Covid-19 Parent/Carer Update - 2nd October
I am writing to provision you with an update on where we have reached after the first full month in school.
I need to start with a thank you. The level of community cooperation, both inside and outside school, has been very high. The students have, by and large, adapted extremely well to the new rules and procedures. There is still a very positive atmosphere in school and a high level of maturity from the students.
We have also engaged in many conversations with parents and carers about potentially symptomatic students. I appreciate that the message this year is different to previous years and we are asking families to be more cautious and stay at home if a child is symptomatic (continuous cough, high temperature or loss of sense of smell/taste). The frustrations with the delays in testing have made that more difficult, but we continue to work together to resolve the problems that we face.
A large number of schools across Somerset have now had a positive coronavirus case confirmed. In almost every instance, the public health advice has been that the year group of that student have all been asked to isolate for 14 days. We have been very fortunate that this has not happened at The Blue and we have used the opportunity to talk to those schools and learn from their experience. You will see below an update on our planning to help you think ahead.
Wet/cold weather & coats
We have enjoyed a good period of dry and fine weather so far this term, but that appears to be changing. The public health advice remains to try to keep classrooms as well ventilated as possible. That will mean keeping doors and windows open for as long as is reasonable, either during the transition between classes or during the lesson itself.
There may be circumstances over the coming weeks and months when it is appropriate to allow students to wear coats inside classrooms in order to keep that ventilation at a good level and keep everyone safe. That will be at the teacher’s discretion in that classroom and students should not assume that it will apply to every classroom. The temperature, for example, of those classrooms on the ground and upper floors can vary quite significantly.
For the avoidance of doubt, the policy will be applied as follows:
- When an individual teacher allows it, if the room is cold students will be allowed to wear external coats inside classrooms for the duration of that lesson.
- Hoodies and non-school uniform jumpers are not allowed and students will be asked to remove them. They will be confiscated where a student repeatedly offends this rule.
- As the weather gets colder, students are encouraged to wear a plain, white t-shirt or vest under their school shirt to help stay warm.
If there are financial issues with purchasing an appropriate coat for your child, then please approach the school and we will see what support we are able to give.
Contingency planning in the event of a positive case
As mentioned above, a number of Somerset schools have had a positive case of coronavirus. In light of their experiences, if that were to happen at our school, then we would operate as follows:
- We will inform all parents/carers of that year group as quickly as possible with instructions on whether they need to isolate and, if so, the duration of that isolation.
- There may be circumstances where we ask students to be collected during the school day, but if that proves impossible, we have planned for continuing supervision of them inside school as long as is necessary.
- During an isolation, student work will be set using google classroom. On Day 1, students will be asked to complete any homework that they have outstanding and to confirm that all of the IT arrangements are in place. Other schools have reported that parents have found this day helpful to help establish a new routine at home.
- From Day 2 onwards of any group isolation, live lessons will be delivered online to students. There will be five lessons per day, as per their normal timetable, at the times of their current timetable. They will be slightly shorter at 50 minutes each in order to allow for the teacher and student transitions that will need to take place. Full details of all of the timings will be sent out to you.
- We still have a number of students for whom we do not have permission to run a live lesson. A link to the permission form was sent out again this week (and is also available on the school website in the ‘Letters Home’ section) and I would encourage all parents and carers to sign their students up so that we can maintain the educational provision.
We continue to hope that our additional measures keep the virus away from our school, but we trust that sharing our planning will put us all in a better position should that scenario arise.
I have had a few concerning emails from members of the public about the lack of face coverings used by students on transport. Please could I urge all parents and carers to impress upon students the need to consider the health of others on their buses and wear face coverings. This is particularly so on public buses where it is a legal requirement, enforceable with a fine.
The ‘rule of six’
We have also received messages about groups larger than 6 outside of school. I appreciate that students do not have to follow that rule inside school and that makes it harder for some students to understand the distinction. However, the government message is moving away from persuasion and toward enforcement with the introduction of fines for those that do not comply. It is important that we all help students to understand this.
We are looking to enhance an external area of the school site so that students have an outside space that they can use during the winter. If there is a member of the parent/carer body who has experience and is able to offer us some time to look at possible design ideas, this would be very much appreciated. If you are able to help then please contact Jo Stitch on this email address: email@example.com.
I hope that you and your families continue to stay safe and well, and that you all enjoy a lovely weekend.
Mark Woodlock, Headteacher