School Covid-19 Response Plan

The Board of Management of St. Bernadette’s Special school aims to facilitate the resumption of school-based teaching and learning and the safe return to the workplace of staff and pupils. The return to the workplace must be done safely and in strict adherence to the public health advice and any guidance issued by the Department of Education. Details for the safe reopening of the school facility and the applicable controls are outlined in this document and associated appendices.


This Covid-19 Response Plan is designed to support the staff and Board of Management in putting measures in place that will help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in St. Bernadette’s Special school.

The Covid-19 Response Plan details the policies and practices necessary for our school to meet the Government’s ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’, the Department of Education and Skills plan for school reopening and to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the school environment. 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). It is important that the resumption of school based teaching and learning and the reopening of school facilities comply with the protocol to minimise the risk to students, staff and others. As the advice issued by NPHET continues to evolve, this protocol and the measures management and staff need to address may also change.

The response plan will support the sustainable reopening of our school where the overriding objective is to protect the health of staff and pupils while promoting the educational and development needs of the children in the school.

In line with the Return to Work Safely Protocol, the key to a safe and continued return to work, and re-opening of our schools requires strong communication and a shared collaborative approach between the Board of Management, staff, pupils and parents.


This document aims to provide details of:

  1. Covid-19 School Policy
  2. Planning and Preparing for Return to School
  3. Procedure for Returning to Work (RTW)
  4. Return to work safely and Lead Worker Representatives
  5. Safety Statement and Risk Assessment
  6. General advice to prevent the spread of the virus
  7. Managing the Risk of Spread of Covid-19
  8. Control Measures
  9. Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19
  10. Staff Duties
  11. Covid related absence management
  12. Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme


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

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.

Note: The plan is a live working document and may be reviewed and amended to take into account new guidance


  1. Covid-19 Policy Statement

St. Bernadette’s Special school 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 Covid-19 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.

We will:

  • 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
  • display information on the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and correct handwashing techniques
  • agree with staff, a worker representative who is 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
  • keep a contact log to help with contact tracing
  • ensure staff engage with the induction / familiarisation briefing provided by the Department of Education
  • 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 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 Representative(s), who will be supported in line with the agreement between the Department and education partners.


Signed: ____________________                               Date: _____________________

Chairperson, Board of Management






  1. Planning and preparing for return to the school building

The Board of Management aims to facilitate the resumption of school based teaching and learning and the return to the workplace of staff. 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.

Details for the reopening of the school facility and the applicable controls are outlined in this document.

School buildings

Before re-opening schools in the new school year the school has checked:

  • whether the water system need flushing at outlets following low usage to prevent Legionella disease
  • that school equipment and mechanical ventilation has been checked for signs of deterioration or damage before being used again;
  • that bin collections and other essential services have resumed


We will display signage outlining the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and supporting

good hand and respiratory hygiene in offices, corridors, staff areas and beside hand washing facilities in classrooms and toilets.


  1. Procedure for Returning to Work (RTW)

In order to return to the workplace, staff must complete a Return to Work (RTW) form, which is available online or from the principal. A RTW form should be completed and returned at least 3 days prior to any proposed date of return to the workplace. The principal will also provide details of the Induction Training for completion by staff and details of any additional health and safety measures in place in the school to facilitate the staff member’s return to the school facility. There are some school staff who may be unable to return to school. Current public health guidelines have identified these people as being in groups who are defined as being at very high risk. This will be updated in line with public health advice.

People at very high risk (extremely vulnerable): The list of people in very high-risk groups include people who:

  • are over 70 years of age – even if 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
  • have severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, lung fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and severe COPD
  • have a condition that means they 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 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 are in Circular 49/20 and will be updated by the Department of Education and Skills as required.


If the Board/Principal is unsure whether or not staff fall into the very high-risk category, advice will be sought from the Occupational Health Service.


  1. Return to work safely and Lead Worker Representative

Responsibility for the development and implementation of the Covid-19 Response Plan and the associated control measures lies primarily with the Board of Management and the School Leadership Team.

The Return to Work Safely protocol provides for an agreed procedure between management and staff to appoint a Lead Worker Representative to carry out a specific role.

The Return to Work Protocol provides for the appointment of a Lead Worker Representative (LWR) and an Assistant Lead Worker Representative in St. Bernadette’s Special school. The LWR and assistant LWR will work in collaboration with the Principal and the Board of Management to assist in the implementation of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and monitor adherence to those measures and to be involved in communicating the health advice around Covid-19 in the workplace.

Strong communication and a shared collaborative approach is key to protecting against the spread of Covid-19 in schools, and looking after the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students. Adherence to the Return to Work Protocol will only be achieved if everyone has a shared responsibility in implementing the measures contained within the Protocol in their place of work. If a staff member has any concerns or observations in relation to the Covid-19 Response Plan, control measures or the adherence to such measures by staff, pupils or others he/she should contact the lead worker(s) who will engage with the principal/BOM.

Role of the Lead Worker Representative

In summary, the role of the LWR is to:

  • Represent all staff in the workplace regardless of role, and be aware of specific issues that may arise in respect of different staff cohorts
  • Work collaboratively with school management to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees in relation to Covid-19
  • Keep up to date with the latest Covid-19 public health advice;
  • In conjunction with school management, 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 school management with the implementation of measures to suppress Covid-19 in the workplace in line with the Return to Work Safely Protocol and current public health advice
  • In conjunction with school management, monitor adherence to measures put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19
  • Conduct regular reviews of safety measures; Covid-19 Response Plan for the safe and sustainable reopening of primary and special schools
  • Report any issues of concern immediately to school management and keep records of such issues and actions taken to rectify them
  • Consult with the school management on the school’s Covid-19 Response Plan in the event of someone developing Covid-19 while in school including the location of an isolation area and a safe route to that area
  • Following any incident, assess with the school management any follow up action that is required
  • Consult with colleagues on matters relating to Covid-19 in the workplace
  • Make representations to school management on behalf of their colleagues on matters relating to Covid-19 in the workplace.
Name of Lead Worker Representative Jenny Redmond Contact No. 074 91 22512
Name of Lead Worker Representative Michelle Shields Contact No. 074 91 22512


  1. Safety Statement and Risk Assessment

Covid-19 represents a hazard in the context of health and safety in the school environment. Our updated risk assessment to identify the control measures required to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 in school is completed and is also included in our Safety Statement.

We have also reviewed our emergency procedures involving, fire safety, first aid, accidents and dangerous occurrences to consider any new risks that arise due to Covid-19 Response Plan for the safe and sustainable reopening of primary and special school the school’s Covid-19 Response Plan. The changes to the school’s existing emergency procedures are documented, attached and incorporated into the school’s safety statement.





First Aid/Emergency Procedure

The standard First Aid/emergency procedure shall continue to apply in school. In an emergency or in case of a serious incident, we will call for an ambulance or the fire brigade on 112/999 giving details of location and type of medical incident.

  1. General advice to prevent the spread of the virus

One of the key messages to manage the risks of Covid-19 is to do everything practicable 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/SNA-teacher/SNA and teacher/SNA-student and must be managed in all settings.

In order to minimise the risk of introduction of COVID-19 into our school we will:

  • Promote awareness of Covid-19 symptoms
  • Advise staff and pupils that have symptoms not to attend school, to phone their doctor and to follow HSE guidance on self-isolation
  • Advise staff and pupils not to attend school if they have been identified by the HSE as a contact for person with Covid-19 and to follow the HSE advice on restriction of movement
  • Advise staff and pupils that develop symptoms at school to bring this to the attention of the Principal promptly
  • Ensure that staff and pupils know the protocol for managing a suspected case of Covid-19 in school
  • Everyone entering the school building needs to perform hand hygiene by washing hands or by using a hand sanitiser
  • Visitors to the school during the day should be by prior arrangement and should be received at a specific contact point
  • Physical distancing (of 2m) should be maintained between staff and visitors where possible

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:

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

If you have any of the above symptoms you should not attend school but instead you should phone your doctor and to follow HSE guidance on self-isolation

Should you develop any of the above symptoms at school you must bring this to the attention of the Principal promptly

Staff, pupils 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 –

The Department of Education and Skills will ensure all updated advice is circulated to schools. St. Bernadette’s Special School will arrange for this advice to be circulated to staff, pupils and visitors in a timely manner.


  1. Managing the risk of spread of Covid-19

Wash your hands frequently

Regular hand washing with soap and water is effective for the removal of Covid-19.

Follow the HSE guidelines on handwashing:

For advice from HSE on how to wash your hands the following link will be helpful:

Hand hygiene and hand sanitisers

Hand hygiene can also be achieved by the use of 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 outside each classroom, at entry and exit points and outside main toilets.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.

 Physical distancing

Physical distancing is recommended to reduce the spread of infection in the workplace.

Note: Guidance on the physical distancing requirements will be informed by public health advice for schools and will be updated as necessary.

Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, 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 Covid-19. 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.

 Do not

Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups, cutlery, etc.


  1. Control measures to prevent introduction and spread of Covid-19 in St. Bernadette’s Special school

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 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 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 following control measures have been put in place:

Return to Work Form

Staff will be required to complete a RTW form at least 3 days prior to any return to the school facility (see section 2 above). The purpose of the RTW form is to get confirmation from staff 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.

Induction Training

All staff will undertake and confirm completion of Covid-19 Induction Training prior to returning to the school building. The aim of such training is to ensure that staff have full knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • 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 will be updated with any changes to the control measures or 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 Principal.

All staff, pupils, parents, 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.


St. Bernadette’s Special school will display signage outlining the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and signage to support good hand and respiratory hygiene. The Department of Education will provide printed posters to schools, with age appropriate key health messages – hand washing, sneeze and cough etiquette etc. St. Bernadette’s Special school will display these posters and other sourced posters in prominent areas such as offices, corridors, staffroom area, classrooms and toilets.

Access to school and Contact Tracing Log

Access to the school building 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 Contact Tracing Log of those entering the school facilities will be maintained and must be completed in order to access the building. St. Bernadette’s Special school maintains a log of staff and pupil contacts also. St. Bernadette’s Special school will maintain and process such data gathered from the Contact Tracing Log in compliance with the GDPR and the Data Protection Acts.

Respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, 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 and safely into a nearby bin. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and Covid-19.

Hand hygiene

Staff and pupils should understand why hand hygiene is important as well as when and how to wash their hands. St. Bernadette’s Special school will promote good hygiene and display posters throughout the schools on how to wash your hands.

Posters displaying hand washing techniques and promoting hand washing are placed on walls adjacent to washing facilities. Hand sanitiser is also available in each classroom.

Frequency of hand hygiene

Pupils and staff should perform hand hygiene:

  • On arrival at school
  • Before eating or drinking
  • After using the toilet
  • After playing outdoors
  • When their hands are physically dirty
  • When they cough or sneeze.

Protocol for hand washing

Children line up in bubbles with appropriate social distancing. Each child wets hands, gets some soap and moves to the back of the line all the time soaping their hands. When they get back to the top of the line they rinse their hands and dry them thoroughly with the paper towels provided. These towels are placed in the bin provided.

Physical distancing

The Department of Education has determined that physical distancing will be applied in a practical way to recognise that the learning environment cannot be dominated by a potentially counterproductive focus on this issue. Care will be taken to avoid generating tension or potential conflict and some flexibility in the implementation of measures may be required at times.

It is also recognised that it is not always possible for staff to maintain physical distance from pupils and it is not appropriate that they would always be expected to do so where this could have a detrimental impact on the pupil i.e. if a child sustains an injury and requires first aid. However, where possible staff should maintain a minimum of 1metre distance and where possible 2metres. Staff should also take measures to avoid close contact at face to face level such as remaining standing rather than sitting beside/crouching down where possible.

Physical distancing falls into two categories:

  • Increasing separation
  • Decreasing interaction

Increasing separation

The guidance documents provided by the Department of Education on optimal school layout has been used in St. Bernadette’s Special school to increase separation to the greatest degree possible.

To maintain physical distancing in the classroom we, here in St. Bernadette’s Special school, have reconfigured class spaces to maximise physical distancing and utilised and reconfigured all available space in the school in order to maximise physical distancing.

Classroom layouts are in line with the layouts provided by the Department of Education who state that these are

‘in accordance with the public health advice, and assumes Room is clear of any unnecessary furniture/shelves etc….’

In line with the recommendations of the Department in our classrooms the teacher’s desk will be at least 1m and where possible 2m away from pupil desks. Classrooms will be set up before pupils return to school and layouts will remain under review to ensure safety of staff and pupils. Outside each class will have its own zone within which to play and they will not mix with children from other classes, in line with the Department of Education Roadmap.

Decreasing interaction

In line with the recommendations of the Department a distance of 1m will be maintained between desks and/or between individual pupils where possible.

Work stations will be allocated consistently to the same staff and children rather than having spaces which are shared. The Department state that the risk of infection may be reduced by structuring pupils and their teachers into Class Bubbles (i.e. a class grouping which stays apart from other classes as much as possible)

To this end we have arranged our classes as individual classes with 1metre distance between individuals, whenever possible.

Generally speaking the objective is to limit contact and sharing of common facilities between people in different classes as much as possible. The aim of the system within the school is that children in a class grouping mix only with their own class from arrival at school in the morning until departure at the end of the school day. To the greatest extent possible, pupils will consistently be in the same class although this may not be possible at all times.

Different classes will have separate breaks and lunch times and will have separate areas in the yard. Sharing educational material between individuals will be avoided/minimised where possible. Staff members who move from class to class should be limited as much as possible and individual staff members will only move within a zone of a small number of classes in the school.

Additional measures to decrease interaction include:

  • Limit interaction on arrival and departure and in hallways and other shared areas
  • Social physical contact (hand to hand greetings, hugs) will not be permitted
  • Where pupils need to move about within the classroom to perform activities e.g. access to a shared resource, it will be organized to the greatest degree possible to minimize congregation at the shared resource.
  • Staff and pupils should avoid sharing of personal items.
  • Encourage pupils to avoid behaviours that involve hand to mouth contact (putting pens/pencils in the mouth).
  • Where teaching and learning involves use of keyboards or tablets, the contact surface of the device should be cleaned regularly and hand hygiene encouraged.







Physical distancing outside of the classroom and within the school

School drop off/collection

Arrangements for dropping off/collecting pupils are arranged to encourage physical distancing of 2m where possible. Arrangements should be made to maintain a distance of 2m between escorts, parents and guardians and between escorts, parents and guardians and school staff.


A distance of 2m is recommended for physical distancing by staff. This is particularly relevant to distancing between adults when they are not engaged in teaching such as the staff room and arriving to work. If 2m cannot be maintained in staff groups, as much as distance as is possible and guidance on face covering should be observed. We will have a no hand-shaking policy and staff will maintain 2 metre physical distancing at the beginning and end of the school day.

Physical distancing will be observed between staff members within the staff rooms through the use of staggered breaks etc. Staff areas are set up in the staff room and some of the classrooms

Staff will move with the classes in their zone but movement outside of this zone will be minimized where possible.


The Department of Education states that the ‘risk of transmission from contact with outside surfaces or play areas is low.’ Here in St. Bernadette’s Special school we have adjusted play time/outdoor activities with staggered break times to minimise crowding at the entrance and exits and to avoid classes mixing with other classes in the yard. According to the Department it is not possible to maintain physical distancing when pupils in primary or special schools play together outdoors, but in so far as practical it is helpful to keep to consistent groups which we will do. Children will perform hand hygiene before and after outdoor activities.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in St. Bernadette’s Special school

PPE will be required to be worn within the school according to current occupational and public health guidance. However, for a limited number of staff, PPE will need to be used more frequently or in some cases constantly due to the nature of certain work activities or work areas. This will include roles such as

  • Assisting with intimate care needs
  • Where a suspected case of Covid-19 is identified while the school is in operation
  • Where staff are particularly vulnerable to infection but are not on the list of those categorised as people in very high risk groups, or may be living with those who are in the very high risk category.

Appropriate PPE will be available for dealing with suspected Covid-19 cases, intimate care needs and for first aid. Where staff provide healthcare to children with medical needs in the school environment they should apply standard precautions as per usual practice.



Cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13

For our children who are 13 or over, we ask that they wear a mask or a face covering unless he/she

  • Has trouble breathing
  • Is unconscious or incapacitated
  • Is unable to remove it without help
  • Has special needs to who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering.

For staff, face coverings are required. These may be masks or visors or both depending on individual circumstances. Visors and masks will be provided for all staff should they require them.


The use of disposable gloves in the school by pupils or staff is not generally appropriate but may be necessary for first aid and intimate care settings. Routine use 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.

Impact of Covid-19 on certain school activities


Children should have one set of stationery for school and another at home. Initially no books, pencil cases etc should move between home and school. The only items brought between home and school initially should be a schoolbag, a plastic lunchbox and re-usable plastic bottle both of which can be easily wiped clean and sanitised.

Homework to be reviewed at the end of September – whole school approach

Sport activities

Sports will be outdoors initially in order to maximise opportunities for physical activity and wellbeing while still minimising risk.

Shared equipment


All toys will be cleaned on a regular basis for example weekly. This will remove dust and dirt that can harbour germs. Toys that are visibly dirty or contaminated with blood or bodily fluids will be taken out of use immediately for cleaning or disposal. When purchasing toys we will choose ones that are easy to clean and disinfect (when necessary). If cloth or soft toys are used they should be machine washable. Jigsaws, puzzles and toys that young pupils to those with special educational needs may be inclined to put into their mouths should be capable of being washed and disinfected. All play equipment will be checked for signs of damage for example breaks or cracks. If they cannot be repaired or cleaned they will be discarded. Clean toys and equipment should be stored in a clean container or clean cupboard. The manufacturer’s instructions should always be followed.

At this time soft modelling materials and play dough where used should be for individual use only.

Cleaning procedure for toys:

Wash the toy in warm soapy water, using a brush to get into crevices

Rinse the toy in clean water

Thoroughly dry the toy

Some hard plastic toys may be suitable for cleaning in the dishwasher

Toys that cannot be immersed in water that is electronic or wind up should be wiped with a damp cloth and dried

In some situations toys/equipment may need to be disinfected following cleaning for example: toys/equipment that pupils place in their mouths.


Where possible pupils should be encouraged to have their own individual art and equipment supplies


Shared electronic devices such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards should be cleaned and sanitised between uses.

Musical instruments

To the greatest extent possible, instruments should not be shared between pupils and if sharing is required, the instruments should be cleaned  and sanitised between uses.

Library Policy

Where practical pupils should have their own books. Also use of handouts/worksheets. Pupils should be encouraged to perform hand hygiene after using any shared item. Our school library will run, books being kept in classes when finished with for 72 hours before being returned to library and books initially staying in the classroom and not going home

Shared sports equipment

Minimise equipment sharing and clean shared equipment between uses by different people.


Hygiene and Cleaning in St. Bernadette’s Special school

The Department of Education will provide additional funding to schools to support the enhanced cleaning required to minimise the risks of Covid-19.  The school will be cleaned at least once per day in line with the requirements of the Department of Education and public health advice.

Additional cleaning will be focused on frequently touched surfaces: door handles, hand rails, communal eating areas, sink and toilet facilities.

All staff will have access to cleaning products and will be required to maintain cleanliness of their own work area. Staff are required to 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 provide, use and clean their own equipment and utensils (cup, cutlery, plate etc.).

A specific cleaning protocol is in place for cleaning an area which might have been used by a person with symptoms of Covid-19.


  1. 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. Bernadette’s Special school will deal with a suspected case that may arise in a school setting.

  • A designated isolation area has been identified within the school building. The designated isolation area is behind a closed door, with access from the outside and away from other staff and pupils. If a staff member/pupil displays symptoms of Covid-19 while at school the following are the procedures to be implemented:
  • If the person with the suspected case is a pupil, the parents/guardians will be contacted immediately
  • Where the person displaying symptoms is a child they will be accompanied to the designated isolation area via the isolation route, keeping at least 2m away from the symptomatic person and also making sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2m from the symptomatic person at all times
  • The staff member accompanying the child should wear a face covering – mask and/or visor.
  • If the person presenting with symptoms is a member of staff they should go immediately to the isolation room via the isolation route, maintaining at least 2m distance from everyone on their way their
  • Gloves should not be used as the virus does not pass through skin
  • A mask will be provided for the person presenting with symptoms. 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 who will 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 and pupil confidentiality is essential at all times.

  1. Staff duties

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:

  • 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
  • Coordinate and work with their colleagues to ensure that physical distancing is maintained
  • Make themselves aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and monitor their own wellbeing
  • Self-isolate at home and contact their GP promptly for further advice if they display any symptoms of Covid-19
  • Not return or attend school if they have symptoms of Covid-19 under any circumstances.
  • If they develop any symptoms of Covid-19 whilst within the school facility, they should adhere to the procedure outlined above
  • Complete the RTW form before they return to work
  • 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
  • Must complete Covid-19 Induction Training and any other training required prior to their return to school
  • Must be aware of, and adhere to, good hygiene and respiratory etiquette practices
  • Keep informed of the updated advice of the public health authorities and comply with same.
  1. Covid related absence management

The management of a Covid-19 related absence will be managed in line with agreed procedures with DES.

  1. 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 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.