School re-opening plans update Tuesday 7 July, 2020
The government released their guidance about the full re-opening of all schools in September late last week, and we wanted to provide you with an update as we are certain that you will all be anxious to know what the school is doing in response.
The first thing to say is that we are really excited about the prospect of seeing all our students in school again and welcoming our new Year 7 and 12 students for the first time! We have tried our absolute best to provide a high-quality remote learning experience for students, but this is no substitute for them being in classrooms with their teachers. Everyone who works in our school believes in the power of education to change children’s lives for the better, and, quite simply, that can be better achieved in school.
However, the guidance is very dense, and at times complicated (the leader of the Headteachers’ Organisation called it ‘mindboggling’), so we are reading it carefully, considering different options and following the advice of the experts. As one educational leader put it, “This is an exercise in the balance of risk. It is important to balance the public health risks in the short term (related to the transmission of the virus) with longer term public health considerations. If a child loses out on education, this can have an impact on that child across their whole lives – their economic prosperity and long-term health.” Schools are being asked to implement sensible and proportionate control measures which follow the system of controls to reduce the risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level.
As outlined previously, this will mean that school feels a bit different for students and parents in September, with the possibility of staggered start and end times, staggered breaks and lunches and students kept in groups (‘bubbles’) ranging from the size of a class (roughly 30) to a year group (180). We will let you know as soon as we can about the more specific details, but rest assured that we will always put the best interests of your children first.
We would draw your attention to the government’s firm announcement that schooling will again be compulsory from September. Please ensure from September that you do not book holidays during term time, since we may be left with no alternative but to issue a fine (and make sure you don’t fall foul of quarantine rules following late summer holidays). However, we appreciate that some parents remain anxious about their children’s return to school. For this reason, we will be holding a special parent forum in the last week of term (exact date and time to be confirmed later this week, but it will probably take place towards the end of next week), and we are happy to have further communication before September with any parents who still have concerns.
As you know, we have not been allowed to bring KS3 students back into school for lessons, but we are inviting into school all KS3 students on the Thursday 16th July in order to meet with them face-to-face, review the year and support their pathway through to September. There will be provision for remote meetings if required, but we would love all students to come in where possible. Please see Ms Coleridge’s letter for further information.
Because of this and the previously announced Inset Day on Wednesday 15th in-school provision for children of key workers and vulnerable children will end on 14th July. Y10 and 12 lessons/meetings will continue to take place as scheduled. If this presents a problem for any parents, please contact the school. Mr Williams has sent an email to all parents and carers to highlight the opportunities available to support children and families in the local area during the summer holidays. Please take time to read it carefully as there are some great schemes available.
There is a great deal of planning to work through to prepare for September, but we are up for the challenge and we are so looking forward to seeing your children again in a safe, structured and secure environment. We recognise that the future may seem scary and uncertain to some of you, but as the Spanish poet Antonio Machado said: “There is no path; the path is made by walking”. As a school, we are very confident that we can create a bright pathway for your child from September.
Finally, on Thursday Ofqual published its consultation on the 2021 examination series. The consultation is open for two weeks from 2 July 2020 and ends on 16 July 2020. Online responses can be submitted here. This is particularly relevant to parents of Year 10 and 12 students.
The consultation includes proposals and questions on the following areas:
- adaptations to exams and assessments that could free up teaching time
- adaptations to exams and assessments to address obstacles that could be created by any public health safeguards
- sampling of subject content
- the use of more optional questions in exams
- changing the length of exams
- changing the exam timetable
Thank you as ever for your continued support and stay safe. I will write to you again when I am able to provide more details about September.
Updated Healthcare advice
The instruction in case of suspected Coronavirus infection is to call 111 if you have any of the following symptoms:
- high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms. 111 will tell you what to do and help you get a test if you need one.
If your symptoms are mild you must not to leave your home. This is called self-isolation.
- Anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for 7 days from when their symptoms started.
- Anyone who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days from when the first person in your home started having symptoms.
Read more about when to self-isolate and what to do.
In addition, in order to avoid catching or spreading Coronavirus:
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
If your child or any relative has an underlying health condition that makes them more vulnerable to Coronavirus, please contact the school.
Full advice on what to do if you are worried about you or a member of your family becoming ill from Coronavirus can be found on the NHS website www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
General advice, guidance and latest updates on Coronavirus can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Guidance for educational settings can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19.
The Department for Education has a helpline to answer questions about Coronavirus related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
- Phone: 0800 046 8687
- Email: DfE.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday).