Re-opening Rockwell College – updated August 24th 2020

Greeting to our pupils, parents and agents. The information below has changed following some practical and operational challenges that have arisen. Please note that this information is still subject to change and that further changes are quite likely once the pupils return. Everything we are planning is with the intention of balancing your child’s safety with the need to have a stable school routine.

There are a number of changes here so please take time to read this carefully:

All the staff are very much looking forward to seeing you here again soon. In the meantime, stay safe.

Best wishes

Audrey O’Byrne

Changes that affect pupils:

1. Pupils in 1st Year, 2nd Year, 3rd Year and Transition Year will be in pupil-based classrooms for most of the school day. Your teachers will come to you. You will only leave your base classrooms for lessons that need Specialist Rooms such as Science, Computers, Home Economics, Art, Music & DCG/Graphics.

Why? We must limit movement around the school so that if anyone is carrying COVID-19 it will spread to far fewer people.

2. Pupils and all staff will wear cloth facemasks in class and anywhere where a 2m distance can’t be maintained. This is a directive from the Department of Education and is not a decision made by Rockwell College.
Why? We can keep pupils 1m apart in class, but not 2m. The Minister for Education informed schools of this requirement and it is intended to stop moisture particles from mouths spreading the virus. If pupils are 2m apart they need not wear masks.

3. Lunchtime and breaktime will change. Three of the Year Groups will take Morning Break at 10:10am for ten minutes, the other three will take it at 10:50am, the usual time. At 12:20pm, three groups will take lunch and return to class at 1pm, the other three year groups will take lunch at 1pm and return to class at 1:40pm. Tea will run from 4:30pm to spread out the numbers.
Why? We must keep 1m distancing in the Refs at Lunch time and the spilt Morning Break will allow Year Groups greater space to move around and toilets will be less congested.

4. Lockers will not be available to most year groups. Where lockers have to be used they will be pre-assigned and labelled to limit mixing between class groups. Other pupils will have to bring your gear bag to your Assembly/Study and leave it there.
Why? We must limit the places indoors where pupils can congregate in groups. We must also maintain 1m in Studies, so we have to open other areas as Studies. These areas do not have deep desks and so books must be stored in lockers.

5. Visors or masks may be worn in Morning Assembly and Evening Study.
Why? Visors are to stop moisture particles spreading the virus but are more manageable for a Study situation where there is little talking or movement. All pupils will be 1m apart in their Assembly and Studies, but as we cannot give 2m distancing the visors must be worn. Pupils can wear other types of face coverings instead of a visor in Assembly or Study if they feel more comfortable.

6. There can be NO sharing of pens, calculators, pencils etc. between pupils. Each pupil must be responsible for having their own materials.
Why? This is to limit the chances of the virus transmitting

7. Day pupils must bring their own water-bottles to school - we are looking at hands-free solutions that will allow pupils to top-up their water without excessive congregating at Lunch.

8. After-school activities are proceeding as much as possible. You will not be able to shower, however, under current guidelines. This may change soon.

Changes that affect parents:

1. Under no circumstances should your child come to school if unwell. If parents or any other family member shows symptoms or is awaiting a test, your child should not come to school. If a child arrives and is unwell, he/she may be isolated and you will be contacted to collect him/her.

As pupils return to school, they will be given information on hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing - these three elements remain crucial to stopping the spread of COVID-19. College staff will be re-enforcing this message consistently and pupils’ support is required and expected. Non-compliance will be regarded as a disciplinary issue affecting the safety and welfare of other pupils

2. All meetings will be by appointment only, we will be unable to facilitate unscheduled meetings no matter how short.

3. Parents should not drop in any items to the College that their child may have forgotten, unless it relates to medical or general health matters. This is to limit the persons interacting on site.

4. Year Deans may request more remote meetings to deal with matters relating to your child.

5. Please only drop-off at the rear of the building in the mornings - even if you approach the College via the back gate as we need the pupils to be only using the access points at the rear of the building. If your child is injured and cannot manage the steps, only then can the main door at Reception be used.

6. Ensure that with pupils using buses and carpools that masks are worn by all parties.

7. Because of the need for increased supervision, parents may find that the Principal and Deputy Principal are less readily available than in previous years. Every effort will be made to return calls, arrange meetings etc. as speedily as possible.

8. Note that the Back Gate will be open as normal for access to the College in the mornings and night. The Front Gate will close after 9:30am and will be open at the end of the night. Outside of these times, the Front Gate will eb locked and parents can use the intercom at the gate for access.

Next Steps:

  • As pupils return to school, they will be given information on hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing - these three elements remain crucial to stopping the spread of COVID-19. College staff will be re-enforcing this message consistently and pupils’ support is required and expected. Non-compliance will be regarded as a disciplinary issue affecting the safety and welfare of other pupils
  • Parents are asked to arrange for: 2 cloth face coverings, 1 visor, one pocket-sized hand sanitizer & one small pack of wipes for each pupil returning in August/September. These can stay in their desks when not being used. This means that, at all times, pupils should have the basics to stay sanitised and safe.

General Questions:

1. Will my child be 1m apart from others throughout the day? YES - during Class, meals, Assembly and Evening Study. The 1m distance will be observed across the full school day.

2. Does my child wear a face mask or visor in class? Are these provided by the College? As a fee-charging school, Rockwell College has applied for support from the DES. We have been approved for some, but we need parents to please provide masks/coverings at the start of the year at least. We will have provisions on site should your child need a replacement at any time.

The advice is that cloth face coverings be used and we advise parents to source these. If your child has breathing difficulties, sensory issues or special needs that would make a cloth face covering difficult, she/he can wear a visor. Visors are sufficient in Evening Study because the pupils are not talking to each other, so the moisture particles are spread a lot less.

3. What about after school activities? It is intended that these continue and we are following guidance from the various sporting bodies. There is no decision on matches at this time and that will be managed in due course. We hope to run as full a programme as is safe for our pupils.

4. My child is joining TY. Will the programme be affected? There is no doubt that a number of the activities in the TY Programme will have to be reviewed. Work Experience can go ahead as it is a ‘block release’ system. Overseas exchanges are unlikely and activities such as Outdoor Pursuits will have to comply with regulations before they can get the go-ahead. Activities scheduled within the school day such as Toastmasters, Microsoft, Film-making etc. will go ahead as normal.

5. What happens if my child becomes unwell in school? If your child reports being unwell and has symptoms indicative of Covid -19, he /she will be brought to an Isolation Room and you will be contacted immediately to take him/her home. You should then contact your GP and act on his/her instructions. We are not required to send siblings home if a child is symptomatic but you may take siblings home if you wish.