Tuesday 17th March 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
Thank you for your ongoing support. Further to the letter we sent parents this morning, we are now able to share the information below. This information is based on what we know at the present time and the various discussions and meetings that have taken place within school and further afield. This letter is quite long because I want to answer all the questions that parents and carers may have and I want to share as much information as I can – this approach will, I hope, remove as much worry and speculation as possible.
How can I best help my family, the school and our community?
Please do this by following good personal and household hygiene practices and the guidance from the NHS – sent to parents this morning and again provided to parents and carers at the end of this letter.
Will the school contact parents/carers if it has concerns about the health of their child?
Yes, we will contact parents/carers if we have concerns about the health of their child. We will send children home if we think they have met the criteria for self-isolation. We will do this because we will apply the guidance from the NHS and Public Health England (PHE) and because it is part of our work to care for all our children.
If parents and carers contact the school before a school day has begun and ask the school to make a decision if a child should come into school or not then it places school staff in an impossible position. School staff cannot see the child and their symptoms. All school staff can do is talk through the guidance from the NHS.
Will children who have to isolate have home learning set for them?
At the present time teachers and learning support staff are focusing their time and energy on teaching children who are in school, the vast majority of our children. In line with the Local Authority guidance, work will only be set by teachers if there is a directed closure. However, when needing to be isolated at home, children can read, access Twinkl and other online learning resources. We will be providing extra ideas and suggestions and will load them onto Dojo for everyone.
Will school continue to stay open?
Central and local government continue to want schools to remain open. Every member of staff in our school remains committed to the good of all the children in our school.
The decision to stay open or not is one that can be seen from both sides of view. It can be argued that closing schools reduces the risk of infection. However, at the present time the benefits of staying open are, on balance, greater. These benefits include:
The decision for schools in general, and for individual schools, is one that will be constantly reviewed. We will tell parents as soon as possible if a decision is made to close the school.
Does the school have the necessary soap, cleaning products etc?
Yes, school does have enough soap, cleaning products and so on. We have a good supplier and keep stock and need under constant review.
Will staffing absences impact on the school?
Yes, all staff provide a valuable contribution to the smooth and efficient running of the school. Any staff absence, at any time, has an impact on the school. Usually this impact can be mitigated by using internal cover and external (agency) cover. However, we are in a period of time when staff absence will be much greater because of household isolation. It is also a period of time when there is a much higher than normal demand for cover/supply/agency staff.
How will school cover classes when staff are absent?
The absences of staff are, to some extent, mitigated by having less children in school than is usual – lower numbers of children require lower numbers of staff to teach them and keep them safe. We will approach planning for class based staff absences in the way outlined below:
Planning for other sectors of the staff is similar.
What happens if there is not the necessary staffing to safely teach one or more classes?
We will always endeavour to inform parents and carers the day before we close a class. Parents and carers will be informed by Dojo and the message will say for how long the class will be closed. If a class is closed then the children in that class will not come to school for the period of the closure. We will keep the period of closure to a minimum. If it is for any significant length of time we will contact parents and carers with home learning that children will need to undertake at home.
What happens if the school closes?
As I have said above, this is not something we are doing at the present time. Nevertheless, with the situation moving so quickly it is a possibility that we must consider and that parents and carers will understandably have questions about.
IF we close we expect it will be for one of three reasons:
Home learning would probably not be set on the first day of any school closure. This is because teachers need time to prepare it – if children are to do home learning because of a school closure then it has to be meaningful and useful. The length of time of any closure will influence how much home learning is set and how often it is set. All children would be expected to complete all the home learning they are given.
Each of the above scenarios are different. To go into all the details for all three scenarios is not possible but I hope the above summary is helpful.
This is a difficult and worrying time for all and one which puts additional pressures on all staff in school. We are responding to new advice and events every day. Our response and plans are firmer in the short term and have more flexibility built into them for the longer term. All our plans have the care and welfare of our children, their families and our community and our staff as the highest priority.
Mrs F Reid