Covid 19 Response Plan ( Updated in August 2021)

Scoil Naomh Seosamh, An Sciobairín, Co. Chorcaí.

St. Joseph’s N.S. Skibbereen, Co. Cork.


Príomhoide/Principal:                                                            Cáit Bn Uí  Raghallaigh        

Phone. 028 21804                                             

Roll Number 08430S


This Covid-19 Response Plan is designed to support the staff and Board of Management (BOM) in putting measures in place that will prevent the spread of Covid-19 in St Joseph’s GNS Skibbereen.

The Covid-19 Response Plan details the policies and practices necessary for a 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. Return to work safely and Lead Worker Representative(s)
  4. Safety Statement and Risk Assessment
  5. General advice to prevent the spread of the virus
  6. Procedure for Returning to Work (RTW)
  7. Control Measures
  8. Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19
  9. Staff Duties
  10. Covid related absence management
  11. 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 from,,,;;

Planning and Preparing for Return to School

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 of St Joseph’s GNS, Skibbereen this  year schools we have checked the following:

  • The presence of Legionella disease due to lack of water usage since March. We have had the water tested and no trace of Legionella was found.
  • School equipment has been serviced or repaired in preparation for use.
  • All outside services have resumed ie bin collection, rodent control etc
  • The school has been deep cleaned and sanitised.


The Lead worker has procured signage suitable for use with children. Signs highlight the need for good cough and sneeze etiquette and good hand hygiene. New bins have been purchased to accommodate the removal of Covid 19 waste from the school in line with HSE guidelines.

Procedure for Returning to Work (RTW)

In order to return to the workplace, all Staff have completed a Return to Work (RTW) form and undertaken Induction Training as appropriate to their position in St Joseph’s GNS.


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.

Under the Return to Work Safely protocol the management and staff have appointed Ms R. O’Regan as Lead Worker Representative assisted by Mr F. Connolly to carry out a specific role.

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
  • Assist with the implementation of measures to suppress COVID-19 in the
  • 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
  • Make representations on behalf of their colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the

If a staff member has any concerns or observations in relation to the Covid-19 Response Plan and control measures or the adherence to such control measures by staff, parents/guardians, contractors or visitors, he/she should contact the lead worker or the assistant lead worker who will engage with the Principal/BOM.

Name(s) of Lead Worker representative:

Contact details

Ms R. O’Regan

Mr F. Connolly

028 21804


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.

Safety Statement and Risk Assessment

A full Risk assessment will take place during September. ( August 2021 and reviewed during Sept 2021)

The Staff and Management have looked at various areas of obvious risk prior to reopening St Joseph’s GNS and have drawn up procedures to mitigate risks in these areas. These will be incorporated into the full Covid 19 risk assessment during September and will form part of the overall risk assessment for St Joseph’s GNS

General advice to prevent the spread of the virus

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 it is important to know and recognise the symptoms. This information will be brought to the attention of the whole school community.

They are:

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

The following grid outlines the common symptoms as outlined by the HSE

Fever or chills





Common (usually dry)

Common (usually dry)


Shortness of breath




Lost or changed sense of smell or taste








Aches and pains




Sore throat








Runny or Stuffy Nose




Feeling sick or vomiting






Sometimes in children






The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in St Joseph’s GNS is to minimise the risk of introduction of the disease into the school in the first place.

We will strive to achieve this through the following measures:

  • We will promote awareness of COVID-19 and its symptoms amongst staff, pupils, parents
  • We will advise the 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.
  • We will advise staff and parents of pupils who have been identified by the HSE as a contact of a person with COVID- 19 not to attend schools and to follow the HSE advice on restriction.
  • We will ensure that staff and pupils know what to do if they develop symptoms
  • We will ensure that everyone who enters the school building will be required to perform hand hygiene with hand sanitiser
  • We will only admit visitors to the school during the day by prior arrangement and any visitors will be received into the school through the main entrance.


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 – St Joseph’s GNS will consult this site regularly and update our Covid 19 Response plan as necessary

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

The Department has been working closely with the HSE and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) to develop health advice which has been tailored to the needs of schools in order to support schools in planning for reopening in Spring. The link to the Interim Public Health recommendations for the reopening of schools can be found here


Managing the risk of spread of COVID-19 Wash your hands frequently

Regular handwashing 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 have been installed at all entrances, at all bathrooms and on entering all classrooms in St Joseph’s GNS. This will assist in avoiding disruption to teaching and learning and to avoid the congestion of staff and pupils waiting to use handwashing facilities.

Hand Ssanitisers for use in St Joseph’s will be provided by the school. Children are not allowed to bring their own hand sanitiser. This is to protect all members of St Joseph’s GNS from the incorrect use of products or the introduction of harsh products to the school. 

All members of the St Joseph’s school community must sanitise their hands when the enter and exit vehicles and when entering and exiting the school building. 

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.

All Staff will remind children of the need to avoid touching their faces throughout the day. Parents will be requested to follow this advice at home also.

Physical distancing

To allow for as much physical distancing as possible we have removed some furniture from the school to create more space in classrooms.  Desks have been positioned to allow for as much space between desks as possible.

Third class to Sixth class are required to physically distance. Physical distancing is not required for pupils from Junior Infants to Second class. However, each class will be required to physical distance from other classes. For the safety of all children, we have organised break times to allow only four classes in the yard at a time. The yards have been divided into sections to allow each class have a designated separate space to play. Junior Infants to Second class will have their first break from 10.45 to 11.00 and Third class to Sixth class will have their break from 11.05 to 11.20. Big break will be from 12.30 to 1.00 pm. Junior Infants to Second class will have their lunch in their rooms from 12.30 to 12.45 and playtime from 12.45 to 1.00.  Third class to Sixth class will play in the yard from 12.35 to 12.50 and eat their lunch from 12.50 to 1.05 in their rooms.

The Department has published guidance setting out the practical steps for good ventilation in accordance with public health advice ‘Practical Steps for the Deployment of Good Ventilation Practices in Schools’ The guidance sets out an overall approach for schools that windows should be open as fully as possible when classrooms are not
in use (e.g. during break-times or lunch-times (assuming not in use) and also at the end of each school day) and partially open when classrooms are in use. The guidance provides that good ventilation can be achieved in classrooms without causing discomfort, particularly during cold weather. 

Air Monitors

The Department of Education will provide five CO2 air monitors for St Joseph’s GNS. The Board of Management will purchase additional monitors during September to fit a monitor in each classroom.  

Practice respiratory hygiene

Staff, pupils and visitors will be required to practice 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 in a peddle bin. Peddle bins have been provided in all classrooms, all staff bathrooms, both staffrooms and in the halla. Bins are clearly marked with a yellow Covid 19 label which will assist the school in disposing of contaminated waste as advised under HSE guidelines. 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, pupils and visitors 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


Do Not

  • Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Share objects that touch your mouth – for example, pens, bottles, cups, cutlery,

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:

  • 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 leukemia, 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 falls into the very high-risk category, advice will be sought from the Occupational Health Service.


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 .

These control measures are outlined in this document.

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:

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 complete 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 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.



Staff Induction Training is available at the following link

The Department has prepared short induction training for schools this year. It is intended that this training will be comprehensive and will cover all aspects of the return to school safely protocols.

If further up skilling is required in the future all Staff will fully participate in this training.


Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

It is crucial that all staff, pupils, parents/guardians, contractors and visitors are familiar with, and adopt, good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

Guidance documentation and Information posters are available at various locations within the school facility. Information posters will be prominently displayed at appropriate locations within the school facility including offices, corridors, staffroom area, classrooms and toilet areas. Such are intended to inform but also remind everyone about the importance of hygiene in preventing the spread of Covid-19 virus and protecting health and safety.

Hand washing facilities and hand sanitisers will be available at multiple locations within the school facility and are available in each classroom.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The use of a face visor and/or face covering will be used by Staff in school when a distance of 2m is not possible.  

PPE will not be required to be worn within the school facility according to current occupational and public health guidance. However, for a limited number of staff, PPE will need to be used occasionally or constantly due to the nature of certain work activities or work areas.

Such include roles where:

  • Performing intimate care
  • Where a suspected case of Covid-19 is identified while the school is in operation

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.


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.

Gloves will be used when administering First Aid as is the usual requirement as set out in our First Aid policy.



Arrangements for more regular and thorough cleaning of areas and surfaces within the school has been made.

Regular and thorough cleaning of communal areas and frequently touched surfaces shall be conducted, in particular, tables, chairs, light switches, toys, toilets, 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 the 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. They will also be required to clean and disinfect the area they use in the Staffroom.

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 must be placed in the dishwasher.)

Access to the school building /contact log

Access to the school facility is allowed for all key holders as agreed under school procedures.

Arrangement for necessary visitors such as contractors and parents/guardians with 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 will be maintained. The school will maintain a log of staff and students contacts. In addition see visitor contact log  at Appendix 3.

First Aid/emergency procedure

The standard First Aid/Emergency procedure shall continue to apply in St Joseph’s GNS Skibbereen.

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

School staff are 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.

Staff or pupils should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. The following outlines how St Joseph’s GNS Skibbereen will deal with a suspected case that may arise during the course of work.

Two designated isolation areas have been identified within the school building. The first isolation room will be inside the fire exit at the rear of the Special Needs Building. The second area will be an area inside the left hand fire exit door of the Halla which is outlined in yellow tape.  Protocols when a suspected case of Covid 19 occurs during the school day are outlined below.

If a staff member/pupil displays symptoms of Covid-19 while at work in St Joseph’s GNS Skibbereen 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 via the isolation route, keeping 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 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 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
  • 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

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.

The Principal in conjunction with the lead worker will be responsible for ensuring that all aspects of the protocol to deal with suspected cases have been adhered to. 

Infection Prevention Control Measures

To prevent Introduction and Spread of COVID-19 in St Joseph’s GNS
1. Staff and pupils are advised to self-isolate or restrict their movements at home if:
(a) they display any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and contact their family
doctor to arrange a test
2. Staff and pupils are advised not to return to or attend school in the event of the following:
(a) if they are identified by the HSE as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19

(b) if they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus

(c) 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.

(c) 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;


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:


  1. 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 in keeping St Joseph’s Covid free.
  2. Coordinate and work with their colleagues to ensure that physical distancing is taking place.
  3. Make themselves aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and monitor their own health. 
  4. Self-isolate at home and contact their GP promptly for further advice if they display any symptoms of Covid-19.
  5. Not return or attend school if they have symptoms of Covid-19 under any circumstance.
  6. If they develop any symptoms of Covid-19 whilst within the school facility, they should adhere to the procedure outlined
  7. Complete the RTW form before they return to work
  8. 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 work
  9. Must complete Covid-19 Induction Training and any other training required prior to their return to work
  10. Must be aware of, and adhere to, good hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  11. Keep informed of the updated advice of the public health authorities and comply with it.

Staff are advised that further to the duties outlined above they must also adhere to the following:

1 Not to return to or attend school in the event of the following:

(a) if they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus
2.  If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff are
(a) advised to consult and follow latest Government advice in relation to foreign travel.
(b) Cooperate with any public health personnel and their school for contact tracing purposes and follow any public health advice given in the event of a case or outbreak in their school
3. Undergo any COVID-19 testing that may be required as part of mass or serial testing as advised by Public Health

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 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.


The Board of Management ratified this policy in August 2020 it was reviewed it in February 2021. This policy was updated in August 2021 in preparation for the school year 2021/22


Signed: __________________________


Date:     __________________________