Letter from Mr Fitzgerald Regarding Arrangements for September
Dear Parent / Guardian,
A week ago today the govt. issued some guidance on what regulations / expectations would be in force to govern how schools should open up to all students in September. This includes the concept of whole year groups being considered as one 'covid bubble' (little social distancing within bubbles but bubbles kept apart from other bubbles as much as possible).
Since that time we have been drafting, checking (and mostly rejecting) several models of how this might work for our somewhat unique situation (two separate schools on one school site).
I will attempt to explain below what form that will take for our schools and our children. Each student will of course receive their individual timetable in September.
(I will also be writing in a separate email to parents of children in Years 11 and 13 about the upcoming results days).
Our first priority now and always is the safety of our children and so we have looked at ways in which we can as much as possible...
Reduce the risk to children in the journey to and from school.
We have looked at models where the school day is staggered between year groups but have rejected them because our longer lesson times (which help reduce any risk due to movement around the school) mean some years would not finish school until 5 pm (hitting rush hour) and other groups would still be hitting rush hour on the way in. Given that we are served by several buses, train stations and DLR stations the travel danger for our students is not being crowded by eachother (as it is for schools with say only two bus routes serving them) - it is being crowded by the general public.
Instead (and until it becomes safe not to) we will begin school for all year groups at 9:30 am and finish around 3:40 pm (slightly staggered dismissal) so that our children are not using public transport during crowded rush hour times.
This will cause only a slight delay for those children picking up younger siblings from nearby primary schools.
Reduce the risk to children at points where they are entering and exiting school.
Happily we have more than one entrance our children can use. In the morning when children all arrive at different times this is less of an issue and our wide main gate does not cause crowding and is also where phones will be handed in (children can deposit the phone into their personal storage sleeve in the phone locker and collect it again at the end of the day without any other person needing to touch it at any point).
At the end of the day certain year groups will be directed to leave by other exits.
Reduce the risk to children at the times where they have to move around the school (including using the toilets).
Regular cleaning and disinfection will occur throughout the day of all surfaces such as stair rails. lift buttons, door handles etc and of course toilets too. Some toilets will be specifically for the use of certain year groups only (although we do not have enough separate toilets to allocate 1 per year group). all air hand dryers have been switched off as per guidance and paper towels will be available instead.
As much as possible the timetable ensures children are either going to the playground or back to a classroom with as little 'sideways' movement between classrooms as possible (so that they tend to be facing the same way - one way travel- rather than moving towards each other face to face). The reduction in year groups taking breaks and lunch together (see below) will further reduce the number of children moving along corridors and staircases at any one time.
Reduce the risk to children during break and lunchtimes
Some year groups in the boys school will have break and lunch together.
Some year groups in the girls school will have break and lunch together
At no time will all children in either school be on the playground at the same time.
Some children may be asked to line up at the end of their break or lunch to enable their return to lessons to be staggered slightly as well.
Reduce the risk to children during lessons.
Hand washing facilities will be increased and hand sanitiser will be available in all classrooms for children to use before beginning their lesson. Classrooms will be rearranged so that all children are facing forwards rather than facing inwards towards each other in group settings. All possible ventilation such as opening windows and doors will be used to increase air flow but of course all air conditioning has been turned off. All children must bring their own pens and equipment as it is no longer considered safe to lend out or to share equipment between children.
Reducing the risk of infected persons coming into school.
Govt. guidance says schools are not to temperature scan children from September and that school staff are not required to wear PPE.
We will temperature scan all visitors to the school as a routine practice and send home any member of staff or child who appears to be unwell / displaying relevant symptoms.
However we rely on parents and our families to behave sensibly and to protect their own children and other people's children by keeping their child at home if unwell, carrying out tests for Covid 19 and or self isolating if that is appropriate following current govt. advice.
In general terms now - we all have to do our best to ensure that school can remain open and our children can remain in their classrooms, with their teachers for as long possible without any need for a further lockdown of any kind, even a partial one.
There will of course be new rules in place to help us keep everyone safe and I know that our children will want to follow them and do the right thing.
Please encourage them to do so and please understand that if any child does behave in a way that reduces the safety of others we will have to send them home in order to keep others safe.
This has been a very challenging time for teachers, parents and children and I have nothing but thanks and praise for the way that all have responded to these challenges and made things work as well as they could.
I look forward very much to welcoming all our children back (in full school uniform) on the dates below (please see letter coming soon re specific calendar dates for next year etc).
Start of term / induction Friday 4th September
Yrs 7,8,9 - 9:30 am
Yrs 10,11 and 6th form 10am
(Normal school day from Mon 7th September at 9:30 am for all year groups).
Until then do please keep safe and keep well.