School Reopening March 2021

Dear Parents, Carers and Families,

I hope you are all safe and well.

As you will know, the Government has announced that all schools in England will be fully reopened from Monday March 8th. I understand that this will give some mixed feelings, but on the whole we are excited and pleased that our students will be returning to school.

The Government has also said that it would like all secondary schools to test students 3 times in the first 2 weeks back. Whilst we have been doing testing of staff and students in school over the last few weeks, the increase in the scale of this has certainly created a significant logistical challenge for us as we seek to undertake around 3,000 tests in the first week and return to learning and normal school routines! However, we do now have a model that we feel will work, be safe and will return children to classrooms as quickly as possible.

The Proposed Testing Schedule

Please see below a model that we hope will allow us to create the capacity to do this. Within it there are some key elements:

  1. Students will all have the opportunity to be tested once before they return to school. They will return to school the day after their test.
  2. From Monday 8th we will be staggering the return to school of students following their tests. During this time we will unfortunately not have the capacity to offer the key worker and vulnerable student provision in school apart from on the Monday when provision will still be available. However, we have worked hard to ensure that all students return to school by Thursday 11th March and we have prioritised Y7 and Y11 as these are the year groups where we currently have most children in school.
  3. In order to get through the numbers of students we have had to extend the opening hours of our Test Centres from 8am- 5.30pm. We hope that this will also give you some flexibility in getting children tested outside of work hours.
  4. We will continue to provide remote learning to students who are not in school.

What happens next

Later on today you will receive an email about testing.  This will include more detail about the test process and the consent forms.  We cannot complete any tests unless parental consent has been provided.  For safety reasons we are clearly hoping that students will have tests, however the return to school will not be precluded if students have not had tests.

The email will also include an online booking form.   We would ask that you book a slot for your child to be tested.  It will be important that we try and keep to these times to avoid large numbers of students gathering and to ensure that we can get through the process as efficiently as possible. Students will be asked to leave after their test.  We intend to make the front car park available for parents and carers who are dropping students off.  We would ask that parents and carers do not come into school for obvious safety reasons.

Please reassure students that the process is very quick and our teams will be very good at putting students at ease.  The process is not at all painful but some students doing it for the first time may find it slightly uncomfortable.  We have put together a short video to show students what to expect and this will be posted in the year group Google Classrooms and our website in the next few days.

The Return to School

We realise that some students may be anxious about the return to school.  Please reassure students that our approach will be very mindful of this and our first priority will be to restore positive relationships and to ensure that well-being is paramount.  Of course, over the next few weeks, we will also be looking at learning and how we can address any gaps or misconceptions.

In order that we remain as safe as possible, it will be very important that we maintain the behaviour systems and routines that we have in place- for example following one way systems and wearing lanyards.   As you will be aware, the Government has also stated that students should wear face masks in lessons as well as in communal areas at least until Easter.  There are some exceptions to this but on the whole we will be asking all students and staff to comply with this expectation in order to maximise safety.

As previously, there are some basic things that we must all be doing to remain safe.  This includes: regular hand washing and sanitising; keeping doors and windows open and practising social distancing wherever this is possible.

Separate to this letter, Mrs Nicklin will provide further reminders next week on our expectations and routines in readiness for the return to school.  We will also be talking to all students on their return about the importance of following systems and keeping themselves and others as safe as possible.

Can I reiterate our thanks to you.  This has been a very challenging 7 weeks for children, families and school staff and we recognise the hard work that has gone into making the best of a difficult situation.

Take Care,

Liz