COVID-19 in Schools

Clarification on the use of face coverings in Post Primary schools
The Department has issued the following clarification on the use of face coverings in post primary schools:
Wearing a face covering or mask does not negate the need to stay at home if symptomatic.
Wearing of face coverings – a requirement
Staff and students, at post-primary level, are required to wear a face covering. The exemptions to this are set out below.
Cloth face coverings
Cloth face coverings are recommended for staff and students. Cloth face coverings act as a barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from travelling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the face covering coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice. Cloth face coverings are therefore intended to prevent transmission of the virus from the wearer (who may not know that they are infected) to those with whom they come into close contact.
Face coverings must not contain any slogans/logos/images that may cause upset or be deemed offensive to any member of the school community.
Cloth face coverings are more effective than visors. In the limited circumstances where a cloth face covering cannot be worn clear visors must be considered. The alternate use of a clear visor can also be considered when a staff member is interacting with students with hearing difficulties or learning difficulties.
2020/21 Bulletin 13
A medical certificate to certify that a person falls into a category listed below must be provided to the school by, or on behalf of, any person (staff or student) who claims that they are covered by the exemptions below:
• any person with difficulty breathing who cannot wear a cloth face covering or a visor
• any person who is unable to remove the cloth face-covering or visor without assistance
• any person who has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the cloth face covering or visor, for example persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, sensory concerns or tactile sensitivity.
In circumstances where a medical certificate is not provided that person (staff or student) will be refused entry to the school.
The Department has also issued the following clarification regarding the physical distancing requirement when a face covering, supported by a medical certificate, cannot be worn:
The view is that there will be a very small number who are covered by the limited exceptions who cannot wear a cloth face covering or visor and that in these limited circumstances the arrangements in place for physical distancing (1m), hand hygiene, cough etiquette and cleaning would apply and should be strictly observed.
Directions for effective use of face coverings
• Information should be provided by schools on the proper use, removal, and washing of face coverings. Advice on how to use face coverings properly can be found here.
• All staff and students should be reminded not to touch the face covering and to wash or sanitise their hands (using hand sanitiser) before putting on and after taking off the face covering.
• All staff (and students, where applicable), should be aware that they should wash or sanitise hands (using a hand sanitiser) before and after helping a student put on or adjust a face covering.
• Face coverings should be stored in a designated space, for example, in an individually labelled container or bag.
• Cloth face coverings should be washed after every day of use and/or before being used again, or if visibly soiled.
• Face coverings should not be worn if they are wet. A wet cloth face covering may make it difficult to breathe.
Whilst staff and students may wish to utilise their own face covering on a day-to-day basis, schools should have a stock of additional disposable or multi-use face coverings (or if appropriate, visors) for staff and students in case a back-up face covering is needed during the day or where required on an ongoing basis.
Use of medical grade face coverings
Schools should consider the specific circumstances where the use of medical face masks (to EU Standard EN 14683) may be more appropriate for staff as part of their risk assessment for employees returning to work (for example where staff by necessity need to be in close and continued proximity with students with intimate care needs such as SNAs).
Students using school transport
All students on the post primary transport scheme are required to wear face coverings subject to the exemptions above.



Health and Safety Control of COVID-19 Policy for Students


 St Mel’s College, Longford


  1. Introduction


Under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, the board of management of St Mel’s College as employer is required to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all employees of the school. The employer is further required to manage and conduct the school in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that individuals at the place of work who are not employees, such as students, parents/guardians, visitors to the school, are not exposed to risks to their safety, health or welfare.


This policy is influenced by the need to minimise the risk of introduction of COVID-19 into the school community and to prevent its spread. Although it is acknowledged that no single action or set of actions will completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, adherence to this policy will contribute to the reduction of that risk of transmission.


In accordance with this policy students are expected to comply with the standards of behaviour set out in this policy or as directed by the school to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19. The COVID-19 control measures are consistent with current advice from the HSE, the Health and Safety Authority, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Foreign Affairs and, as such, may be subject to change. Students and parents/guardians will be notified of any changes to the control measures.


Students are expected to comply with all directions from school staff in relation to the school’s COVID-19 control measures. Any failure or refusal to comply with this policy or to follow instructions of school staff should be dealt with in accordance with the school’s Code of Behaviour.


Parents/guardians are required to supply the school with a phone number/s of available person/s who can be contacted at all times and who will be available to collect a student from the school should the need arise.



  1. Symptoms of COVID-19


Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to symptoms of cold or flu. The most common symptoms are:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of sense of smell or taste


More information regarding the most up-to-date signs and symptoms of COVID-19 is available on the HSE website,

  1. Standards of Behaviour expected of students to help prevent the introduction or spread of COVID – 19 in the school


Standards of Behaviour expected of students

Students are expected to comply with any control measures directed by the school to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19, including, but not limited to:


·        maintaining a social-distance of at least 1 metre and where possible, 2 metres, from other students and staff;

·        wearing a face covering (Face Mask) . All students at post-primary level, are required to wear a face covering (Face Masks) subject to a limited number of exceptions set out in relevant Department of Education guidance. Face coverings must not contain any slogans/logos/images that may cause upset or be deemed offensive to any member of the school community.

·        performing hand hygiene with a hand sanitiser on entering the school.

·        repeating hand-hygiene at regular intervals throughout the school day and when directed by school staff;

·        maintaining good respiratory-hygiene. In this regard students should:

o   cover nose/mouth with a tissue when coughing/sneezing and dispose of used tissue in waste bin and perform hand hygiene

o   cough or sneeze into the inner elbow (upper sleeve) rather than into the hand, if no tissues are available.

o   keep contaminated hands away from the eyes and nose

o   carry out hand hygiene after contact with respiratory secretions and contaminated objects/materials

o   not spit or deliberately cough or sneeze at or towards any other person in the school


·        not sharing materials or stationery, such as pens, calculators, rulers, etc. with other students;

·        not attending school for 14 days after returning from travel out of the country in line with Government guidelines for travel;

·        not attending school if displaying COVID-19 like symptoms and remaining out of school for such period as is required in accordance with HSE/GP advice

·        not attending school where tested positive for COVID-19 and remaining out of school for such period as is required in accordance with HSE/GP advice

·        not attending school if identified by the HSE as a person who has been in contact with another person who has contracted COVID-19 and remaining out of school for such period as is required in accordance with HSE/GP advice;

·        not attending school if a member of the student’s household is displaying COVID-19 symptoms and remaining out of school for such period as is required in accordance with HSE/GP advice

·        telling a teacher or other member of staff where a student feels unwell at school. In that regard

o   the student will require to be collected from the school as soon as possible by a parent/guardian or a person designated by the parent/guardian for such purpose.

o   parents must ensure that the school has up-to-date contact details so that they can be contacted by the school if required.


·        complying with any other such directions as advised by the DES and/or HSE and communicated to the school community.






Students should be aware that the above is a non-exhaustive list. Students are expected to follow all instructions from staff which aim to prevent the introduction COVID-19 into the school and minimise its spread.


  1. Failure to comply with the standards of behaviour


Failure by a student to comply with the standards of behaviour expected to help prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 will constitute a breach of the Code of Behaviour of St Mel’s College and he may be subject to sanction up to and including suspension or permanent exclusion.


Any actions or sanctions taken in respect of alleged breaches of the code of behaviour will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the school’s code of behaviour, the requirements of the NEWB Guidelines on Developing a Code of Behaviour and relevant requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000. Sanctions will be proportionate to the nature, seriousness and context of the behaviour.


A student engaging in aggressive, threatening or unacceptable behaviour that creates or increases the risk of COVID-19 infection for staff, other students or visitors to the school may be removed from class and, if necessary, from the school premises with immediate effect, pending any further action to be taken in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour.

This behaviour will be classified as Gross Misbehaviour under the schools Code of Behaviour

‘’ Any action that undermines, threatens or exposes to danger, any person,element or aspect of school life’’

This Policy was ratified by the Board of Management of St Mel’s College on 22/09/2020


Signed- Conal Gibbons -Chairman  22/09/2020


St. Mel’s College School Covid 19      Return to School Plan


Important Notes for Parents:


St. Mel’s College are implementing comprehensive health and safety plans, procedures and protocols. The health and safety of the whole school community is paramount. To ensure the health and safety of the whole school community, all staff, students and parents are expected to adhere strictly to all the school’s Covid-19 protocols and procedures. We require the support of all parents/guardians to help ensure that their son meets these new expectations.


The DES document ‘Covid-19 Response Plan for the safe and sustainable reopening of Post Primary Schools’ will act as our Covid -19 school guide and school policy.


Our School Covid-19 Policy Statement is attached to this document for your attention.


Parents/Guardians should ensure that their son has all his class materials with him at the start of each day e.g. PE gear, lunches, musical instruments, face coverings, visors etc. Only necessary visitors with essential purposes will be allowed to enter the school.


Parents/Guardians must not allow their son to attend school if he has any signs of illness, flu-like symptoms, high temperature, cough etc. Parents are encouraged to telephone their GP for advice. Please follow the school’s Covid19 – Parent and Visitor Protocols (attached below).

Student Responsibilities – Follow all school Covid-19 guidelines and procedures, practice good hand hygiene and cough hygiene, wear a face covering all day, have a Ziploc plastic bag in their bags at all times with a supply of spare face coverings when required.


Parent Responsibilities – ensure their son has his face coverings each day with him, ensure he has all classroom materials for the day e.g. PE gear, lunches/lunch money, class materials etc.


All of new procedures and protocols will be regularly reviewed and assessed by school Management and may be subject to change to improve the health and safety of the school community.




St Mel’s College COVID 19 Policy Statement



St. Mel’s College is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our staff and a safe learning environment for all our students. To ensure that, we have developed the following COVID-19 Response Plan. The Board of Management and all school staff are responsible for the implementation of this plan and a combined effort will help contain the spread of the virus. We will:


  • continue to monitor our COVID-19 response and amend this plan in consultation with our staff
  • provide up to date information to our staff and students on the Public Health advice issued by the HSE and ie
  • display information on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and correct hand- washing techniques
  • agree with staff, a worker representative who is easily identifiable to carry out the role outlined in this plan in relation to summer provision
  • inform all staff and students of essential hygiene and respiratory etiquette and physical distancing requirements
  • adapt the school to facilitate physical distancing as appropriate in line with the public health guidance and direction of the Department of Education
  • keep a contact log to help with contact tracing
  • ensure staff and students engage with the induction/familiarisation briefing provided by the Department of Education
  • implement the agreed procedures to be followed in the event of someone showing symptoms of COVID-19 while at school
  • provide instructions for staff and students to follow if they develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during school time
  • implement cleaning in line with Department of Education advice


All school staff will be consulted on an ongoing basis and feedback is encouraged on any concerns, issues or suggestions.


This can be done through Ms Paula Oates and Ms Yvonne O’ Toole (School LWRs), who will be supported in line with the agreement between the Department and education partners.


Signed:  Conal Gibbons – Chairperson                                         

Date: 21/08/2020 Declan Rowley -School Principal           

Date: 21/08/2020



Covid-19 School Day Arrangements and Protocols




Morning Arrival


  • All students are encouraged to walk or cycle to school. If a parent needs to drive their son to school, please consider dropping him off a short distance from the school grounds, possibly St Mel’s Cathedral Car Park to benefit the health and safety of


  • The School will open at 8.00 a.m. and supervisors will monitor the school The Breakfast Club will be open from 8am to 8-45 and social distance measures will apply.
  • All students must have their face mask on when entering the school building each day. ‘No mask, No school’.



  • Students must sanitise their hands on arrival to the

Students will not be permitted to their lockers at present due to Social distancing issues.


  • All Students must proceed to the classroom of their first class of the day promptly after entering the




  • All students and staff must strictly adhere to the one-way system and will not be permitted to congregate on the


  • Students must proceed directly to their next classroom and keep at least 1 metre apart from other students at all


  • Extra supervision on corridors will be in



  • All desks will be spaced at least one metre
  • Teachers and students will wear a face covering for the duration of the
  • Windows/doors will be opened, weather
  • Students and staff will sanitise their hands upon entering the classroom

Classroom tables and chairs will be wiped by students at the end of each class and wipes will be disposed of in pedal bins in each room.


  • Classrooms/desks/chairs etc. will be deep cleaned every evening after school and treated with an electrical spray


Break Time and Lunchtime:




·        Break time – Staggered 11.00 a.m. – 11.15 a.m( 1st,2nd and TY Years) 11-30am-11-45 a.m. (3rd,5th and 6th Years)

  • Food will be distributed in School Canteen and Assembly Hall with Social Distancing in operation.
  • Lunchtime: The lunch period will last for 50 minutes and the Senior House students will continue to have the privilege of leaving the school for their lunch and if parents wish to revoke this privilege they must send a written request into the Senior Year Head Mr McWeeney.
  • No rolls,wraps or sandwiches will be made to order however students may pre-order and pay for these before school or at the morning break in the School Canteen. These will be available for collection in the Assembly Hall at lunch time.
  • Hot meals will be available without the need to pre-order provided that students follow the direction of the supervisors on duty and adhere to the social distancing guidelines that are in place.
  • The school shop will open once the pre-orders have been distributed.
  • There will be a cashless system implemented for all food purchases.



11-11-15am 1st Years,2nd Years and 3rd Yr Classes
11-30-11-45am TY,5th Years and 6th Years




  • The Canteen will operate with a limited
  • A one-way system will be in
  • Students will be permitted to sit down at socially distanced seating/extra benches outside


  • Extra supervisors will be assigned to the Canteen area, Assembly Hall and corridors at break times and lunch





  • No congregating will be permitted in the
  • Toilets will remain open all day to ease congestion at break times.
  • Hot water and soap is available in all





  • Students must ensure they have all classroom materials with them each day. No sharing of equipment will be


  • Teachers will no longer be able to provide students with pens
  • Teachers will not be collecting student’s copybooks/notebooks. Self -correction will be encouraged with their teacher’s guidance and homework can be sent/returned digitally via Google Classroom.



Google Suite


  • Teachers will utilise our Learning & Teaching platform Google Suite fully during the academic year 2020-2021.
  • It will enable teachers to provide a blended learning approach for their students by setting & correcting homework/assignments, exams etc.
  • Google will enable teachers to provide online resources to students to avoid unnecessary handling of photocopied material and students’
  • All feedback to students on work completed can be sent digitally via the






Code of Behaviour

  • The Code of Behaviour now includes an expectation that all students co-operate fully with the school’s COVID-19 protocols and
  • Breaches of these protocols will be treated seriously and in line with the Code of
  • Students have a personal responsibility to familiarise themselves with good hand hygiene, good respiratory etiquette, restrict their movements as directed, cooperate with cleaning staff and to maintain a physical distance from other



  • Face coverings must be worn at all times. It is recommended that each student bring a supply of face masks in a Ziploc bag with them and that worn masks are cleaned daily.


  • Hand sanitiser dispensers are available in each room in the school. Students and staff must use the hand sanitiser when entering the
  • Hand sanitising stations are located at all entrance points and throughout the school building.
  • Visor, gloves and a mask are recommended to be worn by all staff when administering First
  • Visor and face masks are advised for teachers, SNAs when travelling with students via the school lift and when working in close proximity, such as classroom/toilets/ changing room, some SEN settings/events.
  • It is very important that all staff understand that a visor is only effective when used in conjunction with a mask at close
  • Electrical spray sterilisers have been purchased by the school and will be used to sanitise classrooms/equipment at the end of the
  • Information posters will be displayed throughout the school and school grounds

P.E and sports

  • All sport equipment will need to be cleaned/sanitised before and after
  • The school sports facilities will remain in use and the 4 dressing rooms will be used to allow for social distancing when togging out for sports and PE classes.

Specialist Subjects


  • All equipment will be sanitised and cleaned with wipes and an electrical spray



  • Staff are encouraged to wear a visor and face covering when accompanying students to/from the lift and ensure all buttons and railings/handles/high-touch areas are cleaned after use
  • Use of the lift throughout the day will be restricted to personel who are unable to use the stairs and two persons max at a time and/or students from the same class
  • The school lift will be added to the list of daily cleaning areas for cleaning
  • Daily checklist to be completed by cleaning

School library, IT rooms, Tech Graphic rooms

  • The school library will now act as an overflow classroom.
  • Social distancing and face masks will be used to ensure HSE guidelines are adhered to in the Graphics/DCG
  • Social distancing and face masks will be used to ensure HSE guidelines are adhered to while using computers in the IT room.

Isolation points area

  • Two areas have been chosen as isolation areas in the

Isolation area A – for any adult who falls ill.

Isolation area B – for any students who falls ill.

  • A locked room will house tissues and mask, gloves, aprons
  • This room will need to be thoroughly cleaned after each isolation


First Aid

  • PPE to be worn by staff member attending. PPE will include gloves and visor/face mask.
  • Ice packs, if required must be discarded after use for hygiene
  • If an injury is deemed to be serious, parents will be contacted and must pick up their son as soon as possible.



Student wellbeing

  • SPHE classes and Tutor Time will focus teaching in September/October on mental health and emotional wellbeing. A suite of resources is listed in the Roadmap related publications and on all key websites such as NEPS and the NCCA. Our school Guidance Team, Pastoral Care Team and SEN Department will be implementing supports for students.



Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19


Staff or students should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. The following outlines how a school should deal with a suspected case that may arise in a school setting.


A Room been designated as the Isolation Room.


If a staff member/student displays symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, the following procedures will be implemented:


  • If the person with the suspected case is a student, the parents/guardians will be contacted immediately.
  • A member of the school staff will accompany the person to the designated isolation area via the isolation route, keeping at least 2 metres away from the symptomatic person and also making sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from the symptomatic person at all
  • The virus is spread by droplets and is not airborne so physical separation is enough to reduce the risk of spread to others even if they are in the same
  • The staff member caring for a student should wear a face covering or mask. Gloves should not be used, as the virus does not pass through
  • A mask will be provided for the person presenting with symptoms if they are not wearing one. He/she should wear the mask if in a common area with other people or while exiting the
  • The individual who is displaying symptoms will immediately be directed to go home/be brought home by parents, call their doctor, and continue self-isolation at home.
  • If the person presenting with symptoms cannot immediately go home then the school will facilitate them by calling their doctor. The individual should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Advice should be given to the person presenting with symptoms to cover their mouth and nose with the disposable tissue provided when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the waste bag
  • If the person is well enough to go home, arrange for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible and advise them to inform their general practitioner by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used.
  • If they are too unwell to go home or advice is required, contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick person is a COVID-19
  • The school will carry out an assessment of the incident, which will form part of determining follow-up actions and recovery.
  • Appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved will be completed.