A reminder of the school calendar for the remainder of the school year. Please remember that 2 non pupil days were moved from 18th and 19th of March to facilitate a uninterrupted return to school for Nursery to P3 when their return for 2 weeks was first announced. These days were then allocated to the Tues 3oth and Wed 31st of March (Holy Week) and will remain as Staff Days.
I wish to thank you for the dedication and commitment you have shown in following the programme of online learning provided over this past number of months. I am very aware of the emotional impact that home learning has had on many and the provision of such learning has had on staff. Hopefully we have reached the end of this arrangement and can progress towards a more normal future.
Following on from the announcement by the Education Minister, Peter Weir on Tuesday 16th March, I write to remind you of procedures and protocols for the return of all children to school on Monday 22nd March.
In relation to returning to school we must continue to observe guidelines to reduce the threat of any further outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus
Four drop-off and pick-up points will remain:
Nursery car park for a Nursery child and older siblings
Front on the school for Year 1& 2 children and older siblings
Main school car park for Year 3 & 4 children and older siblings
Ti Chulainn car park where children can enter school grounds at the green house entrance for year 5, 6 and 7 children.
We will be asking children to come into school between 8.45 am and 9.30 am. This should allow the children to filter into school.
Classes will operate in Social bubbles as far as possible. Dinners times will remain as normal but only those taking school dinners will eat in the Dining Hall, where pupils will be seated in their class bubbles. Normal procedures for Nursery dinners will remain, were Nursery pupils will be served dinner in their own Classroom.
Break times and lunchtimes will be arranged in a manner that will ensure that just members of that class are playing together in a Social Bubble in the playground, each class will be assigned a separate play area.
We will continue to insist that children wash their hands at key times in the school day – when they come in, at break-time, before lunchtime, after lunchtime and before home-time.
We will be working within the Social Distancing advised by the Education Authority.
Normal pick-up times will be maintained:
1.30 pm for Nursery
2 pm for P1- P3
3 pm for P4 – P7
Pupils uniform, school bags and homework
Pupils can attend school in uniform or PE kit. They should not bring in school bags but can take in a pencil case which is to remain in school. Pupils cannot be sharing their equipment with others. Pupils should bring in a packed lunch in a lunch box or bag and a water bottle.
Cash handling in school
Payments should be placed in a sealed envelope and submitted to the class teacher by your child.
Visitors/parents to the school
There will be no visitors/Parents permitted into the school until further notice.
All payments should be made on the first day of the week. £2.50 for Nursery and £2.60 for all other children.
Afterschool clubs and activities
There will be no after-school activities or games until further notice.
After school supervision is available from 2- 4 pm for those who need to avail of this service. For Nursery children 1.30 to 2 pm £1
The 18th and 19th of March had been planned as Staff Days, with pupils off school. However with the recent announcement from the Minister Peter Weir, that Nursery to P3 pupils are to return to school for 2 weeks, these days are now deferred until the 30th and 31st of March, (Holy Week). This will ensure that except for St Patrick’s Day itself, the 2 weeks face to face in class time for Nursery to P3 will not be interrupted.
Children of Key Workers who are in P4-P7 will continue to be accommodated through this 2 week period and all Key Worker children can be accommodated on the 30th and 31st of March.
Firstly, let me congratulate you on the spectacular support you have given to your children during this time of home learning and online school activities.
We in St Mary’s have many issues to consider in how best to continue to support children and families at home and to manage the time taken to plan and prepare for such activities.
After close examination of the demands of continuing online activities both from a school and a home per perspective, I have decided to suspend all online activities on Fridays. This will now be a planning day for staff and a day for families and children to use away from the demands of online learning.
Your child’s teacher will be in contact with you after mid-term to organise a 10 min phone call, to discuss work done and the general progress of your child/children.
In the meantime if you have any issues of concern do not hesitate to contact me.
We have the the last in our series of Parent’s Talks this coming Tuesday evening @8 pm, via Zoom. This week’s speaker is Colette Delargy who will look at why children might struggle with Maths and what can be done to boost their knowledge, understanding and confidence.
As a teacher, adviser and tutor, Colette Delargy has devoted her working life to finding ways of making Maths more accessible to people. She particularly enjoys helping children who think they can’t do Maths, overcome their difficulties and succeed with a newfound confidence. As a member of the Family Learning Organisation, (FLO), Colette will show parents easy, fun activities they can do at home to help their children become better at Maths.
If you would like to attend, please email me at the address below, we have prepaid for places and there are still some available.
Last Friday morning our lucky P7 pupils had the opportunity to take part in an on-line art class with Sinead Campbell from, “The Art and Design Factory – Online Art Classes for Kids”.
We think their work, achieved in an hour, through an online class is just amazing!! Both teachers and pupils involved agreed how calming and enjoyable an experience it was. A wonderful way to unwind and end an otherwise busy week of home schooling, great for everyone’s Mental Health!
Tomorrow is the turn of our P6 year group, a link to the Live Lesson will be posted to Google Classrooms at 9:45 am. Have paper, paints and a pencil to hand and prepare to relax and destress.
Next Friday, 12th February will be the turn of P5.
These classes have been funded through the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Ireland and form part of a wider project our KS2 classes are involved in with Mulranney National School, Mayo.
If you’d like to destress and try out some art activities check out the links from the Children’s Mental Health Week 2021 website.
Last weekend’s “Big Garden Bird Watch”, gave us all plenty of opportunity here at St. Mary’s to get outside. Not only did we immerse ourselves in nature, we also “expressed ourselves” through: creating bird feeders, taking photographs, drawing and recording what we saw!
We know why we spend time outdoors in nature:
It builds our confidence- The way we play in nature is more informal and less structured than most of our indoor play.
It promotes our creativity and imagination. We can think more freely, design our own activities, and approach the world in inventive ways.
It teaches us responsibility. When we take care of the living parts of our environment we learn what happens when we forget to water a plant, or pull a flower out by its roots.
It provides us with different stimulation. We activate all our senses: we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch in outdoor environments.
It gets us moving. Interacting with nature involves more exercise than sitting on our couch!
It makes us think. The phenomena that occur naturally in our gardens and fields make us ask questions about the earth and the life that it supports.
It reduces our stress and helps our Mental Health.
So, what are you waiting for? Be like us and GET OUTSIDE!
Children’s Mental Health Week, run by the Mental Health Charity Place2BE runs from today Monday, 1st until Friday, 7th of February. This year’s theme is “Express Yourself”.
What is it all about?
When children are able to find creative ways to share their feelings, thoughts or ideas it can help them feel good about themselves and who they are. Children can be creative through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film and doing activities they enjoy.
It is important to remember that being able to express yourself is not about being the best at something or putting on a performance for others, it is about finding a way to show, who you are and how you see the world.THAT, CAN HELP YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF!
Tips for Parents/Guardians:
What can you do?
Build on their existing interests and passions.
Try out new things together- check out online tutorials and video demos,
Focus on the creative process and how it makes them feel. Give praise for trying rather than for doing something well. Remember you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to get creative, recyclable materials can provide amazing inspiration, there’s no limit to imagination!
Listen carefully, minimise distractions, give your full attention, be aware of your body language and eye contact. Summarise what they have shared and acknowledge their feelings
Be aware children express themselves all the time… but not necessarily with words. “Listen” to everything they are trying to tell you, through their behaviour, play, creativity, or their silence.
Let your child know if they are worried about something, they should always talk to a trusted adult. It could be someone in their family, their teacher, or any member of school staff.
If you are worried about your child’s mental health, you should talk to a member of school staff or your GP.
Over the week we will share creative ideas with you, here’s one to get you started from the “Art Room”, exploring feelings of worry.