As we complete two full months since the return to the school building, it is very important to pause and reflect on the many ways everyone in our learning community have worked together to make it a successful and safe experience for all. Firstly, the staff has worked tirelessly and with great creativity to adapt to the situation and continue to provide positive learning experiences. Secondly, a big thank you to all the parents as you have supported the school by following the guidelines and helping support your children and our entire school navigate a very challenging situation. Finally, a great tribute to the children of the school who have brought flexibility and openness to the changes in the school. It is the energy and the enthusiasm of the children that reminds us all of the value and importance of the efforts made by the parents and staff members to ensure the ongoing continuity of a holistic education for all the children in our school in as safe a manner as possible. We hope everyone has a relaxing and enjoyable break.
The mid-term break is from Monday, 26th October to 30th October inclusive. The school will re-open on Monday, 2nd November. We know it won’t be an ordinary Halloween, but we hope it will be a safe and still fun one for everyone’s family.
Macnas at Home
Normally the streets of Galway would host the Macnas Halloween Parade. This year we’d recommend checking out Macnas at Home, a project as part of the Bram Stoker Festival, which has a number of fantastic seasonal activities to try at home this week. Videos will be released starting on Tuesday with great dance and movement and mask-making, drumming and body beats and creating stories.
During the week before last, we marked Maths Week with a variety of activities. These varied from maths trails to investigations in the classroom, online workshops and fun games.
It was great fun to see everyone dressed up yesterday for our Halloween festivities. We had a fantastic whole-school virtual assembly with plenty of spooky poems and a chance to see the costumes. The yard disco with Halloween music was also great fun.
’d kindly ask that everyone uses the second set of gates (the pedestrian gates) when coming and going from school. The first big gate should be used only by staff members entering the car park. Please exercise caution as you cross in front of this gate. It’s great to see so many cyclists in the mornings. We’d ask you to use the middle gate to enter. Usually someone will be on hand to open and close it as required. Sincere thanks for the efforts related to parking in a way that respects our neighbours. It is greatly appreciated.
Knocknacarra Educate Together NS – Board of Management Meeting – 30th September 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.
o There are currently 186 pupils enrolled in seven classes. It is likely this number will be 188 next week.
o The Admissions Policy for the school has been approved by Educate Together with two minor changes and is now ready to be posted and ratified.
o I will liaise with other local schools regarding the dates and process for the enrollment procedures for 2021-2022.
o The enrollment figures are sufficient for the retention of the two developing posts, and they will be sanctioned as permanent in October.
o Florence, the cleaner, is working additional hours.
o Regarding the shared post, we will use our part-time hours rather than have a teacher travel between the schools.
o Attendance has been less than previous years in response to requests to keep children at home if unwell or after returning from abroad. The average attendance to date is 91.7%. That being said, 43% have not missed a day. Three children have missed more than 15 days.
Health and Safety
o The COVID-19 plan is in operation, and the management of the re-opening has gone smoothly.
o The staff has been focused on distance learning and the return to the school building. The plan for the year is to finalise the Arts Curriculum Plan, the Learn Together Plan and a comprehensive review of the Irish plan.
o The emergency works projects are complete, and the final payments will be drawn down soon. The heat is working well.
o Regarding the roof, further consultation has been taking place. It is agreed by all that the design of the roof does not provide sufficient slope for drainage. Despite this, evidence of new leaks has not appeared. As a temporary solution, it may be best to rule out any difficulties with blockages of the down pipes and gutters. Then, we can look at replacing them if no blockages are found, as discussed at the last meeting.
o Many of the taps in our school could be working better. This became apparent when trying to adjust the length of time the water runs. Prices are being sought for replacement.
o An additional grant has been awarded for Creative Schools as well as additional days. We will pursue, as planned, the digital arts project discussed back in February.
o Afterschool clubs for football and superhero training will commence this week. They will maintain class bubbles. Some classes did not have sufficient interest to run the activities. Evasion games will be offered starting in October.
o The Afterschool held a one-day camp during the school closure on Monday. o The school had its first online whole-school assembly last Friday, and it went well.
o The staff had their first staff meeting of the new school year online.
o Some online arts and green-school workshops will take place over the next month.
o Matt has been co-opted onto the Board of Directors of Educate Together.
o A significant amount of spending took place to prepare for the re-opening of the school and the emergency works grants.
o Last year’s spending was reviewed. A detailed budget will be prepared for the next meeting to take account for the additional funding and unexpected planning related to the return to the school building.
o The spending on the replacement of taps was agreed, and three quotes will be sought.
Plan for School Re-opening
The plan was discussed at length. Overall, it was agreed that the plan was working well, and the Board is grateful to the staff, children and parents for their cooperation and efforts. It was agreed that parents would be asked to wear face coverings when coming into the school yard to drop off and collect children and particularly if parents have a conversation with staff members. It was also agreed to remind parents not to gather for conversation and to leave the school grounds as soon as possible. The Risk Assessment that summarises the plan will now be included in the Health and Safety Statement. Two further modifications were agreed. Specifically, it was agreed that in rare situations children in the afterschool may play together with children not from their class bubble in the following restricted situations: when no other children from their class bubble are staying afterschool (typically older children), in an outdoor environment only and with physical distancing maintained. It was also agreed to make reference to the new guidelines from the HSE regarding testing and suspected cases.
In-School Management Policy
The list of duties for the post-holders (Appendix A of the policy) for the current school year was discussed and agreed.
Distance Learning Policy
The policy was discussed. The Board felt greater clarity could be provided regarding synchronous (live online) teaching. This aspect of the policy will be considered again by the staff, but the draft as it stands will apply if there is a need for distance learning before the plan is formally ratified.