MASKS: Principal Sean Coffey says students may have to wear masks when returning to The Sem. Photo: Michelle Cooper Galvin

By Michelle Crean

Masks may become a whole new look at one Killarney secondary school as staff look at ways to safely return students and staff to classrooms.

Principal of St Brendan’s College, Sean Coffey, this week told the Killarney Advertiser that he’s currently working through the guidelines and is looking at ways to ensure one metre distancing can be maintained in the school for the 760 students and 85 staff.

“The emphasis is to get the schools reopened,” Sean said. “We’re planning a staggered return for the students and are currently finalising dates. In terms of the one metre distancing we’re currently looking at the school building and how we can reconfigure it. A lot of those rooms are small.”

He explained that using the bigger spaces such as the hall for classes will have an impact on the students social gathering areas.

“We’re looking at masks or visors for staff and students as a last gasp if no other solution is possible.”

Other changes coming down the line include parents making appointments and not dropping in, sanitisation at entry and exit points outside each classroom, the upgrading to sensor taps in the bathrooms to minimise touch in staff and student facilities.

“We’re looking at lockers, social gathering of staff in the staff room bringing that down to 10, the bathrooms will have to be monitored with a tracing list.

“This will all have to be done in four weeks,” Sean said. “But the overall aim is to make it work.”

What teaching staff have really leaned in recent months is the importance of face to face contact.

Well-being will be a central focus for all staff and students, he added.

“We’ll find solutions. The time is right and reopening is a priority.”