24th Jun 2020
Many schools have already started renovations, adding hand sanitisation and isolation stations
As summer programme preparations take place, a Department of Education School Covid-19 Response Plan has been circulated to schools across the State.
These guidelines have given us a glimpse into what schools will look like when they reopen in late August or early September.
Renovations have already started to take place, as schools are restructuring bathrooms and adding additional safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Handwashing and hand sanitising stations must be installed in each classroom as well as in multiple areas throughout the school.
There will also be a designated isolation area for pupils or staff who are showing Covid-19 symptoms. After assessment, they may be asked to leave the school safely or be transported home by a family member.
Only essential workers will be allowed to access the school and a log of these comings and goings must be kept for the foreseeable future.
Teachers and special needs assistants will be required to undergo Covid-19 induction training before the school year begins to ensure safe practices are implemented in the classroom.
Staff will also be required to clean and use their own equipment in the staff room such as cups, plates and cutlery.
As of now, they are not required to wear PPE unless administering first aid or coming in contact with someone who is suspected to have Covid-19.
Some teachers’ unions have criticised the school guidelines’ lack of social distancing measures. There is nothing said on the required one or two metre distance between desks, limited capacity, etc.
However, the government may be looking at other countries who have already opened up their schools to the public to see what measures have worked for them.
Some schools in China are frequently checking students’ temperatures and have staggered lunch breaks according to a class by class basis.
Others in France implemented one metre social distancing, staggered drop off and pick up times and required one-way systems for entrances and exits.
While there is little information on Irish schools’ physical distancing policies, more specific guidelines are said to be released at the end of the week.
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