Access Keys:

Mount St Catherines Primary School, Windmill Hill, Armagh

Return to School Letter

4th Jan 2022

Tuesday 04 January 2022

Dear Mount St. Catherine’s Parents, Carers and Pupils,

I hope you all had a relaxing Christmas and New Year holiday and are looking forward to returning on Wednesday 5th January. This letter gives you some information regarding practicalities and the arrangements we will have in place for the next few weeks as we welcome pupils back but still remain focused on keeping adults and children safe.

As you may be aware COVID Guidance from the NI Executive continues to be reviewed and monitored. In light of the Omicron variant safety mitigations that were already in place must continue to be strictly followed and some measures that were previously relaxed are being reintroduced.

Key changes include:

  • a strengthened approach to minimising contacts, potentially through the reintroduction of groupings where practical
  • tightened restrictions on school visitors
  • updated guidance on regular ventilation and CO2 monitoring
  • measures aimed at increasing the uptake of regular asymptomatic testing
  • over the coming days teachers will prepare contingency home learning packs for children in the event of temporary school closures at a local level

We will continue with our 0900 start for all pupils. (children go straight to classrooms to reduce the need for lining up.) Since November we have operated split dismissal of 2pm for P1-P3 and 3pm for P4-P7, and I am pleased to say that his will continue.

I ask you all (beginning Wednesday 5th January) to wear a facemask, practice social distancing and after drop off or collection to enter/leave the school grounds promptly.  This isn’t us being unfriendly or unwelcoming. Far from it. This is helping ensure that we are doing all we can to keep our pupils, parents, community and staff safe. We want to keep our classes and school open. We would be very grateful if parents would stick to these timings – all pupils need to be in school by 09.00am.

We are expecting pupils to be in class by 9.00 am to ensure that lessons can start promptly. If you have a child who is anxious, worried or needs some support, please come along toward the end of the soft start, around 8.55am and we will be able to spend time with you and them without lots of other pupils around.

Breakfast Club and P1-P3 Chill Out Clubs

 Arrangements in the clubs will be as before regarding start and finish times and we will be following the same guidelines - with pupils being grouped accordingly to their class/family. Both are operational from Wednesday 5th of January.

 Keeping Pupils safe in school

If a pupil attends the school with symptoms of a cough and/ or high temperature, they will be sent home immediately.  If they need to wait to be collected by their parent or carer, they will be isolated in a private, well ventilated room/area.

School staff will be vigilant to any potential signs of Covid-19 and will always err on the side of caution in contacting parents and carers. It is your responsibility to make sure thst the school office has an up to date contact number and that you are available to take such a call during school hours. 

Ventilation in buildings

Staff will be asked to ensure good ventilation by keeping windows open and where possible not closing the doors of small rooms.  Pupils and staff will spend more time outdoors, with weather appropriate clothing.

Hand washing

Stocks of soap will be checked, and replenished, before the start of every day.  All classrooms have access to warm water and soap. Hand sanitiser will be available at each usable entrance point to the building, unless there is immediate access to soap and water in these areas.  Stocks will be checked every day. Pupils and staff will wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol hand sanitiser, when:

*entering the building   *before eating or handling food *after blowing the nose *after sneezing or coughing    *after going to the toilet

Access to Toilets 

Pupils’ access to toilets will be carefully managed to ensure good health and hygiene. There will be a strong emphasis on washing hands.

Meeting with staff/Visiting the school

We really value our relationships with parents and carers, and we want to provide opportunities to discuss any worries or concerns you may have. However, as part of the current guidelines we are required to limit the amount of people who are coming in and out of the school buildings. Therefore, we are still temporarily suspending our ‘drop in’ and open door approach and will be encouraging you to ‘phone or email first’. This enables us to plan for meetings in a safe way for everyone.

If you are visiting the school we would ask that you wear a face mask, as you would currently in any public building to help keep everyone in our school community safe.

We would ask all families to follow the NI Executive’s advice around the vaccination programme and on-going LFD testing at home. The biggest concern is staffing. As you are aware from various media reports (that like every other school in the north) we may yet indeed be faced with potential school staff shortages caused by positive Covid tests. Teachers and school staff will be taking regular LFT tests and reporting their results but as ever this is fast moving and fluid. Only at the beginning of the school day will school leaders know for sure who they have available and be able to properly plan. As a team at Mount St. Catherine’s School we will be doing everything possible to ensure a smooth return and a successful term for all our community. Whilst we will do everything we can to prevent either partial or full class closures, circumstances may still yet potentially dictate short term remote learning for our children. Unfortunately, this cannot be ruled out.

If you have any questions or need to contact us, you can do so in the usual way – by contacting the school office admin team by email ( or by phoning the school (028 37522241).

I close by again thanking you for your support.

Mr O’Neill