Dear Parents

I wish to outline the various decisions we have made in order to return to full class teaching from 1st September for the whole school.

To this end the risks associated with the current pandemic of COVID-19 across all school activities have been assessed and the necessary controls put in place to minimize the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable. The school buildings have been undergoing intense cleaning since the school closure in March 2020.

The Board of Governors and Leadership Team aim to:
• Reduce/prevent the possibility of infection of any and all stakeholders and their families by COVID-19.
• Prevent/reduce the facilitation of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
• Implement and adhere to guidance as set out by the HSENI, PHA and Local Government advice.
• Continue to deliver the school curriculum whilst ensuring that all Health & Safety guidance and best practice is always strictly adhered to.


It is really important that we all work to support each other in maintaining the very best hygiene possible. We need everyone continues to continue to:
• practise social distancing as much as humanly possible;
• wash their hands thoroughly throughout the day;
• make regular use of the hand sanitising stations throughout the school;
• ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ when they sneeze or cough.

Key Stage Separation

Y8/9/10 will be located in class bubbles on the upper south side of the building. They will remain in the same class, at the same table and will not mix with KS4 or 5 pupils where possible.

Y11 – 12 will be located in class bubbles on the lower south side of the building. They will remain in the same bubbles but will move for their optional subjects.

Y13 – 14 will be located in class bubbles on the north side of the building. They will remain in the same bubbles but will move for their optional subjects.

Pupils must have all their equipment with them as it is not permissible to share with others.

Pupils may, if they so wish, bring their own small sanitiser / wipes with them.

Pupil movements will, where possible, be via one way systems to maintain social distancing.

The School Day

There will be no after school activities until further notice. All pupils must leave the school grounds immediately to allow the school to be cleaned each evening. Please note that pupils will NOT have access to the school after 3.30pm.

Pupils will be permitted to wear their school PE kit on the days they have timetabled PE. This will avoid the need to change.

Travel to and from School

• Guidance from the Department of Education is that pupils should avoid, if possible, travelling to and from school on public transport. Please walk or cycle if possible.
• Those pupils travelling on public transport must comply with the requirement to wear a mask when travelling.

Parents must not enter the school building unless they have a pre-arranged appointment and they should wear a mask.

Entry / Exit

School will be open from 8.50am. No entry will be allowed before then.

KS3 will enter by the front door.
KS4 will enter via the door between S02 and S03.
KS5 will enter via the door between Music and HE.

We will have a staggered finish to the day: KS3 at 3.20pm, KS4 at 3.25pm and KS5 at 3.30pm.

The following additional measures have been introduced:
• Social distances markers and signage will be placed at relevant points to ensure 2m distances between staff and pupils.
• Where possible and practical a ‘one-way’ system will be implemented throughout the school, which must be followed to ensure social distancing.

Hand washing & Toilet Facilities
• Hand washing facilities are provided within the school and are now dedicated to each Key Stage.
• Soap and fresh water will always be made available and kept topped up.
• Paper hand towels are provided in each toilet facility.
• Hand sanitiser will also be provided throughout the school and staff and pupils are encouraged to use them regularly.

The following control measures have been implemented in the toilet and hand washing areas:
• Restrictions on the number of persons using the toilet facilities at any one time, to ensure social distancing, will be maintained.
• Staff supervision will be in place outside pupil toilets.
• All personnel must wash hands after using the facilities.
• Enhanced cleaning regimes have been introduced for toilet facilities to ensure that the area is cleaned.

Canteen Arrangements
The school canteen will be operational with a reduced range of options. Every day there will be a meal of the day as well as a vegetarian option and a selection of pre-packed sandwiches and other options. A full risk assessment of the canteen has been completed, with a range of control measures being implemented including:

• The canteen area will be set up as normal in the Mall each day with tables and signage designated to ensure social distancing is maintained.
• Hand-sanitising stations have been placed at each entrance to the serving area.
• Screens have been fitted at cash tills and the current bio-metric / PIN system for payment will continue to operate with enhanced sanitisation measures.
• All food will be served in line with current guidance to schools i.e. disposable crockery / cutlery.
• Tables and chairs will be cleaned down after use with anti-bacterial cleaning products.
• Pupils will remain within their classes during lunch/break times and mixing between year groups will be avoided as far as is reasonably practicable in order to maintain class bubbles.

We continue to encourage parents to use the Ipay Impact system to top up their children’s accounts from home. Any parent who needs to register should contact the school office.

Please note there will be no communal water stations available.

We will operate three lunch times with one period for each Key stage to maintain separation:
P5 KS4, P6 KS3 and P7 KS5.

Classroom Safety Procedures
The following control measures have been implemented within each classroom as far as is reasonably practicable:

• Classrooms will be set up to accommodate social distancing for pupils where practical and 2m social distancing for teachers;
• All pupils will face forward at all times;
• KS3 Pupils will remain in the same classroom and teachers will move between rooms to complete teaching;
• Rooms should be adequately ventilated by opening windows and doors;
• Each ‘key stage’ area will have their own toilet facilities;
• Pupils will be requested to wipe down their desks at the end of the day and place their chair on top of the desk;
• Pupils in Years 8 – 10 will be permitted to leave books on their desk as they will return to the same one each day;
• Pupils from Year 11 upwards will be encouraged to carry the bare minimum of books with them to and from school each day;
• When providing one-to-one assistance for SEN or vulnerable pupils, adult to adult social distancing should be maintained at all times. However, where staff consistently remain with a pupil or a class, they should likewise be viewed as part of the protective bubble and social distancing between those adults and children can be relaxed.
• Practical work will be kept to the minimum requirements as per revised curriculum.
• Enhanced cleaning of all areas of the school will be performed by school cleaners at the end of each day.

Use of Face Coverings
There is a clear distinction between PPE and face coverings. PPE is specialist medical grade equipment that has been and will continue to be used when working with some pupils whose hygiene or care needs involve the possible spread of liquids or aerosol dispersion, such as vomiting or spitting. The guidance on the use of PPE is led by the underlying health need of the pupil and is unchanged. Public Health guidance recommends that face coverings are used in particular circumstances e.g. short periods in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. Coronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others while also providing some protection to the wearer. Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19), they’re not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.

Within Education settings:
• It is mandatory for all pupils aged 13 and over to wear a face covering on public transport. It is also strongly recommended that all pupils, regardless of age, should wear a face covering on all buses, trains or taxis for the journey to school where it is appropriate for them to do so and they are able to handle them as directed.
• Given the risk mitigations in place in schools to limit and contain the spread of COVID-19, face coverings are not generally compulsory for routine use in schools. Staff and pupils may wish to use them during the routine school day and this is encouraged. Everyone should also be aware that some individuals (including children) are exempt from wearing face coverings.

Should a pupil fall ill or develop COVID-19 Symptoms
If a pupil develops a high temperature or a persistent cough while at school:
• They will be brought to the designated ‘Sick Bay Room’, (Pastoral Room) where they must remain until they can leave the school premises.
• No other persons will be permitted to enter the Sick Bay while it is occupied.
• The designated First Aider must wear full PPE i.e. protective clothing, gloves, face mask and/or face visor.
• The room should be well ventilated.
• When the Sick Bay has been vacated the room must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before it can be used again.
• All persons (staff/pupils) who present with symptoms must get a COVID19 test as soon as possible and provide the results to Mrs Siobhan Toner as soon as they receive them.
• Should a positive test be presented then the school management should contact the EA for further advice re isolation measures/possible school closure.

Parents will be asked to seek clinical advice. They should go online to NHS 111 or call 111 if they do not have internet access. Follow the NHS guidance on self-isolation and do not return to school until the period of self-isolation has been completed.

3.7 Guidance for Self-Isolation
If you have been instructed to self-isolate:
(a) You must provide an ‘Isolation Note’ to the school. Follow the link on the NHS website site
(b) If you have symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus, you will usually need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.
(c) You will usually need to self-isolate for 14 days if:
• Someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive;
• Someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive; or
• You’ve been told by NHS Test and Trace that you’ve been in contact with someone who has coronavirus.
(d) When self-isolating:
• Do not leave your home.
• Do not go to work, school or public places. Work from home if you can.
• Do not go on public transport or use taxis.
• Do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone or ask someone to bring it to your home.
• Do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family, except for people providing essential care.
• Do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden.

Pupils Who Are Clinically Vulnerable
• Aquinas will follow the latest guidance on attendance for children and young people who have health conditions or who live with individuals who have health conditions, or are pregnant.
• Where medical guidance would be to refrain from school, evidence should be provided to the school by the parent/guardian that the pupil is shielding due to underlying medical conditions.
• People who are clinically vulnerable are those with pre-existing conditions who have been advised to stringently follow the social distancing guidance and remain at home where possible. A small minority of children will fall into this category and parents should follow medical advice from their Hospital Consultant if their child is in this category.

Pupils who are clinically extremely vulnerable
Pupils with serious underlying health conditions are strongly advised to follow shielding measures to keep themselves safe and not to attend school in person.
Distance learning and support for the needs of pupils who are clinically vulnerable will be put in place by Aquinas as soon as possible, following consultation with the pupil and their parents/guardian.

Pupils Who Are Living with Someone Who Was Shielding
Some pupils have household members who were considered clinically extremely vulnerable (at high risk of severe illness and requiring ‘shielding’). These restrictions eased over time and from 1 August 2020 ‘shielding’ has been paused. Such children should have an individual risk assessment conducted before the most appropriate place of care is determined.

Pupils can return to school when they have completed the necessary period of isolation as advised by the Test, Trace and Protect service. This will help contain any potential transmission to those staff/pupils and will also assist in protecting the wider community.

Enhanced cleaning will be carried out within any classroom in which an individual who has developed COVID-19 has been to minimise risk of the spread of the virus. This will be clearly communicated to staff, parents and pupils to provide assurance that the environment is safe.