Message from the Principal 21st September 2020

Dear Parents/ Guardians,

I hope this finds you all well.

As we move into our fourth full week of school I would like to thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation in keeping everyone as safe as possible in the current environment.

I would like to update you on how things have been going.

Students have been exceptionally good at wearing a face covering while in the school building.We note many students with their ziploc containing mask, wipes, hand sanitiser and we thank you for that.

The one way system is working, though we have had to tweak it as we used it.

One pinch point was the end of break and lunch time. While we were staggering the start of break time we are now also staggering the end of breaks and it is working better.

The weather has been kind to us and we have great outdoor space. We have taken delivery of 18 outdoor picnic tables with two more to come. We also have a large outdoor covered area under construction which will allow for an outdoor canteen/ classroom even in poor weather.

Most students go outside at break time and get a break from face coverings. This is good but also challenging. Young people gravitate towards each other during down time and physical distancing is proving a challenge.

The school is open and comprehensive training and planning is ongoing for blended learning in Piper’s Hill so that learning can continue in all situations. It is only fair that I alert you to the fact that teacher absences will be high this year and finding replacement staff is extremely challenging. Please be assured that when a teacher is out we do our very best to ensure continuity of teaching and learning. All teachers will make work available to students through Google Classroom. Work can also be corrected in this way.

One of our measures to ensure physical distancing is to allow students to wear their PE uniform on the day they have PE. We are confident from our risk assessment that this is a good measure. However we have noticed that this measure is being abused by many students. I refer you to our uniform policy at phcol.ie and ask you to please ensure you know the day your son/daughter has PE. On this day only, they should wear black tracksuit bottoms and a red Pipers Hill polo shirt. This is the only acceptable PE uniform.On all other days they should wear full school uniform and, while a white school polo shirt is acceptable, the myriad of tee shirts and multi coloured jackets being worn are not. We urgently request your support on this matter.

Traffic on the Kilcullen Road and in the campus has been an issue for a few years now. For two years we have engaged in ongoing discussions with KWETB and Kildare County Council to try to resolve matters to no avail. We understand the frustration of those stuck in traffic daily but must respectfully remind drivers to act responsibly at all times. Please do not allow young people exit cars until parked safely. Please do not pull into cycle lanes or make u turns on the Kilcullen Road. Our biggest concern is that a child will be injured or worse if some current driver behaviour does not change.

We have also been in ongoing discussions with Bus Eireann and private bus companies. We are satisfied they are now very clear that buses do not move off early because of the staggered end to our school day. There should be no need for students to rush to the bus at the end of the day as the drivers have given an undertaking to remain at the stop until 4.10pm.

The following are some of the ways we really appreciate your ongoing support

Please talk to your son/daughter about maintaining physical distance from their friends during break times

Please encourage them to frequently wash their hands and use hand sanitiser and continue to follow the one way system.

Please do not come to the school unless you have an appointment. If your son/daughter forgets something please phone us- do not come to the school.

Please use the Way to Pay online service.

It is extremely important that students are not sent to school if they feel unwell. Please keep your child at home if they are sick. All work can be accessed on Google Classroom.

Please let us know if there is a Covid 19 positive case in your household. This will be dealt with in confidence but will help us act and plan while we wait for HSE contact.

Please link in to our website and social media platforms. All updates and important announcements will be posted there.

If dropping or collecting your son/daughter to school please observe all safety measures on the roads.

Please ensure your son/ daughter is wearing full and correct uniform each day.

Please continue to encourage your son/daughter to avoid congregating in large groups and attending events in each others homes. It is really essential that all young people follow Public Health Advice both in and out of school if our measures are to work.

We have been trying to adhere to our calendar by putting scheduled meetings and events online. To date the Guidance information evening for parents/ guardians of 5th years and the 1st Year Welcome Evening can be seen online through our website.

We are currently working on a video to showcase our school for Open Night which was due to take place on 8/10/20.

Our Admissions Notice for 2021/22 will be published on the 21/9/20 and we will be accepting applications for 1st Year 2021 from the 2/10/20

A new company has been awarded the canteen contract. We will be planning with them in the coming weeks for a safe reopening of our canteen facilities.

We are awaiting KWETB advice on restarting evening study, homework club, extra curricular activities. 6th years and 3rd years will be prioritised for evening study.

Finally, we remind you that the school will be closed next Monday, 28th of September.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and may I thank you most sincerely for your ongoing support. We cannot do it without you.

I hope you stay safe and well

Kind regards,

Caroline Herity

Principal