Covid-19 - Latest Updates

Access to Schools – What does 18 May mean for schools?

The DES will be issuing more detailed guidelines to schools on accessing schools from next Monday 18 May. These will be posted on the front page of the IPPN website when they are published. In the meantime, schools are trying to work out the practical arrangements to be put in place so that the school can be accessed on 18 May by school staff. You may want to consider the following, which IPPN has already submitted to the DES.

As this is only phase one - giving access to schools for essential purposes - there should be clarity as to what is deemed essential to further the teaching and learning in the school. Only those staff who, for whatever reason, cannot meet these needs remotely should access the school. This is the DES initial advice but, as noted, more detailed guidance will be issued shortly.

  • Schools are re-opened to staff from 18 May in order to support remote teaching and learning
  • This allows staff access to books and materials to support continuity of learning - and to deal with critical security/maintenance issues only
  • If school secretaries are needed to support continuity of education, they can access schools – it is a matter for schools to do this in a way that follows health advice
  • It is not intended that all school staff would be on site all the time from 18th May. The advice remains the same – where it safe to do so, staff should continue to work from home but they can now access the building if necessary
  • Payments have always been considered critical work, so this should proceed in line with the health advice – if possible this should be done remotely/digitally, as this is the preferred option. If it requires attendance at schools social distancing and health advice should be followed.

In all circumstances, schools should be mindful of public health advice regarding social distancing and other public health guidance at all times, and attendance in the school building should continue to be minimised.

Even for this phase one access on 18 May, staff should discuss and agree protocols for their own school, to include:

  • Staff members should pre-book with the principal. If necessary, depending on the size of the school, there should be staggered start/end times and different days.
  • These times and days could be limited to facilitate cleaning afterwards.
  • All staff must use hand sanitizer upon arrival at the school
  • Staff rooms - agreement around use of the staff room and the cleaning of same after use. Should teachers and staff use the staff room at all during this phase one access?
  • Guidelines re. use of items that would usually be communal e.g. cutlery, crockery – should staff bring their own for now?
  • Agreement that people with underlying conditions / who are immune-compromised/ suppressed should not be given access at this time?
  • Training for cleaning and caretaking staff in relation to cleaning procedures, equipment and products. Should there be restrictions on areas of the school during this access time? Do common surfaces, such as door handles, corridor, toilets, require a daily cleaning from 18 May onwards?
  • Ensure the school has access to sufficient supplies of liquid soap, hand sanitizer etc.
  • Should a school deny access if they cannot adhere to all guidance – possible insurance implications if they cannot
    Agreement on possibly wearing gloves and/or masks, especially when entering or exiting
    Schools who wish to avail of this access should have a staff meeting later this week to ensure clarity for all.

The reality is that Monday 18 May is not a return to working full-time in the school. Rather it is designed to allow limited access to staff to carry out essential functions. If these can still be carried out from home, then that is what should still be happening.

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