Covid Response Plan 21 -22

Covid Response Plan (revised August 2021)

St. Columba’s Comprehensive School

The Covid Response Plan for St. Columba’s Comprehensive School has been revised using the Department of Education (DE) updated documentation from 18th August 2021 – Covid-19 Response Plan for the safe and sustainable operation of Post Primary Schools and its associated guidelines and documents. These are available at  This response plan is a “live” document, meaning it is subject to updates and amendments following the latest public health advice from the HSE and the Department of Education. Any updates will be communicated to our school community by email in a timely manner. The aim of this plan is to identify the steps the school is taking to do everything practical to avoid the introduction of COVID-19 into the school and the steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of the spread within the school itself in the event that COVID-19 is introduced to the school. Doing so minimises the risk to students, staff and others. In line with the Work Safely Protocol, the reopening of schools requires strong communication and a shared collaborative approach between the Board of Management, staff, students and parents/guardians. 

The assistance and cooperation of all staff, students, parents, contractors and visitors is critical to the success of the plan.

School COVID-19 Policy

The school has adopted a COVID-19 policy outlining the commitment of the school to implement the plan and help prevent the spread of the virus. The updated policy has been brought to the attention of the staff, students, parents/guardians and others.

Planning and Preparing for Return to School

School management and staff are working very hard to make the school environment and organisation as safe as possible for all staff and students. Extra funding allocated by the DE is being used for this purpose.

  1. Classrooms have been re-configured to comply with requirements for social distancing. All excess furniture has been removed and put into storage. New classrooms have been created to increase space in the school.
  2.  Every classroom will have a seating plan for each class. All desks have been numbered in each classroom and templates of room layouts are available in staff Teams to assist teachers in drawing up seating plans for their individual   classes. Daily records will be kept of these seating plans. This is to assist the HSE with contact tracing if the need arises. In line with Data Protection guidance these records will be kept for 30 days and then shredded.
  3. Hand sanitiser has been supplied for each classroom and for all entrances. This sanitiser has been checked for use against the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Marine biocide register for safe use.
  4. Remedial plumbing work has taken place to provide hot water in all staff and student toilets.
  5. Steps have been taken to prevent Legionella disease.
  6. Posters are displayed throughout the school giving the key messages for preventing Covid-19 from entering the school.
  7. New foot pedal bins have been installed in all classrooms.
  8. New foot pedal bins have been installed for the corridors.
  9. All staff have to complete a return to work form confirming their fitness to work. (Appendix 1). Staff will be requested to confirm by email after any break that their circumstances have not changed.
  10. All staff are obliged to view the relevant training videos provided on and to confirm to the Principal that they have done so. The Principal will in turn confirm this information to the Board of Management.
  11. An election has taken place to appoint two Lead Worker Representatives. The outcome was conveyed in writing to all school staff. A checklist for the LWR’s role is attached at Appendix 2. A specific email has been set up for direct communication with the LWRs re Covid issues –
  12.  The health and safety risk assessment has been updated.
  13. The cleaning schedule has been revised and cleaning hours have been increased using DE funding for this purpose.
  14. Relevant PPE and cleaning materials have been ordered from the framework of suppliers provided by the DE.
  15. Perspex screens have been installed in reception; in the school office; in the computer rooms; and in one Science lab where the furniture could not be reconfigured.
  16. A protocol has been put in place for visitors to the school. (Appendix 3)
  17. Break times and lunch times have been staggered to assist with social distancing. (Appendices 4)
  18. Base rooms are being used as far as is practicable for Junior cycle classes. (Appendix 5)
  19. Timetables have been updated to minimise the movement of students in the school between each class period.
  20. PE classes will take place in accordance with the Guidance on return to sport and the Return to School Guidance for Practical Subjects in Post Primary schools and Centres for Education. Due to the use of changing rooms not currently being allowed, students will not need to wear their uniform on the day they have PE. They can wear their PE gear that day.
  21. Emails are checked on a daily basis for any communication relevant to the re-opening of school and updates are relayed to the school community as soon as possible.

22 A designated isolation area has been identified – Room 4 – for any student or staff member displaying or reporting possible Covid -19 symptoms. (The protocol for dealing with this scenario is detailed at Appendix 7. It comes from the DES Guidance: Schools Pathway for Covid-19: A public health approach.) The shortest possible pathway to this area has been identified for each classroom. 4

23. Easy wipe covers for PC keyboards have been purchased and installed.

24. Access to the main office has been restricted with a keypad entry system for admin and cleaning staff only. All other visitors to the office will use the reception side of the desk.

25. Seating has been marked in the canteen for 2m distancing. Classrooms are available for breaks and no students are allowed to congregate on the corridors at breaktime.

26. Medical grade masks in the EN16483 category have been provided for all SNA’s.

27. School staff have been encouraged to download the HSE Covid-19 tracker app to assist Public Health for contract tracing purposes both in and out of the school setting.

28. Ventilation procedures follow the latest Department of Education guidance.

Control Measures – To prevent Introduction and Spread of COVID-19 in Schools

One of the key messages to manage the risks of COVID-19 is to do everything practical to avoid the introduction of COVID-19 into the school. If infection is not introduced it cannot be spread. The risk of spreading the infection once introduced exists in all interpersonal interactions; student – student, teacher – teacher and teacher- student, and must be managed in all settings. 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 and visitors as far as possible within the school. The control measures shall continue to be reviewed and updated as required on an ongoing basis.

It is critical that staff, students, parents and visitors are aware of, and adhere to, the control measures outlined and that they fully cooperate with all health and safety requirements.

Staff, 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.

The key messages for staff and students are:

  •  staff and pupils are advised to self-isolate or restrict their movements at home if they display any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and contact their family doctor to arrange a test
  • staff and pupils are advised not to return to or attend school in the event of the following:
  • if they are identified by the HSE as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 (if not vaccinated)
  • if they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus
  • If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff are advised to consult and follow latest Government     .          advice in relation to foreign travel
  • staff and pupils are advised to cooperate with any public health officials and the school for contact tracing purposes;

                         and follow any public health advice in the event of a case or outbreak in the school

  • Hand hygiene – staff and students will be reminded to wash dirty hands before sanitising. They will also be advised to wash their hands or sanitise when entering and exiting vehicles and when entering and exiting buildings.
  • Respiratory etiquette
  • Social distancing

These messages will be delivered at staff meetings and in staff communications and they will be actively taught to students in class. They have been incorporated into the planning for re-opening.

Know the Symptoms of COVID-19

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 it is important to know and recognise the symptoms. They are:

  • Fever -(High temperature 38 degree celsius or above)
  • A new cough – this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • Loss or change in your sense of smell or taste – this means you have noticed that you cannot smell or taste things, or that things smell or taste different to normal
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains

Failure to comply

Failure to comply with the health and safety measures set out by the school is a disciplinary issue.

For students it will be dealt with via the school Code of Behaviour.

For teachers it will be dealt with via C/L 0049/2018

For SNA’s it will be dealt with via C/L 0072/2011

For Clerical Officers and Caretakers it will be dealt with via S.I. 300 of 2000

Maintaining school opening

“Ar scath a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” – we live in partnership. A very significant degree of trust, co-operation and flexibility will be required from the whole school community – students, staff and parents/guardians – in order to keep our school open.

Appendix 1          Return to Work Form

This questionnaire must be completed by staff in advance of returning to work.

If the answer is Yes to any of the below questions, you are advised to seek medical advice before returning to work.

Name:                                              ______________________

Name of School:                            ______________________

Name of Principal:          ____________________              Date: _______________         

  1.    Do you have symptoms of cough, fever, high temperature, difficulty breathing, loss or change in your sense of smell or taste now or in the past 14 days? x
  2.    Have you been diagnosed with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection in the last 14 days? x
  3.  Are you awaiting the results of a Covid -19 test? x
  4.  In the past 14 days, have you been in contact with a person who is a confirmed case or suspected case of Covid-19? x
5.Have you been advised by a doctor to self-isolate at this time? x
  6.  Have you been advised to  restrict your movements at this time? x
7.  Have you been advised to cocoon at this time? Note: if you are at  very high risk (extremely vulnerable) from Covid-19 you may be advised to cocoon.   x

I confirm, to the best of my knowledge that I have no symptoms of COVID-19, am not self-isolating,  awaiting results of a COVID-19 test or been advised to restrict my movements. Please note:  The school is collecting this sensitive personal data for the purposes of maintaining safety within the workplace in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The legal basis for collecting this data is based on vital public health interests and maintaining occupational health and will be held securely in line with our retention policy.

Signed: ______________________________________

Appendix 2 Checklist Lead Worker Representative

  1. Have you agreed with your school to act as a Lead Worker Representative for your school.
  2. Have you been provided with information and training in relation to the role of Lead Worker Representative?  (Training for this role is currently being explored with the HSA).
  3. Are you keeping up to date with the latest COVID-19 advice from Government?
  4. Are you aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
  5. Do you know how the virus is spread?
  6. Do you know how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?
  7. Have you watched and do you understand the online training provided by the Department of Education and have you been given induction training before returning to school?
  8. Are you helping in keeping your fellow workers up to date with the latest COVID-19 advice from Government?
  9. Have you completed the COVID-19 return-to-work form and given it to your school? (DE template Return-to-Work form available)
  10. Are you aware of the control measures your school has put in place to minimise the risk of you and others being exposed to COVID-19? (Checklist for School Management available)
  11. Did your school consult with you when putting control measures in place? Control measures have been agreed centrally between the Department and education partners and will be revised as necessary. Consultation at school level should take place on any specific local arrangements necessary to implement the protocol
  12. Have you a means of regular communication with the person with overall responsibility for the school COVID-19 plan?
  13. Are you co-operating with your school to make sure these control measures are maintained?
  14. Have you familiarised yourself with the cleaning requirements needed to help prevent cross contamination? (Checklist for Cleaning and Disinfection available)
  15. Have you been asked to walk around and check that the control measures are in place and are being maintained?
  16. Are you reporting immediately to the person with overall responsibility for the school COVID-19 plan any problems, areas of non-compliance or defects that you see?
  17. Are you keeping a record of any problems, areas of non-compliance or defects and what action was taken to remedy the issue?
  18. Are you familiar with what to do in the event of someone developing the symptoms of COVID-19 while at school?
  19. Are you co-operating with your school in identifying an isolation area and a safe route to that area? (Checklist for dealing with suspected case of COVID-19 available)
  20. Are you helping in the management of someone developing symptoms of COVID-19 while at school?
  21. Once the affected person has left the school, are you helping in assessing what follow-up action is needed?
  22. Are you helping in maintaining the contact log?
  23. Have you been made aware of any changes to the emergency plans or first aid procedures for your school?
  24. Are you making yourself available to fellow staff to listen to any COVID-19 control concerns or suggestions they may have?
  25. Are you raising those control concerns or suggestions with your school and feeding back the response to the worker who raised the issue?
  26. Are you aware of the availability of the Spectrum Life Wellbeing Together Programme?
  27. Have you been provided by the Principal/ school management with the supports to which you are entitled in your role as Lead Worker Representative?
  28. If you are a teacher, have you been provided with the 2 hours per week of protected time off class contact hours, as provided for in the protocol?
  29. If you are an SNA, have you been provided with 66 of the “72 hours”, as provided for in the protocol?
  30. If you are a school secretary or a caretaker have your duties been re-prioritised by school management to afford you sufficient time to carry out your duties as LWR within the scope of your normal contracted hours, as provide for in the protocol?

Appendix 3 Protocol for visitors to the school

Access to the school building will be in line with agreed school procedures.

Arrangement for necessary visitors such as contractors and parents will be restricted to essential purposes and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the principal.  This can be done by phoning the school office at 074 95 51172 or by emailing The Department of Education Inspectorate may also need to visit schools and centres for education to support them as appropriate in the implementation of public health advice relating to creating a safe learning and working environment for all.

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 staff, contractors and visitors at the workplace. A detailed sign in/sign out log of those entering the school facilities will be maintained.  Visitors will be met at a pre-arranged point and will be directed to hand sanitiser facilities on arrival into the building. If a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained between the visitor and the person(s) they visit, a face mask must be worn. A contact log must be completed by the visitor(s). This will be kept for 30 days and then shredded. A sample contact log is attached:

                                    Contact Tracing Log

Name of SchoolSt. Columba’s Comprehensive SchoolSchool Contact PersonFrances Boner Principal
Address of SchoolGlenties, Co. Donegal F94 C241For Queries only: Phone No0749551172
Name of Visitor Was the visit pre-arranged with the Principal?  Yes o    No o
Date of Visit__ __ / __ __ /________TimeEntry
to school
__________ am o  pm o
from School
__________ am o  pm o
Visitor StatusContractor  oParent/Guardian  oOther   o  Please complete: _______________________________________
Contact details of visitorCompany Name (if applicable)  
Contact No. Email Address 
Reason for Visit 
Who the visitor met (separate line required for each person the visitor met)
Name of Person visitedLength of time spent with each person in the school

Appendix 4                                                              Break and Lunch Times

 Break 1 (10:20 – 10:40)Break 2 (11:00 – 11:20)Break 3 (11:40 – 12:00)Lunch 1 (12:40 – 13:20)Lunch 2 (13:20 – 14:00)
Monday2nd + 3rd1st + 6thTY + 5th2nd, 3rd, 6th1st, TY, 5th
Tuesday2nd + 5th1st + 6th3rd  + TY2nd, TY, 5th1st, 3rd, 6th
Wednesday2nd + 3rd1st + TY5th + 6th2nd, 3rd, TY1st, 5th, 6th
Thursday2nd + TY1st + 5th3rd + 6th1st, 2nd, 5th3rd, TY, 6th
Friday2nd + 5th1st + 3rdTY + 6th  

Appendix 5                                                                 Base Rooms

1ARoom 12
1BRoom 13
1CRoom 3
2ARoom 29
2BRoom 10
2CRoom 1
3ARoom 26
3BRoom 16
TYRoom 22

Appendix 7 Checklist for dealing with a suspected case of Covid -19:

The nominated person from the school management team to act as the designated contact person for ensuring that all aspects of the protocol to deal with suspected cases have been adhered to is Frances Boner, Principal

 (Taken from – Schools Pathway for Covid-19:A public health approach)

  • If a child displays symptoms which may be consistent with Covid-19, the school should contact their parent or guardian and ask them to collect their child as soon as possible.   The child should be cared for appropriately by a staff member whilst they are waiting to go home.  The isolation space should be cleaned and contact surfaces disinfected when vacated.  The staff member who has cared for the child with symptoms during this time does not need to go home unless subsequently advised to by Public Health HSE.
  • At this stage, no further action by the school is required.
  • In particular, schools are asked to note that they should not inform other parents or staff members that a pupil or staff member has gone home due to their symptoms.  Other pupils or staff do not need to be removed from class, including siblings or other household members.
  • When the GP of the child or staff member has assessed the symptoms to be consistent with Covid-19 infection, e.g. fever OR a new cough, shortness of breath, deterioration of existing respiratory condition OR symptoms of aguesia or dysgeusia (essentially loss of or changes to the sense of taste) and the person is referred for a test, at this point the person becomes a suspected Covid 19 case and household members including siblings should be withdrawn from school by their parent or guardian.
  • Where no evidence of Covid-19 is detected by the test, the child or staff member should remain at home only until he or she is clinically well enough to return to school (unless specifically requested by HSE to do otherwise).  In particular, all diarrhoea symptoms need to have been resolved for 48 hours prior to return to school.  Household members can return to school immediately following the receipt by the parent or guardian or staff member of a “not detected” result.
  • When a case has been confirmed, the Medical Officer of Health and teams will liaise directly with the school and inform them of the confirmed case as necessary and will undertake a Public Health Risk Assessment to inform any further actions and recommendations.
  • Core to this assessment will be the likelihood of onward transmission from the confirmed case and will be informed by an urgent discussion with the school to establish any appropriate isolation for identified staff or pupils.  Every school setting is unique and therefore the risks will be unique too, for example they will vary according to whether they are e.g. Special educational needs settings, primary or secondary or boarding schools and other factors specific to each school.  This may include the effectiveness of the implementation of recommended HPSC risk mitigation measures and a range of other considerations. 
  • The definition of close contacts within a school will be variable and determined by a risk assessment that will take account of individual factors within each school or class.  It will not be automatically assumed that a whole class will be deemed as close contacts.   Close contacts will be directly notified by the HSE and advised to restrict their movements and present for testing on day zero and day seven.  Close contacts will restrict their movements for 14 days even in the event that Covid 19 is not detected in both of these tests.