27 March 2020

Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s)

I hope you are all keeping well and coping with this unprecedented and challenging time. I appreciate the tremendous strain this change in all of our lives and sense of uncertainty must be placing on you and your families. The one certainty is that despite the additional challenges we face, as a school community we are doing all we can to support you and your daughter(s) through this time.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the school community for being so adaptable and flexible in taking on these rapid changes to new and innovative ways of online and distance learning. As a school, we are very conscious that this current situation is not ideal and in some cases, there is a demand on access to technology or other difficulties which can make remote learning difficult. We are also very mindful that many households are experiencing stress at present, where parents may be trying to juggle working from home and childcare, coping with unexpected job losses, caring for those who are sick and more vulnerable and other serious concerns.

From ongoing contact with staff, students and parents, it is clear that despite these challenges, the level of engagement is high, with the majority of students using the suite of online connections on Office 365 which they can access through their school e-mail account. Educational publishers have shared free eBook access and a large number of education organisations are reaching out to help teachers and students gain the best from remote teaching and learning. I know staff have been very inventive with cookery competitions, word of the day updates, access to the online library and most recently using video call conferencing to host the Warrenmount Student Book Club. We hope to showcase this fantastic work online on both our website and school Facebook page to celebrate all that is being achieved in this most difficult time.

In addition to your daughters’ subject teachers regular connection and contact with your daughters, Ms. Garry, Mr. Keogh, Mr. O’ Brien, Year Heads and the TY Co-ordinator, the SNA team, the Counselling team, the SCP team and I have been in contact by phone and mail to both parents and students to ensure that we are nurturing our strong Warrenmount community bonds and looking after all those who need that little bit of extra support and kindness at this time. We are in the process of setting up a new dedicated school number so that parents and guardians, in particular, can contact the school, should they wish to seek any further support or advice as we work our way through this unusual time. Now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that all students are supported in a planned and consistent way, to maintain positive health and wellbeing and continue their learning in a tailored manner that meets their current needs. The focus for us all now is on the best possible outcomes for our students.

As we come to the end of our second week of school closure, I would encourage you to ensure that your daughters have a daily, healthy routine and that they check their e-mail accounts at 9.00am and 2.00pm every day from Monday – Friday so that they can be kept abreast of their work and be guided by their teachers using online resources and /or online lessons. Where students may not have access to such a device, students have been encouraged to set up study groups on their phones where they will be able to stay in contact with one another and share the work remotely. Please remind your daughters that they must use their Office 365 school e-mail not a private email address to correspond with staff. They should also be mindful of the school’s Acceptable Usage Policy and to remember net etiquette. If students have any difficulty accessing their school account, they are asked to mail the school at info@warrenmountss.ie  and we will endeavour to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

By now, you should all have received your daughter’s Mid Term Report so you have a good overview of how your daughter has progressed from December through to the end of February. Subject teachers are keeping abreast of student online engagement and continuity of learning and should there be concerns, I can assure you that with your support, we will do all that we can to re-establish that connection.

In addition to the teaching and learning, I am conscious that each student’s mental and physical wellbeing is of central importance. We continue to encourage students to maintain their physical fitness, to eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, take some down time from the screen and social media and to get a good night’s sleep. We plan to post up additional resources and helpful websites on our website and Facebook page to assist you and your daughters in staying strong and positive.

As you are aware, the Minister for Education and Skills announced on Tuesday that all schools will remain closed until after the Easter break. This decision was is based on public health advice and the continued effort to limit the spread of Covid-19.

In line with the Minister, we encourage all students and in particular those facing the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations to stay focused, keep working and try, as much as possible, to prepare as normal for the state exams. The Department of Education and Skills (DES) are doing everything in their power to make sure those exams happen.

We have been asked to call on you as parents/guardians to continue to ensure that all young people and children are aware of the absolute need to practice social and physical distancing, and to minimise physical contact with each other, to help avoid the spread of Covid-19. This should include advice to avoid meeting up and in all circumstances to adhere to HSE guidelines. Parents and guardians are urged to support their children to maintain the restrictions on congregating for the safety of all in their community Parents and guardians are encouraged to support young people and children to follow these guidelines and the advice given on www.hpsc@hse.ie the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s (HPSC) website which is regularly updated.

We have been advised that the Government, in conjunction with the public health authorities, will keep the situation under ongoing review. Any change to the return date of school will be communicated to you through our school texting service, school website and official school Facebook page. Further announcements from the Department of Education and Skills will undoubtedly come over the coming weeks and once they do, I will be in touch with you and post it and relevant links on the school’s website and Facebook page. If you have any queries or concerns on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact the school via e-mail on info@warrenmountss.ie.

In the meantime, keep safe, remain strong and positive and look after one another.

Yours sincerely

Gwen Brennan