Letter to Parents/Guardians and Students from the Principal

April 17, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian,
I hope you had a nice Easter in spite of the restrictions on movement that were implemented nationally since 27 March 2020 in line with public health guidelines. We appreciate how challenging the current Covid-19 crisis has been for families, and we are working hard to support all students and parents/guardians in our school community as the crisis evolves.
The past few weeks have presented many challenges, but the resolve of our students, staff, parents & guardians to engage in this steep learning curve in working from home is truly admirable. We are very proud that so many students and staff worked very hard before Easter to minimise disruption to learning. Everyone in the school community has embraced the new term called ‘Distance Learning’ in an effort to fulfil a continuity of learning. Parents can log into VSware from Friday 24th April at 1.00, to get feedback from teachers on their childs engagement with lessons during this crises.
As you are aware, schools have remained closed to students since 13 March 2020. The current health advice is that all schools will remain closed to students until Tuesday, 5 May 2020 (after the May Bank Holiday weekend).
We have listened carefully to feedback from students, staff and parents prior to Easter. We want to ensure that we focus our efforts for the next two weeks on teaching, learning and the provision of effective feedback to students.
We plan on holding an on-line Staff Meeting and Subject Department planning meetings on Monday, 20 April 2020, in order to coordinate the most effective work-stream for the next two-week period and to provide for enriched feedback to our students. Students are asked to revise subjects as per their regular timetable on Monday, 20 April 2020 while teachers are attending these on-line meetings.
Students in Sixth Year and Third Year
We are especially mindful of the decision that affects students in Sixth Year and Third Year regarding the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate Examinations. See information posted on this website. We as a school will make every effort to support our young people at this time. We ask that our students keep focused and keep preparing for the Leaving Cert exams scheduled in July/August.
Temporary reassignment of SNAs
Currently, SNA personnel are being reassigned to assist with efforts to support front-line health workers. We will make every effort to ensure that students who have access to an SNA are receiving supports throughout the next two weeks from their teachers.
Remote Learning
Our School’s Digital Learning Hub, Google G Suite using Google Classroom, is very familiar to all students in Desmond College and Colaiste. It is the main portal for accessing on-line classes and feedback from teachers. Our staff has worked closely with Limerick & Clare Education and Training Board since March 13th. We have received support, advice and guidance on managing learning, teaching and assessment in the current crisis and we are hopeful that this will help to mitigate the loss in class contact time and ‘Face to Face’ time in the current climate.
Acceptable User Policy (AUP)
Our school’s Acceptable User Policy (AUP) has been revised to reflect the increasingly popular use of teleconferencing platforms. Our school only utilises platforms which fully comply with GDPR requirements. It is important that students understand that the school expects all of its community to observe responsible and ethical use of such platforms in respect of other users – fellow students and staff.
Contacting the School during Closure
Please do not hesitate to contact us at the school via this email address info@desmondcollege.ie and we will do all we can to answer your query as soon as possible.
In the meantime, please follow the advice of the HSE and the Government;
Everyone needs to stay at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Please take care,
Kind regards,
Vourneen Gavin-Barry

Wellbeing including physical activity during School Closure

April 17, 2020

Wellbeing including physical activity
NEPS, the Department’s National Educational Psychological Service, has developed advice and resources for keeping Children and Young People well during Covid-19. These resources aim to support children and young people’s learning and wellbeing at this time.
In the context of wellbeing, NEPS has included a reference in its advice for young people and for parents of young children for the need for physical activity as part of everyone’s daily routine while schools are closed.
For information, the relevant text can be found at the following links:
Advice for Young People: www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/advice-to-young-people-while-schools-are-closed.pdf < www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/advice-to-young-people-while-schools-are-closed.pdf> Advice for Parents: www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/guide-for-parents-supporting-children.pdf < www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/guide-for-parents-supporting-children.pdf>

Supporting Students with Additional Education Needs during School Closure

April 17, 2020

Supporting Students with Additional Education Needs
The National Council for Special Education has developed resources for parents of children with additional needs who may benefit from specific advice during the period of school closure. All resources are available on the NCSE website and publicised through education partners and Twitter. The NCSE visiting teacher service continues to provide direct telephone/skype support to families and students. The NCSE resources can be accessed at: www.ncse.ie/online-resources < ncse.ie/online-resources> and include;
resources for parents and teachers such as class\age level activities practical advice on how to take care of Assistive Technology in the Home and a suite of Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy resources (including a social story animation on attending a Covid-19 test Centre prepared by the HSE).

Some Great Tips for Students from ETBI

April 16, 2020

Increased Supports from Telecoms Providers during Covid 19

April 16, 2020

This will be of great interest to students and families

Press Release 10th April 2020 From Minister

April 15, 2020

Press release 10 April, 2020

10 April, 2020 – Minister McHugh Announces Postponement of State Examinations
Changes follow updated health advice regarding school closures until further notice

– Leaving Certificate written examinations postponed until late July/August
– Junior Cycle examinations in June replaced with school-based exams and assessments early in the new school year
The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD has today (Friday 10 April 2020) announced a series of changes to the 2020 State Examinations as part of measures to respond to Covid-19, including postponement of the Leaving Certificate examinations.
The decisions have been taken on foot of updated advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
Minister McHugh said plans were being put in place for the postponed Leaving Certificate examinations to begin in the last week of July or early August, subject to public health advice.
Junior Cycle final examinations due to take place in June will be replaced by school-based exams and assessments held early in the new school year.
A series of other decisions has also been taken –
As part of the wider public health measures, schools are closed until further notice.
Practical examinations for Leaving Certificate students which were due to have been held in May are deferred. They will be rescheduled for late July/early August.
The new Leaving Certificate exam timetable will be confirmed in early June.
Minister McHugh said: “All decisions we are taking in relation to rescheduling exams are based on current public health advice and put the best interests of students first. The welfare of students and that of their families is front and centre in all decision making.
“The final arrangements for the exams, the exam centres, social distancing and other measures will all be determined by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) on foot of public health advice in June. I want to thank the SEC for its efforts to put in place these revised arrangements.
“Students and their families have been seeking clarity. Today’s announcement addresses that. It also provides them with several weeks’ of advance notice to prepare for the examinations. I hope it helps to alleviate some stress being experienced by students and their families at this time.
“Asking Leaving Certificate students and their families to refocus their attention from June to August is not something we do lightly. I know it will not be easy. However, I believe it is the fairest way of assessing students and giving them certification of achievement in school and a pathway to higher and further education and training, apprenticeship or work.”
Minister McHugh also said: “Students with special educational needs will be fully supported in sitting the rescheduled Leaving Certificate examinations in line with the reasonable accommodations as already arranged for them.”
Minister McHugh said the intention was to allow at least two weeks of class time, in school, before the Leaving Certificate examinations begin.
“Great work is being done by schools and teachers to connect with students and to keep them learning. We must give teachers, principals and school staff huge credit for their commitment to supporting students, in their schoolwork and in their wellbeing. And we want to provide students and teachers with an opportunity to build on that,” the Minister said.
As part of the changes to the Junior Cycle, discussions will take place with teacher unions and school management to allow these examinations, linked Classroom-Based Assessments, Assessment Tasks and project work to be completed as school-based assessments early in the next school year.
Minister McHugh acknowledged the positive engagement he has had with unions, management bodies, the further education and training and higher education sectors on all of these issues.
“I am grateful for the co-operation shown by all concerned, in what is a very challenging situation for our young people, their families and teachers. I am confident we can continue to work together in a supportive spirit to help secure the best outcomes for students,” the Minister said.
Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said “The third level institutions look forward to welcoming this year’s Leaving Certificate students who have applied to enter their courses. I appreciate the particular challenges these students have had to face and I welcome the flexible approach indicated by the sector to enabling these students to take up a place in the year ahead.”
The admissions process for higher education, managed by the Central Applications Office (CAO), will operate as closely as possible to the usual timeframe for offers and the entry date for first year students will be delayed.
The Department has asked the Higher Education Authority and the higher education sector to explore ways of assisting access to higher education for students from under-represented groups.

School closures
– Schools were closed on public health grounds at 6pm 12th March and remain closed until further notice
– Students have lost 15 classroom instruction days to date since the closure of schools.

Leaving Certificate statistics
– More than 61,000 students are expected to sit the Leaving Certificate or Leaving Certificate Applied in 2020
– This includes 44,396 students sitting the established Leaving Certificate and 13,668 for the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme and 2,999 sitting the Leaving Certificate Applied.

Orals and Practicals
– Leaving Certificate oral language and some Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle practical performance examinations had been scheduled to take place between 23rd March and 3rd April.
– These were cancelled and candidates awarded 100% for these components.
– Today’s announcement does not change that position.

Practical projects and Course Work
– A range of subjects involve these elements – Computer Science, PE Performance, Technology, Art, Agricultural Science, Agricultural Economics, History, Geography, RE, Politics and Society, Music Composition, Construction Studies and Home Economics (Textiles).
– The deadline for submission of work will now be immediately prior to the commencement of the written examinations in the late July/August period.

Practical examinations

– A number of practical examinations, supervised by school appointed superintendents and scheduled for 27 April to 8 May in Engineering, Art Life Sketching and Construction Studies and a practical and written examination in Computer Science scheduled for 27 May will now take place in the late July/August period.

Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) and LCVP Link Modules

The Leaving Certificate Applied is a distinct, self-contained two-year Leaving Certificate programme aimed at preparing students for adult and working life.

LCVP is a Leaving Certificate programme with a Strong Vocational focus. It may be taken alongside other subjects.

– LCA Personal Reflection Task, scheduled for completion by 1 May, will now be completed by the commencement of the written examinations in the late July/August period.

The following will be rescheduled for the late July/August period:
– LCA oral examinations
– LCA practical performance tests in Hotel Catering & Tourism; Office Administration and Customer Care; Active Leisure Studies; Hair & Beauty; and Agriculture/Horticulture.
– LCA ICT practical performance and written examination.
– LCVP Link modules written examination.