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20 August 2021
This Covid-19 Response Plan is designed to support the staff and Board of Management in putting measures in place that will prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Sligo Grammar School.
The plan incorporates current advice about measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the community issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). The Board of Management want to ensure that any proposals and recommendations in relation to the resumption of teaching and the reopening of facilities comply with best guidance as provided by the Governments and the national health agency. As the advice issued by NPHET continues to evolve, this protocol and the measures management and staff need to address may also change.
This document aims to provide details of:
The assistance and cooperation of all employees, students, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors is critical to the success of the plan. Failure to follow the information and guidance in this document as well as failure to adhere to Sligo Grammar School safety procedures and policies, site safety procedures and policies, and suppliers/manufacturers guidance could result in increased risk and potential harm to individuals and the wider community.
Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this document. However, should errors or omissions be identified, please notify us so that appropriate measures can be taken to rectify same.
The Board of Management aims to facilitate the resumption of operations and the return to the workplace by staff as quickly as possible, but the return to the work must be done safely and in strict adherence to the advice and instructions of public health authorities and the Government. In order to comply with such advice and instructions and ensure that health and safety is safeguarded as much as possible, the return of employees to the school campus must take place in a planned and carefully controlled manner.
Details for the reopening of the school campus and the applicable restrictions and controls are outlined in the roadmap in Appendix 1.
This roadmap is subject to ongoing review and may be updated or modified as the situation evolves, and new guidance and advice is provided.
Responsibility for the development and implementation of the Covid-19 Response Plan and the associated control measures lies primarily with the Board of Management.
However, all staff, students, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors have a responsibility both as individuals and collectively to have due regard for their own health and safety and that of others and to assist with the implementation of the Covid-19 Response Plan and associated control measures.
If a staff member has any queries or concerns in relation to the Covid-19 Response Plan, they should contact the Headmaster.
The Covid-19 Response Plan and associated control measures seek to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect the health and safety of all parties within the workplace as much as possible in full adherence with the advice of the public health authorities and the Government. In particular, the Covid-19 Response Plan seeks to be compliant with the Government’s ‘Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business’ (https://assets.gov.ie/73722/ffd17d70fbb64b498fd809dde548f411.pdf) and the ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’ (https://assets.gov.ie/74103/6b5dc9ecab2a489280a5a0cdcc647c5c.pdf).
In accordance with the Return to Work plan, the following Lead Worker Representative(s) has been appointed:
The role of the Lead Worker Representative(s) is to ensure that Covid-19 measures are adhered to in the workplace. The necessary training has been provided for the lead worker (s) and a framework for how they will approach their work at school level has been agreed, which includes regular and meaningful engagement between the lead worker and with the Board of Management to ensure the prevention of the spread of the virus. .
If a staff member has any concerns or observations in relation to the Covid-19 Response Plan and control measures or the adherence to such control measures by employees, contractors or visitors, he/she should contact the Lead Worker Representative(s).
A site-specific risk assessment for Sligo Grammar School has been undertaken by the Board of Management and the Safety Statement has been updated accordingly.
A copy of the updated Safety Statement is available on the school website. Both the risk assessment and safety statement have been updated to include all relevant Covid-19 specific control measures now in place.
Staff and visitors should at all times adhere to the up to date advice and instructions of the public health authorities in relation to protecting oneself and others against the risk posed by the Covid-19 virus.
Updated advice from the HSE is available on its website – https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/
All employees should keep informed of the most up to date advice of the public health authorities by consulting websites and other sources of information directly.
The most common respiratory symptoms of Covid 19 infection include; a high temperature, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Any employee of Sligo Grammar School displaying these symptoms should immediately inform the Headmaster. They will not be permitted to attend work if they have any of the symptoms listed below:
Any staff displaying any these symptoms must self-isolate and must not attend work for 14 days.
Also, any person living with someone who is self-isolating or waiting for a Covid-19 test must restrict their movement for 14 days.
Staff must inform the Headmaster and Board of Management of this situation as soon as possible. In such cases Covid leave will apply (see DES Circular 0024/2020)
Covid-19 can be most commonly contracted through direct and indirect transmission, droplet or through hand to eye, hand to nose, or hand to mouth transmission. The most common way that Covid-19 transfers is person to person, usually when standing closer than 2 metres, via respiratory droplets from someone who has the illness, for example sneezing, or coughing. This can occur when in close contact to someone who has symptoms. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person’s nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect transmission (on hands, objects, surfaces).
How to reduce the chance of getting infected by the Coronavirus:
Video advice is available at:
Current public health guidelines have identified groups who are defined as being at very high risk. The HSE has set out these groups (https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/people–at–higher–risk.html) which include people who
Any staff member who has a concern regarding personal higher risk, or a family member/household contact with higher risk, should discuss the situation with their GP/specialist (or an appropriate medical professional) before making a decision on whether to return to work or not. The Board of Management may seek advice form Medmark in such cases.
Where schools are reopening in August 2021, all employees will be required to complete a ‘Return to Work Form’. This RTW Form will be sent out to each employee in advance of the school opening.
This form will be made available electronically or by post from the Headmaster prior to opening and employees are obliged to complete this form at least 3 days prior to any proposed date of return to the workplace.
On receipt of the completed form the Headmaster will provide:
In accordance with public health advice, certain responses to the RTW form will preclude an employee from returning to the workplace for health and safety reasons. e.g. the employee’s return to the workplace would result in an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of the employee and/or other persons.
In circumstances where a staff member’s request to return to the workplace cannot be facilitated the employee will be advised to seek medical advice. Arrangements for remote working will be considered. Decisions with respect to working remotely will be guided by DES instructions and local arrangements by the Board of Management for non-teaching staff.
A range of essential control measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 virus and to protect the safety, health and welfare of staff, students, parents/guardians and visitors as far as possible within the Sligo Grammar School by removing hazards where possible or minimising exposure to hazards where removal is not possible (e.g. physical distancing).
These control measures are outlined in the revised Safety Statement for Sligo Grammar School which can be accessed on the school’s website.
In accordance with the guidance of the public health authorities, such control measures seek to reduce both the number and duration of contacts that staff, students, parents/guardians and visitors have with other persons.
The control measures shall continue to be reviewed and updated as required on an ongoing basis.
It is critical that staff, students, parents/guardians and visitors are aware of, and adhere to, the control measures outlined and that they fully cooperate with all health and safety requirements.
Staff, in particular, should note that they have a legal obligation under Section 13 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to comply with health and safety requirements and to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves, their colleagues and other parties within the workplace.
Staff will be required to complete an online RTW form at least 3 days prior to any return to the school campus. The purpose of the RTW form is to get confirmation from an employee that, to the best of his/her knowledge, he/she has no symptoms of Covid-19 and is not self-isolating or cocooning or awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test.
It is essential that all staff, students, parents/guardians and visitors are fully aware of the health and safety risks posed by the Covid-19 virus both generally and to them as individuals (e.g. very high risk or high risk category individuals) and have full knowledge and understanding of the control measures in place that aim to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect safety, health and welfare within the workplace as far as is practicable.
All staff will undertake and complete online Covid-19 Induction Training prior to returning to the school campus. The aim of such training is to ensure that employees have full knowledge and understanding of the following:
Staff should be fully informed of the control measures and their duties and responsibilities in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and kept up to date with any changes to the control measures and any changes in the guidance available from the public health authorities.
If a staff member is unsure about any aspect of the Covid-19 Response Plan, the associated control measures, or his/her duties, he/she should immediately seek guidance from the Headmaster.
Physical distancing is a key control measure in reducing the spread of infection. It is currently recommended that a minimum distance of 2 metres be maintained between people to minimise risk of transmission of the virus.
There is currently a strict no handshaking policy in place within Sligo Grammar School.
All staff, students, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors should avoid direct physical contact with any other persons as far as possible.
Office capacity is to be limited to facilitate the maintenance of minimum 2m physical distancing between designated workstations and staff. When working within an office, staff should ensure that they only utilise workstations that ensure a minimum 2m physical distance from other persons. For this purpose, staff may, therefore, on occasion be required to utilise another workstation other than their own normal designated workstation.
The number of employees permitted to work within each office within the workplace at any particular time shall be limited as a necessary control measure to protect health and safety. Similarly, the number of employees, contractors and/or visitors entering or accessing any office, kitchen or other area within the workplace at any particular time shall also be limited.
When passing another party within the school campus (e.g. in corridor), staff students and visitors should seek to maintain as much distance as possible from the other party (e.g. move to the opposite side of a corridor, walk in single file).
Everybody is required to be vigilant of the need for physical distancing and to protect their own health and safety and that of others by practicing physical distancing as far as possible at all times both within the school campus.
In specific settings where, due to the nature of a work activity, a 2m physical distance cannot be ensured, alternative protective measures will be put in place. These will be decided following a detailed risk assessment process and may include:
The best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is to use proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and practice physical distancing.
It is crucial that all staff students, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors are familiar with, and adopt, good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.
The Board of Management will raise awareness about the importance of hygiene and will provide instructions on how to wash hands through the provision of guidance documentation and the display of posters at various locations within the school campus. Information posters have been prominently displayed at appropriate locations within the campus including offices, corridors, staffroom area, classrooms and toilet areas. Such are intended to inform but also remind all parties about the importance of hygiene in preventing the spread of Covid-19 virus and protecting health and safety.
Handwashing facilities and hand sanitisers are available at multiple locations within the school campus.
Arrangements have been made for more regular and thorough cleaning of areas and surfaces within the school in accordance with the guidance of ECDC (the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) for cleaning in non-healthcare settings. This information is available via the following link:
Regular and thorough cleaning of communal areas and frequently touched surfaces shall be conducted, in particular, toilets, lifts, door handles and kitchens. Cleaning will be performed regularly and whenever facilities or surfaces are visibly dirty. If disinfection of an area is required, it must be performed in addition to cleaning, never as a substitute for cleaning.
Disinfectant wipes, cleaning products, paper towels and waste bins are available at multiple locations within the workplace.
All staff will be provided with disinfectant wipes, hand sanitiser and computer cleaning equipment upon their return to the school. Under no circumstances should these cleaning materials be removed from the building.
Staff should thoroughly clean and disinfect their workstation/work area before and after use each day.
There will be regular collection of used waste disposal bags from offices and other areas within the workplace.
Access to the school campus will be in line with agreed school procedures and is strictly limited to staff and students. A protocol has been established for contractors, visitors and parents/guardians with access being restricted and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the Headmaster.
Staff and students are encouraged to use stairways within the workplace as much as possible. Lifts should only be used where strictly necessary.
2 metre physical distancing indicative stickers (current guidance) and signs have been located at different locations within the campus and offices, which shall serve as a guide and a reminder for staff, students, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors to adhere to this essential control measure.
Shower facilities shall not be available for use by staff or students due to the increased risk associated with communal shower facilities and areas. This shall be reviewed in line with government guidance.
Staff must use and clean their own equipment and utensils (cup, cutlery, plate etc.)
Staff should ensure that they maintain a minimum 2m physical distance from other persons during lunch and break periods.
Staff are permitted to leave the workplace for their lunch and break periods if they wish to do so.
Smoking (or vaping) is not permitted within the school campus or its immediate surrounds.
The prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a crucial step in restricting the spread of the virus and protecting the health and safety of the individuals themselves and other employees, contractors and visitors at the workplace. A detailed log of those entering the school campus will be maintained.
Under current guidance all meetings must be conducted via phone or online virtual platforms (e.g. Microsoft Teams). This includes meetings between staff unless such meetings can be conducted in accordance with social distancing requirements. It is possible that meetings and events will be permitted (by late August) within the school campus in accordance with applicable Government restrictions and guidelines.
The correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face shields/visors or clear plastic barriers or Perspex screens etc. may be required in some circumstances to address identified risks of spread of the virus.
PPE is used to address a risk where other preventative measures alone are not sufficient to control against the risk to a reasonably practicable level. For a limited number of employees, PPE will need to be used occasionally or constantly due to the nature of certain work activities or work areas.
Such include roles where:
Where PPE is required by staff, they will be notified accordingly and be provided with the necessary PPE and provided with training in the proper use, cleaning, storage and disposal of PPE.
PPE needs to be consistently and properly worn when required. In addition, it must be regularly inspected, cleaned, maintained and replaced as necessary.
PPE will not be required to be worn within the school campus according to current occupational and public health guidance.
Current general guidance from the HSE in relation to the wearing of face coverings, masks and gloves is available at the following Link: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/face–masks–disposablegloves.html
Whilst face masks/coverings are not required generally within the workplace according to current guidance, employees, contractors and visitors are permitted to wear face masks/coverings within the workplace if they wish to do so. Face masks shall be provided to all employees upon the return to the workplace and available for optional use.
Any staff, students or visitors using face masks/coverings should note that such are an additional safety measure and not a replacement for established control measures such as physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth, which continue to be essential. Additionally, users of face masks/coverings should be aware of the risks associated with using masks/coverings such as the potential for contamination caused by improper removal or storage of face masks/coverings or increased risk of transmission due to the increased tendency to touch face whilst wearing a face mask/covering. Users of face masks/coverings must be vigilant and guard against any potential false sense of security caused by the usage of face masks/coverings.
Gloves are not required generally within the workplace for infection prevention and control purposes according to current guidance. Due to the risks associated with the usage of gloves, the Board of Management will not be providing gloves to staff for general use.
Disposable gloves are worn in medical settings and are not as effective in daily life. Wearing disposable gloves can give a false sense of security and the Covid-19 virus can get on gloves in the same way as it gets on hands. A person’s hands and other surface areas can become contaminated when gloves are removed and disposed.
The wearing of disposable gloves is not a substitute for good hygiene and handwashing practices.
The standard First Aid/Emergency procedure shall continue to apply in Sligo Grammar School.
Additional information on First Aid is available at:
In an emergency or in case of a serious incident, call for an ambulance or the fire brigade on 112/999 Contact the Headmaster or nearest first aider giving details of location and type of medical incident.
Trained first aiders shall be provided with updated guidance on dealing with first aid/emergency cases.
Staff should not attend work if displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. The following outlines how the Board of Management will deal with a suspected case that may arise during the course of work.
The Board of Management has:
If a staff member displays symptoms of Covid-19 while at work in Sligo Grammar School the following are the procedures to be implemented:
Staff have a statutory obligation to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of their colleagues and other parties. In order to facilitate a safe return to work, these duties include, but are not limited to, the following:
The management of a Covid-19 related absence will be managed in line with agreed procedures – currently addressed for teaching personnel and SNAs in DES Circular Letter 0024/2020 but this will be updated for the new school year.
For privately paid non-teaching staff, the Board will be responding in line with HSE advice with regards to high risk or vulnerable groups. Sick leave policies may have to be amended.
A staff member who has a concern regarding personal higher risk, or a family member/household contact with higher risk, should discuss the situation with their GP/specialist (or an appropriate medical professional) and follow their advice in relation to whether or not they should return to work.
Reasonable accommodation of employees will also be a factor such as the consideration being given to the employee to work remotely.
The RTW form opens the conversation between the employer and the employee to discuss their individual circumstances in a sensitive manner. Please speak with the Headmaster.
The Board of Management aims to protect and support the health and wellbeing of all staff (physical, mental, spiritual etc.) both at work, whether in the school campus or at home and outside of work. The Board of Management is mindful that the support and promotion of employee health and wellbeing is particularly important in the current context where the Covid-19 pandemic has caused considerable challenges for, and disruption to, people’s personal, family and social lives as well as their work arrangements.
The Board of Management aims to foster a culture and work environment that support healthy behaviours and employee wellbeing and shall continue to make health and wellbeing tools and guidance available to staff as well as organising suitable support programmes, initiatives and events.
By way of reminder, employees should take note of the following health and wellbeing resources that are available:
The DES Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme is a free, confidential and independent wellbeing support service that is available to teaching staff and SNAs. The new EAP service provider details will be launched on 27th July 2020. Spectrum Life is the new EAP service.
These are challenging times for everyone. Should a staff member experience any stress or anxiety in respect of work or work arrangements, he/she should feel free to speak to the Headmaster.
Proposed return – August/September 2021
Staff level and activity
Policies and procedures
Requirements for all areas
Visitors and contractors
School yards and pitches
Costs and purchasing requirements
You can download a copy of our Response Plan here
You can download a copy of the Department of Education Response Plan for the safe and sustainable operation of Post Primary Schools August 2021 here