Autumn Newsletter

October 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

I hope everyone has enjoyed being back in school.  I welcome to St Mary’s our new Junior Infants and those other children who have joined the school in other classes.  I also welcome families who are ‘new’ to the school and I hope that you greatly enjoy your child’s time in St Mary’s.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our pupils, staff, parents and wider school community for what has been a somewhat different start to the new school year given the various restrictions and guidelines.  However, we are delighted to be back in a routine since we reopened at the end of August and I acknowledge everyone’s effort in doing what we can to try and keep everyone safe and healthy.

Some points to note:

Staffing: I wish to extend a warm welcome back to our staff to Ms McGill and Ms McGuone in our Special Educational Team, Ms Biggs who is teaching 4th class and Ms Whyte who is teaching 1st class.  I also welcome to our staff Ms Magee who is teaching Junior Infants and Ms Ryan who has joined our Special Educational Team.  I also welcome Ms McCarthy, Ms O’Brien and Ms Preston who join the staff of St Mary’s as part of a Supply Panel of teachers for the local area.  Ms O’Connor is currently covering Ms Byrne, one of our SNAs while she is on leave.  We currently have 30 teachers, 5 Special Needs Assistants, 1 Secretary, 1 Housekeeping staff and 2 caretakers as part of our school team.

Parent/Teacher Meetings and Parental Concerns: Given current restrictions and safety precautions we will not be holding Parent/Teacher meetings in November.  The Department of Education is to issue guidelines in relation to this and we will update you in due course.  If you have any concern about your child, please make an appointment (a phone call given current safety precautions) with the class teacher by contacting the school secretary, letting the teacher know your area of concern.  This is where issues can best be dealt with and discussing a concern with the class teacher usually leads to the concern being allayed.

Email and contact details: the email for the school office is stmarysash@gmail.com while the email address for the Principal is stmarysns1@gmail.com.

Halloween Dress-up – there was a great buzz of excitement and enjoyment today around the school as children dressed up in their Halloween costumes.  Thank you for all the effort that went into organising costumes for your children. 

Parents’ Association: : Thank you for supporting the 2 fundraisers held so far this year – Cash for Clobber and the Halloween Hamper raffle.  Well done To Katie Mulvey in Junior Infants who won 1st Prize, Dylan Pentony, 5th class who won 2nd prize and Michael Minch, 4th class who won 3rd prize – we hope you enjoy the treats!

Should you wish to get involved with our PA please contact them at parentsassociationsmash@gmail.com or on Facebook.  Last year we purchased a new set of iPads using some of the funds raised during the year.  We are now looking at replacing the Interactive Whiteboards in each classroom with Touchscreen Smartboards.

Covid-19: Again, thank you to everyone for cooperating with the various changes we have had to introduce to St Mary’s in line with guidance and advice.  The children are adapting extremely well to these changes and have settled into the routines with great resilience and courage.  It has been a challenging time for everyone.  However, since the reopening of the school there has been a great sense of positivity and collectiveness demonstrated amongst the children and I wish to thank our whole school staff for supporting and guiding our children during this pandemic.  We will continue to focus on and monitor this over the coming weeks given the recent move to Level 5 restrictions and the impact that may have.

Unfortunately, numbers of positive cases have increased over the past number of weeks and we will continue to focus on what we all need to do to try and stabilise and reduce these cases.  A reminder to not send your child to school if your child is feeling unwell or if any of the following is true:

Your child has:

  • a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more
  • any other common symptoms of COVID-19 – a new cough, loss or changed sense of taste or smell, or shortness of breath
  • been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • been living with someone who is unwell and may have COVID-19
  • an existing breathing condition that has recently got worse

A reminder that the pedestrian gates open at 9.05am with children from 1st to 6th classes lining up and brought into their classes at 9.10am.  From 9.10am to 9.30am children access the building through their designated door. If for a particular reason a child comes in after 9.30am they must access the school building through the main front door.  Only parents of Junior Infants and Senior Infants are permitted on the school grounds in the mornings and evenings with the exception of 1st class parents being allowed access at 3pm.  A mask must be worn unless the principal has been notified of a medical reason whereby a mask cannot be worn.

Cars: Please do not park nor stop in the ‘Yellow Box” at the school gates at any time of the day.  This is to aid the safety of both children and adults.  Similarly, please do not park in our neighbours’ driveways or restrict the movement of cars.

 

School Self-Evaluation (SSE):  As part of our commitment to school improvement and given the impact and knock-on effects that this pandemic has caused for children and families the school is currently focusing on the theme of Wellbeing.  NEPS (National Educational Psychology Services) has created a set of wellbeing lessons and guidelines for schools to aid with this focus on wellbeing.  There is also an excellent and useful set of NEPS resources available for parents and children which can be found on www.gov.ie/backtoschool.

Amber Flag: This year in Ms Moriarty’s 6th Class, we are going to work together to get the Amber Flag for our school. The Amber Flag symbolises positive mental health and wellbeing. During the year, we aim to host a number of Mental Health activities and a fundraiser for Pieta House. Our planning has already begun and we hope to be awarded with our Amber Flag by the end of next year.

Bulb Planting: As part of our Green Schools initiative, children in the school have each planted a daffodil bulb – we look forward to seeing all these in full bloom in the spring.  It has also given us the opportunity to enjoy the fine weather within our lovely school grounds.

School Activities: unfortunately we have had to cancel or postpone many of the usual school activities we would normally do.  These will be reviewed as the year progresses.  However, GAA coaching has recommenced for 5th and 6th classes with relevant safety precautions being adhered to.  Third and Fourth class will begin GAA Skills a few weeks after the midterm break.

Labelling of clothes: to avoid the loss of items of clothing, please label your child’s jumper, coat etc with their name.

Mobiles Phones: Children are not permitted to have mobile phones turned on or visible in school or within the school grounds.

School Requisite payments: you will have received a reminder text in relation to the school requisites amount on your child’s booklist. Thank you to those parents who have paid and I ask that remaining payments be paid as soon as possible. Should any family be experiencing financial difficulty in the payment of this or for other school related items please contact the principal whereby the matter will be handled with the utmost discretion.

Healthy Eating: St Mary’s has a Healthy Eating Policy. In line with this a ‘treat’ is only allowed on Friday.  Treats, including items with chocolate on them are not allowed Monday to Thursday.  No fizzy drinks, crisps, peanuts, popcorn are allowed in school.

Local Businesses: I again thank all businesses who have supported our school over the years through sponsorship and donations.  I encourage everyone to support these local businesses especially during these challenging times.

Retirement: It is with a mixture of sadness for the school and happiness for him as we inform you that Mr Gerard O’Byrne has notified our Board of Management of his intention to retire in December of this year.  Mr O’Byrne has been a teacher in St Mary’s since 1986.  His departure will be a great loss to the school not just from an educational point of view but as a teacher and colleague.  Mr O’Byrne has brought to this school a myriad of talent, knowledge, and care and has shared his many talents with us over the years thus benefitting the school greatly.  We will mark his last term and his time in St Mary’s as best we can as we move towards the end of December.

Board of Management: The Board’s main function is to manage the school on behalf of the patron and for the benefit of the students and to provide an appropriate education for each student at the school.  The Board consists of Diocesan Representatives: Fr John Nally, Pat O’Connor (Chairperson), Community Representatives: Kay Churm (Treasurer), Margaret Higgins, Parent Representatives: Ann Lawless, Kevin Wilkie, Teacher Representatives: Ciarán Giblin, Paul O’Connor (Principal).

Website: www.smash.ie – please check out our website whereby you will find relevant policies, news, class blogs, internet safety tips and links and general school information.

AED/Defibrillator: A reminder that we have a defibrillator on site and it is located on the wall beside the staffroom door.  In case of emergency, our school EirCode is A84 X762.

Child Safeguarding: Mr Paul O’Connor is the Designated Liaison Person and Mrs Brid Kavanagh is the Deputy Designated Liaison Person for Child Safeguarding Purposes.

This Newsletter is available to read on our website: www.smash.ie.

Thank you again for all the support you give our school.  I hope you all enjoy the mid-term break and that you all have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.

I look forward to seeing you all when the school reopens after the midterm on Monday 2nd November.

Le meas,

Paul O’Connor

Principal,

St Mary’s NS

Ashbourne

Co. Meath