STAYING SAFE AT THIS TIME
15th March 2020
Our first priority in school is always the safety of staff and parents, of our visitors and, most especially, of our children.
We also have a very important duty of responsibility towards all others across our community, including especially elderly and vulnerable member of our community.
We are struggling to reach a balanced decision in regard to Coronavirus protection that will support these duties and priorities.
Already in school we attendance has fallen by over 40%.
We have almost 550 children in our classes and over 60 members of staff.
What we do very directly affects over 400 immediate families.
Just normal day-to-day interaction then spreads to so many more than 1 000 families.
We have to recognise the fear and worry there is across Ireland.
People want and will always try to ‘do the right thing’.
At this time of year, and every year through these months, every day we will have upwards of 100 children who have colds and sniffles. These are expected and very normal and children are, quite rightly, in school. Staff in school support and help especially our youngest children with personal hygiene always. At this time, there is very obvious additional worry and uncertainty in regard to ‘colds and sniffles’.
Over the past few weeks we have enhanced personal hygiene arrangements in school, including through additional cleaning arrangements through the school day.
We have been trying to increase these further. Soap and paper towels we have plenty of at the moment but these will be quickly used up. We have been unable to buy sanitising resources. At the beginning of last week, we were told of new supplies of both dispensers, gels and foams. We were told these would be immediately available and we placed orders for these.
We enquired about delivery of these on Friday past and were told supply of these would be four weeks away.
We are an island community. Newry and Dundalk, Emyvale and Aughancloy, Strabane and Lifford, there is little between us and illness does not respect the short distances between these and all our communities.
We feel very strongly that we must act as one community.
We have a significant number of children with their own vulnerabilities.
We have a far greater number from families with other, both younger and elderly, vulnerabilities.
These include already life-threatening vulnerabilities.
Our first duty is the safe operation of school and school community.
The very last thing we want to do is that school is not open.
However, we feel we must act at this time.
We cannot, in all conscience, assure families that safe operation of school is possible at this time.
We propose that school will not open this week again as planned from Wednesday, 18th March.
School will remain closed through this week.
School staff will be in school on Wednesday and we will work to plan a way forward from there.
This will include making ‘work’ available for children but, to be honest, this is not the foremost of our considerations. Safety is foremost.
We will write to you again later this week.
If you have any questions at all about this letter or would like any other information, please do not hesitate to contact me here at school on Wednesday, 028 8774 6044. Your opinion is always welcome.
Should this position change at any time, we will immediately text you any changes to arrangements.
Please also keep a check on the school’s Facebook page for any changes. Please do note that we do not have Messenger service on the school’s Facebook page, queries cannot be answered there.
In the meantime, please everyone stay safe and let’s watch out for each other.