Covid-19 Parent/Carer Update 11th September
Friday 11th September 2020
Coronavirus (Covid-19) - Update for Parents/Carers
I thought it would be appropriate to write to you at the end of this first full week in school as many of you will be wondering how it has gone. Of course, I am aware that you will have heard stories from your own children, but I hope that I can give some flavour of what the new school year has meant to us this week.
I should start by commending the students. Attendance has been very high and I take that as a sign of confidence in the preparations that have been made. The students have been positive and happy to be back in a place that, despite the adaptations, clearly feels comfortable to them.
There has been a very high degree of conformity with two important steps. Almost every student is washing their hands when they arrive in school and that helps to establish a good base layer at the start of the day. When that is followed by sanitising hands in class it brings a good degree of confidence. In addition, students are following the one-way system, with the occasional understandable lapse. That has really helped to reduce congestion in certain corridors that we know have been problematic. We still have a small number of areas where we think that we may need to adjust how we work, but that was to be expected.
The classroom atmosphere has been terrific. It is easy to believe that we could have returned to a stilted environment where students were afraid to contribute, but that has not been the case at all. There is a positivity and maturity about the way that the students have behaved that has been noticeably present. I should add that the new Year 7 students have had an excellent start, building a good reputation for themselves already and it is lovely to see so many students back in Year 12 after the disruption that they faced in the last school year.
I have just a few areas to pick up on from questions that we have received:
School transport/face coverings
Face coverings are strongly advised on all school transport and are compulsory on public transport. I have received reports from parents about students not wearing coverings on the school buses. I would urge parents to talk to their children about this issue and how the wearing of coverings is about helping others. The bus driver will not be in a position to enforce and therefore we need to persuade the young people of the importance of doing this. Any support you can give would be greatly appreciated and I have raised the issue about the status of school transport with both Somerset County Council and our MP.
Thank you for your help in moving us toward the use of the epraise app to order food in school. It was a bumpy ride over the first few days, but we have made substantial progress this week in ensuring every student receives their order very quickly. This has almost eliminated most queues in our canteens and that was a key aim.
My main message to parents is that we have always kept food in reserve in every hall and so, if a student does not receive their order or something happens with their device, food is still available. We have passed that message to the students, but it is important that you are aware.
Free School Meals
We are very much aware of the changing and difficult economic and employment situation. If your circumstances change, please do let us know so that we can help you apply for free school meals if that is appropriate or seek other help.
The ‘rule of six’
You will have seen the well-publicised change in the law that comes into effect next week. This applies in all circumstances, but is arguably more likely to affect older students and their social gatherings. As we approach the time when students turn 16 or 18 and are tempted to arrange parties, be aware that the police are under instruction to break these up if they exceed 6 people and fine where appropriate. We know that will be frustrating, but it is the law from next week.
A number of students have already had to obtain tests for coronavirus because they have shown symptoms. I am aware that obtaining a test has been difficult online and we have put pressure locally and nationally for this to be resolved. A reminder that if your child is symptomatic, and that means a high temperature, a continuous cough and/or a loss of sense of smell/taste, they should stay at home, request a test and your household should self-isolate for 14 days or until you receive a negative test result.
We have a new website which is due to go ‘live’ next week. The address will remain the same (www.theblueschoolwells.co.uk) but we hope the more modern format will make the site easier and more enjoyable to navigate via different media platforms.
Like the rest of the staff here, I have really enjoyed being amongst the students again. They are an immensely impressive group of young people and have adapted and changed as circumstances have dictated. There is still the same laughter, jokes and smiles that I associate with normal school life, the vibrancy that comes with just being together. If I can leave you with that picture, then I hope that you can feel reassured by where we currently are.
I hope that you all have a lovely weekend.