Return to School Plan

Divine Mercy SNS Return to School Plan

We are looking forward to welcoming all our pupils back to school on 31st August 2020 following the sudden closure of schools on March 12th 2020. This has been a strange and challenging time for all of us and it will take some time for us to adjust to new ways of doing things. The health, safety and well-being of all our school community, pupils, parents and staff is central to all the decisions we take. This plan has been developed by the Board of Management in conjunction with the Principal and members of staff at Divine Mercy SNS in accordance with advice from the relevant authorities including the DES, HSE and NPHET. The nature of the Covid-19 pandemic means that circumstances change rapidly and frequently in response to how prevalent the virus is. As a result this plan will be a ‘live document’ subject to change and amendment at short notice to ensure compliance with best practice and the most up-to-date advice.

It is our intention that all pupils will return to school on Monday 31 August 2020. It is not possible to completely eliminate the risk of infection however with the co-operation of all members of our school community, it is possible to minimise the risk of the virus being introduced to the school and the consequent risk of its spread. We are asking for your co-operation with the following arrangements:

Arrival of pupils

  • Parents and pupils should not be in the school grounds before their allotted time before 8.50 am. To help with reducing the traffic we would encourage pupils to walk or cycle to school where possible.
  • Please note the gate between the Junior and Senior School will be locked and there will be no access to either school via that gate.


Collection of children during the school day

Pupils should be in school for the full school day where possible. If an adult has to collect a child during the course of the school day the following arrangement applies.

  • Please let us know in advance either by note, phone call to 01 4670689 or email at that you need to collect your child early.
  • If your child is not feeling well we will contact you by phone and your child will be brought to the gate by a member of staff to be collected.
  • When you arrive at the school please call the school number to let us know that you are there.
  • No adult should enter the school building unless invited to.

In accordance with DES & HSE guidelines children in the following categories should not attend school :

  • Children who have been diagnosed with Covid-19
  • Children who have been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with Covid-19
  • Children who have a suspected case of Covid-19 and are awaiting the outcome of a test
  • Children with underlying health conditions who have been directed by a medical professional not to attend school
  • Children who have returned home from travelling abroad and must self-isolate for a period of 14 days
  • Children who are generally unwell or presenting with a high temperature.

If parents are in any doubt about whether their child should attend school, please keep your child at home and seek medical advice. If your child is in a high-risk group, please seek medical advice before returning to school.

Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19 

Pupils should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. If a pupil displays symptoms of Covid-19 while in the building, the following procedures will be implemented:

  • Parents/Guardians will be contacted immediately – please ensure that the school has your most up to date contact details and emergency contact details.
  • The pupil will be accompanied to the designated isolation area by a member of staff. The staff member will wear a mask and will remain at least 2 metres away from the symptomatic pupil and will also make sure that others also maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from the symptomatic pupil.
  • A mask will be provided for the pupil presenting with symptoms. He/she should wear the mask if in a common area with other people, in the isolation room and while exiting the premises.
  • The pupil presenting with symptoms will be advised to cover their mouth and nose with the disposable tissue provided when they cough or sneeze and to put the tissue in the waste bin provided.
  • An assessment will be made as to whether the child displaying symptoms can immediately be brought home by his/her parents, who will be advised to contact their doctor and continue self-isolation at home.
  • If the pupil is too unwell to go home or advice is required, the school will contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick pupil is a Covid-19 suspect and will seek HSE public health advice.
  • Arrangements will be made for appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved.

The HSE will inform any staff/parents who have come into close contact with a diagnosed case via the contact tracing process. The HSE will contact all relevant persons where a diagnosis of COVID-19 is made. The instructions of the HSE should be followed.

Supporting the Learning of Pupils who cannot attend school

If a pupil is not able to attend school for an extended period on medical advice, the class teacher and/or learning support teacher will support the pupil’s learning at home by providing and sharing suggested activities with parents.

Impact of a Suspected or Confirmed Case of Covid-19 in a Class

If the school is notified that a person in your pupil’s class has a confirmed case of Covid-19

  • The parents of all pupils in the class will be notified by the school with the information provided by the HSE.
  • Public health advice will be sought by the school and followed.
  • As this situation is changing rapidly, these guidelines may change in the future.

Personal Equipment

  • For the health and safety of everyone, pupils should have one pencil case in school and a second one at home. Everything must be labelled with your child’s name. We request that each child will have a wipeable container to store the copies and books they are using, and this will remain in the classroom. There will be no written homework for pupils throughout the month of September. There will be minimal transfer of materials from school to home and vice versa.
  • Each child should have their own labelled schoolbag, box for books and lunchbox. Everything else will be available in school. Children will eat their lunch at their table and will be asked to take home any uneaten lunch, wrappers, waste in their lunch box.  Please remind your child not to share food or drinks with other children.

Shared Equipment

By necessity, some classroom equipment needs to be shared including tablets and the equipment used for structured activities. Cleaning of such shared equipment with wipes or other cleaning products will take place at regular intervals to minimise the risk of the spread of infection. Resources that can be cleaned will be used. 


Due to the number of pupils attending and the play space available to us, we cannot facilitate all the children in the school out playing together at the same time as we did in the past. The yard will be divided into 2.

There will be two breaks every day.

  • The first break of 15 mins will be from 10.35am – 10.50am for the children in 3rd and 4th and classes 11.00am – 11.15am for the 5th and 6th classes. 
  • The second break will take place at 12.35pm – 1.00pm for 3rd and 4th classes and 1.10pm – 1.35pm for 5th and 6th classes. 

Learning Support

In keeping with our Special Education Policy, learning support will be provided by a blended approach of in-class support and withdrawal. Where a support teacher is working alongside a class teacher and/or an SNA both adults must be mindful of maintaining social distance from each other. Pupils withdrawn for learning support will observe social distancing of at least one metre where possible. The tables and chairs in SET rooms will be wiped clean in between different groups attending.


Face coverings are mandatory for teaching staff. Staff who are attending to particular care needs or who are administering first aid will wear appropriate PPE including gloves and face masks.

Teacher Absence and Substitution

During the Covid-19 emergency pupils cannot be divided and accommodated in other classes in the case of teacher absence. In the event that a teacher is unable to attend school, we will follow the DES guidelines and every effort will be made to secure a substitute teacher for the class.


PE classes will be held outdoors for the month of September.


Other than staff and persons engaged in essential work on behalf of the Board of Management, no adults will be allowed into the school building without prior permission. If you wish to meet with the principal or a member of staff you should contact the school by telephone at 01 4670689 or by email at to arrange an appointment. Each class teacher will also have an email address that parents can use for contact.  

Returning to the classroom:

  • Hand sanitiser will be available at entry and exit points within the school building and in all classrooms and support rooms.
  • Hand washing facilities and disposable paper towels are available in all classrooms and support rooms and pupils will be reminded and supervised while washing their hands at regular times throughout the day. Please ensure that your child knows and uses the protocols around coughing/sneezing/use of hand sanitisers etc. in preparation for returning to school.
  • Please label your child’s clothing, schoolbag, lunchbox, coat, pencil case etc. as these items cannot be shared.
  • We are very aware of the concerns parents have around the amount of time children have missed at school. Teachers recognise the challenges presented by distance learning and will take this into account when planning for teaching and learning for the coming school year. Our main focus will be on ensuring that your child settles back into school life, feels safe and returns to learning in a positive way. 

Useful links:

We appreciate your patience and support throughout these challenging and uncertain times. We have had to make changes to the way we do things to ensure the safe return to school of the pupils and staff of Divine Mercy SNS. Thank you for your co-operation and understanding with these matters.

Board of Management

Divine Mercy SNS