Villiers Plan and Procedures for Return to School

September 2020 v.2 (25th September 2020)

The following procedures are being put in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 in the Villiers School community. All members of the school community are required to respect and adhere to these measures in order to mitigate against the risks of Covid-19. Our procedures have been developed using public health guidance and the Department of Education Roadmap for the Full Return to School. We will continually evaluate our procedures in accordance with both the most up to date guidance available and the practicalities of the strategies we are employing.

Physical Changes to Campus

The physical changes to campus are the most obvious ones that students will initially observe. As mentioned in an earlier letter, over the summer we worked closely with a team of health and safety consultants and engineers. One outcome of this consultative process was that bunk beds should not be used for boarding students this year.

In order to maintain boarding, an integral part of the Villiers School experience, for boarders and non-boarders alike, the building frequently referred to as ‘the Maths Block’ or ‘the Old New Building’ has been repurposed as an additional Boarding House for boys.

Bright, modern, modular classrooms have been installed beside the hockey pitch, providing us with new larger classrooms.

Some boarding bathrooms have been refurbished and designated seating areas have been added in each boarding house.

New fire assembly point signs will be in place for each form group.

Hand sanitisers have been installed outside every classroom and dormitory and at all points of entry and exit to school buildings.

Health and safety posters and displays are located throughout the campus.

Floor markings for physical distancing and directional arrows are in place at various locations throughout the school where queueing may be necessary.

For safety reasons, and in accordance with Department of Education advice, all of our water fountains and drinking water taps are closed and students are required to bring their own water supplies. Boarders will be facilitated to have water bottles refilled each morning and evening.

The School Reception will no longer accept parents or visitors for walk-in. The window in Reception is being modified to include a drop off hatch.

A designated isolation area has been identified for any student displaying symptoms of Covid-19 who is awaiting collection by a parent / guardian.

Perspex screens have been installed in several locations, particularly in office spaces and where food is being served.

Arrival and Departure

Our students come from a wide geographical area and traditionally arrive at different times in the morning and leave at different times in the evening due to their participation in various extra-curricular activities. We expect that this organic dispersed arrival and departure model will continue in the year ahead and thus, for now, we are not specifying arrival times and departure times, as to do so could delay the commencement of class or
necessitate an early finish, both of which we wish to avoid if possible. This decision will be closely monitored and is subject to review should we have concerns in relation to congestion. Boarders are already in school, and other students come at a variety of times, using a variety of transportation modes, including buses, cars, bicycles and by foot. We encourage those who can travel to school by bicycle or on foot to do so.

All students will be required to proceed directly to their base classrooms / form tutor rooms on arrival to school.

To minimise the risk of congestion, boarders departure from the dormitory areas will be on a dorm by dorm basis and this will be overseen by the boarding staff.

Each year group is required to enter and exit the school buildings through a designated entrance and exit point, reserved for specific year groups.

Students at school are required to observe physical distancing at all times.

Entry and exit times are times when extra care will be needed to maintain distancing.

Many staircases and corridors will have a one-way system in place.

As campus space is now more limited, parents are requested to refrain from driving into the school campus. Please drop off and collect your sons and daughters at the school gates. It is important that students observe physical distancing at the school gates. Vehicular entry to the school campus is strictly restricted to staff members only.

Parents of students who drive themselves to school must contact the school office prior to term beginning to ascertain if a parking space will be available. Parking spaces cannot be guaranteed and staff parking will be prioritised.

Students must leave school as soon as their day has finished. Day pupils may only remain on campus when classes have finished for the day if taking part in a structured activity, such as afternoon study, clubs or sports.

Classroom Allocation and Entrance and Exit Doors

• Students in Forms I, II, III have designated base classrooms.
• Students in Forms IV, V and VI have classes in designated year specific zoned areas.

Bathrooms have been assigned to each year group close to their base classrooms or within their year zone. These measures are in place to minimise contact and interaction between year groups. Students will remain in these rooms or zones, except when they are timetabled to be in a
specialist room such as the Home Economics room, Art Room, any Science laboratory, Music Room, ICT suite, Technology and Construction Room, etc.

Students in Forms I, II and III will have assigned seats in their classrooms. Tables will be laid out to ensure 1 metre distancing between students. Students are requested not to change seats or move tables.

Students in Forms IV, V and VI will change room within their designated zone on several occasions each day. At the end of each class they will be required to wipe down their work area and seat, at the teacher’s direction, and using sanitising spray and wipes provided.

Our housekeeping staff have a thorough cleaning scheme in place for our specialist rooms and additionally students will be required to wipe down their work area, seats and equipment at the teacher’s direction, and using sanitising spray and wipes.

Book Lockers

To maintain physical distancing, we are reducing the number of lockers being allocated to students. Book lockers will only be allocated to students in Forms V and VI and to all boarding and day boarding students. Under exceptional circumstances, a small number of other students will be assigned lockers on a case by case basis. Storage boxes have been provided in base classrooms for students in Forms I, II and III. Transition Year students are not required to purchase a large amount of textbooks and
therefore, we request that TY students use a small personal backpack to store their books and materials.

Teaching and Learning

Current Department of Education advice is that any work collected on paper from students should be stored by teachers for 72 hours after collection and prior to marking. We are awaiting guidance on Parent Teacher Meetings and Parent Evenings however it is unlikely that these will happen in the same manner as usual. We will notify you of changes.

Physical Education

All students are required to take part in PE classes, except in very exceptional circumstances. Changing rooms are not allowed to be used in the normal manner and therefore those students scheduled to have PE on a particular day are permitted to come to school wearing their school PE uniform on the day. This is subject to review as further guidance is expected from the Department of Education. Please note that Villiers PE uniform must be worn, other colours will not be permitted.

After School Sports and Clubs

Extra-curricular activities are of fundamental importance to us in Villiers. Further guidance is due from the Department of Education in relation to extra-curricular activities in the coming days. Our intention is that extra-curricular activities will take place, in a physically distanced manner and in accordance with public health advice. Outdoor sports training adhering to the sports specific protocols have commenced, however, we do not plan to take part in any inter schools matches in the immediate future.
Changing rooms are not allowed to be used in the normal manner and therefore those taking part in after school sports will be informed of the procedures for their squads by their coaches. This may change as specific advice emerges.

Break Times and Lunch Times

In order to maintain social distancing and to ensure safety in our School Cafés and Dining Hall we are introducing staggered lunch and break times as follows:

  • Students in Forms II, III and V will have break time from 10.20 am – 10.35 am
  • Students in Forms II, III and V will have lunch time from 12.35 pm – 1.10 pm
  • Students in Forms I, IV and VI will have break time as usual from 11.00 am – 11.15 am
  • Students in Forms I, IV and VI will have lunch time as usual from 1.15 pm – 1.50 pm

Students are asked to remember that classes will be continuing while they are having their break and lunch times each day. While we want all students to take their breaks and, weather permitting, go outside in a physically distanced manner, students must be careful not to inadvertently interrupt classes continuing for other groups.

Face Masks

Students and staff are required to wear cloth face coverings (not visors) where two metre distancing cannot be maintained. In Villiers this will be the case in the vast majority of situations in the day school and will be the case in almost all classes and during afternoon study, and in prep.

Current HSE guidance to schools on the wearing of face masks is as follows:

  • It is recommended that teachers, staff and students attending secondary school wear a cloth face-covering when a physical distance of 2 meters from other staff or students cannot be maintained.
  • In certain situations the use of clear visors should be considered, for example staff interacting with students with hearing difficulties or learning difficulties.
  • All children on the post primary school transport scheme should be asked to wear face coverings unless there is a good reason not to do so.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be worn by: Any person with a breathing difficulty; Any person who is unconscious or incapacitated; Any person who is unable to remove the face covering without assistance; Any person who has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering, for example persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, sensory concerns or tactile sensitivity.
  • All students are required to bring their own supply of appropriate cloth face masks in a zip lock plastic bag and are asked to wash them daily. Boarders will need a weekly / fortnightly supply. Disposable masks may also be worn, however, we prefer our school community to use washable masks wherever possible. The school will have an emergency supply of facemasks should these be required, the cost of which will be added to the fee statement.

Dining Hall

There are many changes in the operation of the Dining Hall. Students have allocated seats and name places are on each table. The Dining Hall continues to be reserved for the use of boarders and day boarders only. New arrangements are in place for physically distanced queueing, for tidying up and for sanitising after all mealtimes.

Breakfast for boarders will not need to be staggered, all boarders will have breakfast in the same sitting, however breakfast will be available from the earlier time of 7.45 am. The Old Library will temporarily return to its original purpose and Form VI boarders will eat breakfast here. All other students will have breakfast in the Dining Hall.

Lunch will be served at 12.35 pm and 1.15 pm. Boarders and day boarders will have lunch in the Dining Hall, with a set seating arrangement. Other students who have opted for lunch will have the same hot lunch as a takeaway which will be available to collect next to the Sports Hall. We have more than doubled the number of our picnic benches for use when weather permits. Students must remember physical distancing during lunch times. Picnic tables can accommodate a maximum of four students each. Base and zoned classrooms will be available for students to eat in as needed.

Dinner will be staggered. The first dinner sitting will be at 5.20 pm for students in Forms III, V and VI. Students in Forms I, II and IV will have dinner at 6.00 pm.

School Cafés

Traditionally our cafes are busy, congested areas with large groups in a confined space. Our café staff have worked hard to devise a new system to allow our school cafes to reopen, however there are significant changes in place for the safe operation of the cafes. The cafés are no longer be able to accept cash payments. The Bursar has set up an EasyPay option on the school website to prepay for café orders. This will be reconciled at the end of each month. Parents of students who use the cafés are recommended to preload student café accounts with €20-€40 per child each month depending on your son / daughter’s usage. Unspent money will credited back to school fee accounts at the end of the year.

Students are asked to order their food using an order form available in the cafes or from their Form Tutors. The cafés can no longer be seated, food and drinks will be on a take-away basis only. The menus are slightly curtailed.

We have more than doubled the number of our picnic benches for use when weather permits. Students must remember physical distancing during lunch times. Picnic tables can accommodate a maximum of four students each. Base and zoned classrooms will be available for students to eat in as needed.

Visiting the School

External visitors to the school will be minimal. Interaction between parents and school should be via email and phone wherever possible. In the rare circumstances where visiting the school in person is essential, an appointment must be made in advance and a contact tracing form completed.

Students Displaying Symptoms of Covid-19

Students should not, under any circumstances, be sent to school if they are displaying any of the symptoms of Covid-19. Students should also not come to school if any member of their household is displaying symptoms of Covid-19. (This also applies to staff members.)

If a student comes to surgery with any possible symptoms of Covid-19 she/he will be isolated immediately. The nurse will phone parents requesting immediate collection.

Failure to comply will be putting everyone else on campus at risk.

If a parent is not available to collect, another adult will need to be available to collect the student immediately.

It is important that boarding students are kept home if they are complaining of symptoms on Sunday night or Monday morning to protect the health of the boarding community.

Everything possible is being done in Villiers to keep students and staff healthy and well, but no amount of effort on our part will work if families do not work with us.

It is important that all families, staff and students know and recognise the symptoms of Covid-19. They are as follows:

  • • High temperature
  • • Cough
  • • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • • Loss of smell, of taste, or distortion of taste

This document is subject to regular review. All updates will be notified to parents. Please note that all schools are required to update Codes of Behaviour as per Department of Education guidelines.

V2 – 25th September 2020