past few weeks, the teachers have worked hard on ways to make the work uploaded a two way process. This is to allow pupils to get in contact if there are any difficulties with the prescribed work or if parents are experiencing difficulties with accessing the work. We fully accept that for some parents, the technology is proving to be a challenge for a variety of reasons, among which are, access to printers, issues with internet access, lack of suitable devices for the children to work effectively with or demand on the computer at home from parents working from home or from siblings sitting state exams. If for any reason a child cannot do the work due to any of these reasons please do not hesitate to get in touch with the teacher by email (all teachers emails are listed under the contacts tab on the school website) and the teacher in question will do everything to ensure that no child is excluded from their work.
Where children have completed work for correction, this can be facilitated by either taking a photograph of the work and forwarding it to the teacher by email, or by keeping a folder of the work for correction on returning to school.

Khan Academy
A couple of teachers have remarked that some of the usernames chosen by the children for Khan Academy or ReadTheory have made it difficult to identify the children with a view to keeping assessment data. We ask that where children have chosen an obscure username that they change this to include their first name on their username.

New Classes 2020-2021
At present we are allocating classes to teachers for the new school year. Once this is finalised, I will be letting parents know. I hope to have this in place before the June Bank Holiday weekend. Booklists for the new school year will issue in early June.

Due to the Covid19 disruption I have extended the date for new enrolments to infants to accommodate those parents who have not yet managed to return enrolment forms. The enrolment form is available for download on the school website and once filled in can be returned to: The Secretary, Scoil Íosa, Abbeyquarter, Ballyhaunis. Letters will issue to parents before the end of May detailing whether the application is successful as per the provisions of our enrolment policy.

Repeating School Grades.
A couple of parents have been in touch expressing concern that their children may not be ready to move up to the next class grade due to the time lost because of the Covid19 crisis. We accept that for some this is a very real concern but reiterate that the teachers have set appropriate work to ensure that the children do progress at an appropriate level. It goes without saying that online learning only succeeds where the pupils have engaged with the work and are spending quality time completing the relative tasks. When we do return to school, all teachers will be working hard to bridge any gaps which may have arisen and we are working on teacher allocation to classes to reflect this. We feel that initially there will be no need for pupils to consider repeating grades and where this is necessary it will become apparent over the school year. It is very important that we do not succumb to ‘knee jerk’ reactions in this regard and that any issues vis a vis repeating grades will be taken for the right reasons and where we are certain that it is in the child’s best interests.

Once again, my sincere thanks to all of our parents for their understanding and support at this difficult time. I hope that you are all keeping well and that you have managed to avoid contracting any symptoms of Covid19. Please continue to adhere to the recommendations around social distancing and staying at home. It will be worth it in the end. To our Muslim families we wish you all Ramadhan Kareem.


K Dennedy & School Staff