We hope you are all well and have enjoyed a restful summer break where possible. As we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic and begin to reopen our schools, we are delighted to be welcoming back our school community in a safe and Covid secure way. This letter communicates our start of term arrangements for September 2020. We have been working closely with our partner schools across the GFM to revise our plan; so that children attend more sessions than previously communicated to you. This two week period will provide us with some additional capacity to establish social distancing, regular washing of hands and other new health and safety practices before all year groups return for five days a week on Monday 21st September.
When pupils arrive or leave the school site they must enter or leave through their designated entrance to the school site.
|Days in School
|Entrance/ Exit to school
|Stokes Bay Gate
*On the first day please arrive at 10:15
*On the first day please arrive at 10:30
|Stanley Park Gate
|Stanley Park Gate
*Sixth Form arrangements will be communicated separately.
From the w/b 21st all pupils will return to full time education, five days a week. Start times and entrances will be the same as in the table above.
Pupils’ first day will start with an ‘online’ pre-recorded assembly broadcast to tutor bases. This will give details of new systems in place including:
- The expectation that all pupils will wear a coloured lanyard at all times to indicate their ‘bubble’
- Details of break and lunch times. Pupils will socialise only with other students in their year group and within their ‘zone’ to avoid mixing. They will remain in their allocated zone, except to buy food.
- Details of how we will mitigate the risk of bubbles mixing, including zoning of the school site, minimising movement around the site, one-way systems around the school, including outside the buildings.
- Where possible how we will be using external doors to enter downstairs classrooms, keeping doors and windows open as much as possible to improve ventilation
- Our expectations around the use of hand sanitiser on entry and exit to lessons. In addition, we will also encourage pupils to bring in hand sanitiser for personal use during the day.
- Information about how plans will be used with much reduced pupil movement around classrooms which will limit the number of areas that will have to be cleaned between lessons.
- How pupils and staff will support good hygiene with a brief ‘clean down’ period of 5mins at the end of each lesson
- New arrangements to maintain ‘bubble’ separation and social distancing for any pupils in same day detentions or those working in the e-room
Anyone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, such as a raised temperature, a new persistent cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste, should stay at home.
The World Health Organisation published a statement on August 21st about children and face coverings. They now advise that “children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.”
In line with government guidance, in GFM schools where Year 7 and above are educated, we encourage face coverings to be worn by adults and pupils when moving around, such as in corridors and indoor communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. It will not usually be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and they may inhibit teaching and learning.
We believe that our young people will now have access to face coverings due to their increasing use in wider society, and Public Health England has made available resources on how to make a simple face covering. However, where anybody is struggling to access a face covering, or where they are unable to use their face covering due to having forgotten it or it having become soiled or unsafe, we will have a small contingency supply available to meet such needs.
Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. For example people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if they are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate. The same exemptions will apply in GFM schools, and our teachers and other staff will be sensitive to those needs.
We are very grateful for the feedback and questions following the video that we shared during the summer break. These have been very helpful in developing our plans alongside the updated government guidance. The majority of questions were understandably around the safety of learners whilst at school and how we plan to catch up on missed learning. You will not be surprised to hear that these are also our priorities in how we open our school.
Safety of learners on site
The guidance from the government explains a range of practices such as the regular washing of hands and providing ventilation in enclosed spaces which we will be establishing as routine for all in the first weeks of term. In addition to the changes we are implementing to create ‘bubbles’ of learners, we are also staggering the start of the school day, creating ‘zones’ on the school site and adding rigorous, additional cleaning routines.
Catching up on missed learning
We are so grateful to the amazing job parents and carers have been doing in managing home learning for the period of school closure, we reiterate our thanks to you for your support, encouragement and challenge for your children. We look forward to seeing them return to school but recognise that it is vitally important that we understand any gaps in learning and act to close these. Assessment will be a key part of the work we do this term, and we are working on ways to assess that does not involve feelings of stress or anxiety. There are many ways we can assess understanding and we are prioritising this – and then the actions we will take to address any gaps. We have extended time on site for this year compared to previous years and are running additional online lessons (establishing over the course of the first few weeks) that also provide opportunities for additional support. We will keep in touch with our community with plans for both assessment and strategies to catch up on missed work from the start of term.
We very much look forward to welcoming students back to school next week and to working in partnership with you into the new Academic year.
Our best wishes to you all
Dr N.Matthias, Mr R.Peet and Mr C.Willis