In a week’s time we will be welcoming our new Year 7 and Year 12 students, and a few days later the rest of the school, at the start of what looks likely to be the most unusual school year any of us has seen. I am sure that you have been following the news over the last few days and are aware that the advice regarding face coverings in school has been changed. There has not been any other major change to the guidance to schools on which I based our plans which were shared with you in July.
When making our plans, the first priority has been ensuring the safety and welfare of students and staff followed by trying to provide as effective an education as possible. At times these do conflict but I believe that we have put in place the best options to achieve these aims for our school. It is quite possible that national advice will change again or that once we start back we will decide that some routines can be amended and improved so I ask that you bear with us if you find that plans change.
I have attached an updated version of the document I sent to you in July with the request that you read it through with your child and ensure that they understand it. Their form tutor will go through the main points on the first day as well. The two main changes are:
· The period of isolation following a positive test for Covid is now 10 days from the onset of symptoms or the date of the test if no symptoms are experienced
· The wearing of face masks by students in indoor areas except classrooms is recommended.
It is the wearing of face coverings in school that has caused the most debate in the news and we have responded to this. We do have narrow staircases and corridors and although students are in year group bubbles and will rarely meet anyone from other year groups, members of staff are moving around the buildings much more than usual. Whilst it is not compulsory to wear a mask in school I would encourage students to wear one when indoors. Staff will be provided with visors and encouraged to wear them in indoor spaces. Please do ensure that your child has an appropriate way to store their mask when it is not being worn. We will not allow students to wear face masks which have writing or images (eg. skulls and faces) and they will be expected to wear them properly over their nose and mouth.
I understand that the staggered start and finish times for students are causing difficulties for some families. This is a challenge to us as well but was one of the main requirements in the guidance for schools, especially ones as large as ours. We do not have the capacity to supervise students who arrive early and they will not be allowed in the school buildings until the start of their school day. Please do look for solutions as students arriving early or waiting around at the end of the day would defeat the purpose of the staggered timings.
I look forward to seeing all of our students as they return in a few days’ time.