I hope that you are well and that you are enjoyed your Easter break? I hope that you have had a chance in the recent sunny days to recharge and refocus for our last school term ahead. I know many of your families have members working tirelessly on frontline services to keep our communities safe and healthy. We are so grateful for their commitment and courage.
You too are playing your part; you are staying home and staying safe. That personal sacrifice is not underestimated. You should be very proud of the way you have upheld your civic duty at this time of national emergency. Please continue to listen to your parents and listen to the common sense advice from those who are trying to protect us all.
Our school will remain closed until at least the 5th May, possibly longer, depending on the advice from the HSE and the Chief Medical Officer. (See link to Minister for Education’s Announcement, 10th April, 2020 below).
We know from feedback from our staff and interactions with students, that students and teachers miss school-life and attending classes. We miss the wonderful chatter and the determined pace of our students on the corridors and in the classrooms of HFSS. The past few weeks have presented many challenges, but the resolve of our students, staff and parents to engage in this steep learning curve in working from home is truly admirable. Everyone in the school community has embraced the new term called ‘Distance Learning’ in an effort to fulfil a continuity of learning. We have listened carefully to feedback from students’ focus group and staff prior to Easter. We want to ensure that we focus our efforts for the next six weeks on teaching, learning and the provision of effective feedback to students.
Special focus has been placed on the Leaving Certificate State Examinations which the Minister for Education confirmed have been postponed and may now take place in late July or August.
Information on exam and assessment schedules, including the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme is available on the website of the State Examinations Commission: https://www.examinations.ie/misc-doc/BI-SE-67826275.pdf
For the rest of our year groups, we know now that you have to put the very best of our learning energies and attention into your remote schoolwork for the rest of the school year. You have already worked so very well and put in huge effort to take responsibility for your learning. This is exactly what is expected of you and keep up this excellent work. You have demonstrated to your teachers that you are marvellous HFSS students. A summer report will go home commenting on how you engaged with your assignments and work during this remote school time so it is very important to keep on top of all of your work.
You are expected to log in and attend online school with your teachers on TEAMS for the next six weeks. You need to follow the normal school timetable and keep in touch with your teachers in order to progress your learning. Finish out your studies with a strong effort and do your very best. Please keep in touch with teachers and your Year Head if there are any issues with keeping up with school work. We are here to support you.
For our 3rd years, we know how much you have invested in preparing for your Junior Cycle/Certificate exams and that it may seem as if that work preparing for state exams will not be recognised. Let me assure you that will not be the case, your work is valuable and important. We do know that these exams are cancelled in June but the Department of Education is looking at how to assess your learning so you need to complete your curriculum with confidence and in its entirety.
All HFSS students have an opportunity now to cover significant groundwork that will carry you forward to your studies next year. Don’t waste the opportunity now. Invest in your learning, be mature enough to know that all learning empowers you and strengthens you from year to year. We will catch up, but you need to focus on achieving your personal best. We trust in your good judgement.
I would urge you all to block out that unnecessary and pointless speculation about school ‘what-ifs’. It serves absolutely no purpose and will only distract you and cause you to worry more. Focus on the facts, not the escalating associated drama, it is pointless negative energy and you deserve better than all of that hype. The Department of Education will determine the final outcomes, focus only on factual decisions from trustworthy sources. None of us can control those uncertainties. All secondary school students in the country are in exactly the same situation. Let’s focus on what we can control.
What can you do to empower yourself?
Most importantly, stay well in yourself. I want to lean on the words of John Greenleaf Whittier in the poem ‘Don’t Quit’, the wordsmith poet sums up the courage to believe in yourself and trust in yourself, don’t give up. Remember, that this will pass and we will be in our lovely school together in happier times.
With kindest regards, stay well and stay safe.
Don’t Quit by John Greenleaf Whittier
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit
DES Statement 10th April 2020 https://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2020-press-releases/PR20-0410.html