I hope everyone had a nice weekend. We certainly have been lucky with the weather. As the school was to be closed yesterday and today, we are sending out an abbreviated learning plan this week, which should arrive later today. You can view the latest video message for everyone below.

As you have probably heard by now, we will not be returning to the school building until autumn. The staff is disappointed but understands fully the importance of ensuring everyone’s safety. This means that the importance of making the most of the distance learning for the next two months has increased. Now that we all have some experience, we’d like to seek parents’ opinions again. This will inform how we go forward. We hope to try new ways of engagement starting Monday, 11th May. Your viewpoint is very important. Please visit this link to participate in the survey.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScpJYzAoJn9hKfU-tLPT6MXuuon7FNJgxZf96C9Pqb7Jvubag/viewform

We do hope to be able to execute our plan of opening the school building so that books can be collected to facilitate learning. When the most severe restrictions have been lifted, we will make a plan for this task.

In the meantime, we are taking steps to improve communication. We are setting up a mobile phone for greater two-way communication. The number is 089 2477544. We will be using it to contact families via Skype, so please add this number to your phone so you can recognise it when we call. If you need to reach Matt, you can ring this number as he will have the actual phone. If you need to contact a teacher, you can email them to request a call-back.

We hope everyone continues to be well. Thanks for your continued support!

Home Learning Activities

We are going to launch a new initiative through our website this week. We are hoping to put up a range of activities that all families can try at home, particularly things that we might not be able to do at school. These short videos will be available on our website, behind a password. Matt will make the first one, and it will be posted later this week. We are hoping that at least one new video will be added each week. And we are asking for anyone who is interested to consider creating a video mini-lesson. This includes staff members, parents and even children. There is no need to appear on the video if you wish, just providing the voice over for the task. This can be a great way to share a skill and encourage others to explore the skill. Please get in touch with Matt if you or your child would be interested in creating a video. He will help guide you through the process.

Active School Week @ Home

Well done to everyone for all your efforts to be active this past week. A big thank you for the photos that were sent in to share all the creative ways you stayed active this past week.

Knocknacarra Educate Together NS – Board of Management Meeting – 28th April 2020, 20.00 (Google Meet)

Present: Maggie Hall (patron nominee), Liz Daly (female parent nominee nominee), Aneil Rawat (male parent nominee), Paul Adams (chairperson and patron nominee), Elaine Keane (community nominee),Louise Shields (community nominee), Vivienne Kelly (teacher nominee) and Matt Wallen (principal and secretary), Paul chaired the meeting.

Principal’s Report

Enrolment

  • There are currently 157 pupils enrolled in six classes.
  • We have been in a holding pattern regarding the enrolment for senior classes.  As the closure extends, we will look at contacting families this week or early next week to offer places. 

Staffing

  • All employees paid directly by the school have continued to be paid as normal.
  • SNAs have been required to complete an online survey for potential redeployment.  Recent clarifications have suggested that their role will be to support the transition back to school for children with special needs, most likely the ones under their care already.
  • Weekly staff meetings have been held online.

Health and Safety

  • The school remains closed, even for teachers, at present. 

Attendance

  • Attendance for the year to date remains 93.3%.  Formal attendance has not been taken in any manner since the school closed on 12th March.  13 children continue to have perfect attendance so far this year.  Seven children have missed 20 days or more.  Letters have been sent out to children who have reached 15 or more absences reminding parents that absences of 20 days or more will be reported to Túsla.

Curriculum Development

  • I am working on collating information for the Arts Plan (Music, Drama and Visual Arts), which should be complete next month.

Building

  • We are on hold with the two big projects. The doors are on order.  It is likely that the production line has stopped at present, delaying their delivery.  Tenders for the contractor for the pipes replacement have been received and given to the consultant who is due to provide a tender report.  
  • Any potential repairs to the roof are on hold at present.
  • A window was broken, and we arranged for replacement last week.

Policies

  • The draft Admissions Policy was discussed at length by the staff and distributed to parents.  We now need to agree the draft policy and send it to Educate Together for consideration.

Misc. Events/Information

  • Weekly newsletters are being sent out that include a link to a video message from me.
  • Teachers are sending weekly learning plans.  We have discussed trying to find ways to make more personal connections with families in a manner that is comfortable for teachers.
  • We are grateful to the efforts of teachers to provide plans, the parents for their ongoing support and the children for managing this unusual situation with great positivity and flexibility.

Financial Report

  • It was decided not to send out Voluntary Contribution letters to families in light of the ongoing economic uncertainty for many families.  The Spring Fair, the main fundraiser, had to be cancelled.  Both are substantial income sources, but due to less spending requirements and careful management, the budget targets should be able to be met.
  • It was agreed that parents will be invited to make a voluntary contribution in a future newsletter but formal letters will not be sent out this year.
  • All grants expected from the Department have been continued to be received.  All staff paid directly by the school will continue to receive full salary.
  • The water bill was paid. 

Draft Admission Policy

The draft policy was discussed, and it will now be sent to Educate Together for review.

Distance Learning

The Board discussed the current approach to distance learning.  Matt explained it was a rapid and unexpected turn of events and that a bridging approach was in place.  Many Board members felt that a broader approach with ongoing and regular feedback and interaction, particularly in light of the fact that distance learning may be required on a long-term basis, was needed.  This will be discussed with the staff in a meeting this week, and decisions will be communicated back to the Board and the parent community.