Protecting Yourself when Home Working during COVID-19 – NEW eLearning course just launched

 

The unprecedented situation that COVID-19 has created in Ireland has meant more employees than ever have been asked to work from home. Many employees will never have experienced working outside of the office and these employees should know how to protect themselves from injury and ill health during this time.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, places certain legal duties on employers and employees to ensure a good standard of health and safety in the workplace. This includes when the employee is working from home.

With this in mind, our team at Legal Island have launched a brand new Protecting Yourself when Home Working in Ireland eLearning course.

What does this course cover?

This course was designed specifically for organisations who have employees working from home.

Topics covered within the course include:

+ The importance of health and safety when home working

+ Your responsibilities under health and safety law

+ How to protect your physical health while home working

+ How to protect your mental health while home working

+ How to work together to protect each other

+ Common household hazards to watch out for

Price

The standard rate of this course is €40 per staff member, however, given these exceptional times, we have reduced the price of this course to €10 per staff member (for a limited time only).

 

Please click here for your free demo

 

To discuss your options please contact me debbie@legal-island.com.

Kind regards,
Debbie

Debbie Wilson
eLearning Client Executive,
Legal Island

Minister McHugh announces deferral of new allocation model for Special Needs Assistants

Minister McHugh announces deferral of new allocation model for Special Needs Assistants

The Minister for Education & Skills Joe McHugh TD has today (Thursday 2 April 2020) announced that the planned new allocation model for Special Needs Assistants has been deferred for one year.

The frontloading model for primary and post-primary schools is now planned to be in place for September 2021.

Minister McHugh said: “The emergency response to Covid-19 has had a huge impact on everyone and it has required a huge response from the education sector.

“It is important that we can give schools and families of children with additional needs clarity and certainty on the resources and supports that will be available from September.

“SNAs are a vital part of that. They bring a huge wealth of experience and skills and qualities to caring for children in our schools.

“As part of the decision to defer the new allocation model, I am also confirming that no school will receive a lower allocation of SNA support for September 2020 than they currently have. That means that SNAs who are currently employed will have jobs in the next school year.

“And if schools identify that additional SNA support is needed for children in mainstream classes which cannot be met from their existing allocation, they will be able to apply by email for their allocation to be reviewed.

“A diagnosis of a disability, or a psychological or other professional report, will not be necessary for this process. Rather, other forms of evidence, information or documentation will be used to support such applications.”

Regional information sessions planned for the coming weeks to allow for better understanding of the new model and how it will help students with special needs will now not take place.

A circular will issue to schools in the coming weeks with information on the interim arrangements for the 2020/21 school year.

https://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2020-press-releases/PR20-04-02.html 

 

Resources for Supporting Children with Additional Needs during the COVID-19 Closure Period

Dear colleagues,

Over the last week, our colleagues at UCC reached out to NAPD offering their support during this extraordinary time.

Thank you to Dr. Fiona Chambers for contacting our members in Region 7 and agreeing to share the insights and expertise of colleagues in the Education Department in University College Cork.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the following for agreeing to share ideas and resources with us:

Dr. Kevin Cahill and Dr. Dan O’Sullivan – Supporting our learner with SEN.

Dr. Brian Murphy – Supporting our learners with SEN.

Sarah Thelan – Tips for our teachers on using Microsoft teams and our students (this is available to Third Level students in UCC.)

Thank you to Kieran Golden for his contribution in collaboration with UCC and facilitating the distribution of these valuable resources.

Remote Teaching and Learning for Students with AEN

 

Some additional Information from the instructional designers in UCC

Microsoft Teams: (here) and General teaching online: Keep Teaching page.

#Flags4Frontline

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.

 

 

Schools in Italy in COVID 19

SCHOOLS IN ITALY IN COVID19 TIME.

 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

 

IT IS GOOD TO GET EQUIPPED BEFORE SUSPENDING THE LESSONS:

  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 

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!

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Briefing

Please see  resources which were presented at a meeting in Roinn an Taoisigh yesterday

You may find them useful in any communications you have with parents or students.

The graphic is particularly powerful. The thrust of the closure is to slow down the spread of the disease to enable our health service to work.

Feel free to share these resources.

PresentationCOVID19 stakeholders 12 Mar 2020

FAQs_5pm

 

School Closure for Students

  • An announcement was made this morning by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD of the closure of schools, pre-schools and further and higher education settings, for a period until 29 March 2020, to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. This will take effect from 6pm this evening, Thursday 12 March. This is in line with the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team.
  • The context of this decision is to try to minimise social contact.
  • Schools are closed to students during the period of closure.
  • In order to minimise the impact on teaching and learning, all schools are asked to continue to plan lessons and, where possible, provide online resources for students or online lessons where schools are equipped to do so. Schools are asked to be conscious of students that may not have access to online facilities and to consider this actively in their response.
  • Teaching staff and non-teaching staff should be facilitated in working from home during normal school hours where this is possible, though staff may need to be in school and attend to work and other issues as necessary.
  • Caretaking, secretarial, cleaning and other staff should only be in the school as necessary.
  • Where facilities are available in a school for online delivery of support for students, teachers who wish to avail of this should be facilitated, once this is in line with HSE advice on social distancing and gatherings.
  • It is important, in particular, that absences such as maternity leave etc. are keyed into the OLCS payroll system to facilitate continued payment of salary.
  • All Board of Management employees should be paid during this particular period of school closure.
  • Schools are asked to prioritise supporting exam classes to continue to prepare for State examinations.
  • The State Examinations Commission will issue updates regarding the impact of school closure on the oral and practical examinations.
  • The State Examinations Commission has asked us to advise schools that project work relating to the State exams should remain in the school as normal and not be taken home by students.
  • It is advised that all school facilities such as sports halls, swimming pools and playing pitches should be closed during the period of school closure.

DES – Revised information for schools, pre-schools and third level institutions on the Coronavirus

The Department of Education and Skills has updated information for schools, preschools and third level institutions on Covid-19; provided by the Department of Health and HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Public health doctors are available to liaise with schools and advise on precautions if staff and/or students have any concerns.

Anyone who has been too affected regions in the last 14 days and has a cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or fever should self-isolate and phone their GP immediately.

Anyone who has travelled from the affected regions and has no symptoms should visit http://www.hse.ie/ for advice.

The most important action we can take to protect ourselves from Covid-19 is regular hand-washing and good respiratory hygiene.

As further advice or information is provided, it will be issued to schools and posted on the Department’s website.

Travel advice for all Irish citizens is provided through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Note – The Covid-19 affected regions are listed as mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Iran and the following regions of northern Italy – Lombardy, Veneto Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont.

The PDFs linked to here should be read to include the latest affected regions in northern Italy (Lombardy, Veneto Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont) and elsewhere as noted above. These PDFs will be updated accordingly as soon as possible.

Advice to schools and preschools

Advice to third level institutions

Further Information:

https://www.hpsc.ie/