Updated February 2021

COVID-19 response plan for safe reopening of Magh Ene College

The COVID-19 Response Plan is designed to support the staff and Board of Management (BOM) in putting measures in place that aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our school environment. The COVID-19 Response Plan details the policies and practices necessary for our school to meet the Government’s ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’, the Department of Education plan for school reopening that will aim to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in our school environment. It is the responsibility of all staff, parents and students to work together to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in our school and to ensure the continuity of schooling for our students. All staff, students, parents, contractors and visitors have a responsibility, both as individuals and collectively to have due regard for their own health and safety and that of others and to assist with the implementation of this COVID-19 Response Plan and associated control measures. Responsibility for the development and implementation of this COVID-19 Response Plan and the associated control measures lies with the Board of Management and school management. This Covid-19 Response Plan is fluid and may alter depending on Public Health advice over the coming weeks. Any updates to the response plan will be emailed to all parties. Parents and students can also play a role in ensuring the safe return to school. Please continue to observe all the Public Health Advice that has been and will be issued.

 Please note that it is a requirement for anyone coming into Ireland, from locations other than those with a rating of 'normal precautions' ('green'), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes school staff, parents and children or other students coming from abroad to attend school in Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. Our school has a duty of care to all of its students and staff members. If there are reasonable grounds for believing that this duty of care is being undermined in circumstances where a person – staff member or student - has not observed the mandatory requirement to self-isolate for 14 days following return from a non-green list country, the school will refuse access to the student or staff member during this period. Much work is underway in planning for school reopening from 1st September 2020. Health and safety and wellbeing of staff and students will be of priority concern and to this effect, there will be many changes to the day to day running of our school and new systems that staff and students must work with. 

School COVID-19 Policy

A COVID-19 policy outlines the commitment of the school to implement the plan and help prevent the spread of the virus. The policy, signed and dated by the principal and the chairperson of the BOM has been circulated to the staff, students, parents and others. The Magh Ene Collegel COVID-19 policy can be found in the appendices of this document.

Planning and Preparing for Return to School

The BOM/ETB aims to facilitate the resumption of school based teaching and learning and the return to the workplace of staff. The return to the workplace must be done safely and in strict adherence to the public health advice and any guidance issued by the Department of Education. 

Details for the safe reopening of the schools and the applicable controls are outlined in this document.

In preparation for reopening Magh Ene College has the following in place:

  1. Means of keeping up to date with public health advice, changes to any Government plans for the safe reopening of society and Department of Education updates;
  2. Means of passing on this information in a timely manner to staff, students, parents and others as required;
  3. Ensured that staff have reviewed the training materials provided by the Department of Education
  4. Provided staff with access to the Return to Work (RTW) form via google forms
  5. Appointed a Lead Worker representative
  6. Displayed posters and other signage to prevent introduction and spread of COVID-19
  7. Made the necessary changes to the school layout to support the redesign of classrooms to support physical distancing
  8. Removed unnecessary clutter to facilitate ongoing cleaning of the school but take into account the importance of having educational materials to create a stimulating learning environment; 
  9. Updated the health and safety risk assessment
  10. Made necessary arrangements to restrict access to the school and maintain records of contacts to the school
  11. Reviewed the school buildings to check the following: 

Specific measures taken by Magh Ene College are outlined below:

• Hand sanitiser dispensers installed inside and outside every classroom and in the corridors.

• Classrooms rearranged to ensure a minimum of 1m social distancing between students.

• Reduced access to lockers and only at prearranged times.

• Existing classrooms reconfigured and Hall Balcony converted to accommodate additional classroom space.

• Posters and awareness signs displayed throughout the building.

• Induction training being completed by all staff.

• Additional Chromebooks purchased with four mobile trolleys of 30 units for student use. Students will continue to use these to integrate ICT into teaching and learning, and also as part of our structured plan, should it be necessary to return to online learning in the event of a school closure.

Students are required to bring their own reusable face mask to school which should be stored in a ziplock bag. The mask should be a plain colour. Disposable masks are available if needed. Students will wear masks where a physical distance of 2m cannot be maintained between other students and staff. All students must adhere to this.

• For the protection of all students and staff, members of staff will wear a mask or face visor.

New systems being implemented to minimise student interaction and crossover between year groups:

• All junior students accommodated in a designated seat in a base classroom upstairs.

• All senior students accommodated in a designated seat in a base classroom downstairs.

• Separate exit doors assigned to classrooms.

• In the morning all students will enter via the PE Hall, with each year group having a designated zone prior to moving to base classes at 8.45am. Students should walk / cycle to school where possible and arrive as close as possible to 8.45am. Students should not congregate outside the school building.

• Hands to be washed with water and soap and/or sanitised regularly

throughout the day.

• There will be staggered break times for all year groups as below:

Morning break

10.55 – 11.10am         1st and 2nd years

11.10 – 11.25am         3rd and TY

11.25 – 11.40am         5th and 6th year

Lunch break

12.45 – 1.25pm         1st, 2nd and 3rd years

1.25 – 2.05pm         TY, 5th and 6th years

  1. Students will remain in base classrooms for break time and while eating during lunch break. Food from the canteen must be pre-ordered and will be brought to the students’ base rooms. We have organised for an online ordering and cashless payment system to be introduced by the catering company by mid-September. Please see attached leaflet for further information. Pending the introduction of the new system, students can pre-order food each morning and pay at intervals to be arranged by the catering company.

• There is an enhanced cleaning regime and an updated cleaning checklist in place following HSE guidelines.

• An isolation area has been designated for students who become unwell during the school day.

• It is necessary to reduce the number of visitors to the school, therefore where possible, matters relating to students be discussed with parents/guardians over the phone. Where necessary, appointments can be arranged by phoning or emailing the school office. Visitors must wear a face mask/visor and may be asked to remain in their car or a designated waiting area until the appointment time.

We ask that students remain at home if they are unwell and especially if showing any of the following symptoms:

• A fever (We recommend checking your child’s temperature every morning)

• Cough

• Shortness of breath

• Lost or changed sense of taste or smell

• If your son/daughter is identified as a close contact of a Covid 19 case they have to be kept at home from school and contact your doctor.

• We will be expecting the school uniform to be worn as normal.

• It is recommended to wash the school uniform at least twice a week, at the weekend and on the day that they have PE.

• Wash reusable face masks every evening at 60 degrees.

• Advise your child of the importance of avoiding physical contact with other students or staff members including handshaking, hugging etc

• Anyone attending the school will have to complete a Contact Tracing Log.

• On the first day back students should enter through the front door and go straight to rooms 1 and 2. All of the new arrangements will be explained to them there.

We understand that students’ will encounter many changes on their return but this

is for the benefit of the entire community. We look forward to providing as comprehensive an educational experience as possible for all students, and acknowledge the impact that the school closure may have had. We look ahead positively to the return to teaching and learning, and supporting students’ wellbeing.

Induction Training 

All staff will undertake and complete COVID-19 Induction Training prior to returning to the school building. The aim of such training is to ensure that staff have full knowledge and understanding of the following: 

  1. Latest up to-date advice and guidance on public health
  2. COVID-19 symptoms
  3. What to do if a staff member or pupil develops symptoms of COVID-19 while at school
  4. Outline of the COVID-19 response plan 

Staff will be kept fully informed of the control measures in place in the school and their duties and responsibilities in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and will be updated with any changes to the control measures or guidance available from the public health authorities. 

If a staff member is unsure about any aspect of the COVID-19 Response Plan, the associated control measures, or his/her duties, he/she should immediately seek guidance from the Principal who is supported in this role by the BOM/ETB. 

Note: A link to the Induction Training developed by the Department of Education and Skills for reopening schools was emailed to each staff member.


Procedure for Returning to Work (RTW)  

In order to return to the workplace, staff must complete a Return to Work (RTW) form, which is available electronically from the principal. A copy has been circulated to all staff members via google forms. A hard copy is available in the appendices.

A RTW form should be completed and returned 3 days before returning to work.  

On receipt of the completed form the principal will provide details of the Induction Training for completion by staff prior to the return to the workplace and details of any additional health and safety measures in place in the school to facilitate the staff member’s return to the school facility.

There are some school staff who may be unable to return to school. Current public health guidelines have identified these people as being in groups who are defined as being at very high risk.

People at very high risk (extremely vulnerable):

The list of people in very high risk groups include people who:

  1. are over 70 years of age –  even if fit and well
  2. have had an organ transplant
  3. are undergoing active chemotherapy for cancer
  4. are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
  5. have cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  6. are having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  7. are having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  8. have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  9. have severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, lung fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and severe COPD
  10. have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
  11. are taking medicine that makes you much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppression therapies)
  12. have a serious heart condition and are pregnant

The advice for this group is available from the HSE. Details of the arrangements that will apply for these staff, which will be in accordance with those applying for the public service generally, will be updated by the Department of Education following consultation with management bodies and unions and a circular will issue to all schools. 

Lead Worker Representative

The protocol provides for the appointment of a Lead Worker Representative (LWR) in each workplace. The LWR will work in collaboration with school management to assist in the implementation of measures to prevent the spread of COVID -19 and monitor adherence to those measures and to be involved in communicating the health advice around COVID-19 in the workplace. 

If a staff member has any concerns or observations in relation to the COVID-19 Response Plan, control measures or the adherence to such measures by staff, students or others, they should contact the LWR who will engage with school management.

The LWR appointed: Mr. John Reilly

In summary, the role of the LWR is to:

  1. Represent all staff in the workplace regardless of role, and be aware of specific issues that may arise in respect of different staff cohorts;
  2. Keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 public health advice;
  3. Work collaboratively with school management to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees in relation to COVID-19;
  4. Consult with school management on the control measures required to minimise the risk of staff and students being exposed to COVID-19;
  5. Promote good hygiene practices, in conjunction with school management, such as washing hands regularly and maintaining good respiratory etiquette along with maintaining social distancing in accordance with public health advice;
  6. Assist school management with the implementation of measures to suppress COVID-19 in the workplace in line with the Return to Work Safely Protocol and current public health advice;
  7. Monitor, in conjunction with school management, adherence to measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  8. Conduct reviews of safety measures that are in place to address and suppress COVID-19 in the workplace. Reviews (including an examination of the workplace) should be conducted on a regular basis (at least twice per week);
  9. Report any issues of concern immediately to school management and keep records of such issues and actions taken to rectify them;
  10. Consult with the school management on the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan in the event of someone developing COVID-19 while in school including the location of an isolation area and a safe route to that area;
  11. Following any incident, assess with the school management any follow up action that is required;
  12. Consult with colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace;
  13. Make representations to school management on behalf of their colleagues on matters relating to COVID-19 in the workplace.

If a staff member has any concerns or observations in relation to the COVID-19 response plan, control measures or the adherence to such measures by staff, students or other s/he should contact the LWR/s who will engage with the Principal/ETB. 

All staff, students, parents, contractors and visitors have a responsibility, both as individuals and collectively to have due regard for their own health and safety and that of others and to assist with the implementation of the COVID-19 Response Plan and associated control measures. 


Magh Ene College has displayed signage outlining the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and to support good hand and respiratory hygiene .The signage has been located in prominent areas such as offices, corridors, staffroom area, classrooms and toilets. 

Making Changes to School Layout  

Maintaining physical distancing in the school environment is recommended as one of the key control measures to minimize the risk of the introduction and spread of COVID-19. 

Magh Ene College has reconfigured classrooms and other areas to support physical distancing in line with the guidance in advance of school reopening. 

Health and Safety Risk Assessment 

COVID-19 represents a hazard in the context of health and safety in the school environment. A review of  emergency procedures involving, fire safety, first aid, accidents and dangerous occurrences has taken place to consider any new risks that arise due to the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan. Any changes to the schools existing emergency procedures have been documented and incorporated into the school’s safety statement. 

A  risk assessment arranged by Donegal ETB has taken place to consider any new risks that arise due to the school’s COVID-19 Response Plan. Recommended changes have been documented and incorporated into the school’s statement.

First Aid/emergency procedure

The standard First Aid/emergency procedure shall continue to apply. In an emergency or in case of a serious incident, schools should call for an ambulance or the fire brigade on 112/999 giving details of location and type of medical incident. 

Access to School and Contact Log

Access to the school building will be in line with agreed school procedures.

Arrangement for necessary visitors such as contractors and parents will be restricted to essential purposes and limited to those who have obtained prior approval from the principal. 

The prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a crucial step in restricting the spread of the virus and protecting the health and safety of the individuals themselves and other staff, contractors and visitors at the workplace. A detailed sign in/sign out log of those entering the school facilities is maintained.  The school will maintain a log of staff and students contacts.

All school records and data will be maintained and processed in compliance with the GDPR and the Data Protection Acts.

Control Measures - To prevent Introduction and Spread of COVID-19 in Schools

One of the key messages to manage the risks of COVID-19 is to do everything practical to avoid the introduction of COVID-19 into the school. If infection is not introduced it cannot be spread. The risk of spreading the infection once introduced exists in all interpersonal interactions; student - student, teacher - teacher and teacher- student, and must be managed in all settings. 

A range of essential control measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID -19 virus and to protect the safety, health and welfare of staff, students, parents and visitors as far as possible within the school. The control measures shall continue to be reviewed and updated as required on an ongoing basis. 

How to Minimise the Risk of Introduction of COVID-19 into schools:

Promote awareness of COVID-19 symptoms

  1. Advise staff and pupils to self-isolate or restrict their movements at home if they display any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and contact their family doctor to arrange a test
  2. Advise staff and pupils not to return to or attend school in the event of the following:

 if they are identified by the HSE as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19

 if they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus

 If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff are advised to consult and follow latest Government advice in relation to foreign travel.

 Advise staff and pupils to cooperate with any public health officials and the school for contact tracing purposes and follow any public health advice in the event of a case or outbreak in the school;

  1. Advise staff and students not to attend school if they have been identified by the HSE as contact for a person with COVID-19 and to follow the HSE advice on restriction of movement; 
  2. Advise staff and students that develop symptoms at school to bring this to the attention of the principal (or deputy principal if the principal is unavailable) promptly;
  3. Ensure that staff and students know the protocol for managing a suspected case of COVID-19 in school
  4. Advise everyone entering the school building that they needs to perform hand hygiene with a hand sanitiser;
  5. Advise all relevant parties that visitors to the school during the day should be by prior arrangement with the principal and should be received at a specific contract point;
  6. Physical distancing of 2 metres should be maintained between staff and visitors where possible. 

The Symptoms of COVID-19

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 it is important to know and recognise the symptoms. They are:

  1. High temperature
  2. Cough
  3. Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  4. Loss of smell, of taste or distortion of taste

Respiratory Hygiene 

Good respiratory hygiene is promoted. This means covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and safely into a nearby bin.

By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

Hand Hygiene

Staff and students should understand why hand hygiene is important as well as when and how to wash their hands.

Schools should promote good hygiene and display posters throughout the schools on how to wash your hands. Follow the HSE guidelines on handwashing: 


Hand hygiene can be achieved by hand washing or use of a hand sanitiser (when hands look clean).

Use of hand hygiene facilities including wash hand basins will be managed so as to avoid congregation of people waiting to use wash hand basins and hand sanitisers.

Wash hand basins, running water, liquid soap and hand drying facilities is provided in all toilets, kitchens and any food preparation areas.

Hand washing facilities should be maintained in good condition and supplies of soap and towels should be topped up regularly to encourage everyone to use them. 

Hot air dryers are an acceptable alternative for hand drying but must be regularly maintained.

Posters displaying hand washing techniques and promoting hand washing are placed on walls adjacent to washing facilities and can be laminated or placed in a plastic sleeve. 

Hand washing facilities should be used after activities that are likely to soil hands, for example playing outside or certain sporting activities as hand sanitiser does not work on dirty hands

Hand sanitiser is suitable for use for hand hygiene when hands are not visibly soiled (look clean).

Evidence of effectiveness is best for alcohol based hand rubs but non-alcohol based hand rubs can be used too.

When hand rubs/gels are being used in school care should be taken to ensure that students do not ingest them as they are flammable and toxic. 

Alcohol-based sanitiser must not be stored or used near heat or naked flame

Frequency of Hand Hygiene

Students and staff should perform hand hygiene:

  1. On arrival at school;
  2. Before eating or drinking;
  3. After using the toilet;
  4. After petting animals;
  5. After playing outdoors;
  6. When their hands are physically dirty;
  7. When they cough or sneeze. 

Physical Distancing

Physical distancing can be usefully applied in a post primary school setting allowing for some flexibility when needed. It must be applied in a practical way to recognise that the learning environment cannot be dominated by a potentially counterproductive focus on this issue. Care should be taken to avoid generating tension or potential conflict and some flexibility in the implementation of measures may be required at time. 

It is also recognised that it is not always possible for staff to maintain physical distance from students and it is not appropriate that they would always be expected to do so where this could have a detrimental impact on the student. 

However where possible staff should maintain a minimum of 1 m distance and where possible 2m. They should also take measures to avoid close contact at face to face level such as remaining standing rather than sitting beside/crouching down

Physical distancing falls into two categories:

  1. Increasing separation
  2. Decreasing interaction

Increasing separation 

Measures have been taken in accordance with the Framework to maintain Physical Distancing in the Classroom in Post Primary Schools with a full return of all Students for the 2020/21 School Year as below:

Decreasing interaction 

Where physical distancing of 2m was not possible at least a 1m distance is maintained between desks or between individual students or staff. 

As far as possible and practical, students would remain in the classroom and teachers would move between rooms.

As far as possible and practical students would be assigned to a main class cohort which would remain in the classroom for most subjects, with teachers moving between rooms.

Where possible and practical double classes should be planned to minimise movement during the day. 

Where students have an elective subject they would move quickly into the new class and would be seated with members of their class cohort, observing as much physical distance as possible. 

Hand washing and/or sanitising would be required when moving between classes by teachers and students. 

Physical distancing between the teacher and class would be observed. 

Where movement of class groups between rooms is required it should be planned to minimise interaction with other class groups. 

Limit interaction on arrival and departure and in hallways and other shared areas.

Social physical contact (hand to hand greetings, hugs) should be discouraged. 

Where students need to move about within the classroom to perform activities (access to a shared resource) it should be organized to the greatest degree possible to minimise congregation at the shared resource. 

Staff and students should avoid sharing of personal items.

Where teaching and learning involves use of keyboards or tablets, the contact surface of the device should be cleaned regularly and hand hygiene encouraged. 

Physical Distancing outside of the classroom and within the school

School drop off/collection

Walking/cycling to school is encouraged as much as possible. 

Designated exit doors have been assigned to student year groups

Students should head straight to their designated learning space/classroom. 


A distance of 2m is recommended for physical distancing by staff. This is particularly relevant to distancing between adults when they are not engaged in teaching such as the staff room and arriving to work. 

If 2m cannot be maintained in staff groups, as much as distance as is possible and updated guidance on face covering should be observed. 

Staff meetings should be held remotely or in small groups or in large spaces to facilitate physical distancing. 

Implement no hand shaking policy.

Minimise gathering at the beginning or end of the school day. 


Canteen use has been staggered with food being taken directly to students in their base classrooms.. 

Use of PPE in Schools

The updated advice from the HPSC to the Department of Education has recommended that face coverings should be worn by staff members where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from other staff, parents, essential visitors or pupils.  The Department has accepted this recommendation.  Accordingly, it is now a requirement for face coverings to be worn by staff members where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from other staff, parents, essential visitors or pupils.

PPE will also need to be used at certain work activities or work areas. These might include roles such as: 

  1. Performing intimate care 
  2. Where a suspected case of COVID-19 is identified while the school is in operation 
  3. Where staff are particularly vulnerable to infection but are not in the list of those categorised as people in very high risk groups, or may be living with people who are in a very high risk category;
  4. Administering first aid
  5. Parent Teacher meetings 

Where staff provide healthcare to children with medical needs in the school environment they should apply standard precautions as per usual practice.

Reception Areas

A perspex screen has been located in the reception area where it is not possible for staff to maintain a physical distance of 2m from other staff or students. 

Masks/Face Coverings

Cloth face coverings act as a barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from travelling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the face covering coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice. Cloth face coverings are therefore intended to prevent transmission of the virus from the wearer (who may not know that they are infected) to those with whom they come into close contact. 

It is therefore a requirement that teachers, staff and students attending post primary schools wear a face covering when a physical distance of 2m from other staff or students cannot be maintained. 

All students on the post primary transport scheme are asked to wear face coverings unless there is a good reason not to do so. 

Cloth face coverings should not be worn by any of the following groups: 

All staff and students wearing face coverings should be reminded to not touch the face covering and to wash or sanitise their hands (using hand sanitiser) before putting on and after taking off the face covering. 

Information  on the proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings is provided below: 


All teachers and staff should be aware that they should wash or sanitize hands (using a hand sanitizer) before and after helping a student put on or adjust a face covering. 

Face coverings should be stored in a space designated for each student that is separate from others when not being worn (e.g., in individually labelled containers or bags). 

Cloth face coverings should be washed after every day of use and/or before being used again, or if visibly soiled. 

Face coverings should not be worn if they are wet. A wet cloth face covering may make it difficult to breathe. 

Additional disposable face coverings are available for students, teachers, and staff in case a back-up face covering is needed during the day. 

Medical Grade Masks

The school will provide medical grade masks in the EN16483 category to all SNAs and those staff by necessity that need to be in close and continued proximity with pupils with intimate care needs including School Bus Escorts.

Wearing a face covering or mask does not negate the need to stay at home if symptomatic. 


The use of disposable gloves in the school by students or staff is not generally appropriate but may be necessary for matters such as cleaning, intimate care settings or when administering first aid. Routine use does not protect the wearer and may expose others to risk from contaminated gloves. 

Routine use of disposable gloves is not a substitute for hand hygiene. 


Aprons may also be appropriate in certain circumstances including for intimate care needs or for staff assigned to cleaning an area where a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 was present. 


The Department of Education has published guidance setting out the practical steps for good ventilation in accordance with public health advice ‘Practical Steps for the Deployment of Good Ventilation Practices in Schools’ The guidance sets out an overall approach for schools that windows should be open as fully as possible when classrooms are not in use (e.g. during break-times or lunch-times (assuming not in use) and also at the end of each school day) and partially open when classrooms are in use. The guidance provides that good ventilation can be achieved in classrooms without causing discomfort, particularly during cold weather.

Please see appendix for “Practical Steps for the Deployment of Good Ventilation Practices in Schools”

Impact of COVID-19 on certain school activities 

Choir/Music Performance

Choir practices/performances and music practices/performances involving wind instruments may pose a higher level of risk and special consideration should be given to how they are held ensuring that the room is well-ventilated and the distance between performers is maintained.

Sport Activities

The HPSC guidance on Return to Sport will be followed.

Shared Equipment

Art – Where possible students should be encouraged to have their own individual art and equipment supplies. 

Electronics – Shared electronic devices such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards should be cleaned between use and consideration could be given to the use of wipeable covers for electronics to facilitate cleaning. 

Musical Equipment/Instruments – To the greatest extent possible, instruments should not be shared between students and if sharing is required, the instruments should be 

Library Policy – Where practical students should have their own books. Textbooks that are shared are covered in a wipeable plastic covering that can be wiped with a suitable household cleaning agent between uses. Students should be encouraged to perform hand hygiene after using any shared item. 

Shared Sports Equipment – Minimise equipment sharing and clean shared equipment between uses by different people. 

Hygiene and Cleaning in Schools 

Cleaning staff have completed induction training and HPSC advice is being followed in relation to cleaning. This advice sets out the cleaning regime required to support schools to prevent COVID-19 infections and the enhanced cleaning required in the event of a suspected cases of COVID-19.

In summary, each school setting should be cleaned at least once per day. Additional cleaning if available should be focused on frequently touched surfaces – door handles, hand rails, chairs/arm rests, communal eating areas, sink and toilet facilities. 

If students are moving between classrooms consideration may be given to appropriate cleaning products being provided to enable them to wipe down their desk, chair and surface before leaving the room. 

All staff will have access to cleaning products and will be required to maintain cleanliness of their own work area.  Under no circumstances should these cleaning materials be removed from the building. 

Staff should thoroughly clean and disinfect their work area before and after use each day. 

There will be regular collection of used waste disposal bags from offices and other areas within the school facility

Staff must use and clean their own equipment and utensils (cup, cutlery, plate etc.).

Cleaning/Disinfecting rooms where a student/staff member with suspected COVID-19 was present 

The rooms should be cleaned as soon as practicable possible.

Once the room is vacated the room should not be reused until it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and all surfaces are dry.

Disinfection only works on things that are clean. Therefore when disinfection is required it is always in addition to cleaning. 

Person/s assigned to cleaning should avoid touching their face while they are cleaning and household gloves and a plastic apron.

Clean the environment and furniture using disposable cleaning cloths and a household detergent followed by disinfection with a chlorine based product (household bleach). 

Pay special attention to frequently touched surfaces, the back of chairs, couches, door handles and any surfaces that are visibly soiled with body fluids. 

Once the room has been cleaned and disinfected and all surfaces are dry, the room can be reused. 

Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19 

School staff are encouraged to download the HSE COVID-19 tracker app to assist Public Health for contract tracing purposes both in and out of the school setting.

Staff or students should not attend school if displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. The following outlines how a school should deal with a suspected case that may arise in a school setting.

The PE office has been identified as an isolation area and will be solely used for this purpose, accommodating two persons at a distance of 2m. Should additional space be required an area has been identified.

If a staff member/student displays symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, the following are the procedures to be implemented:

  1. If the person with the suspected case is a student, the parents/guardians should be contacted immediately;
  2. Isolate the person and have a procedure in place to accompany the individual to the designated isolation area via the isolation route, keeping at least 2 metres away from the symptomatic person and also making sure that others maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from the symptomatic person at all times;
  3. If it is not possible to maintain a distance of 2m a staff member caring for a student should wear a face covering or mask. Gloves should not be used as the virus does not pass through skin;
  4. Provide a mask for the person presenting with symptoms He/she should wear the mask if in a common area with other people or while exiting the premises;
  5. Assess whether the individual who is displaying symptoms can immediately be directed to go home/be brought home by parents and call their doctor and continue self-isolation at home;
  6. Facilitate the person presenting with symptoms remaining in isolation if they cannot immediately go home and facilitate them calling their doctor. The individual should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Advice should be given to the person presenting with symptoms to cover their mouth and nose with the disposable tissue provided when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the waste bag provided;
  7. If the person is well enough to go home, arrange for them to be transported home by a family member, as soon as possible and advise them to inform their general practitioner by phone of their symptoms. Public transport of any kind should not be used;
  8. If they are too unwell to go home or advice is required, contact 999 or 112 and inform them that the sick person is a COVID-19 suspect;
  9. Carry out an assessment of the incident which will form part of determining follow-up actions and recovery;
  10. Arrange for appropriate cleaning of the isolation area and work areas involved

The HSE will inform any staff/parents who have come into close contact with a diagnosed case via the contact tracing process. The HSE will contact all relevant persons where a diagnosis of COVID-19 is made. The instructions of the HSE should be followed and staff and student confidentiality is essential at all times. 

Staff Duties

Staff have a statutory obligation to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of their colleagues and other parties. 

The cooperation and assistance of all staff is essential to reduce the risk of spread of COVID19 and to protect health and safety as far as possible within the school. All staff have a key role to play.

In this regard and in order to facilitate a safe return to work, these duties include, but are not limited to, the following: 

 if they live with someone who has symptoms of the virus

 If they have travelled outside of Ireland; in such instances staff are advised to consult and follow latest Government advice in relation to foreign travel.

COVID-19 related absence management    

The management of a COVID-19 related absence will be managed in line with agreed procedures with the Department of Education.

 Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Programme

The Department recognises the need for school staff wellbeing and collective self-care.  Support for school staff wellbeing will be provided by Department Support Services including the PDST and CSL, as well as by the HSE’s Health Promotion Team.  An Occupational Health Strategy is in place as a supportive resource for individual staff members in schools. The aim of the Occupational Health Strategy is to promote the health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace, with a strong focus on prevention.  The Occupational Health Strategy comprises the Employee Assistance Service and the Occupational Health Service. The Employee Assistance Service (EAS) is provided by Spectrum.Life under the logo of ‘Wellbeing Together: Folláinne Le Chéile’. 

Appendix 1

                        COVID-19 Policy Statement

Magh Ene College is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our staff and a safe learning environment for all our students. To ensure that, we have developed the following COVID-19 Response Plan.  The BOM/ETB and all school staff are responsible for the implementation of this plan and a combined effort will help contain the spread of the virus. We will:

  1. continue to monitor our COVID-19 response and amend this plan in consultation with our staff
  2. provide up to date information to our staff and students on the Public Health advice issued by the HSE and Gov.ie 
  3. display information on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and correct hand-washing techniques 
  4. agree with staff, a worker representative who is easily identifiable to carry out the role outlined in this plan in relation to summer provision
  5. inform all staff and students of essential hygiene and respiratory etiquette and physical distancing requirements
  6. adapt the school to facilitate physical distancing as appropriate in line with the public health guidance and direction of the Department of Education 
  7. keep a contact log to help with contact tracing
  8. ensure staff and  students engage with the induction / familiarisation briefing provided by the Department of Education
  9. implement the agreed procedures to be followed in the event of someone showing symptoms of COVID-19 while at school
  10. provide instructions for staff and students  to follow if they develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 during school time 
  11. implement cleaning in line with Department of Education  advice 

All school staff will be consulted on an ongoing basis and feedback is encouraged on any concerns, issues or suggestions. 

This can be done through the Lead Worker Representative(s), who will be supported in line with the agreement between the Department and education partners.

Signed: ____________________                        Date: _____________________

Appendix 2

              Pre-Return to Work Questionnaire COVID-19

This questionnaire must be completed by staff at least 3 days in advance of returning to work.

If the answer is Yes to any of the below questions, you are advised to seek medical advice before returning to work.

Name:                                ________________________

Name of School:                ________________________

Name of Principal:         ________________________        Date: ________________






Do you have symptoms of cough, fever, high temperature, difficulty breathing, loss or change in your sense of smell or taste now or in the past 14 days?


Have you been diagnosed with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection in the last 14 days?


Are you awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test?


In the past 14 days, have you been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19?


Have you been advised by a doctor to self-isolate at this time?


Have you been advised to restrict your movements at this time?


Have you been advised to cocoon at this time? Note: if you’re  at very high risk  (extremely vulnerable) from COVID-19 you may be advised to cocoon.

I confirm, to the best of my knowledge that I have no symptoms of COVID-19, am not self-isolating,  awaiting results of a COVID-19 test or been advised to restrict my movements. Please note:  The school is collecting this sensitive personal data for the purposes of maintaining safety within the workplace in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The legal basis for collecting this data is based on vital public health interests and maintaining occupational health and will be held securely in line with our retention policy.

Signed: _____________________________________

Appendix 3

Magh Ene College Contact Tracing Log

Name of School

Magh Ene College

School Contact Person

Mr. Pat Tighe

Address of School

Church Road,


Co. Donegal,

F94 YT78.

For Queries only:

Phone No

071 9841244



Name of Visitor

Was the visit pre-arranged with the Principal?

 Yes □    No □

Date of Visit


to school
 _______________         .                           am □  pm □

from School
 ____________  . .                       am □  pm □

Visitor Status

Contractor  □

Parent/Guardian  □

Other   □  Please complete:


Contact details of visitor

Company Name

(if applicable)  


Contact No.

Email Address

Reason for Visit

Who the visitor met (separate line required for each person the visitor met)

Name of Person visited

Length of time spent with each person in the school

Appendix 4

Practical Steps for the Deployment of Good Ventilation Practices in Schools

30 November 2020


The implementation of the COVID-19 Response Plan by a school is the means through which schools can best prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 and demonstrate that they are operating in accordance with the requirements of the Roadmap for the Full Return to School, the Public Health advice from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and the Return to Work Safely Protocol developed by the Health & Safety Authority.  These documents are available at www.gov.ie/backtoschool.  

The public health guidance for reopening schools and educational facilities includes some important recommendations about ventilation practices in schools:

 Consider if room ventilation especially in classrooms can be improved without causing discomfort.  Where possible the opening of doors and windows should be encouraged to increase natural ventilation.  Increase air flow and ventilation weather permitting.


The following practical measures for the deployment of good ventilation practices in schools should be considered by schools in the implementation of their COVID-19 Response Plans:



1. In summary, the overall approach for schools should be to have windows open as fully as possible when classrooms are not in use (e.g. during break-times or lunch-times (assuming not in use) and also at the end of each school day) and partially open when classrooms are in use.  It is worth noting that windows do not need to be open as wide in windy/colder weather in order to achieve the same level of airflow into the classroom. This will assist in managing comfort levels in classrooms during periods of colder weather.


2. Most schools rely on the opening of windows i.e. natural ventilation and therefore it is important that windows and air vents can be accessed and opened.  


3. Rooms should be well ventilated before occupancy each day.  This can be achieved by ensuring that at the end of the school day each evening, the windows in each room should be opened (as wide as practical and safe while also considering security issues) for at least 15 minutes to ventilate the room fully.


4. Windows should also be open at break times and at lunchtimes for at least 15 minutes where possible.  


5. Classrooms for the first class on the following school day (where the above end of day ventilating has occurred) can consider maintaining partially opened windows as per guidance below to keep the room fresh and prevent stuffiness and condensations etc.



6. Achieving fresh air via a number of windows partially opened as required rather than one window fully open can help to maximise the use of window driven natural ventilation distribution across the room without causing discomfort.


7. In colder weather any local chilling effect can be offset by partially opening the windows nearest and above the radiators.  


8. Make sure that air movement is not blocked by furniture or window blinds and curtains.


9. Consideration should be given to local circumstances that may require to have additional windows open such as after break time activities  


10. Rooms with adequate fresh air should not be stuffy or have condensation on the window glass.  


11. Schools should also ensure that all permanent ventilation openings in rooms are fully open and not blocked by wall hangings etc. These normally are either a circular or rectangle ventilation grill on the external classroom wall or linear slot type ventilators built into the window frames. All of these should be opened all the time, if they have been taped and sealed for decorating purposes then the tape/sealing should be removed. If a room does not have permanent background ventilation, provision of same should be considered based on professional construction advice and current Building Regulations.


12. All mechanical ventilation systems and any air conditioning systems should be set to 100% fresh air, any air conditioning units that cannot operate on 100% fresh air (check with unit suppliers if in doubt) should be left off unless it is complemented by an adequate outside air supply such as openable windows, as this can help to provide outside air to occupants and maintain thermal comfort.  


13. If the corridors and staircases have no identifiable ventilation systems and rely on air infiltration from adjoining spaces as many transient spaces do, consideration should be given to  ventilating  these areas before and after break times by opening doors etc., this needs to be considered taking into account the fire strategy of the building. Where stairwells have opening windows, consideration should be given to their utilisation.


14. Keeping open the internal doors into classrooms for periods of time may assist with increasing air movement and ventilation rate. It is important to note that fire doors should not be kept open unless fitted with approved automatic closers so that they function as fire doors in the event of an alarm or fire.  


15. Schools should ensure there is appropriate ventilation of staffrooms, offices and other areas used primarily by staff, and in the context that some of these areas are used by different groups of staff at different times.  This is in addition to the use of face coverings and adequate cleaning.


16. Schools should ensure there is appropriate ventilation of areas such as sanitary facilities, gyms, multi-purpose rooms and libraries etc. which are used by different groups of pupils and promote proactive use of open windows and any extractor fans when these spaces are in use.




      The Department considers the above practical steps are sufficient to ensure good ventilation practices in school while at the same time ensuring an appropriate balance between ventilation and comfort.  


      The Department’s Planning and Building Unit has reviewed the HPSC guidance that consideration be given to installing an indoor air quality monitor in classrooms.  


      The HPSC guidance is based on general guidance published by the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA). The purpose of a monitor is to assist in determining when windows should be opened.  Such monitors are already included in the Department’s Technical Design Guidance, published in February 2018 (TGD 033).  The rationale for the inclusion of guidance on the installation of monitors within the Department’s TGD at that time was driven by the increased levels of insulation and air-tightness in new classrooms built since 2018 and the objective to increase awareness about ventilation, with associated guidance on when to open windows in these very airtight school buildings.  The REHVA guidance recommends that windows should be opened when the monitor indicates that CO2 levels exceed 800 parts per million (ppm).   Given that this threshold is at 800 ppm compared to the standard setting of 1,500 ppm the Department considers that the use of monitors will result in an outcome similar to the approach taken in the above practical steps which recommend that windows are open as much as possible while recognising the importance of also managing comfort levels (windows to be partially open when classroom is in use and fully open when not in use).  


      It is also worth noting that the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) which provides scientific and technical advice to support its government decision makers during emergencies notes with low confidence that continuous monitoring of CO2 may be possible to use as a transmission risk indicator but further research is necessary to evaluate the potential application of the approach for different spaces and to compare modelled results and actual infection rates.


      Given the above, it is the Department’s view that in the main windows are likely to be required to be open at a frequency and level set out above to ensure appropriate levels of ventilation in the classroom irrespective of whether the opening of windows is prompted through the indoor air quality monitor (re-active approach) or through the pro-active approach outlined in the above guidance.  While this matter (and supporting data) will be kept under review, the Department does not consider it necessary for schools to install such monitors in classrooms, where the practical steps outlined above are applied.    However, it is a matter for individual schools to consider whether they wish to use some of their minor works grant funding for this purpose or alternatively schools may wish to use some of their minor works grant funding for provision of permanent background ventilation, where required, as referenced in above practical steps.


      As part of managing comfort levels in classrooms, schools should check that their boilers operation temperatures are set at the recommended manufacturers’ guidance levels to maximise the available heat to the school.  In addition, heating should operate for extended periods during colder weather to counteract, as best as possible, the impact of windows being open (partially when classrooms in use and fully when not in use) in order to maintain an appropriate balance between ventilation and comfort levels.