Letter April 30th re: End of Year Arrangements

30th April 2020. 

 Dear Parents/Guardians, 

I hope this letter finds you and your families keeping healthy and well. 

Firstly, I want to congratulate, acknowledge and thank all the teachers, students and their  parents/guardians  for their stoic, creative and resilient efforts to keep teaching and  learning to the forefront since the College closed on March 12th. It seems so long ago now as we have made every effort to get used to this new norm. 

With the recent announcements from the Minister for Education and Skills I want to clarify with you our plans for the last term of this unprecedented school year. 

On the last day of April we now have just under five weeks remaining in the traditional school year. I know there has been a huge amount of uncertainty as to what is going to happen moving forward especially for the 3rd and 6th years so I would like to outline below our arrangements and plans for every year group.  

Sixth Years; 

As you are probably aware, the Minister for Education, confirmed that the Leaving Certificate will begin on Wednesday 29th July. Details about the format and timetables for the exams will be confirmed in the first week of June. This does bring some small certainty to the situation and we will await details in early June to see how this will all work. At least we now have a date. 

In the meantime, I hope all your sons are coping and staying healthy and not getting too stressed with all that is going on. We are all fully behind your sons and the teachers will continue online classes for the remainder of this term. We are trying to concentrate on this term for the present time. We will work out plans for the summer as we get more details. The students should stay engaged with their teachers and if they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed; please let one of us know. 

We understand  that the strong feeling from the sixth years, parents and staff is that the Graduation Mass, Prize Night and Leavetaking Day should be held at a later date in a traditional manner which truly celebrates your sons time in Oatlands College. We are looking at marking your son's graduation in a digital way, but we will hold an actual ceremony when it is safe to do so. We are working on marking the graduation in some manner before the end of this term but it will not replace the actual graduation celebrations. Please be patient re this issue, you have my word we will mark the 6th years time in Oatlands College when we are able to. This is a unique situation and it has thrown up many challenges. We have asked the boys to try to stay positive, pace themselves and to use the extra time to their advantage to maximise their potential. 

Third Years; 

I know this has been a very uncertain time for your son and for yourselves as well as the teaching staff. Well done to the boys for continuing to engage with the online classes and the work set by their teachers even when there were so many rumours and false information being posted. 

Thankfully, we received clarification yesterday from the Minister and now we can put the plans we have been making  re Junior Cycle Assessment in place. All subject departments have decided that there will be some form of final assessment whether it is a series of assignments each forming a part of a final grade, a set exam in the traditional sense or a combination of both. The grade awarded will also take into consideration an average of work completed throughout the last three years by the current Third Years. It is very important that the boys see this as an opportunity to improve on their averages to date. Third Years are asked to stay engaged with their teachers, attend online classes, complete work set, engage with the final assessments and to put in a final push up to the completion of their Junior Certificate 29th of May. 

 First, Second, TY and 5th Years; 

 Classes for all years except the 6th Years will end on Friday 15th May. This will give us a 10 school day period to allow for end of year examinations and assessments to take place for all other year groups. It will also give the students a greater opportunity for revision, access to devices, time for completion of final assessments etc. 

During these two weeks some classes may continue to be held particularly for Third Years. Your son's teachers will let him know if this will be happening. 

We will be working on a timetable for the exams that will be held on the last week of term and we will send it to you as soon as it is ready. 

As these are far from normal circumstances, we will be assessing your son's year’s work in the following way: 

 -the exam/assessment he does in the final weeks, or  

- the work he has done throughout the year, including how well he has engaged with online classes since March 12th and the College closure. 

 We will be very fair with the boys in these assessments. We do understand that everyone's situation is different and that families are encountering many challenges. We do want to acknowledge the great work most of the students have done throughout the year. We are so impressed with how well they have done during the past number of weeks in particular. 

We will forward more details about the exams and assessments that will take place during the last week of term. This will involve timetable information and types of exam/ assessment that will take place. 

For the Parents/Guardians; 

We appreciate that sometimes the availability of devices in households are limited and it is not always possible for your son to engage at the specific class time. We would however ask that where possible, queries to teachers take place during the hours of the school day. Please encourage your son to stay engaged with the classes for the next number of weeks. I do know this has been very tough for your son, your teachers and for parents.This a bank holiday weekend, and it means that everyone will get a good break and be back in class on Tuesday 5th. 

I hope you are all safe and well. I want to thank you all for your support and patience throughout this whole, chaotic experience. 

I will update you with more details next week.

Kind regards and stay safe. 

Caroline Garrett.