UPDATE TUESDAY 29th July
RETURN to SCHOOL
Dear parents and guardians,
As you will be aware an important step in returning to school took place this week with the release of the roadmap for the return to school by the Minister for Education. I have attached a copy of this document below and a copy of the letter sent by the Minister to parents.
As we have come to experience over the period of lockdown and on-line education, face-to-face personal interaction between students and teachers is an integral aspect of education – so a return to on-site schooling is important. It is also vitally important that we return in a way that protects the health and safety of everyone in our school community; students and staff alike. The publication of the roadmap is now allowing us to plan in detail for the safe return of students in accordance with the correct health and safety requirements, best recommendations and advice.
The school has a COVID RESPONSE TEAM comprising of members of school management, representatives of the staff and the parent body and this team has been meeting over the past two days to consider the implications of the roadmap and to further the process of planning for the return to school.
I know that students and parents will have questions relating to all aspects of return to school and as you will see from the Roadmap, there is a range of issues to be considered that impact on every aspect of daily life in school. The Covid Response Team is engaging in identifying the best processes and procedures to implement in our school to manage the safe return of everyone. The reality of life in school will be changed considerably to address the health and safety requirements of the covid-19 situation. As we develop and finalise details regarding timetable, classroom accommodation, procedures for entry/egress, sanitation and hygiene, movement around the school, books, lockers, toilets, to name but a few, we will communicate these to you through this School App and on the school website on this page.
I want to assure all parents and students that planning is progressing apace and we will have information to you in good time for the return process which will begin from the 31st August. When we finalise plans for orientation and induction of staff and students in line with the new procedures, we will communicate the dates of a staged return of students from the 31st August and we will have this initial information to you next week to allow you to forward plan. Queries and issues in relation to book grants and uniforms will be handled by office staff starting the 4th August.
We are looking forward to welcoming students back to school and to establishing a ‘new education process’ that addresses the realities of this current world wide epidemic and provides for the education of our students.
Press Release from the Minister for Education 21st July 2020
Minister Foley announces Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades to issue to students directly through the Student Calculated Grades portal on 7 September
Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today announced that Calculated Grades results will issue directly to students through the student portal on 7 September at 9.00am. Results will also issue simultaneously to students’ schools.
Schools will be asked to provide support to students in an appropriate way on the day, through enabling students to come to the school if they wish at a scheduled time, or to making guidance or other teaching staff members available by phone for students to discuss their options following their results.
“It is important that we recognise the unique set of circumstances for these students, and that we all ensure they get the support that they need,” said Minister Foley.
“I am confident that schools will, through their support teams ensure that the students they have supported and nurtured throughout their post-primary education will be supported on this important day and the following days.”
Students will also be required to respect social distancing and to behave in a responsible way, in line with public health advice. Schools will have the flexibility to ask some classes of current students not to attend school on that day to ensure adequate social distancing in schools.
The Leaving Certificate student helpline which is provided by the National Parents Council post-primary will be available from 7 September for students to reach a guidance counsellor with any queries that they may have.
The issuing of the results was one of the matters discussed at a meeting today hosted by the Department of Education with a range of stakeholders, as part of planning in relation to the State Examinations during the Covid-19 response.
The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD attended today’s meeting and thanked all stakeholders for their contribution and work to date on devising the Calculated Grades system.
“Creating an entirely new system of Calculated Grades has been a huge and challenging task. The contribution of the stakeholders and their involved input at every stage has been key in getting to this point.
“I am pleased that we have been able to bring clarity for students on how and when the results will be issued and how they will be supported.
“I know what a stressful time this is for students. The wellbeing of the students and the integrity and fairness of the system are the most important things to me, and I will continue to work with the stakeholders to ensure that we get the best possible and fairest results for our students.
“I urge students to ensure that they opt-in on the Calculated Grades Student Portal this week for their Calculated Grades, before the deadline of 4pm next Monday 27 July. All the details you need are on gov.ie/LeavingCertificate.”
The advisory group of stakeholders includes representatives of students, parents, teachers, school leadership and management bodies, the State Examinations Commission, the National Educational Psychological Service, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Department.
Representatives from the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Higher and Further Education, Innovation and Research attended the meeting to ensure liaison with the third level sector.
The group also received updates on the progress of the Calculated Grades opt-in by students, which is progressing well, with over 52% of Leaving Certificate students and 28% of Leaving Certificate Applied students having opted-in to date.
The Group also discussed the updated plans to tenure the smooth running of the CAO offer and acceptance process, to enable students to gain entry to higher education.
CAO offers will be made on 11 September, for acceptance on 16 September, with second round offers to be made on 23 September for acceptance by 25 September.
Students wising to appeal a Calculated Grade can do so from 14 September.
The Group also received a briefing from the State Examinations Commission on the plans it is developing to run the Leaving Certificate examinations in November 2020.
Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades Portal – Register to opt in…
We have been asked by the minister to communicate to all Leaving Certificate student that you will need to register on the Portal to opt in for Calculated Grades. The portal is opening on Monday 20th July at 12:00 noon and will remain open till Monday July 27th.
The Ministers announcement can be found on https://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2020-press-releases/PR20-07-16a.html
16 July, 2020 – Minister Foley announces next steps for this year’s Leaving Certificate students – Department of Education and Skills
Interim Recommendations for the Reopening of Schools for September 2020: here
Letter for Parents July 2020: here
Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk is adapting to the changing environment brought about by the Corona virus pandemic.
One of the measures we are taking is to move away from, in so far as is practicable, paper forms. We will be putting, up on the school App, forms that were previously to be submitted in paper format.
Forms for filling and subsequent submission to the school can be found under the Permission Form tab in the App menu. Please see graphic.
These forms must be completed on the App and are easily submitted through the App.
Forms presented on the App will not be available to download, print or send in on paper.
Information for incoming first years and their parents, June 25th 2020.
- Please see the Book List for First Years here. As students will not have their timetable until their first day of school, parents should not purchase books for option subjects until they get their timetable with their option subjects indicated. (These books may be purchased after their first day in school).
- First year students may rent the English and Irish text books. These books will be available for rent on 6th August in school . The cost is €10 per book which includes €5 refundable deposit if the book is returned, covered and in good condition.
- We have a Book Scheme in the school and application forms are available on the School App from the 8th July. Applications should be returned to the school by 7th August, the closing date. Applications will be processed after that date. Families who qualify under one of the following headings may apply for the scheme.
- Families mainly dependant on social welfare.
- Families on low income.
- Families experiencing hardship because of particular circumstances.
The school uniform is available from 2 suppliers –
Gemma’s will be in the school on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th August from 9.30 to 5.p.m.and also on Wednesday 19th August with a full supply of uniforms. Gemma’s is located at 111 Henry St, Limerick, Phone: (061) 410 344 or phone Mai on 087 -944 1949 if you have any queries or need to order uniforms.
Uniforms may also be purchased at Dan Fitzgerald’s, Tralee. (066) 712 2782
The School uniform is to be worn at all times while in school and during school events and outings as directed by the school authorities.
Students may only wear the official school blazer, jacket or fleece (with school crest) in the school. Please note that students will only be allowed to wear black socks and plain black shoes (without colour, logos or embellishment.)
Jumper: Aquamarine jumper with black stripe in v-neck and incorporating school crest Shirt: White shirt (No Blouses) Tie: Black with aqua and white stripes Scarf: Similar to tie (9.00 – 3.45pm – Only school scarves may be worn) (optional) Skirt: Aquamarine pleated skirt of wool mixture Tights: Plain Black Shoes: Black leather shoes (no logos, colour, embellishment, not trainers or boots) Blazer/Jacket: Optional black blazer, jacket or fleece with school crest must be worn. Trousers: Grey school trousers with aqua stripe (Supplier’s cut only) Socks Black
BOYS Jumper: Aquamarine jumper with black stripe in v-neck and incorporating school crest Shirt: White shirt Tie: Black with aqua and white stripes Scarf: Similar to tie (9.00 – 3.45pm – Only school scarves may be worn) (optional) Shoes: Black leather shoes (Black laces only, no logos, colour, embellishment, not
trainers or boots) Blazer/Jacket: Optional black blazer, jacket or fleece with school crest must be worn Trousers: Charcoal grey (Supplier’s cut only) Socks Black
Lunch and Break Times Students have a 15 minute break at 10.30 a.m. (10 minutes on Wednesday) and a 55 minute lunch break at 1.25 p.m. ( 35 minutes on Wednesdays). Food may be purchased in the school canteen or students may bring their own lunch and eat it in the Canteen /General Purpose area. Students are not allowed outside school grounds or allowed go to the shop. Students who live in the immediate vicinity of the school, may go home for lunch, with parental and school permission.
SCHOOL CALENDAR Due to COVID restrictions, we are unable to issue a school calendar until August.
CAO information 15th May 2020
A: Important communication from the CAO
All applicants to the CAO will receive an email from the CAO today (Friday 15th) detailing the following:
1. Statement of Application Record
There will be no postal Statement of Application Record sent to applicants. You be will be sent an email correspondence. This email is referred to as the Statement of Application Record email, and it replaces the traditional postal document which applicants would normally receive this month. Applicants who applied using the late application facility will receive an email later this month.
The email instructs applicants to log in to their CAO account to verify that all of their personal details, examination information, supporting documents, course choices and exemptions (if any) are recorded correctly on their accounts.
If there are errors or omissions, applicants are given the opportunity to rectify this information (for no charge) via their online CAO Account. It is vitally important that you do this. If you have a NUI Irish and/or third language exemption or a TCD exemption is it recorded? If you have and it is not recorded you need to inform the CAO immediately.
In the ‘Information for Schools’ section of the CAO Website, you will find a dedicated link for the Statement of Application Record which will contain the following:
1. A link to the instructions page for applicants.
2. A video guide explaining the process of checking and updating applicant accounts, including a screenshot of a sample applicant’s account to assist you in guiding your students.
3. A link to the Important Changes to the 2020 CAO Handbook.
2. Change of Mind and Changes to 2020 Handbook
The CAO Change of Mind facility opened on Tuesday, 5 May. Applicants may add, remove or change the order of their courses as many times as they like up to the 1 July at 5:15pm.
Applicants are also urged to read the ‘Changes to the 2020 Handbook’ document (available from the Downloads section of www.cao.ie) for information on new courses, cancelled courses, title changes and miscellaneous changes.
It is important that you list your courses in genuine order of preference, and not based on assumptions about points or examination results. Apply for both Level 8 and Leve6/7 courses to enhance your opportunities
3. Offers and Acceptances
Over the coming weeks, CAO will hold discussions with the State Examinations Commission about the expected revised timeline for the provision of Leaving Certificate grades. Following on from this, CAO and HEIs will discuss the impact this change will have on the existing offers and acceptances schedules. The CAO will be updating their website and notifying applicants as soon as a revised schedule has been agreed by CAO and HEIs.
It is very important that you read the email when you receive it from the CAO, as errors or omissions not rectified now can cause you a lot of stress at the offer stage.
If you require any assistance please contact your Guidance Counsellor via email.
B: Guidelines covering conversations between students and staff – May 13th 2020
We realise that many changes that have come about in the last few weeks and we want you to know that school management, your Guidance Counsellors, Year Heads and Teachers are here to support you and help you or advise you in any way we can.
If you wish to discuss any part of your social, personal, educational or career concerns please contact your guidance counsellor:
Ms. Farrell – email@example.com
Ms. O Mahoney – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Muldoon Walsh – email@example.com
Your Year Head Ms. Cronin is also available at firstname.lastname@example.org as is the Deputy Principal for Senior Students: email@example.com
In supporting you, it is also important that you understand that Guidance Counsellors and teachers are bound by a protocol surrounding the calculation of grades for the Leaving Certificate students. The Department of Education & Skills has indicated that:
“In advance of any planned interaction with students a clear statement must be communicated to students and parents/guardians that the guidance counsellor will not be engaging in discussions regarding the calculated grading process or potential marks awarded by teachers. Guidance Counsellors, teachers and students may not discuss the student’s achievement in the subject over the past two years. Nor can they discuss the student’s ranking in a class, or their estimated mark or the level at which an estimated mark is to be provided in a subject.”
(See FAQ no: 32 on the department website at: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2f07eb-leaving-cert-2020-information/#information-for-leaving-cert-students ).
You can anticipate, therefore, that any conversation between you and a member of the School’s Student Support Team, during this time, will be prefaced with an explanation such as the following:
‘As part of our conversation today we are prohibited from having any discussion about student achievement over the past 2 years, student ranking in a class, student’s estimated mark or the level an estimated mark is to be provided in a subject. If our conversation strays into speaking about any of these matters, our meeting will have to cease immediately.’
This is being done in order to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of the process and is ultimately in the best interest of all of the students in our school.
Please use the support of school staff to help you sort out any questions or difficulties you have in relation to the CAO process,
LETTER 23rd April – Term Work and Assessment Plan
Dear Parents and Students,
Further to our communication with you on Monday (20th), I am writing to give more detailed overview on the work plan for this term. Teachers will follow up in the next few days by posting the specific subject plans through Google Classroom to their class groups.
Structure of on-line education for this Summer term.
Following staff meetings and subject department meetings held over that last two days, teachers have collated the work and assessment plans for this term of 6 weeks to May 29th on-line. In doing this a number of concerns were important: (i) to ensure that course work continues to be covered for all students, (ii) to continue preparation for examinations for the exam years, and (iii) to provide for an end-of-year assessment for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th years as a house examination in the school will not be possible this year.
Preparations will continue with 6th years for their Leaving Certificate. The current indication (to be confirmed) is that it is hoped to begin on 29th July. We are awaiting further details on this, on the status of project work, and on a return to school.
We are very conscious that 6th years may need to contact their Guidance Counsellors regarding queries on courses or change or mind process etc… The school’s counsellors are available to contact:
Procedures in relation to making appointments and the process of connecting with the Guidance Counsellor will issue to you by Monday 27th.
1st, 2nd and 5th year
For 1st, 2nd and 5th years, work will be structured on 3 fortnightly blocks in general as follows:
- Block 1 running until May 1st – new material
- Block 2 from May 5th to the 15th – new material
- Block 3 from May 18th to the 29th – Revision block
The last block will be a revision block and teachers will indicate the areas of the course to be revised. Teachers will provide their students with the plan for the work and the summative assessments for Blocks 1 and 2 by Friday this week and details of Block 3 early next week.
Each block will focus on a section of coursework which has been decided upon by the subject departments. Teachers will follow the school timetable and will continue to connect with their classes each day that the subject is timetabled providing resources, input, homework and formative feedback as they have been doing last term. It important that students check into Google classroom each day to access work as they can expect to hear from their teachers each day they have a class in that subject. We are asking parents to partner us in encouraging engagement in as far as possible.
Each unit of work will build up to a piece of summative assessment at the end of the block (first summative assignment will occur next week) which will be marked and used to produce a grade for the subject for this year. There will be three such summative assessments corresponding to the three units of work over this term. Looking at this in another way – the traditional end-of-year examination for students is being broken down into three pieces of assessment that will take place over the next 6 weeks.
Regarding the mark for the subject for the year, it was decided by staff to build a mark that reflects the work of the year. Therefore 50% of the mark will be based on the Christmas grade, 25% of the mark will reflect work done between Christmas and Easter and the final 25% of the grade will be based on the three summative assessments that will take place this term. Students will receive an end of year grade and comments on VSWare as usual.
The 25% marks for this term’s assessments will be broken down into 5% for the first and second assessments and 15% for the last assessment. This means that the last assessment will be longer which is appropriate since it will cover the revision of a number of aspects of the course that are central to the curriculum. We are looking at the nature of this final assessment to make it as valid and reliable as possible. Therefore the release of this last assessment will be timetabled from the 22nd to the 29th May. The assessment will be released and a student will have a designated timeframe to complete and return it to the teacher. The timetable for these assessments will issue before the final fortnight. Teachers are looking at the nature of the assessment (open-book, time delineated response etc…) and more details of this will issue in due course. We are also asking that you as parents will oversee this final assessment in order to protect the integrity of the assessment.
Please note that as we indicated in January (at the 2nd year subject choice talk), base classes in 2nd year will not be based on 1st year results but will be based on 1st year groupings. English, Irish and Maths will have Honours and Ordinary level groupings, and there will be a review of the division at October next year.
In relation to 3rd years, we are still awaiting clarifications from the national Working Group on the details of the provision for 3rd years. Indeed, the minister has said (23.04.20)that “The best way to address this issue is to allow the group have further discussions, in a spirit of partnership in the best interests of this year’s Junior Cycle students. I would urge schools to await the conclusion of these discussions with the education partners before taking any decisions regarding assessment arrangements for their Junior Cycle students”. We will update you on developments as soon as we have details.
In the interim the same overall structure of on-line education (described above for the other year groups) will continue for 3rd years. Work will be structured into 3 blocks except that in the case of 3rd years, work will of course focus more on revision of work already done. We will use the same timelines as above:
- Block 1 running until May 1st
- Block 2 from May 5th to the 15th
- Block 3 from May 18th to the 29th
It is the intention of teachers to finish new material as early as possible so that emphasis for 3rd years can be on revision and exam technique. We will be issuing a term report for 3rd years reflecting their engagement with the on-line work and continuing assessments.
4th Year (TY)
Teachers will follow up with their TY students in relation to the project work that was set before Easter. Teachers will connect with students to support the successful completion of project by supplying success criteria and by guiding students to fulfil those criteria.
We are very mindful that this is a stressful time for all students and families and we are here as a school community to provide as much support as we can. Should you have any issues please contact the Deputy Principal or Year Head for your year group:
- 1st year: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
- 2nd year firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
- 3rd year: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
- 4th year: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 5th year: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
- 6th year: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
If students need any extra support during this period, other agencies are available over the phone to support students, including Kerry Adolescent Counselling Service, Jigsaw Kerry and Southwest Counselling. Also, KDYS offer an online service for families during the Covid-19 crisis and can be contacted via email at email@example.com or phone on 0894317991 from 10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday.
Excellent practical advice in relation to supporting young people’s mental health can be found on the following link; https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/covid-19/young-peoples-mental-health-during-coronavirus.html
We are aware that this is a trying time for all students and households and we hope that by working together to support students in continuing their education we can work our way through these challenges.
John O’Roarke, Nora Quane, Pat Fleming, Shane Kissane.
Letter 20th April
FINAL TERM – more a marathon than a sprint… Keeping WELL
I write to link up with you as we face back into what could well be a prolonged final term.
Firstly, I hope you are all well and that you took the advice we offered to you two weeks ago to take the Easter Holiday as a rest period. I hope you got a chance to enjoy the bright Spring weather – (even if that was limited by the lockdown). It will be important going forward during this longer term to take exercise and fresh air and to try to balance your school life and personal life as best as possible. This pathway to the Leaving certificate will be a more like a marathon than a sprint as the realities of working safely in the midst of this pandemic become clearer.
We are also asking you to continue to look out for each other and if you are genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of one of your peers, please contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or contact your Year Heads.
6th YEAR STUDENTS
Examination Timetable and focus of work
There is uncertainty as to the exact details of the delivery of the Leaving Certificate and in this place we can and should only base our decisions on the official Ministerial announcements. We have already circulated the link to you with the Minister’s announcement in relation to the examinations. In case you did not read the details please click: https://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2020-press-releases/PR20-04-10.html
And a further FAQ on some specific questions from the SEC: https://www.examinations.ie/misc-doc/EN-EX-94224992.pdf
Since the new timetable will not issue till June, there are several aspects of the arrangements that are still unclear and uncertain, and this is understandably a source of frustration and anxiety for students, parents and teachers alike. Further to this, it is unclear if and when we can return to school for engagement with practical work or classwork. To be honest, much remains unclear and we must address ourselves as strategically as possible on the basis of the certainties we have:
- We are clear that we will not be back in school before May 5th – which gives us two further weeks of on-line tuition. Subsequent to that, we will be clearer once the ‘pathway for return to school’ is published on the next step.
- We understand that Art/ History/Geography/ Politics/ Ag Science/Construction will get time in school in July to complete the work. Likewise, Construction/LCVP/Art is now planned to be examined during the month of August (as part of the Exam Timetable).
- LCA Personal Reflection Task, scheduled for completion by 1 May, will now be completed by the start of the written examinations in the late July/August period. The following will be rescheduled for the late July/August period: LCA Oral Examinations, LCA practical performance tests in Hotel Catering & Tourism; Active Leisure Studies; Hair & Beauty; LCA ICT practical performance and written examination. LCVP Link modules written examination.
All of this means that strategically at this point it is best to refocus efforts onto the examination aspect of subjects over the next two weeks. We will engage with project work again when the details of the process become clearer.
Change of level
It remains our understanding that students may not opt to change to Higher Level in Irish/French or German if the Ordinary option was already indicated to the State Exams
Access to Technology
Mr Kissane and Ms Cronin have been in contact with any students in 6th year experiencing difficulties with technology. Please let them know if there are any other students in difficulty that we have not been in contact with.
Graduation Ceremony, Awards Night and Year Book
Each year we have three important components that mark the end of the life for a student in Mercy Mounthawk: the 6th year Graduation Ceremony, the Awards Night and the Year Book and we would like to maintain these components for you in 6th year even in the midst of the this pandemic. In fact we think it is very important to have these rituals for you even more so in the light of the disruption that is being experienced. Yet we have to realise them in innovative ways within the parameters of safety.
We have been considering how to realise these important end of year rituals and we will be consulting with the Staff and the students’ Council over the coming week to put a structure on them. If you have any suggestions, please pass them onto Mr Kissane or Ms Cronin.
3rd YEAR STUDENTS
The situation is quite different for 3rd year students since the June Examinations have been cancelled and arrangement for assessments and certification in the next academic year are subject to negotiations between the SEC, the Department, the management bodies and Unions. We understand that meetings are to take place in relation to this in the coming weeks. As the announcement indicates:
- Junior Cycle final examinations due to take place in June will be replaced by school-based exams and assessments held early in the new school year.
- As part of the changes to the Junior Cycle, discussions will take place with teacher unions and school management to allow these examinations, linked Classroom-Based Assessments, Assessment Tasks and project work to be completed as school-based assessments early in the next school year.
Therefore, in the interim we must continue to prepare and finish the curriculum fully. On-line classes will continue over the next two weeks until we receive further clarification on the situation after May 5th. Irrespective of whether we return or not to school, the courses need to be completed and teachers will continue to work with 3rd year students on course work and assess progress in the usual manner to the end of this academic year. It is important for 3rd year students to continue to engage with work in the normal manner and teacher will be communicating with you regarding work and ongoing assessments to prepare the material.
NON-EXAMINATION CLASSES 1st, 2nd, 5th year
Work with non-examination classes will continue on-line to the end of this academic year and there will be the usual end of year report issued to student recording their progress in early June.
Teachers, in subject departments, are currently co-ordinating the curriculum for the last term and determining the assessment to the issued to students. Teachers are very mindful that curriculum needs to be covered with all students – 2nd and 5th year students have to be ready for their examinations next year. We are currently planning on the basis of not returning to the classroom before the end of the year (though of course this may change – depending on HSE advice). Details on the curricula and assessments in subjects will issue over the coming week to students.
Please note that, as was announced in January, ‘base classes’ for students progressing from 1st into 2nd year for next year will not be arranged on the basis of examination results as was done previously. Rather the ‘base class’ groups will be based on 1st year classes as there is no longer an academic need to differentiate class groups. Core subjects (English/Maths/Irish) will be divided into Higher and Ordinary level to facilitate work.
Likewise for classes in 5th year, in the current situation, the arrangement of classes in English, Maths and Irish will not be based on results from JC combined with TY results as was the case in previous years, but will be organised to reflect higher and ordinary level courses.
Prior to the break, teachers engaged with students regarding project work in subjects and they will pick up on this process in the coming week. Focus will be laid on the success criteria for a project and this will form the basis of the end of year reporting.
This will be a very unusual end to what has become a very unusual year in all our lives. We will be adapting to the enfolding situation as best as possible. More detailed outlines of work and assessment will issue from teachers over the coming week.
In organising our work for this term we are conscious of a number of basic guiding principles of our school: we need to make sure that whatever we do is done safely for everyone – students and teachers alike, we need to look after each other and look out for each other and our mental wellbeing, we need to ensure that there is equity and fairness for the examination classes in whatever happens, we need to ensure that we continue as best as possible to provide good quality education for our students, and we need to hold onto as strong a sense of the values of our school community as we can… we will work together… follow your timetable, keep in regular contact with your teachers, email or Google Classroom them with your problems, challenges, homework etc. Keep motivated and keep plugging away at the work…
John O’Roarke, Pat Fleming, Nora Quane and Shane Kissane
COVID-19 update Monday 6th April 2020
Information on the COVID-19 KERRY COMMUNITY RESPONSE FORUM
A new telephone helpline has been launched in Kerry today to assist members of the public in accessing non-emergency and non-medical services and to provide support and advice to people during the current public health emergency.
The free, confidential phoneline service has been established by the new COVID-19 Kerry Community Response Forum which includes over a dozen agencies and organisations who have come together to mobilise and coordinate the community and voluntary response to the current crisis, particularly in responding to the needs of vulnerable households and individuals.
The FREEPHONE number 1800 807 009 is now up and running and will be available from 8am to 8pm seven days a week. A text line (text ‘SUPPORT’ followed by your NAME to 50555) is also available for the hearing impaired or those who require a call-back from the service while requests can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The helpline, which is staffed by trained personnel, is focused primarily on ensuring that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access deliveries of essential items like groceries, medicine and fuel. Where another agency or organisation can provide more appropriate information or advice, the caller will be connected with other organisations or services if required.
10,000 information leaflets including details of the new freephone number and other information are being distributed around the county over the coming days. This will be done through existing networks like the Kerry Public Participation Network, sporting organisations, local development companies and hundreds of community and voluntary groups across the county.
Included in the COVID-19 Kerry Community Response Forum are:
Health Service Executive
Kerry County Council
An Garda Síochána
Kerry Red Cross
Kerry Civil Defence
Kerry Volunteer Centre
North East and West Kerry Development
South Kerry Development Partnership
Kerry Public Participation Network (representing 700 approx community groups in Kerry)
Kerry Age Friendly Network
Local Link Kerry
St Vincent de Paul Society
Citizens Information Service
Other community, voluntary and sports representatives
The Group came together to complement and reinforce the tremendous work already underway across the county as communities respond to the needs of the community and it aims to ensure that any gaps in existing provision can be addressed and coordinated centrally.
An Easter Message for our Students – Message to 6th years – Friday 3rd April
As we turn into the Easter break, I am very conscious of the thoughts and anxieties of the students, particularly those in the examination classes and I wanted to connect with a message of hope for the Easter.
WELLBEING for Students
The Pastoral Care and the PE Department in the school has produced some ideas to support students in maintaining their WELLBEING over the Easter Holiday. all the materials are accesible for studnets through the Year Group Google Classroom for each Year Group. your sons and daughters are automatically enrolled in these full year group classes.
COVID-19 update Wednesday 25th March 2020
- SCHOOL CLOSURE to CONTINUE
Last evening, the minister announced the continuation of school closure. The next milestone in the process is the 20th April for a return to school. Please see the Minister’s press release: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/4366e7-statement-from-the-department-of-education-and-skills-on-covid-19/
This extension of closure places more importance on the engagement of all our students with the on-line learning platform.
- ON-LINE LEARNING – IS EVERYONE ENGAGED?
PLEASE CHECK your Son’s/Daughter’s Google Classroom account again today …
Yesterday I asked that you check in with your son/daughter to monitor their engagement with classwork over the on-line system in Google Classroom. We have surveyed teachers in relation to the engagement of 3rd and 6th year students. The returns from this survey are very positive and show the majority of students engaged in most of their classes. This is a very encouraging start to a new process for all of us.
Of course there are teething problems and we are in the process of contacting parents in relation to this. You may receive a text message today from a teacher alerting you to the fact that your son/daughter has not engaged with a particular subject. Please partner us in encouraging all students to engage with all subjects at an appropriate work level. This is of even greater significance with students in the examination years as we strive to support them in getting ready to take examinations when they are scheduled.
We are asking you to please contact us if your son/daughter is experiencing technical difficulties engaging with work and we will see what help we are in a position to give. Please contact Patfleming@mercymounthawk.ie or email@example.com with your queries.
COVID-19 update Tuesday, 24th March 2020
- SOCIAL DISTANCING – a call from President Higgins – a reminder to everyone
Further to our reminder yesterday to students regarding Social / Physical Distancing, we have been asked to share with you, our students and parents, a message that President Higgins has issued where he is urging people to respond in a generous way to the Health Service Executive’s advice on measures to alleviate the spread of Covid19. This further reinforces the pronouncements of An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, other government ministers and health officials on the responsibility of all to adhere to social distance guidelines and to respond to HSE advice at this time of national emergency.
In the President’s words:
“All of us in Ireland now must realise that social distancing – keeping a physical distance of no less than 2 metres or 6.5 feet – is one of the best measures we have to protect our people from Covid-19. I would appeal to those who have found these measures difficult, to simply begin again during this crucial week and to go further.
The language we use is now even more important than ever. The most vulnerable should be described as just that, more vulnerable than the rest of us, and appropriate for special care. This can be done by strengthening rather than weakening both the bonds of connection with those at risk and also help retain their valuable participation in society.”
( Mon 23rd Mar, 2020 | 13:29 Statement by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins )
Can I again remind students that you play your part in the national effort to curb the spread and the worse effects of the Covid-19 virus. Schools are closed to students at present to prevent the spread of this highly contagious and potentially lethal virus. There is no point in this unless by avoiding assembling and socialising in groups, you now play your part in supporting the national health campaign.
You can find the President’s message at:
- ON-LINE LEARNING – IS EVERYONE ENGAGED?
PLEASE CHECK your Son’s/Daughter’s Google Classroom account today …
As part of this concerted effort to get everyone involved, I am asking all parents to check into the Google Classroom account of your son/daughter to monitor the level of engagement that is taking place. Since this is a new way of working, it is important that we have a strong partnership between home and school to support the system and to identify and address emerging issues so that we can work as efficiently as possible to provide quality engagement and learning.
We are currently surveying teachers on the engagement of students with learning online through Google Classroom. We have started contacting parents of students in 6th and 3rd year who are experiencing difficulties and indeed this can be for a variety of different personal/family circumstances. Your support in addressing these issues as parents will help us greatly.
We are asking you to please contact us if your son/daughter is experiencing difficulties engaging with work and we will see what help we are in a position to give. Please contact Patfleming@mercymounthawk.ie or firstname.lastname@example.org with your queries.
COVID-19 update 23rd March 2020
I hope you are all keeping safe and well and that you are minding yourselves as best you can physically, mentally and emotionally. I hope you that you are managing as best you can under the current circumstances. We are in unprecedented times and we are all being challenged in different ways with the changes that have come about in the past weeks.
- State Examinations – FAQ on the implications of the changes to Orals…
The State Examinations Commission (through its Director of Operations) has issued a FAQ to the institute of Guidance Counsellors which I am sharing with you at: SEC FAQ on Examination and Orals March 2020
This is a useful document to answer some of the questions being asked resultant on the decision regarding the Orals last week. Please read if you have any questions and if there are remaining queries, please contact us at email@example.com and we will do our best to answer them.
Mock exam results – will be released online today after 4:00
- Physical Distancing
We all need to remind ourselves that everyone in the country is in the same boat and there is no point in worrying about things that may or may not happen. But each one of us has our own part to play and this is certainly the case in relation to Physical Distancing. It may not the easiest thing to do, but you are well used to connecting over social networks – and now is the time for that. Once everyone does their part to keep the correct physical distance from friends, neighbours and extended family members outside of your household, we will be doing our part to stop the spread of COVID 19. Physical Distancing will save the lives of people in your family, your street and neighbourhood, people that you know and love.
- Taking care of ourselves.
There is no doubt but that this unprecedented reality is challenging all of us. It is stressful and worrying, not least in relation to examinations and study, but more fundamentally in relation to our own health and the health of those around us whom we love a care for. Part of this process is setting a routine that is not so easy. Psychologists tell us that it takes significant repetition of the routine to for it to become settled and integrated into our lives. So for the moment it is new and we have to consciously work at it.
SOME ADVICE to make the most of the coming weeks which has been put together by our Guidance Department and Deputy Principals:
- Routine Try and maintain a sense of routine: shower, get dressed, eat healthily. Create a study space for yourself as best you can.
Take regular breaks, talk to others through social media, phone etc.
- Keep up with your school work – log on early each day.
Keep your routine as if you were at school, do the work on the day you get it so as not to let it build up.
Set yourself a deadline to have assignments done.
Remember what you are learning now, albeit in a different way is a building block towards future tests and exams.
- Get exercise and fresh air.
Open windows and let fresh air into rooms where you study and sleep.
- Stay connected with friends and family by phone or social media but filter the amount of negative news you read.
Maintain a healthy balance with screen time. Just like the rest of your day, set a certain amount of time during breaks to catch up, but do not let that time drift. You could easily waste your whole day on your phone!
- Make time for yourself each day. Read a book, keep a journal by listing three things that you are grateful for at the end of each day.
Use meditations, breathing or mindfulness exercises to relax.
Listen to music that you enjoy and engage with hobbies that adhere to social and physical distancing.
- Talk to your teachers – If you do not understand what is being asked, if the workload
is too heavy, if for some reason you haven’t managed to get the work done – Just
message your teacher and let them know. We are here to help!!
- Revision Use this time of uncertainty as critical revision time.
Each evening plan what you want to revise the following day – the subjects and topics and email school and adult education staff (on work emails) with any questions.
Use websites that are useful for exam students, such as www.examinations.ie and www.studyclix.ie, to look at past papers, marking schemes and sample answers.
The current crisis is unprecedented and a possible trigger for anxiety. Try to remember that while the country acts to control the spread of the virus, all we can do as individuals is to do our very best to care for ourselves and those around us.
The current situation may be out of our control but how we deal with is very much within. Try to remain positive by doing the things that help to make you feel better, albeit in a different way. Remember it is also a stressful time for parents, so cut them a bit of slack and offer to help at home with housework, looking after younger siblings or whatever is needed. We are all in this together!
You might feel like you find it hard to cope, that you have nobody to talk to. It is important to remember you are not alone. I have attached below a list of helplines from the HSE website if you feel the need to contact someone to chat or ask for help.
Take care of yourself and be safe and mindful of the safety of others around you ….
John O’Roarke (Principal).
Mental Health supports and services during COVID-19 (from the HSE website:
- Free online counselling and online support groups for people over 18
- Visit www.turn2me.org
- Mental health information and a Q&A service for young people, their parents and guardians, and those who work with young people. Jigsaw also offer an online group chat service.
- Visit www.jigsawonline.ie
- Support for people with mental ill health. Shine also are currently providing remote support and an outreach service to people who use Shine services by phone and email.
- Visit www.shine.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bodywhys Online Support
- Support for people who are affected by eating disorders including for friends and families. Online support groups are continuing as normal.
- Visit www.bodywhys.ie or email email@example.com
Phone, email and text supports
- Alone provide a COVID-19 support line for older people
- Telephone 0818 222 024 (from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday)
- Visit www.alone.ie
- Emotional support to anyone in distress or struggling to cope
- Freephone 116 123 (any time, day or night)
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pieta House provides telephone and text-based support counselling for people who are suicidal or engaging in self-harm
- Freephone 1800 247 247 (any time, day or night)
- Text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply)
- Telephone appointments will be provided to replace face to face appointments – contact your local Pieta House for details
- Ireland’s 24-hour national listening service for young people up to the age of 18
- Freephone 1800 666 666 (any time, day or night)
- Text 50101 (from 10am to 4pm every day)
- Chat online at www.childline.ie (from 10am to 4pm every day)
BeLonG To Text Support
- BeLonG To provide support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI+) young people in Ireland
- Text LGBTI+ to 086 1800 280 to can chat in confidence with a trained crisis volunteer (anytime day or night, standard SMS rates may apply)
- While face to face services are closed, information, referral and advice will be provided digitally, by email, SMS, phone call or video conference
- Visit www.belongto.org
Aware Support Line
- Information and support to anyone over 18 about issues relating to their own mood or the mood of a friend or family member, or who experiences depression or bipolar.
- Freephone Support Line 1800 80 48 48 (from 10am to 10pm every day)
- Support and self-care groups nationwide, are cancelled until further notice
- Life Skills Online Programme continuing as normal
- Email email@example.com for services information and support
Crisis Text Line Ireland
- A confidential messaging support service
- Text TALK to 086 1800 280 (any time day or night, standard SMS rates may apply)
- Online support and through the helpline for LGBT+ people across Ireland
- LGBT Helpline 1890 929 539 (every day)
- Gender Identity Family Support Line 01 907 3707
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for support or information while face to face services are closed
- An instant messaging service is available 7 days a week, from 6:30pm to 10pm Mon – Thur, from 4pm to 10pm Fridays, and from 4pm to 6pm on Sat & Sun
Mental Health Ireland
- Information and support for people who experience mental health difficulties
- Information line (01) 284 1166 (from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)
- Visit www.mentalhealthireland.ie or email email@example.com for more information
GROW Mental Health Recovery
- Information line 1890 474 474
- Visit www.grow.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or while peer support groups are postponed
COVID-19 update 20th March 2020 9:40
3rd and 6th year students
Dear Parents, 3rd and 6th year students, we know that this is a most difficult time for you all and not only in relation to your school work. There are challenges facing us all at this time.
I also recognise that losing the oral component of the exams is a major realignment of the examination process. There will be a range of reactions. Some students will be delighted that the imminent reality of orals is lifted and indeed others that they have now passed their Irish for the Leaving Certificate and gained significant marks in other subjects. Other students will be understandably disappointed and annoyed that they have not had a chance to have their years of hard work, preparation and investment of time, money and energy tested and validated individually. It is another example of the impact and collateral damage that this pandemic is having on our lives, not just in education but in every other area as well.
All of these reactions are real and valid and the job now is to identify the most constructive way forward. As with most realities beyond our individual control, while it is right to acknowledge reactions and feelings, the best approach is to accept the changed reality and plan forward – something that requires a hard headed decision, but that way we do not get stuck.
The minister has been clear that the current intention is to run the remainder of practicals in May and to hold the state examinations in June. Therefore the advice is to continue to prepare for the examinations according to the new schedule – please see the details in the posting below from yesterday. Your teachers will work with you online to re-plan your schedule to address the changes.
Other year groups:
While you are not in examinations mode this year, it is important for students in other year groups to remember that courses are two years in length and that it is vital to lay a good foundation of work in the first year of the cycle. We are encouraging all students to engage with the online work being provided by teachers and to use Google Classroom to learn along with your classmates and teachers.
Please be aware of the pressure on any of your siblings who have examinations. This is an evolving situation, and we are all called to respect the instructions for social distancing and follow the hygiene guidelines. Remember also to mind your health – both physical and mental- keep in contact with your friends. Try to get out for a blast of healthy air each day while still obeying the social distancing guidelines.
The National Parents Council (Post Primary) have asked us to circulate the following to Parents:
Educational Publishers provide open access to online resources.
19th March 2020: Members of the Irish Educational Publishers’ Association (IEPA) have taken the unprecedented step to provide open access to all their online educational resources to teachers, parents and students during these uncertain times. The decision was taken by members in an effort to provide the maximum availability to as many resources for teachers, parents and students while working remotely from the classroom.
Publishers provide online resources which enhance and bring added value to the curriculum both for Primary and Post Primary students and teachers. Post Primary teachers and students will now be in a position to access Podcasts, Videos, experiments, presentations among other material. This resource will allow teachers and students to work independently and also augment their textbooks and eBooks.
Resources for Primary School teachers and students account for more than just eBooks, full teacher resources, games, puzzles and easy to use interactive exercises for younger children used in the classroom, are now available for parents and children online.
These valuable resources can be accessed online in a matter of minutes by registering on any of the Education publisher’s web site and following the instructions or entering a code that has been provided. These codes are available through the publishers social media account, on their web site or through schools.
COVID-19 Education update 19th March 2020 11:45
The full statement from the Department is as follows:
Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD has today (Thursday 19 March 2020) announced the cancellation of oral and practical performance tests of the state examinations which were originally scheduled to take place from Monday 23 March to Friday 3 April 2020.
All students who were due to take these tests will be awarded full marks for this portion of the exam.
The decision was taken in light of the closure of schools as a result of the Covid-19 virus and it will be implemented by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).
Minister McHugh said: “This is a difficult time for all. Students are facing a challenging period out of school and our decision on this element of the exams is being taken with their best interests at heart.
“It is the fairest response we could take in the circumstances. It guarantees that no student will score less than they would have if schools had been operating as normal.
“We have seen a new emphasis on remote learning amid the uncertainty about the impact of Covid-19 and the closure of all schools. I hope this decision will ease some of the pressure that students are feeling and allow them to focus more clearly on completing project work and preparing for written exams.”
The change to the 2020 state examinations means all students who were due to take oral and practical performance tests in the following subjects will be given full marks for this part of the examination:
- Oral tests in Leaving Certificate Irish and the Modern Languages of French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Japanese.
- Practical performance tests in Leaving Certificate Music.
- Practical performance tests in Junior Certificate Music and Home Economics.
Minister McHugh also confirmed changes to deadlines for students to complete project work and coursework in a number of subjects.
Students were originally scheduled to complete these elements of the state examinations on a number of dates from Friday 20 March to Friday 24 April 2020, depending on the subject.
Students will now be given until Friday 15 May 2020 to complete this work.
Minister McHugh said: “We know we are asking a lot of people in order to stem the spread of Covid-19. In response to that I want students and their parents or guardians and teachers to be given flexibility as they work towards the exams.
“All of Government is hugely grateful for the effort, commitment and energy that students and teachers are putting in to continue education in difficult circumstances. I urge you all to keep up the momentum and focus on preparing for the exams.”
Minister McHugh also said the Department will continue to work with the State Examinations Commission to monitor the Covid-19 situation in terms of its potential impact on the other later scheduled components of the state examinations.
“We will continue to respond at the right time and in the right way, with the impact on our students at the forefront of our minds,” Minister McHugh said.
The Minister also advised of steps taken by the Department to minimise the impact on teaching and learning of the current school closures. All schools have been asked to continue to plan lessons and, where possible, provide online resources for students or online lessons where schools are equipped to do so. Schools have also been asked to be conscious of students that may not have access to online facilities and to consider this actively in their responses. School buildings are available to staff if they wish to access the facilities in order to provide online delivery, or essential services once this is in line with Health Service Executive (HSE) advice.
The Department of Education and Skills will continue to provide supports to the education sector at this time, particularly schools with students taking State examinations.
The Department of Education and Skills has been liaising closely on a continual basis with the Department of Health in relation to Coronavirus/Covid-19 since early January. This will continue.
Notes for Editors
Further information in relation to the Department’s response to Covid-19 is available here www.education.ie/covid19
Some 126,000 students are due to take the state examinations in 2020:
- 65,190 students sitting the Junior Cycle examinations
- 61,053 students are due to sit the Leaving Certificate Established, Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme and Leaving Certificate Applied.
The examinations comprise several components spread over a number of weeks, culminating in the final written examinations which are scheduled to commence on Wednesday 3 June and run until Tuesday 23 June.
Orals & Practical Performance tests (originally scheduled from Monday 23 March to Friday 3 April) are cancelled. These tests are in the following subjects:
- Leaving Certificate Irish and the Modern Languages of French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Japanese
- Leaving Certificate Music
- Junior Cycle Music and Home Economics
Students who were due to sit the orals or practical performance tests in the affected subjects will take their final written examinations in these subjects at the level they have indicated when confirming their subject choices to the State Examinations Commission earlier this year.
Project and Course Work completion deadlines are extended to Friday 15 May for the following subjects:
- Leaving Certificate Computer Science, Physical Education, Technology, Art, Agricultural Science, Agricultural Economics, History, Geography, Religious Education, Politics and Society, Music, Constructions Studies and Home Economics;
- Junior Cycle Metalwork, Materials Technology Wood, Technology and Religious Education;
- Junior Cycle Assessment Tasks in English, Irish, Modern languages, Science and Business Studies.
Second phase of practical examinations remain as originally scheduled from Monday 27 April to Friday 8 May, as well as the final written examination in the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) scheduled for Wednesday 6 May, a range of oral and practical tests in the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme, along with the first examination in Leaving Certificate Computer Science on Wednesday 27 May, and the final written examinations commencing on 3 June.
Weighting of the marks for the oral and practical tests in the subjects included in today’s announcement, as a percentage of the total examination marks for those subjects, is as follows:
|Oral /Practical Performance|
* The value of the practical performance in Leaving Cert Music Higher level can be up to 50%, depending on what elements the candidate selects to be examined in.
The Department of Education and Skills has taken a number of steps to minimise the impact of the school closures on teaching and learning.
Further information is available here www.education.ie/covid19
COVID-19 Education update 18th March 2020
Good morning and I hope that everyone in the school community is ok after the Bank Holiday weekend. If you are aware of anyone in the school who might require some support at this time can you let us know and we will see if there is anything we can do to help. Let us know at email@example.com
As we messaged last Friday, we will take up again today with our on-line engagement with students. Teachers will connect again today with classes using Google Classroom according to today’s classes; – so for instance, if you have geography on Monday Thursday and Friday – then contact in relation to that class will happen on Monday, Thursday and Friday only.
If you son/daughter is having any difficulty connecting to Google Classroom, can you please e-mail Shanekissane@mercymounthawk.ie or firstname.lastname@example.org likewise, if you yourself have not signed up for the school App and want to do so, can you contact email@example.com.
We are asking parents, in as far as possible to support students in establishing a routine around work for the coming weeks. As it stands we are looking towards the 29th March as was indicated, but this might change. It is very important therefore to establish routines. I am attaching two interesting articles that might useful: https://flip.it/TtuB.C and https://flip.it/aoUInt We will try to support you by sending other resources over the next days.
We have not had any update yet from the State Examinations Commission regarding the scheduling of examinations. We will pass on any information as soon as we have it.
Please check in on this website page regularly as we will be posting any updates directly to this page.
COVID-19 Coronavirus Update 13th March 2020
Today sees the beginning of an unusual and unprecedented period of two weeks in the cycle of education. As I indicated yesterday, it is the intention of the school staff to support the ongoing education of students in as far as possible over the coming two weeks.
Staff have been preparing for this possibility over the past weeks. Following on from classes this week, teachers will engage with students through Google Classroom – prioritising connection with the examination classes. Teachers will follow the weekly timetable of classes – so that connection from a given subject teacher will follow the days on which that subject is scheduled for a student. Teachers will indicate and support work or revision or homework as appropriate and in as far as possible using this digital space.
As was mentioned yesterday, we are suggesting that parents establish a working schedule for students at home to structure engagement over the coming two weeks. Parental support for this work will be significant for a good level of participation and a good start today will establish the routine. A good practice would be for a student to follow the times in their school timetable and this will structure the day. Students should check google classroom for work and updates and this is best done in the morning between 9:00 and 11:00.
Remember that students (particularly those in examination classes) can use this time as an opportunity to revise and this is even more important now as teachers may not have time to engage with revision when school reopens. By way of structuring study and revision there is a useful guide for students and parents from the Institute of Guidance Counsellors at: http://www.igc.ie/download/1/documents/For%20Students/STUDY-LEARNING-TO-LEARN.pdf
Past Exam Papers are available on https://www.examinations.ie/exammaterialarchive/ and students can also see marking scheme for past exam papers on this site.
It is important that students spread their time across all their subjects and again it would be useful to structure the day in accordance with the school timetable as a way to ensure this.
In relation to examination classes, we are particularly mindful of 6th year examination students. we will be in touch with any information on the examinations and in particular the ORALS as soon as we have it. Please continue to check this page.
You will recall that the school was due to be closed for the St Patrick’s weekend and even though celebrations will be muted and very different this year, we will resume work again on Wednesday as was planned.
Wishing you all the best for a very different national holiday this year… Stay safe and say well…
COVID-19 Coronavirus Update 12th March 2020
NOTIFICATION OF SCHOOL CLOSURE
As you no doubt have heard, following the Taoiseach’s announcement today, the school is closed from this evening to the 29th March. Please see the notification on the Department Website: https://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2020-press-releases/12-march-2020-statement-from-the-department-of-education-and-skills.html
All school related activities are cancelled for this period (including supervised study, games and training etc…). Work placements and community work placements in TY and LCA are also cancelled. The school office will be closed and there will be no access to the school building during this period mindful of minimising social contact as we are requested to do.
We are also mindful of the continuation of education through this period and to this end teachers will make use of Google Classroom to connect with their classes – prioritising examinations classes in 3rd and 6th year as requested by the Department. It is important that this initiative is supported from home. Thinking through this process, we recommend that you establish a structured working timetable at home to support school work. During this time students should check in with Google Classroom for updates from teachers and maintain a connection with school work and return any homework that is organised.
We will remind students to bring home their books this evening. The school will be open until 6:00p.m. this evening to facilitate any student who needs to collect books. Supervised study will take place this evening until 6:00.
Any arrangements regarding state examinations (Orals and Practicals etc..) will follow as soon as they are released by the State Examinations Commission.
We will keep in contact with you through the School App and this webpage will be updated with any new information as we receive it.
We hope that everyone will maintain good health during this closure and that we will all return to normality in due course.
Please take good care …
COVID-19 Coronavirus Update 11th March 2020
Measures adopted in the school in response to the evolving COVID 19 situation.
The school has already taken several measures in a proactive response to the positive diagnosis of Coronavirus in Ireland. It is our aim to protect our pupils, their families, our staff and the wider community, in as far as possible, from contracting or transmitting the virus.
1. Proactive measures
Students are advised on the importance of regular hand hygiene and we have serviced and filled alcohol gel dispensers around the school. Hand washing with warm soapy water is the number one way to prevent the spread of this infection. Pupils have been informed about the risk of touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. We encourage you as Parents/Guardians to reinforce this message within the home.
The correct coughing technique has been discussed with pupils and is another effective measure to prevent cross contamination. Coughing into the elbow in a downward motion is advised.
Posters from the HSE and DES with information on correct techniques have been posted around the school.
2. Cleaning and Maintenance
We have liaised with the contractors in the school – our Cleaning Company and Canteen Company – and have worked with the guidelines as recommended by the HSE on how to clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces.
Our cleaning Company (ABC Cleaning) has switched to the use of a specific virucidal cleaning agent in the school and is focusing on the cleaning of touch surfaces.
3. Procedures in order to minimise risk of exposure are being adopted as follows:
(a) We are asking that the first point of contact for Parents/Guardians with the school be by phone, text or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org rather than by presenting at the school office in person. This will minimise contact and subsequent arrangements can be organised via phone.
(b) When students have unavoidable scheduled appointments we are asking Parents/Guardians to keep them at home for the day rather than requiring a visit to collect and sign out.
(c) The school has the usual procedures in place to facilitate communication by students with home if this is required.
(d) The scheduling of trips, meetings and events will be evaluated and reviewed on an ongoing basis as the situation evolves with a view to making sensible decisions to protect health and safety. A number of events have already been cancelled this week and we will update you on any further amendments to scheduled events.
4. In relation to foreign travel:
The Parents/Guardians of any students returning from travel abroad are required to contact the school at email@example.com before their scheduled date to return to school in order to enable us to engage with you and the HSE regarding proper procedures should this be required.
Any Staff returning from travel abroad are also required to contact the school as firstname.lastname@example.org before their scheduled date to return to school in order to enable us to engage with them and the HSE regarding proper procedures.
5. Class contact and Study
The school is open as usual, operating as normal and following DES advice in this regard.
As a prudent strategy, teachers have worked with their classes to activate Google Classroom and this platform can be used as a vehicle to provide work to students in the event of a school closure.
In this eventuality, Parents/Guardians are asked to ensure that students are keeping up with their work from home and also to ensure that students have arranged to have their books at home.
Parents and students will be kept informed of any developments in this regard and of any rescheduling that is required, following instruction from the Department (DES) and/or State Exams Commission (SEC).
6. Reporting and Contact with the school
The Parents/Guardians of any Students who come into contact with or who are diagnosed with the virus are required to notify the school as soon as possible.
Any student who may have been exposed to the virus or are showing symptoms are asked to self-isolate for the recommended 14 days in their own home. Please inform us in this eventuality.
7. School App for Updates
To ensure every parent has access to all updates and notices from the school, we have sent a text message to all parents who do not have the school App. We have asked those parents to download the App from their App provider.
To find the App on your App provider please search for “Mercy School Mounthawk”, then download and register.
The school App will provide regular updates and notices on school life to the school community.
Assessment and Reporting – policy development 2019/2020
The NCCA is supporting the development of a policy in schools in relation to Assessment and Reporting on student progress as part of the development of Learning in the new Junior Cycle. Assessment in Junior Cycle places the student at the centre of the learning process allowing for new ways of learning and a broader range of skills to be assessed. The student is encouraged to claim and take ownership of their own learning and the emphasis in assessment is switching from ‘terminal assessment’ to ‘assessment for learning’ (AfL). The new process sees assessment not a a judgement of achievement at the end of a process, but as an ongoing part of the process whereby the student receives feedback that facilitiates their ongoing learning.
In Mercy Mounthawk, we are currently (Jan 2019) engaged in a process of consultation in realtion to this policy. A focus group of parents from the Parents’ Council is involved in providing parental perspectives that will inform the new school policy. Information of this process and the thinking behind the Assessment for Learning structure can be found on https://www.ncca.ie/en/junior-cycle/assessment-and-reporting
If you would like to be a part of this process, please contact the Parents’ council.
DES Privacy Notice in Relation to the JCPA
Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement awards will shortly be issued by the school. The DES has asked that the following privacy notice be brought to the attention of all parents of students were in third year 2017-18 prior to the presentation of the JCPA. Click on the link to view the statement:
Government Circular on Use of Mobile Phones & Tablet Devices
The circular released in May 2018 by Minister Richard Bruton on technologies in schools can be viewed here: