COVID-19 UPDATE BLOG

Covid-19 School Update 
21 Sept 2020

 

You will already be aware of the steps we have put in place to ensure the safe return of all pupils to school. We know that you will be keen to understand the impact that we have had in our first weeks of the term, and what our plans are to ensure all pupils catch up with any missed learning, and what will happen if a pupil or pupils are asked to stay at home over the coming months.

School reopening

Students returned to a slightly amended school day this year, with more pastoral support time, with an extra 30 min Tutor slot and a split lunchtime to ensure that year group bubbles can be effectively kept apart.  Students on arrival have now become accustomed to making their way to their zones until the first lesson, and at break and lunch are keeping to their allotted areas.  This arrangement will be in place until further notice.  Please remind students that they must not seek out younger siblings or friends in other other year groups for any reason.  Any messages etc. must go via the pastoral team.  To ensure that a full curriculum continues to be delivered students are moving around the buildings at lesson changeover and must pass other year group bubbles on the corridors.  This is unavoidable, but we have been assured, is acceptable.   There are numerous one way systems in place to minimise this happening.  Since Friday 18 September, following the imposition of restrictions in the North East, students and staff must wear face coverings while moving around the school and, if they wish, may continue to wear these in lessons.  The timings of the start and end of the school day have not been affected.  It has not been possible to safely implement a staggered start or finish, primarily due to the numbers of students that use school transport.

Lunchtimes

As a parent I realise that this creates the most anxiety amongst parents.  At present we have managed to switch our finger recognition system to a face recognition, similar to the type used on some phones and personal devices.  It's quick and means no student has to touch any equipment.  While this is working well, inevitably there were some issues at the start especially with the new intake, Yr 7.  These now should be ironed out.  If students let a member of staff know we ensured that all students did not go hungry.  To ensure that the system works efficiently we will be stopping all cash into school and asking all parents to upload funds via iPay.  All parents and carers should now have received information on how to do this.  If you need further information, or did not receive the information which was sent home via your child, please contact the main office.  The aim is to stop all cash transactions by October half term due to Covid-19 hygiene restrictions.  If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us.  

Attendance

While I am aware that the last 6 months has been extraordinary, with many members of our community having to cope with difficult and challenging times, I can not stress enough just how important it is to have students back in school.  Students were out of school for almost 6 months.  To support students back into their learning and get them back on track, they must be back in school.  Please do not hesitate to speak to Mrs Oliver, Attendance Officer, about any attendance matter.

Coverage of the curriculum

I want to assure all parents and carers that students are receiving a full curriculum of study.  We have not removed any lessons or disciplines from our offer.  This presents its problems in that we must ascertain where to pick up from with individual students in their studies before staff begin to support students back in to their learning, so the first few weeks will be focused on a Recovery Curriculum, which in reality most students will not see as hugely different to normal, although the new 30 min tutor each day is specifically designed to allow staff to work with their form groups in a variety of ways to support students back into school life.  Some students will slot straight back in, and need very little support and intervention, others will find the transition back into classroom life a little more challenging.  Hopefully by Christmas students and staff will feel as though they have never been away.  Having said that we are not attempting to cram in what has been missed into this first term.  This will be a much longer process which will only be designed once we know how the students have adjusted back into school life.  

School process if a child or member of staff displays Covid-19 symptoms

Unfortunately as we move into the autumn there will be the normal coughs and colds in circulation, and the symptoms that may indicate Covid-19 are common to many of these illnesses.  We must be cautious though, so we will be following the guidance from the NHS and PHE. Any staff member or child displaying symptoms in school will be isolated and then sent home immediately.  It is vital that parents and carers are able to be contacted without delay.  Children can only be sent home with permission from a parent or carer.  Please ensure we have the correct contact details.  If you have changed address, phone number or email recently, please ensure you have shared it with school.  If you are not sure then please just send it in again.

If a child or staff member displays any symptoms then they should self-isolates at home for 10 days from when symptoms started and immediately seek a test either online or by calling 119. The rest of the household also need to self-isolate for 14 days and seek a test.  If the test is negative then they may return once any symptoms have subsided.  Please keep the school informed of any test results.

If we do have positive cases identified in school, then we will be following PHE advice, which may result in a group, single class or a year group bubble being sent home and isolated.  It is unlikely that the school would be closed.

Remote Learning in the future

In the event of a confirmed outbreak of Covid-19 within the school community we may be asked to send individuals, a group or year group(s) home to be isolated until further notice.  This decision would be taken in conjunction with PHE.   The Remote Learning Policy sets out what would happen in this instance.  Our aim would be to ensure continuity of learning for all unable to attend school.  Individual students who are isolated or subject to track and trace restrictions would be supported through the pastoral team who co-ordinate work to ensure students are able to maintain their progress.  Only in the event of large scale closure, such as groups and or year groups, would the whole curriculum shift to online.

Face coverings, hygiene and social distancing

Please remind your child that they must wear appropriate face coverings on public transport to and from school as well as while moving between lessons and in social areas.  These face coverings must be worn appropriately, covering both the nose and mouth.  Please be aware that some staff and students are exempt from wearing these face coverings due to medical reasons.

Each classroom is equipped with hand sanitiser and students are expected to wash their hands as often as possible.  Where possible students should social distance.  

Our aim is to ensure students are safe and supported in school.  Thank you for your support in these challenging times. Please remember to follow both the school’s and public health guidance to keep everyone learning safely.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the school.

I would like to wish you well and I hope you and your family stay safe and well in these difficult times. 

Market Lane, Gateshead NE11 9NX, UK

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