Coronavirus/Covid 19 update Tuesday 3 June, 2020
Welcome back to the final half term of a tumultuous year.
I hope you were able to enjoy some time ‘off’ with your families over the break, but I’m sure that you were, like me, deeply saddened and angered by the murder of George Floyd on May 25. We are trying our best as a school to be not just a non-racist but an anti-racist organisation, and I was moved by the words of Michelle Obama, who wrote in response that it’s up to all of us to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting out racism: “It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets”. I recognise that I personally have a lot to learn about other members of our community’s experiences of racism, but we are very keen as a school to support our community, and so I have asked Ms Gray, our SMSC Leader, to help students to explore the issue in greater depth and to consider how they might respond in a way that might help to bring about the change that is desperately needed. Further details are being communicated with students during the live tutor time today.
In terms of the usual business of the school, we will not be able to fill this half term with trips, expeditions and events as usually happens, but we will, as ever, work hard to make it as interesting and productive for our students. The Inset Day just before half term was very valuable in this regard as staff developed their skills in providing the best possible remote on-line learning.
As you are probably aware the DfE Guidance on the wider re-opening of secondary schools was issued on Bank Holiday Monday.
The key details are as follows:
- Vulnerable students and the children of critical workers in all year groups should still be encouraged to attend in-school provision full-time.
- Year 10 and 12 students can be invited into school FROM the 15 June for some ‘face-to-face support with their teachers’, but schools are allowed to have no more than a quarter of the Year 10 and Year 12 cohort in school at any one time. Given that we already have a number of Year 10 and 12 students on site due to bullet point one above, this means we could probably invite no more than 30 extra Year 10s and 30 extra Year 12s into school at any one time.
- Secondary schools should offer this face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of Year 10 and Year 12 pupils, which should remain the predominant mode of education during this term for pupils in these year groups.
- Where rotas are used, secondary schools should avoid split day rotas within the same day and ensure that only a quarter of Year 10 and 12 students are ever in the school on any one day.
- As previously stated, we are not allowed to invite students in Years 7 to 9 into school before the summer holiday and so they should continue to learn remotely.
- Secondary schools have been asked to advise parents that any student coming into school should, if possible, walk or cycle and should try not to use public transport. See here for further information.
The government is clearly cautious about secondary students returning to school, and, as you will see, has created a complicated situation for us. Given that most of our students (even in Years 10 and 12) will still be learning at home for most of the time, we need to ensure that our remote offer is as strong as possible whilst exploring the options for face-to-face time for our Year 10 and 12 students. We are currently discussing what this might look like and when it might start, and we will be in contact when we have further details, but rest assured that, whatever we do, the health and safety of staff, students and their families will be the most important factor.
In this regard we will be guided by what is called the ‘Official Hierarchy of Controls’:
- Controlling the transmission of the disease: minimising contact with children and adults who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school.
- Management and control through personal hygiene: cleaning hands more often than usual - wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use alcohol hand rub or sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered.
- Ensuring good respiratory hygiene: promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
- Enhanced cleaning regimes: cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as detergents and bleach.
- Minimising contact and mixing: altering, as much as possible, the environment (such as classroom layout) and timetables (such as staggered break times).
The school has undertaken a detailed risk assessment and a number of key changes have already been made in school to support us to meet the guidelines above.
In terms of the ongoing support for our students’ remote learning, please note the following:
- Ms Baker has produced a short Loom PowerPoint, providing further advice for students about how to best use the VLE, which can be accessed here (best accessed using Google Chrome). This supports the great advice from the Education Endowment Foundation in their short video and their suggested Planning Sheet on how students can best structure and plan their day.
- As previously stated, the school will continue to use the VLE until the end of the summer term as our main learning platform, but we will undertake a planned and careful transition to Microsoft Teams for the end of the summer term/ start of the new term in September. This is following extensive research and discussion led by Mr Pain, Deputy Headteacher about how we can best support students’ online learning long term. Further details will follow.
- As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we have refined our pastoral offer for this half term as follows:
- Daily, weekly, or twice-weekly phone calls for key students
- Fortnightly phone calls for all students
- Weekly assemblies for each year group
- Celebration and rewards assemblies (15-19 June)
- Weekly tutor emails and interactive tutor–time every Wednesday at 2pm (KS3/Y10)
- Weekly house quizzes/ competitions every Friday at 2pm (KS3/Y10)
- Quick responses from teachers to email enquiries from students
- Proactive support for student welfare and safeguarding
- Ongoing technological support for students as required, particularly in relation to laptops and internet connection. PLEASE CONTACT MR WILLIAMS IF YOU REQUIRE THIS SUPPORT- firstname.lastname@example.org.
Year 11 and Year 13 students will receive a phone call in the week 8 – 12 June to support them with their transition to the next phase of their education.
You will see from Point 5 above that, as our surveys suggest that Key Stage 3 students have had less opportunities for interactions with staff and peers, all students in Years 7, 8, and 9 will now have a weekly live Tutor Time and House Competition. All students have been invited by their tutors to join a Google Classroom group and these will run as below:
- Tutor Time - from 2pm on Wednesday
- House Quiz - from 2pm on Friday
Inevitably there will be some teething issues as we run these for the first time this week, so please do bear with us! If students do have issues connecting, please email email@example.com and their tutor. Year 10 students will also be invited to the House Quizzes, and we also intend to have a weekly remote Year 10 Tutor time at the same time but this will be dependent on the plans for the wider opening of the school.
We hope that you can see our ongoing commitment to your children, but also that you will recognise that this all requires a great deal of work by our staff, many of whom are still working at home in difficult circumstances, and so, to enable these calls for Year 7-13 students to happen next week we will ‘close’ early for a half day (i.e. no Period 4 or 5) on Thursday 11 June.
To further support staff training, preparation for the new school year in September and support for student welfare, we will also be closed for all students for an Inset Day on Monday 22 June as originally scheduled in the school diary, and we will add a further Inset Day, which will likely be on Friday 10 July (TBC). I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but we have concluded that the two Inset Days are required to support staff in these unprecedented circumstances to provide the very best education for our students both now and from September.
In addition, we recognise that this is still an uncertain time for our Year 11 and Year 13 students, and as well as the phone calls next week, please note that Ofqual has updated their Guidance for teachers, students, parents and carers and has also published an infographic on the process for awarding GCSEs, AS and A levels summer 2020 and an updated film for students.
Finally, please thank your children for completing the student survey, which we are currently analysing to see how we can improve our offer. Please also note that we will be reissuing the parent survey that we sent out before half term in order to see how you think things have progressed over the last few weeks.
Thank you, as ever, for your fantastic commitment and support for your children and the school, good luck over the next seven weeks to the end of term, and remember, as John Lennon wrote, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end”.
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).