The time has now come for us to return to school full time, which means that we can start to deliver lessons to classes of 30 pupils once again. Remote learning worked, to a certain extent, but it is unable to replicate the classroom experience for pupils.
In order for the school to reopen, we have had to make some changes to the way the school functions. This largely revolves around keeping year groups separate from each other and ensuring high levels of personal hygiene. This means that the school will be zoned, so that each year group has a particular part of the school and there will be separate breaks and lunchtimes for pupils. Clearly this is not a long term solution, as it limits pupils’ access to specialist facilities such as science laboratories and practical lessons such as drama and some PE spaces. It is for this reason that this is only as a temporary measure to reintegrate pupils back into school. In addition to this, all pupils will be required to regularly wash their hands and make use of the sanitiser available in school. Please send your child to school with their own hand sanitiser and a packet of tissues to ensure pupils continue to follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ mantra.
As a school we will continue to have our robust Covid-19 Risk Assessment, which outlines what steps we will take if there is a suspected or confirmed case in the school. This has been reviewed and updated ready for the return to school in September.
There are some key messages that we would like you to share with your child which centre around routines, attendance and timekeeping, and personal hygiene.
Routines – it is clear that pupils, quite rightly, have very different routines at home to that of school. However, as they have not been in school since March it is important that this message is reiterated to them. Children adapt very quickly to new situations, as we saw when we moved to our new school building in 2018. However, this will require the support of parents, guardians and carers, particularly if the school has to issue consequences to ensure pupils are meeting our expectations.
Attendance and timekeeping – all pupils are expected to return to school according to the above dates, except in the very small number of cases where there is a significant medical reason why they cannot. In this case, we will expect to see written confirmation of this from a doctor. The timings of the school day will be slightly different to normal, which may mean that siblings in different year groups start and end at different times. For 80% of our pupils, this should not present a problem as they live within walking distance of the school.
On arrival to school, pupils must go to their form room, as outlined on their timetable and Arbor. The pupil entrance gate will be open for 10 minutes at 8.20am and 9.10am every morning. Any pupils who are late to school will be expected to sign in at Reception and then make up the time they have missed at the end of the school day.
In order for the school to function safely it is important that pupils are punctual to school in the morning and to lessons after break and lunch. Different year groups will have different start and end times, at least for the first few weeks, but they will also have different breaks and lunches. While pupils will not be moving around the school as much, they will be expected to move between classrooms in their zones and therefore must be on time to all lessons.
For clarification, these are the start and end times of the school day for each year group:
Year 7: 8.30am to 3.25pm
Year 8: 8.30am to 3.25pm
Year 9: 8.30am to 3.25pm
Year 10: 9.20am to 4.15pm
Year 11: 9.20am to 4.15pm
Year 12: Only expected to attend school when they have lessons (but must remain in school in between their first and last lessons)
Year 13: Only expected to attend school when they have lessons (but must remain in school in between their first and last lessons)
Personal hygiene – we are all aware that the virus has not completely gone away and we all need to be playing our part in reducing the risk. Therefore it is important that you discuss personal hygiene, reducing contacts and maintaining distance with your child before they return to school. We continue to follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ advice issued. Unfortunately we are not able to freely mix as we were prior to the pandemic, and therefore continuing to reduce the contact you have with others is another important message. As a school we are keeping pupils separated by year group, as opposed to having them move freely around the school. Finally, adults are still required to maintain a two metre distance from one another, where possible. While this might not be the case for young people, it is something that we should actively be promoting when young people come into contact with adults.
Face coverings – Having considered the guidance provided, we have decided that the use of face coverings in communal areas of the school is optional for pupils, but recommended. We have put in place a system of controls including washing of hands more regularly, staggering the start and end of the school day and zoning the school to reduce the movement of pupils, which also helps to manage the risk in school. However, we feel that this is an additional precaution that can be taken by pupils and staff to further reduce the risk in school. Read more in the letter Mr Booth sent on 28th August here.