Letter regarding the partial opening of the Senior School

14th May 2020

Letter regarding the partial opening of the Senior School

Dear Year 10 and Year 12 parents, 

I hope this letter finds you and your family well. 

You will no doubt be aware of the various government announcements this week relating to a phased re-opening of schools.  They have proposed that from the 1st June, subject to cases of Covid-19 continuing to decline: “secondary schools will work towards the possibility of providing some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of Year 10 and Year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year, alongside the full-time provision offered to vulnerable children and children of key workers.”

“this will not be a return to full timetables or pupils being at school or college full time, rather some support to supplement pupils’ remote education. In line with implementing protective measures and reducing contacts, schools and colleges should limit the attendance of the year 10 and 12 cohort in the setting at any one time and keep students in small groups”.

Schools have been asked to prepare a plan for reopening, each according to their local ‘best-fit’, and to firstly identify the likely numbers of pupils wishing to return. We would therefore like to ask you whether you would consider your child returning in some capacity from June 1st; an understanding of the demand in the Senior School will allow us to plan a safety conscious and effective provision, as far as is possible within the Government’s current and evolving directives for schools. 

We are in the fortunate position, compared to some schools, that our face-to-face engagement and learning has, to a large extent, continued uninterrupted; with attendance and engagement levels the same as before the closure of the site. Our priorities may therefore differ from other educational settings, where little teacher contact has been possible during lockdown. 

The Government guidelines for the phased re-opening of schools, mean any return has to adhere to a number of stipulations, in order to mitigate the risks:

• Pupils will not be able to be in groups of more than 15, and they will remain in their groups throughout the day, with one teacher in one room. They will be unable to mix with pupils in any other groups during the school day, even if there are other groups of pupils in the same Year, or pupils from the same family. This has obvious implications for teaching in the examination years were subject specialism is essential.

• Pupils will NOT wear school uniform, because the same clothing cannot be worn on consecutive days and pupil clothing will need to be thoroughly washed when children return to home at the end of every day.

• There will need to be staggered drop off and collection times, between the hours of 8.30am-4.45pm, for each group of pupils in order to avoid mixing between groups of pupils, staff and parents.

• Parents will be unable to enter the school buildings and should not gather in groups themselves. Different school entry and exit points will be implemented for different groups of pupils and parents.

• Packed lunches will be provided in the classrooms, as a shared dining space cannot be used.Staggered break and lunchtimes will be created, with zoned outdoor areas in order to avoid mixing between groups and the cross-contamination of outdoor spaces.

• All non-essential items will be removed from classrooms to aid the required daily deep clean process.

• Desks will be placed 2 metres apart.

• Pupils will be allocated the same desk within their group room.

• Pupils will be unable to share resources or stationery and individual pupil resources will be provided. Pupils should NOT bring in any items from home (this includes laptops) as the items cannot be suitably sanitised.

• The one staff member, one room, one group directive, coupled with the previous point, creates a difficulty in providing the online learning specialist teaching provision that is currently in place. Our in-school ICT capacity has been significantly reduced, as we have loaned a large number of devices to families, staff and pupils in order to facilitate the remote learning provision.

• It will not be possible to provide 1-to-1 Teaching Assistant intervention in school as the number of adults in each classroom space has to be limited to one.

• It is highly unlikely that it will be possible for school buses to be provided due to social distancing requirements stipulated for travel to and from school.

Whilst, as a school, we will aim to mitigate the risk of transmission and infection of the novel corona virus as much as possible, it must be acknowledged that the movement and gathering of groups of people does increase the risk, compared with staying at home. The guidelines to which we must adhere mean there have to be significant changes to the usual full time school day; specialist teaching; school environment and timetable. 

Should any pupils or staff develop symptoms compatible with coronavirus they will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. We have been promised that all staff and students who are attending an education setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms and will be encouraged to get tested in this scenario. Where the child or staff member tests negative they can return immediately to school and people in their household can end their self-isolation. Should the test return a positive result then the rest of the group of pupils and staff, with whom they have had contact, will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. 

The above is in line with current governmental advice, however, there appear to be complications and contradictions, which the teaching profession at large are currently reacting to. As a result, we are receiving daily updates to the advice, and will, of course, amend our position in light of these and inform you of any salient changes as soon as possible. 

Please could you contact the school using hsymons@stover.co.uk to let us know if you would like your child/children to attend school, in some capacity to support online learning, from June 1st or whether you would prefer to continue with virtual learning from home. 

All responses need to be received by Tuesday 19th May at midday, in order to allow us sufficient time to organise the required, health & safety, catering, staffing and timetabling measures. Any non-returns will be treated as a request for pupils not to attend. It is important that we understand how many pupils will be attending, as the educational provision will differ based on this number. 

If you would like further information some of the government documentation can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020 Alternatively, please e-mail me jstone@stover.co.uk or Mr Notman head@stover.co.uk, and we will do our best to clarify any issues. We look forward to receiving your response shortly. Best wishes and good health,

Jeremy Stone                                            Richard Notman
Deputy Head                                            Executive Headmaster

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