COVID 19 Response Plan

1. Introduction 

This response plan was ratified by the Board of Management of Ballyshannon at a meeting of the Board. It adheres strictly to the Department of Education & Skill’s ‘Roadmap for the Full Return to School’. 

The Minister for Education has published “The Roadmap for the Full Return to School” on the 27th July. It sets out what the operation of schools will look like and the range of supports which will be available in a COVID-19 context. 

It has been developed in line with public health advice issued by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and in compliance with the “Return to Work Safely Protocols” developed by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Health with guidance documents provided by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). Each workplace is required to have a COVID-19 Response Plan. In addition to being places of learning, schools are also places of work. This document sets out the School COVID-19 Response Plan, including a COVID-19 policy, lead worker representative and process to deal with a suspected case of COVID-19. 

The purpose of this document is to provide clear and helpful guidance for the safe operation through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in our school. It provides key messages to minimise the risk of COVID-19 for staff, pupils, families and the wider community while recognising the importance of education for the health and wellbeing of pupils and society as a whole. 

This document focuses on the practical steps which can be taken in our school to minimise the risk of the introduction of infection into schools while recognising that no interpersonal activity is without risk of transmission of infection at any time. The documentation and templates in this booklet are supported by the public health advice provided by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for the safe reopening of schools and educational facilities. 

One of the key challenges is to balance the need for a practical and sensible level of caution with the need to provide a supportive environment for teaching and learning. This document identifies the steps our school can take to do everything practical to avoid the introduction of COVID-19 into the school and the steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of the spread within the school itself. 


2. What is a School COVID-19 Response Plan? 

A Covid-19 Response Plan is designed to support the staff and Board of Management in putting measures in place that aim to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the school environment. 

The Covid-19 Response Plan details the policies and practices necessary for a school to meet the Government’s ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’, the Department of Education plan for school reopening and to prevent the introduction and spread of Covid-19 in the school environment. 

It is important that the resumption of school-based teaching and learning and the reopening of school facilities complies with the public health advice and guidance documents prepared by the Department. Doing so minimises the risk to pupils, staff and others. The response plan supports the sustainable reopening of Ballyshannon NS where the overriding objective is to protect the health of staff and pupils while promoting the educational and development needs of the pupils in the school. The COVID-19 response plan is a living document and will be updated in line with the public health advice as appropriate for primary schools. 

The assistance and cooperation of all staff, pupils, parents, contractors and visitors is critical to the success of the plan. 


3. School COVID-19 Policy Statement 

A COVID-19 policy statement outlines the commitment of the school to implement the plan and help prevent the spread of the virus. The policy will be signed and dated by the chairperson of the Board of Management and school Principal and brought to the attention of the staff, pupils, parents and others. Schools must have a COVID-19 policy in place prior to the reopening of schools for the 2020/21 school year. The School COVID-19 policy can be found on the Covid-19 section of our school website. 


4. Planning and Preparing for Return to School

The Board of Management 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 school facility and the applicable controls are outlined in this document. 

Ballyshannon NS has processes in place to include the following: 

4.1. 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: 

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 Board of Management. 

4.2. 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 from the principal.

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

The Principal will also provide details of the Induction Training for completion by staff 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. This will be updated in line with public health advice. 

People at very high risk (extremely vulnerable): 

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

4.3. 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 the employer 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. 

This section sets out how the provisions will operate in schools. The process for the appointment of the lead worker representative in schools has been agreed centrally between the Department of Education and the education partners. 

Responsibility for the development and implementation of the Covid-19 Response Plan and the associated control measures lies primarily with the Board of Management and school management. 

Strong communication and a shared collaborative approach is key to protecting against the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and looking after the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students. Adherence to the Return to Work Protocol will only be achieved if everyone has a shared responsibility in implementing the measures contained within the Protocol in their place of work. 

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, pupils or others he/she should contact the lead worker(s) who will engage with the Principal/Board of Management. 

Role of the Lead Worker Representative 

In summary, the role of the LWR is to: 

Ballyshannon NS is obliged to appoint a Lead Worker Representative and a Deputy Lead Worker Representative. 

The role of the Deputy LWR will be to: 


Name(s) of lead worker representative: 

Contact details: 

Sinead O’Connor

Helen Flood



All staff, pupils, 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.

4.4. Signage 

The Board of Management has arranged for the display of signage throughout the school outlining the signs and symptoms of COVID- 19 and to support good hand and respiratory hygiene as is required by the ‘Return to Work Safely Protocols’.

4.5. Health and Safety Risk Assessment 

COVID-19 represents a hazard in the context of health and safety in the school environment. The risk assessment to identify the control measures required to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in our school setting is attached at Appendix 4 

First Aid/Emergency Procedure 

The standard procedures as outlined in the school’s Fire Evacuation Procedures and the ‘Accident/Injury Protocols’ will continue to be applied. 

The school will strive to identify additional fire evacuation lines to achieve the 2m physical distancing between class bubbles. Fire Drills will continue to be carried out as usual. 

4.6. Access to School and Contact Log 

Only HSE, Gardaí, Department of Education and their related agency staff and persons deemed by the Principal to be integral to the maintenance and repair and management of the school, and only then through prior appointment, will be admitted to the school. 

In exceptional circumstances and only where business cannot be transacted remotely or online or by post, may a parent visit the school office. In such circumstances a face covering must be worn. There is no exception to this requirement. 

Arrangements 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 Department of Education Inspectorate may also need to visit schools and centres for education to support them as appropriate in the implementation of public health advice relating to creating a safe learning and working environment for all. 

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 will be maintained as a supplementary procedure to the school’s existing visitor procedures. 

All staff members must enter/exit the building at the main door only. 

All members of staff must sign in and sign out of the Staff Member Covid 19 logbook using their own pen.

The school visitor contact log is available at the main door.

All school records and data will be maintained and processed in compliance with the GDPR and the Data Protection Acts. The responsibility for compliance with the legislation rests with each school in their role as data controller. 


5. 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, pupils, 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. 

It is critical that staff, pupils, parents and visitors are aware of, and adhere to, the control measures outlined and that they fully cooperate with all health and safety requirements. 

Staff should note that they have a legal obligation under Section 13 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to comply with health and safety requirements and to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves, their colleagues and other parties within the workplace. 

The Board of Management of Ballyshannon NS will take the following additional measures to mitigate against the risk of the introduction of the virus to the school; 

Promote awareness of COVID-19 symptoms (details at Section 5.1); 

5.1. The Symptoms of COVID-19 

Pursuant to our school’s ‘Accident/Injury Policy, Health and Safety policy, if a pupil is ill, they should not attend school. 

A pupil must not be sent to school if he/she has any one of the following symptoms; 

5.2. Respiratory Hygiene 

The Board of Management and school staff of Ballyshannon NS are striving to keep our school free from Covid-19 so that our school can sustain teaching and learning and avoid closures as a result of an outbreak in our school. 

A pupil sent to school with any of these symptoms risks not just the teaching and learning in our school, but the lives of our pupils and staff, some of whom are vulnerable or live with vulnerable people. 

All persons in Ballyshannon NS should follow good respiratory hygiene. This requires covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow, in the event of a sudden sneeze or cough. 

A used tissue should be disposed of immediately into a bin. Additional bins have been placed inside the school building for this purpose. 

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

5.3. Hand Hygiene

There are hand sanitiser stations at the entrance to every classroom and throughout the school. Pupils and staff must sanitize hands; 

Pupils and staff should perform hand hygiene: 

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. 

There is a requirement for access to hand washing facilities 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 dispensers will be deployed at exit and entry points of the school building and all classrooms, and care will be taken to clean up any hand sanitiser spills to prevent risks of falls. 

Wash hand basins, running water, liquid soap and hand towels are provided in all toilets and any food preparation areas. 

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

Posters displaying hand washing techniques and promoting hand washing are placed on walls adjacent to washing facilities. 

Hand sanitiser is suitable for use for hand hygiene when hands are not visibly soiled (look clean). The hand sanitizers used will contain 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. 

5.4. Physical Distancing 

Physical distancing can be usefully applied in primary and special school settings 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. Physical distancing will look different across the various ages and stages of learning. Care will be taken to avoid generating tension or potential conflict and some flexibility in the implementation of measures may be required at times. 

It is also recognised that it is not always possible for staff to maintain physical distance from pupils and it is not appropriate that they would always be expected to do so where this could have a detrimental impact on the pupil i.e. if a child sustains an injury and requires first aid. 

The focus will be in avoiding physical contact unless necessary which may include; 

However, where possible staff should maintain a minimum of 1m distance and where possible 2m from pupils. 

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: 

Increasing separation 

The guidance documents provided by the Department of Education on optimal school layout has be used by Ballyshannon NS to increase separation to the greatest degree possible 

Where required, our school has; 

All teacher’s desks are, where possible, at least 1m from pupil desks. 

Decreasing interaction 

The extent to which decreasing interaction is possible in a primary school depends on the school setting and a common-sense approach is required recognising the limits to which this can be achieved between pupils. 

A distance of 1m will be maintained between desks or between individual pupils, where possible. The Department of Education & Skills has recognised that younger children are unlikely to maintain physical distancing indoors. Therefore, achieving this recommendation in the first four years of primary or special schools, is not a pre-requisite to re-opening. 

Where possible, workstations will be allocated consistently to the same staff and children rather than having spaces which are shared. 

Within each class bubble there will be Pods of a maximum of 4-6 children established in all classrooms. In circumstances where available space restrictions and class number factors require it, the Principal may sanction a Pod of 5 or 7 persons. 

Within each Pod there is still 1m physical distancing between individual Pods within the Class Bubble and between individuals in the pod, whenever possible. 

Generally speaking, the objective is to limit contact and sharing of common facilities between people in different Class Bubbles (and Pods within those Class Bubbles) as much as possible, rather than to avoid all contact between Pods, as the latter will not always be possible. 

The aim of the system within the school is that class grouping mix only with their own class from arrival at school in the morning until departure at the end of the school day. The Pods within those Class Bubbles is an additional measure, to limit the extent of close contact within the Class Bubble. 

To the greatest extent possible, pupils and teaching staff should consistently be in the same Class Bubbles although this will not be possible at all times. 

Shared Devices/Utensils 

Keyboards and tablets 

The contact surface of these devices will be cleaned regularly and hand hygiene encouraged. 

Pupils will be reminded not to share personal items with others in the class. 

Physical Distancing outside of the classroom and within the school 

Staff room 

The Board of Management strives to support, within the confines of the public health advice, the good staff morale and healthy social atmosphere and relationships which is enjoyed by the staff in Ballyshannon NS. The Board recognises the effect good staff morale and social relationships have on creating and sustaining a healthy workplace and also on the teaching and learning in our school. 

To this end, the Board is keen to keep the Staffroom operational albeit in a limited form but to also support and sustain good relationships that exist amongst our staff through facilitating small groups of staff to ‘lunch’ together within the social distance requirements. 

Seating area 

Physical distancing of 2 m will apply in the staffroom (Senior Butterfly room).

Serving Area 

No more than 2 staff members may approach the staffroom sink/serving areas at any one time. Staff should queue at a distance of 2m apart outside the staffroom if waiting to use the fridge/serving area. 

Lunch in Classroom 

Staff members may also take their lunch in their classroom with no more than four other adults at a distance of 2m apart. 

Sanitisation & Safety 

Staff members are required to sanitise their hands entering and exiting the staffroom or the classroom in which they are having their lunch. 

Each staff member is responsible for sanitising the table and seat and area where they eat, immediately afterwards in the staffroom or the classroom in which they are eating. 

Particular care should be taken to ensure no hot-water and or edible hazards exist in the classroom which may pose a risk to children when they arrive back into the classroom. 

Hot Water Boilers/Microwaves/Fridge 

Hot Water Boilers/Microwaves and refrigeration facilities will be available in the staffroom. Staff should use a section of hand towel when dispensing hot water and should wipe down the front panel of the microwave before and after use, using the sanitising spray available. 

Other Utensils 

Staff are required to bring, use and clean their own equipment and utensils. (cup, cutlery, plate etc.) Staff are required to tidy up their seating area after use. Use disinfectant spray to clean down all surfaces after their use. 

Corridors and Stairwells 

Briefly passing someone in a hall is very unlikely to contribute significantly to the spread of infection if people do not have physical contact and avoid informal group discussions. 

All persons, staff and pupils, should walk on the immediate left at all times whilst walking in the corridors. 

Classes will be limited to using the corridors as they will be able to enter and exit through emergency doors that have been reconfigured for this period. 

Classes and/or individual pupils are not permitted to leave their classroom unless for a timetabled event, e.g. PE Lesson, Supplementary Education Support lesson. 


The Department of Education advises that public health officials state that the risk of transmission from contact with outside surfaces or play areas is low. 

Yard will be split into 5 separate areas for class bubbles to maintain a distance from other class bubbles. 

It is not possible to maintain physical distancing when pupils in primary play together outdoors, but in so far as practical it is helpful to keep to consistent groups. 

Children will perform hand hygiene before and after outdoor activities. 

Yard equipment will not be shared beyond a class bubble and will be sanitised after each use. 

5.5. Use of PPE in Schools 

PPE will not be required to be worn within schools according to current occupational and public health guidance. However, for a limited number of staff, PPE will need to be used occasionally or constantly due to the nature of certain work activities or work areas. This might include roles such as: 

Appropriate PPE will be available for dealing with suspected COVID-19 cases, intimate care needs and for first aid. Where staff provide healthcare to children with medical needs in the school environment, they should apply standard precautions as per usual practice. 


Cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who: 

For staff, face coverings are required. 

The use of a visor as an alternative may be considered where there is a concern regarding prolonged close contact and exposure to fluid/respiratory droplets. 

Ballyshannon NS will provide all staff with disposable masks and a visor. 


The use of disposable gloves in the school by pupils or staff is not generally appropriate but may be necessary for intimate care settings. 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. 


6. Impact of COVID-19 on certain school activities 

The school will follow the advice of the Department of Education & Skills regarding certain schools’ activities in advance of school reopening. 

The Board acknowledge the challenges and concerns identified by the Department of Education & Skills in some areas; 

Choir/Music Performance 

Choir practices/performances may pose a higher level of risk, therefore we are practicing outside for the unforeseen future 

Sport Activities 

Ballyshannon NS will refer to the HPSC guidance on Return to Sport. 

Shared Equipment 

All toys will be cleaned on a regular basis, some will require weekly cleaning and some daily. This will remove dust and dirt that can harbour germs. 

If cloth or soft toys are used, they should be machine washable. 

Jigsaws, puzzles and toys that young pupils and pupils with supplementary educational needs may be inclined to put into their mouths should be capable of being washed and disinfected. 

All play equipment will be checked by the class teacher for signs of damage for example breaks or cracks. If they cannot be repaired or cleaned, they will be discarded. 

Clean toys and equipment will be stored in a clean container or clean cupboard. 

At this time soft modelling materials and play dough where used should be for individual use only. 

Cleaning Procedure for Toys 


Each pupil should have their own set of colouring pencils and/or markers and should not share with other pupils in their class. 


Shared electronic devices such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards will be cleaned between use. 

Musical Equipment/Instruments

To the greatest extent possible, instruments should not be shared between pupils and if sharing is required, the instruments should be cleaned between uses. 

Shared Sports Equipment

Minimise equipment sharing and clean shared equipment between uses by different people. 

Pencil Cases

Boys are asked to provide a school pencil case that will remain in school at all times.


7. Hygiene and Cleaning in Schools 

Ballyshannon NS has arranged for enhanced cleaning of the school. All school settings are cleaned at least once per day. 

Ballyshannon NS will comply with specific advice in relation to school cleaning as set by the HPSC. This advice is to support schools to prevent COVID-19 infections and the enhanced cleaning required in the event of a suspected cases of COVID-19. 

Cleaning of the school will be covered in the Covid-19 induction training for all school and cleaning staff. 


8. Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19 

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

A designated isolation area has been identified within the school building. 

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


9. Special Educational Needs/Care Needs 

Additional considerations for those with Supplementary Educational Needs/Care Needs 

For children with supplementary educational needs and/or care needs maintaining physical distancing in many instances will not be practical or appropriate to implement. The focus should therefore be on emphasising that parents/guardians should have a heightened awareness of signs, symptoms or changes in baseline which suggests illness/COVID-19 infection and where symptoms are present children should not attend school. Similarly, staff should be aware of their responsibility not to attend work if they develop signs or symptoms of respiratory illness. 

Hand hygiene 

Children who are unable to wash their hands by themselves should be assisted to clean their hands using soap and water or a hand sanitiser (if their hands are visibly clean) as outlined previously. 


Some children may have care needs (physical or behavioural) which requires the use of aids and appliances and/or medical equipment for example toileting aids, moving and handling equipment, respiratory equipment. Where cleaning of aids and appliances is carried out in the school it is recommended that a cleaning schedule is provided, detailing when and how the equipment is cleaned and the cleaning products to be used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. 

The following points can guide the development of such cleaning schedule: 


10. Staff Duties 

Staff of Ballyshannon NS 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 COVID-19 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: 


11. 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. (circular 0049/2020) 


12. 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 staff 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’

Under the EAS, employees have a dedicated free-phone confidential helpline 1800 411 057 available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing advice on a range of issues such as wellbeing, legal, financial, mediation, management support etc. Where required, short-term counselling is available to employees and their families (over the age of 18 years and living at home). A bespoke wellbeing portal and app which offers access to podcasts and blogs on topics around wellbeing and mental health, family life, exercise and nutrition is also available. In addition, online cognitive behavioural therapy is provided. As part of the services provided by Spectrum Life a Mental Health Promotion Manager is available to develop and deliver evidence based mental health and wellbeing initiatives to reduce stigma and improve mental health literacy and to increase engagement with the service. They will also be providing a series of webinars and presentations to promote staff wellbeing in schools as schools reopen and during the upcoming school year.