Covid-19 update, March 17 2020


Dear Parents/Carers

Re: Covid-19 update, 17 March 2020

Last night the Board of Governors convened an emergency meeting to consider the school’s response to the developing Covid 19 pandemic. Before meeting, Governors had the opportunity to study the most recent Department of Education Guidance. A copy of that Guidance has been placed on the school’s website for your information.

As appears from this document, the official direction from the Department has not changed: school’s in Northern Ireland “will continue to stay open until such time as [the] expert scientific advice changes.” It is clear that many regard the maintenance of this direction with understandable concern. This concern was shared by Governors at their meeting, noting the fact that the welfare of pupils and staff is their primary responsibility. Governors also recognised that at this critical time it was material to consider that many parents work in health care settings and in other important occupational roles, and that some pupils have family members who will be particularly vulnerable to this disease.

Informed by these considerations, Governors gave specific consideration to whether it was now necessary to close the school with immediate effect. However, after examining the issues it was agreed that on balance, the school should remain open for now. In reaching this conclusion the following key factors were taken into account: the advice provided by the Department; the absence of any notified illness amongst the school community; and the importance of giving notice to parents so that alternative child-care arrangements can be made. Parents should appreciate, however, that this is an extremely fluid situation and that it will be necessary to review the position over the coming days.

Accordingly, the school will reopen at its normal time on Wednesday 18 March for all classes. The following additional steps were agreed or affirmed by Governors:

  • Until further notice, and save for exceptional reasons, there will be no school assembly, after school clubs, Breakfast Club, Kidz Club or external trips or visits.
  • The school will continue to apply an intensive approach to the issue of personal and premises hygiene, and monitoring for symptoms.
  • No parent or carer should enter the school building without prior arrangement.
  • Parents must apply current Government health advice: if anyone in your household has one of two key symptoms (high temperature, persistent cough), then the household must self-isolate for 14 days. If any pupil has experienced any of these symptoms, it is important that s/he is not sent to school and that the school is notified
  • Some parents may decide that it is not in the best interests of their family circumstances to send children to school. The Governors believe that this is an entirely understandable and reasonable position to adopt at the present time. There will be no question of the school applying any penalty in response to such absence in the current circumstances.
  • If the Department has not made a closure announcement by close of business on Thursday 19 March, Governors will meet again to review the position and to consider whether it is in the best interests of our school community to remain open. Parents will be immediately notified of any change.
  • Parents should understand that senior management is making preparations for imminent closure, and that all the indications are that once closed, the school is unlikely to reopen for a significant period of time.
  • As previously communicated, each teacher is preparing additional work for children to complete at home in the likely event of school closure. This work in Literacy and Numeracy will be sent via ‘See-saw’. Further details and explanations will be made available to parents in due course.
  • I have been asked to keep under review the need to make alternative arrangements for those who may miss out on free school meals in the event of closure, and I will make a further announcement as soon as possible.

The situation that we are facing is totally unprecedented. It is important that the school community works together to safeguard the health of everyone. We will continue to monitor how we are meeting the challenges presented and we will adapt our response as events unfold.

If you need to contact me directly and especially if you have any particular concern, please do so either by telephone at the school, or by email using either or the contacts link on the school website.

Kind regards

Mr Donaldson

31 2022
Start of new term
12 2022
P6 Swimming
26 2022
P1 Curriculum Meeting
26 2022
P1 Parent/Teacher Meetings
27 2022
P2 Curriculum Meeting
St.Joseph's Primary School,
31a Holland Drive,

028 9065 0039

© 2022 St.Joseph's Primary School