Across the country, children are coming to a new realisation that heroes come in many forms and that many of them in fact are in their own homes. In the face of the Global COVID-19 pandemic, these heroes are their parents, cousins, neighbours and friends who are spending long hours day and night, fighting to ensure that this virus is controlled and lives are protected.


IPPN, INTO, NAPD, ASTI and TUI are proposing that as a show of support for those workers and volunteers on front lines at this critical time, all children who have a flag in their county or club colours, or whatever team they follow across any code, would hang that flag from their gate posts, windows, or wherever they would normally place a flag when supporting their county club or team ahead of an important match.

While sports events at the moment are currently postponed, such a show of solidarity from the children of the country towards those on the front line will demonstrate our gratitude for their marvellous dedication to their critical work at this extraordinary time. Hanging out the flags will also provide colour to lift everybody at a time when people are psychologically feeling the effects of this terrible pandemic. If a family doesn’t have a flag to hand, we suggest that the children draw or design a new flag and put it in a front window as a show of appreciation.

We are asking all education agencies and sports organisations to support the initiative and to use their communication platforms to share this information with members and their families.


If using social media, you will doubtless see the graphic advertising this initiative. Please share and tag as many as possible so that everyone in Ireland is soon aware of it. Using #Flags4Frontline in your tweets will help to spread the message. We are asking schools, when communicating with their parents, to ask them to hang out a flag with their children in honour of those working currently on the Frontline to save lives.


We hope that in the coming days, with your help, every road, street , lane , avenue, estate and apartment complex will be festooned with colour to honour our Heroes- our families neighbours and friends in the Frontline services.



Microsoft – To the Irish Education community,

COVID-19 has impacted the lives of people around the world.  Microsoft is aware that schools across Ireland are working extremely hard during these challenging times to implement contingency plans in reaction to this crisis. We are also aware that there is a huge amount of shared resources and support available to educators and sometimes it can be hard to know where to start.


Getting Started with Remote Learning

If you are looking for a resource to start your remote learning journey, read the blog “How schools can ramp up remote learning programs quickly with Microsoft Teams”.  


Microsoft Ireland Remote Learning Home

Further to this, Microsoft Ireland has created a curated resource page for school leaders, educators and students to provide online PD courses, on-demand and live webinars & local resources to provide guidance at all levels for remote teaching at Microsoft Ireland remote learning and learning continuity home page


Family Learning Resources

You will also see links on this page to support parents/guardians who also find themselves in unknown territory to support their children with education in the home with our Family Learning Centre. We will continuously update this home page so that the Irish education community have the most up-to-date and valuable resources available in one place.


DreamSpace HomeSpace Series

The DreamSpace team is also delivering three hours of STE(A)M content for kids aged from 6 to 16 in a new DreamSpace HomeSpace webinar series every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1pm. This content is aimed at supporting both teacher and parents with guiding their children’s learning from home. Please visit the HomeSpace series page here for full information.


Global Remote Learning Community
To support remote learning in schools around the world, the Microsoft Education team has created an open global community for academic institutions to connect with each other and our Microsoft education experts, on best practices, tips & tricks, and personal learnings on how to enable distance learning for schools. To join this team, please go here.


Finally, to stay up to date with the latest content, resources and announcements from us follow and/or talk to us via the Microsoft Ireland Education team on Twitter.


Our team wishes you well on the journey you currently find yourselves on and please be assured that our team is here to help you at any point in that journey.


Stay safe and stay well.


Microsoft Ireland Remote Learning and Learning Continuity Home

To help make the transition to distance learning for schools across Ireland, we’ve created resources, training and how to guides that we hope will help support primary and post primary education sector school leaders  IT professionals, educators, staff and students as they make this transition.

Unsure where to start? Try this blog How schools can ramp up remote learning programs quickly with Microsoft TeamsThen check out the online courses, on-demand and live webinars & local resources developed to help you in these challenging times.

To stay up to date with the latest content, resources and announcements from us follow the Microsoft Ireland Education team on Twitter and check back here for further updates and new content.

To support remote learning in schools around the world, the Microsoft Education team has created an open global community for academic institutions to connect with each other and our Microsoft education experts, on best practices, tips & tricks, and personal learnings on how to enable distance learning for schools. To join go here.


Google – Helping schools stay connected in response to Coronavirus

As many educational institutions are facing or planning for closures due to COVID-19, Google for Education is providing distance learning solutions, training and resources to help them stay connected. Today Google supports schools around the world by providing G Suite for Education, a free range of productivity tools to enable teaching & learning.

These cloud-based tools (which include Google Classroom, Gmail, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms and more) are currently used by more than 100 million teachers and students, and can be used from any device in more than 40 languages.

Here are some additional resources around our recent effort to support educators and students globally.
Sign up for G Suite for Education. Schools can sign up for G Suite for Education (for free) to get access to Gmail, Calendar, Classroom, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Sites, Jamboard and Hangouts Meet, and many more to help with distance learning.

Use the advanced Meet features available to schools: We recently announced that advanced features of Hangouts Meet will now be free for schools to use through July. You can have up to 250 people in a call together, record meetings, and livestream content for up to 100,000 people within the domain. If using Hangouts Meet, you can find best practices for setting up Meet for distance learning here,
including how to turn on live captions, limit bandwidth usage, and use Slides Q&A for engagement while live streaming. We also have new educator controls in Hangouts Meet.

Distance Learning resources and Teach From Home:
To help educators unfamiliar with distance learning or as much familiarity with our Google for Education
tools, we launched

Teach from Home (g.co/teachfromhome),
an initiative to create a hub of information, tips, resources and tools to help teachers keep teaching during the school closures. We also have launched this resource pagehave an ongoing series of blog posts, as well a webinar series to discuss tips and best practices for distance learning. To help organize resources, training and information on how to set up schools and classrooms for distance learning, we created guides for Education Leaders & Educators.

Information on sending and using Chromebooks at home for distance learning: As school admins
prepare contingency plans, we’re sharing how they can quickly and securely prepare their school’s Chromebooks to go home with students, with our new Help Center article on how to prepare Chromebooks for e-learning days at home. Your child may have brought home their Chromebook from school, and you can reference this article to learn more about it and how to support. If you have a Chromebook at home, students can learn on and use those as well.

Finding educational content: In partnership with education-focused content creators on
YouTube we launched YouTube Learning Hub, which we’re in the process of expanding and localizing as a destination for safe, curriculum-relevant learning content. Parents and families can find resources on YouTube’s Learn@home. Additionally, the Distance Learning page on the Chromebook App Hub
shares offers from our integrated solutions partners that can help schools during the COVID-19 crisis. These resources are directly related to distance learning (defined as remote instruction between teachers & students), and are completely free or discounted tools.

We are collecting and sharing additional stories and strategies through our Teacher Center and social channels including Twitter and Facebook. Along with those, the Google for Education blogTeach From Home, and the Google for Education page are the best places to check for updates.

If you have ideas or suggestions for supporting distance learning with Google tools, or stories of how the tools are helping, please submit them via this suggestion form.

We hope these tools can be helpful to you and your school community.

Kind regards,
Ivett Likár

•   Ivett Likar
•   Google for Education Ambassador – Ireland
•   ivettlikar@google.com

Schools in Italy in COVID 19


 Covid19 in Italy shocked Italian citizens and, together with them, teaching, teachers and Principals.

In the last ten days of February, schools were closed only in five regions of northern Italy. The hope of the experts was to stop the infections and keep them under control where they were born. Unfortunately, however, along with the closure of schools, traffic bans for people between one region and another have not been issued and the virus has gradually moved to all regions of Italy.


From 3rd March all schools in Italy have been closed. Along with this closure, there was a 15-day period with partial bans on population movement in cities and shops. Only a few days ago the prohibitions have become more strict


How Italian schools and school leaders cope with the situation

From the didactic and technical point of view most of the schools were ready to face the distance teaching and we leaders have easily coordinated the digital animators and the teachers. Distance learning started immediately. For what concerns the management aspects of administrative and non-teaching staff, initially we, as managers, were disoriented. For some legal aspects (for example the total closure of school premises, also sending the administrative staff home) the principals in Italy do not have autonomous powers.

Unfortunately, the government indications were not immediately followed by specific notes from our Ministry. Fortunately, the ANP union, which is majority (and therefore guides most of the Italian managers) on the one hand gave suggestions to the managers on the new reorganization in smart working, on the other hand it pressed and supported the Ministry to provide us with specific and timely permits to derogate from existing laws.

In the whole national territory, thanks to the synergistic action of the Ministry and the majority union, we do not have many organizational differences in schools and in the solutions adopted by managers.


Children from parents who work in health care or other essential professions

The preliminary statement is that gatherings of people are currently prohibited in order not to spread the infection. So the children are at home and cannot be anywhere else with other children. Access to public parks has also been prohibited, because children and young people who did not go to school met in the parks and favoured contagion from their families and elderly grandparents.

The government has therefore promulgated specific laws to support families who cannot work in smart working from home. The contribution is to pay for a babysitter if those workers are engaged in key roles such as healthcare or large food distributors or in the food industries etc. There are also special aids for handicapped workers (12 days for their specific needs instead of only three days a month), and special aids for those who need to take time off from work with the use of 15 days for both parents of child leave.

Schools do not provide for the daily care of children but keep them busy, from the age of three, with distance learning activities.

Schools have no agreements with day care organizations. There is no possibility to stipulate them because any type of gathering of people is prohibited and multiple children from different families cannot be brought together, contagion would be favoured. Nobody can take care of the children belonging to other families if not a babysitter at home for each family if their grandparents are not present. A lot of private organizations are giving great solidarity.  Telephone companies offer free internet for school; public administrations can buy SIM cards for € 1.70; many publishing houses send free subscriptions to magazines and offer discount coupons for the purchase of non-paper books, or music. National television has reprogrammed the schedule and at specific times has reintroduced cartoons for children and many educational programs for adults. There are many concessions for those who have to spend time inside the home and assistance measures for those who have had to stop their autonomously working.


The role of the municipality or other governmental organisations

In Italy different task forces work with separate tasks. The general one, made up of the head of the government (the president of the Council of Ministers – Mr Conte -), the Commissioner of Civil Protection and the infectious disease experts is the engine of the nation’s decisions and determinations.

An important role is played by the governors of the individual regions, which are however coordinated by the Head of government, another important role is played by the mayors of each city who are coordinated by the governors of the regions. Every one of them can legislate with specific ordinances in harmony with the provisions of the national government.

The Army and all the police departments deal with public order and enforce the prohibitions, rules and restrictions imposed on all citizens. Thousands and thousands have broken the rules and been reported criminally.

Civil protection also carries out a very particular job: it supports hospitals in triage, supports health workers with ambulances, supplies health supplies and, with volunteers, helps that part of the elderly population that does not leave the house.

The worst affected regions have also appointed disaster managers to manage the reorganization of hospitals and the creation of new healthcare facilities.


Distance education

Distance learning is progressing well. We asked the teachers to reprogram the long-term educational and teaching objectives. Many teachers have difficulties with working times: the time to plan and carry out a lesson has become longer and many of them have to take care of their children who, in turn, take advantage of distance learning, sometimes using the same parental device.

The principals had already organised, some time ago, Whats App and Telegram groups for informal communication with the teachers. To these they have added video group video conferences that allow to better coordinate the activities, to reprogram the objectives and share the new evaluation tools. Many schools already had cloud repositories to share learning units and teaching materials. The recommendation that the managers make daily to the teachers is not to overdo the lessons, to take the time to check them and to evaluate the students according to the new criteria specifically deliberated by the teaching staff.

There are a lot of different systems of distance-teaching. Some schools immediately used the electronic registers suites that allow you to open a dialogue with students asynchronously. In many basic schools the communication channels in use were used during the first week of distance-teaching were: telegram, Whats App, Padlet. In a second moment, these first immediate systems were joined by the use of synchronous communication systems and virtual classes. In many highschools synchronous platforms with virtual classrooms were already in use and therefore all the activities have simply “migrated” totally into the “distance dimension”.

In general, the group of teachers schedule the weekly and daily interventions, balance the workloads, prepare the lessons and talk to the boys from two to four hours a day in the morning. Usually, in the afternoon, the children prepare their homework and send it to the virtual classroom or to individual channels, to avoid that one’s exercises are copied by everyone.

Principals have several monitoring systems. They access the electronic registers of teachers and follow the progress of the lessons and the tasks that are assigned by each teacher at home. The managers access the repositories in which there is, for each teacher, a folder with the learning units carried out for the classes. The teachers are asked for a short fortnightly report on the progress of the lessons in the individual disciplines that is officially sent to the school’s institutional email address. Every 15 days the leaders gather the class councils through synchronous communication systems (hangout, meet etc.) to evaluate together the progress of the students.

The Principals, through the help of the digital team and the digital animator, direct the teachers on the technical use of the applications. The managers also send a series of notices to the teachers for general didactic coordination.

In the second week of forced closure the principals, urged by the Ministry of Education earlier in the week, responded to a very extensive national monitoring. They also clearly had to check for “disconnected” pupils and why. For the pupils who were disconnected due to unwillingness, the parents were made aware by e-mail and telephone calls. For pupils disconnected due to lack of technical equipment, most schools have already moved to allocate laptops and tablets present at school to families on free loan. For families disconnected from the network (very few indeed), schools will purchase cards for mobile telephony on the electronic market of the Public Administration at very low prices to be given on loan for use to families.

In this direction, the government has allocated sums that will be invested in mobile technologies for schools.


Final exams in primary, secondary education and in University


The role of ANP (Italian National Association of Principals) to support school leaders

ANP is playing a very important and decisive role in Italy.

– The ANP national task force has been at work from the first moment of the emergency in the study of the huge legislation that the government, the various individual ministries and regions produce every day. It provides managers with a summary of documents, operational guidelines and a draft of the documents that each manager must produce to adapt the organization of the school he directs to the rules that daily upset the ordinary school structure.

– An ANP lawyer task force is supporting Principals for reimbursements for all travel, including abroad and educational trips cancelled from February to today.

– Another ANP task force works continuously in the production of video lessons and agile refresher courses for all those managers who are not very familiar with technology (activating GSuite, for example, is not simple and immediate)

-Another ANP task force has activated refresher courses for teachers on the use of teaching platforms for synchronous activities.

The training is mediated by the technical-scientific structure that supports ANP which is Dirscuola which for years organized the online training of teachers and managers.


The lessons learned out of this situation?

The first lesson is that the Ministry alone would not have been effective. The Schools, adequately supported by an association like ANP, responded well and immediately even in a case like this. The support provided from ANP to managers and teachers and to the Ministry was important.

The second lesson concerns the general government situation. The “close” and the block of the travel of people and the suspension of the lessons had to take place long, long before to avoid all these infections.


Six tips for schools in Europe who are standing at the beginning of a longer period of close down



  1. – Decide and deliberate, within each school, which IT communication tools will be in use in case of closure, how to reschedule the lessons both from the didactic and from the organizational point of view among the teachers of the same classes, organize new parameters and criteria for the evaluation of the students.
  2. – For each school, choose the communication systems and make sure that the teachers are not left to choose their own independently: too many different teaching platforms destabilize the students.
  3. – Retrieve the phone numbers of older students and those of parents, as well as private emails. Younger children aged three to ten need parents to connect with teachers. Is important not break the line with school and teachers.
  4. – Prepare on time the programs on laptops and tablets to be given on loan for use and the loan contracts for each recipient family.
  5. – Use smart working for staff immediately and close schools to the public.
  6. – Make sure that the school website and the school’s facebook page, the channels opened by teachers with families and students are the sounding board of good practices to be adopted to reduce contagions.

School Meals Programme Guidance Programme

Please find attached an updated version of the School Meals Programme Guidance Document.

If there are any queries they can be emailed to social_inclusion@education.gov.ie

20200329 school meals updated guidance final pdf

The following are answers to some queries received on School Meals Guidance via the social_inclusion@education.gov.ie email address:   

If you intend to use the services of An Post for delivery, please note that this service can only be used for non-perishable goods only. An Post does not have refrigeration facilities and the packages may be in the depot overnight as they will travel through the An Post network to pupils’ home addresses.

Mail will travel on a FREEPOST basis. Food packages for delivery to pupils should be non-perishable goods, weighing no more than 30kg each and securely wrapped, suitable for transport via the postal system.

Schools are not being asked to share pupils’ addresses to An Post. Food packages will need to be addressed by schools, and will then need to be delivered by the school to the An Post Delivery Service Unit (DSU), for delivery to pupils’ home address by An Post.

As outlined to education representative management bodies on Friday, the Guidance document outlines that this initiative is school-led. It is not necessarily intended that every child who received school meals continues to receive these during this period. The purpose of this initiative is to ensure that those pupils most in need continue to access to food provision. It was for that reason that the guidance document indicated that:


“In considering those who might be most in need of support………..It may be useful for schools to contact families already in receipt of support under the School Meals Programme to establish if they wish to continue to avail of this support during this period of school closure”.

There was consultation with the Department of Health in developing the guidelines and the relevant advice in relation to physical distancing is included.

Should you have any queries on guidance, please contact social_inclusion@education gov.ie 

Essential Services List

Covid-19 – Provision of Essential Services
Guidance for Employees and Employers


28 March 2020

The Government has decided that people everybody should stay at home until April 12th 2020, except for the following situations:

  • to travel to and from work, or for purposes of work, only where the work is an essential health, social care or other essential service and cannot be done from home
  • to shop for essential food, beverage and household goods or collect a meal
  • to attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people
  • to take brief individual physical exercise within 2km of your home, which may include children from your household, as long as you adhere to strict 2m physical distancing
  • for farming purposes, ie food production and/or care of animals

As stated in previous guidance, all employees should work from home if at all possible.

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to employers and employees as to what constitutes an essential service where workers cannot work from home and have no option but to travel to work.


Some practical welfare guidance when working from home

  • Working remotely can provide great opportunities for school leaders in terms of work-life balance and productivity. However, it is vital to maintain regular work hours, to set a daily schedule and to stick to it.
  • Create a dedicated work space that is airy, well lit, bright and comfortable. Have a suitable chair and arrange the equipment you will need (laptop, chargers, phone, headphones, pen and paper, etc.) to undertake your work efficiently and productively.
  • Be positive in your communications with fellow staff and students – difficult to interpret your tone without face time so it is important that you be as positive as possible when working remotely.
  • Schedule breaks if working for an extended period of time and take them in their entirety.
  • Avoid feeling isolated. Social interaction is a very important part of the school workplace and working from home means that the ability to interact with colleagues is suddenly gone. There are many free video platforms that allow for multiple participants to connect via video link and it is nicer to talk than to text — Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and Slack among others.
  • Do not allow working from home to be invasive on your personal life – set specific work hours and stick to them. Exercise regularly.
  • Stay on task by quickly writing down your daily priorities and all the things that you need to get done. When working from home and you are not working to a timetable or set schedule so it can be challenging to keep track of what you have to do throughout your workday. It is easy to lose sight of priorities, tasks, and deadlines. Set goals and time limits for each task. After you complete each task, cross it off the list. This simple technique is both effective and fulfilling.
  • It is best to set some clear boundaries with your family while you work from home. It is not being mean if it results in the best use of your time and a better outcome for the students.
  • Stay vigilant against security risks and take all necessary care to work securely. Computers should be secured and protected with security programmes and passwords.
  • Comply with relevant data protection guidelines.
  • Confirm that school insurance extends to homeworking.
  • Finally, stay safe and healthy during this pandemic. It will eventually pass!

Letter from Secretary General of Department of Education and Skills

A letter to principals and teachers from the Secretary-General following the announcement that schools will remain closed until 19 April.


Letter from Secretary General of the DES 25-03-2020