St Olafs N.S. COVID-19 Response Policy
This COVID-19 policy outlines our commitment as a school to implement the plan and help prevent the spread of the virus. The policy will be signed and dated by the Principal and Chairperson of the Board of Management and brought to the attention of staff, pupils, parents and others.
COVID 19 Policy Statement
St Olafs is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our staff and a safe learning environment for all our pupils.
To ensure that, we have developed the following COVID19 Response Plan. The BOM and all school staff are responsible for the implementation of this plan and a combined effort will help contain the spread of the virus.
∙ continue to monitor our COVID-19 response and amend this plan in consultation with our staff
∙ provide up to date information to our staff and pupils on the Public Health advice issued by the HSE and Gov.ie
∙ display information on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and correct hand-washing techniques
∙ agree with staff, two worker representatives who are easily identifiable to carry out the role outlined in this plan.
∙ inform all staff and pupils of essential hygiene and respiratory etiquette and physical distancing requirements
∙ adapt the school to facilitate physical distancing as appropriate in line with the guidance and direction of the Department of Education and Skills
∙ keep a contact log to help with contact tracing
∙ ensure staff and pupils engage with the induction / familiarisation briefing provided by the Department of Education and Skills
∙ implement the agreed procedures to be followed in the event of someone showing symptoms of COVID-19 while at school
∙ provide instructions for staff and pupils to follow if they develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during school time
∙ implement cleaning in line with Department of Education and Skills advice
All school staff will be consulted on an ongoing basis and feedback is encouraged on any concerns, issues or suggestions. This can be done through the Lead Worker Representatives:
Ms Elaine Bloomer & Ms Sarah Geraghty
Signed: Ger Murphy Date: 17/08/2020
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus2 (SARS-CoV-2). Most people (8/10) infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
How it Spreads
The virus is spread from people in fluid and droplets scattered from the nose or mouth of an infected person when that person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. The droplets can land on surfaces, and other people contaminate their hands by touching these objects or surfaces and then bring the virus into contact with their eyes, nose or mouth by touching them with their contaminated hands. Although spread is more likely to occur through close contact with someone who is already infected with the virus.
It is important to know and recognise the most common symptoms of COVID-19. They are:
Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
Loss of smell, of taste or distortion of taste
General advice to prevent the spread of the virus
The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in St Olafs is to minimise the risk of introduction of the disease into the school setting in the first place. This can be achieved through the following measures:
∙ Promote awareness of COVID-19 and its symptoms amongst staff, pupils, parents and visitors.
∙ Advise staff and parents of pupils who have symptoms of COVID-19 or other acute infectious diseases not to attend school, to phone their GP and follow the HSE guidance on self-isolation.
∙ Advise staff and parents of pupils who have been identified by the HSE as contact of a person with COVID19 not to attend schools and to follow the HSE advice on restriction of movement.
∙ Ensure that staff and pupils know what to do if they develop symptoms at school.
∙ Everyone entering the school building should be required to perform hand hygiene with hand sanitiser.
∙ Visitors to school during the day should be by prior arrangement and should be received at a specific contact point.
Staff, pupils and visitors to St Olafs 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.
Managing the risk of spread of COVID-19
Hand Hygiene and Hand Sanitisers
Wash your hands frequently. Regular hand washing with soap and water is effective for the removal of COVID-19.
Hand hygiene can also be achieved by the use of a hand sanitisers (when hands are clean). Hand sanitisers are more readily deployed in school settings to avoid disruption to teaching and learning and to avoid congestion of staff and pupils waiting to use hand washing facilities. They will be available at all entry and exit points and in each classroom.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.
Physical distancing is recommended to reduce the spread of infection in the workplace. Staff members are advised to maintain two metres distance between themselves and from students. Students from 3rd to 6th class are advised to maintain a one metre distance between themselves. Students from Infants to 2nd class are not expected to maintain physical distance from each other.
Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure to follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and Covid19.
Good hygiene practices and washing your hands properly and regularly can help stop the spread of the virus. It is, therefore, crucial that all staff adhere to this advice and adopt the following practices as strictly as possible.
∙ Wash your hands properly and often
∙ Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
∙ Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
∙ Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
∙ Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
∙ Share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups, cutlery, etc.
People at very high risk (extremely vulnerable):
Current public health guidelines have identified groups who are defined as being at very high risk. The HSE has set out these groups, which include people who: The list of people in very high risk groups include people who:
∙ are over 70 years of age - even if you're fit and well
∙ have had an organ transplant
∙ are undergoing active chemotherapy for cancer
∙ are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
∙ have cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
∙ are having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
∙ are having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
∙ have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
∙ severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, lung fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and severe COPD
∙ have a condition that means you have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
∙ are taking medicine that makes you much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppression therapies)
∙ have a serious heart condition and you are pregnant
The advice for this group is available from the HSE. Staff who are in this group should self-declare on the Return to Work form if they believe that they are at very high risk. Details of the leave arrangements that will apply will be updated by the Department of Education and Skills. If the Board/Principal is unsure whether or not staff fall into the very high-risk category, advice will be sought.
Lead Worker Representative(s)
The role of the worker representative is to ensure that Covid-19 measures are adhered to in the workplace as follows:
∙ Work collaboratively with the employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees in relation to COVID-19.
∙ Promote good hygiene practices such as washing hands regularly and maintaining good respiratory etiquette along with maintaining social distancing in accordance with public health advice.
∙ Assist with the implementation of measures to suppress COVID-19 in the workplace.
∙ Monitor adherence to measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
∙ Consult with colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace.
∙ Make representations on behalf of their colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace.
If a staff member has any concerns or observations in relation to the St Olafs Covid-19 Response Plan and control measures or the adherence to such control measures by staff, parents/guardians, contractors or visitors, he/she should contact the lead workers who will engage with the Principal/BOM.
All staff, 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.
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, pupils, parents/guardians 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, pupils, 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.
The following control measures have been put in place in St Olafs:
- Return to Work Form
- Induction Training
∙ Latest up to-date advice and guidance on public health
∙ Covid-19 symptoms
∙ What to do if a staff member or pupil develops symptoms of Covid-19 while at school
∙ Outline of the Covid-19 response plan
Staff will be kept fully informed of the control measures in place in the school and their duties and responsibilities in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and with any changes to the control measures or guidance available from the public health authorities.
- Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
- Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
∙ Performing intimate care
- First Aid
Appropriate PPE will be available for dealing with suspected COVID-19 cases, intimate care needs and for first aid. This will be updated as appropriate in line with advice from the HPSC. Where staff provide healthcare to children with medical needs in the school environment they should apply standard precautions as per usual practice.
It is now recommended that teachers and other school staff as well as post-primary
students wear face coverings, similar to those worn in shops or on public transport,
when a physical distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained.
It is also recommended that primary school teachers and staff wear face coverings where a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained.
Primary school children will not be required to wear face coverings unless required by the isolations procedures for a suspected case of COVID-19.
Wearing of Gloves:
The use of disposable gloves in the school setting by pupils or staff is not appropriate. It does not protect the wearer and may expose others to risk from contaminated gloves. Routine use of disposable gloves is not a substitute for hand hygiene.
Arrangements for more regular and thorough cleaning of areas and surfaces within the school will be made. Extra Contract cleaners will be employed every evening for 3 hours on days the school is open.
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.
All staff will have access to cleaning products and will be required to maintain cleanliness of their own work area. Under no circumstances should these cleaning materials be removed from the building.
Staff should thoroughly clean and disinfect their 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 school facility.
Staff must use and clean their own equipment and utensils (cup, cutlery, plate etc.) Used items must be placed directly into dishwasher(s) after each use. Hands must be thoroughly washed / sanitised before and after emptying the dishwasher(s). Communal items such as teapots and milk jugs should not be used.
vi. Access to the school building /contact log
Access to the school facility will be in line with agreed school procedures.
Arrangement for necessary visitors such as contractors and parents/guardians will be restricted to essential purposes and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the Principal.
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 should be maintained. The school should maintain a log of staff and students contacts. In addition see visitor contact log
vii. First Aid/emergency procedure
First Aid will be administered by Staff members where necessary.
In an emergency or in case of a serious incident, call for an ambulance or the fire brigade on 112/999
Contact the principal or nearest first aider giving details of location and type of medical incident.
Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19
Staff or pupils should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. The following outlines how St Olafs will deal with a suspected case that may arise during the course of work.
Isolation Room An isolation room should be provided to be used to quarantine a student or staff member who is feeling unwell with the COVID-19 symptoms. The proposed isolation room in St Olafs is the stage with the curtains closed off to the hall.The Isolation room should have the following:
- Hand sanitiser
- PPE: Gloves and Masks
- Waste bags
- A no-contact Thermometer
If a staff member/pupil displays symptoms of Covid-19 while at work in St Olafs the following are the procedures to be implemented:
- If the person with the suspected case is a pupil, the parents/guardians should be contacted immediately
- Isolate the person and have a procedure in place to accompany the individual to the designated isolation area. This should be via the isolation route,
- Keep at least 2 metres away from the symptomatic person and also making sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from the symptomatic person at all times.
- Provide a mask for the person presenting with symptoms if one is available. He/she should wear the mask if in a common area with other people or while exiting the premises.
- Assess whether the individual who is displaying symptoms can immediately be directed to go home/be brought home by parents and call their doctor and continue self-isolation at home.
- Facilitate the person presenting with symptoms remaining in isolation if they cannot immediately go home and facilitate them calling their doctor. The individual should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects.
- Advice should be given to the person presenting with symptoms to cover their mouth and nose with the disposable tissue provided when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the waste bag provided.
- If the person is well enough to go home, arrange for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible and advise them to inform their general practitioner by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used.
- If they are too unwell to go home or advice is required, contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick person is a Covid-19 suspect.
- Carry out an assessment of the incident which will form part of determining follow-up actions and recovery
- Arrange for appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved.
The HSE will inform any staff/parents who have come into close contact with a diagnosed case via the contact tracing process. The HSE will contact all relevant persons where a diagnosis of COVID-19 is made. The instructions of the HSE should be followed and staff confidentiality is essential at all times.
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:
i. Adhere to the School Covid-19 Response Plan and the control measures outlined. The cooperation and assistance of all staff is essential to reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19 and to protect health and safety as far as possible within the school. All staff have a key role to play.
ii. Coordinate and work with their colleagues to ensure that physical distancing is maintained.
iii. Make themselves aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and monitor their own wellbeing.
iv. Self-isolate at home and contact their GP promptly for further advice if they display any symptoms of Covid-19.
v. Not return or attend school if they have symptoms of Covid-19 under any circumstances.
vi. If they develop any symptoms of Covid-19 whilst within the school facility, they should adhere to the procedure outlined above.
vii. Complete the RTW form before they return to work.
viii. Must inform the Principal if there are any other circumstances relating to Covid-19, not included in the form, which may need to be disclosed to facilitate their safe return to the workplace.
ix. Must complete Covid-19 Induction Training and any other training required prior to their return to school.
x. Must be aware of, and adhere to, good hygiene and respiratory etiquette practices.
xi. Keep informed of the updated advice of the public health authorities and comply with same.
Covid related absence management
The management of a Covid-19 related absence will be managed in line with agreed procedures with DES.
Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme
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 facility or at home and outside of work. The Board of Management is mindful that the support and promotion of staff 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 in St Olafs that support healthy behaviours and staff 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.
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 principal.
An Occupational Health Strategy is in place as a supportive resource for staff in schools. The Occupational Health Strategy comprises the Employee Assistance Service and the Occupational Health Service. The Employee Assistance Service (EAS) is provided by Spectrum.Life.
Under the EAS, employees have a dedicated free-phone confidential helpline 1800 411 057 available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing advice on a range of issues such as wellbeing, legal, financial, mediation, management support.