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St. Patrick's Primary School, Pennyburn, Derry City

Starting Back to school

25th Aug 2021

St Patrick’s Primary School


Starting Back to School


Dear Parents/Guardians,

I hope you and your families have had a lovely summer break. We are really looking forward to welcoming your children back to St Patrick’s for the start of another school year. We have put this information together to answer the many questions that you may have regarding your child’s return to school. I hope that this helps.

Following the most recent Covid19 guidance from the Department of Education, which was issued to schools on Wednesday 18th August 2021, we have now drawn up our plans for children returning to school after the summer holidays.

Here is a summary of our plans:

  • P2-P7 classes will return to school on Wednesday 1st September.
  • P1 classes will have a phased start to school (parents will have been notified of their child’s starting date)
  • Protective Bubble system will be in operation during the school day
  • Staggered starting times for start and end of each day
  • Staggered break and lunch times
  • School meals / packed lunches will be provided in classrooms
  • There will be no breakfast club until further notice.

This plan will be kept under constant review and may change following further guidance from the Department of Education.

Protective Bubbles:

As schools are required to provide the Public Health Agency with contact tracing information whenever there is a positive case of Covid19 within the school and to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus, it has been agreed to continue with our protective bubbles during the school day. This means that children will remain within a consistent group of children throughout the school day.

Staggered Starting and Finishing Times:

In order to reduce the numbers of people on the school grounds and at the school gates at any one time we have decided to stagger the starting and finishing times.

P1 and P2 start at 9.00 and finish at 2.15

P3 start at 9.00 and finish at 2.30

P4 and P7 start at 8.45 and finish at 2.30

P5 and P6 start at 9.00 and finish at 2.45

Please remember that P1 children will start at 9.00 and finish at 2.15 from October onwards. Teachers will remind you of this.

Brothers and sisters will be accommodated to allow for a one family pick up but parents must inform the school beforehand.


Suspected case of COVID-19:


Should a child present with any of the following three symptoms, they will be removed from their class bubble and taken directly to the designated isolation room where they will be supervised until a parent collects them. The three symptoms are:

  • Elevated temperature
  • New and continuous cough
  • Change in taste/smell

Parents will be advised to take child for a PCR test and to self-isolate until the results are received. If the test is negative the child can return to school but if it is positive the child will have to self-isolate for 10 days in accordance with advice from the Public Health Agency.


Any child who is displaying any symptoms of Covid19 must stay at home and parents will be advised to take the child for a PCR test.


Equipment Required:

All children will be required to bring a lunch box if they are not having a school meal. They will also need a coat and a water bottle if required. P3-P7 children will be allowed to bring in a school bag which can be easily wiped down at home each day before school commences. P1 and P2 children will not require school bags for the month of September. These teachers will inform parents what is required as the year progresses.


P1 and P2 children will only require trainers for PE and the teachers will inform parents of the days when PE is on. P3-P7 children will wear sportswear and trainers. These children will be allowed to wear their PE gear into school on the required days to avoid the need to change. The PE gear for P3-P7 children should consist of a plain t-shirt (no football tops) and navy/black bottoms and trainers.

Arrival at School:

The children will go to their designated pick up point on their playground. This will be clearly signposted with the teacher’s name at the start of the year until parents and children become familiar with the arrangements. Children should form a line at each designated pick up spot. We would also ask parents of P5-P7 children to allow them to come on to the school site unaccompanied after they become confident of where to go first thing. This would greatly reduce the number of adults on our school site at the start of school. Parents leaving younger children to their pick up point should maintain social distancing of 2m between adults and should wear a face mask. Members of school staff will be available to supervise the children until they are picked up by their teachers. Please try to stick closely to the starting times for your child/children. Once children have been picked up by school staff, parents should leave the school grounds immediately.

Home Time:

Our new P1 children will be phased into school during the month of September after which their school day will end at 2.15. Parents of P1-P4 children should come to the designated pick up spots to collect their children adhering to the 2m social distancing while waiting for their child. Once they have collected their child, parents should leave the school grounds immediately. Again we would ask parents to wear masks while on the school site. P5-P7 children are allowed to leave the school site unaccompanied to meet up with their parents outside the school gate.

Paying for School Meals:

In order to minimise the risk of viral infection through handling of money we would ask parents to put the exact amount of money to pay for school meals (£2.60) in a sealed envelope with the amount of money clearly marked on the envelope. The school will not be able to give change to the children. If you need to apply for Free School Meals, you can use this link:

School Priorities for the New Term:

  • To secure the safe return of all pupils and staff.
  • To continue to put mitigating measures in place to minimise the spread of Covid19.
  • To ensure pupils and staff have good emotional health and well-being.
  • To support pupils to be motivated to learn and engage in their learning.
  • To re-engage children in their learning at a point which takes into consideration the gaps in learning that may have developed due to school closures over the past two academic years.

Our Request:

We would ask parents to support us with our plans for a safe school return for everyone. Please be patient with us at this very busy and challenging time and be re-assured that we will do the very best for your child/children as they return to school.

Continue to check the NI App/School Website/School Facebook page/School Twitter for updates throughout the year.