School Closure Information and Coronavirus Management

CORONAVIRUS: LIVE UPDATES

LAST UPDATE: 27/03/20 (Home Learning Guide Updated)

We thank all parents and carers for their patience and understanding in recent days.  Your emails and phone-calls thanking staff have been very much appreciated.

We also thank you for keeping up with our communication.  As you will appreciate, this is a constantly evolving situation and government advice has changed or been clarified on various fronts.

We intend the below to be a clear, simple ‘one stop shop’ which we hope will answer any questions that you may have regarding how the school will now be operating.   Much of the information will overlap with what has already been emailed but we think having everything in one place will make things much easier for you. 

Please click here for our Home Learning Guide

Please click on each question to find the information you require.

We hope that we are now in a position where further updates will be minimal.   If our answers change to any of the questions listed, or information changes for any reason, we will email you.

As always, if you have a question that is not answered here, or if there is anything you are not clear about, please contact the school.  Latest updates from government are here.

Information here includes everything from exams to prom to free school meals and safeguarding arrangements.

We hope that you find it useful and we wish you and your families all the very best at this uncertain time.

The Leadership Team at Cheam High School

 

How long will school be closed for?

As stands, all we know is that school will be closed for an indefinite period.  The government are monitoring the development of coronavirus and the illness it causes, Covid-19, and will update schools as soon as they feel it is safe for the school to reopen to all students. 

We do not know, at this stage, whether there will be a phased reopening where schools open to certain year groups first or only in certain areas of the country, or whether all schools reopen fully at the same time. 

How will school help me safeguard my child when off school and how are other services working?

We appreciate that, for some of our students, school is not only a learning environment but a place where they receive support for a range of issues including, for example, their mental health and emotional well-being.  We also appreciate that the current situation may place particular pressure on some families and students for a range of reasons.

Should you have any concerns regarding the safety of your child or others, or any other serious matter that you feel you would ordinarily speak about with the Year Team or Safeguarding Team at the school, please telephone as normal or email cp@cheam.sutton.sch.uk, CCing in your child’s Year Team.  As always, if you have any immediate concerns regarding the safety of your child or others, please contact the Emergency Services on 999.

Please also see the attached poster which lists a range of services which should be open to families and young people during this period of school closure.

What do I do if my child is anxious about the current situation?

We very much appreciate that this is a difficult time for all, adults and children.  Some children, particularly those with Special Educational Needs or other factors, may find the current situation especially difficult.

If this is the case for your child, you will find lots of helpful advice on how to help online. The SEN department have also produced special resources for children whose understanding is helped by social stories.  You can find these here.

We recommend that before you share any information or resources with your child, you look at the information first and make sure that they are appropriate to your individual child.

You will find helpful advice from Child Mind here: https://childmind.org/article/talking-to-kids-about-the-coronavirus/

Live Science have also provided a very helpful, child-friendly guide to coronavirus which explains how the virus works, what the risks are, and why society is taking such serious steps to stop it spreading. 

https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-kids-guide.html

If you are concerned about the mental wellbeing of your child during school closure, please email cp@cheam.sutton.sch.uk or telephone the school.  You should also refer to the safeguarding information provided on the school website.

Information regarding the school nurse service

If your child sees the school nurse, a Duty School Nurse line has been set up to support students and parents and replace some face to face contact at this time.  Please note: for Covid 19 related information students/parents/carers should refer to NHS website and current government guidance, NOT call the School Nurse.

Duty School Nurse: 020 87705409

Information regarding the Young Carers service

Regardless of the level of response to the pandemic, Sutton Carers Centre intends to remain open during usual office hours to liaise with other professionals and provide support to Young and Adult Carers, their families and friends.

Please bear in mind, though, that staffing in the centre office will be reduced, with many staff working from home in accordance with government advice.  However, the service hopes to maintain telephone and internet-based service levels.

Which groups of students will school be open for?

Schools will remain open to the following groups of students:

  • Children of Key Workers (this includes children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home)
  • Children who are vulnerable

How are these groups defined?

GROUP 1: CHILDREN OF KEY WORKERS INCLUDING THOSE CRITICAL TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE

The definition of Key Workers has been broadened.  Ordinarily, this would just include children of front-line public services, such as the police.  However, it now also includes children of people whose jobs are critical to the Covid-19 response.  The government has provided a list of exactly what they include on the Key Workers list which we provide below.  If you feel that you are a Key Worker and aren’t sure if your job fits on the list below, please contact secretary@cheam.sutton.sch.uk or telephone the school.

Please bear in mind that government advice is that schools should only be open for students who absolutely need to attend.  This is, of course, to minimize the spread of Coronavirus as far as possible.

Government definitions and advice are as follows:

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services

This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms-length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

Public safety and national security

This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.

We are grateful for the work of teachers and workers in educational settings for continuing to provide for the children of the other critical workers of our country. It is an essential part of our national effort to combat this disease.

GROUP 2: VULNERABLE CHILDREN

The government have issued the following guidelines regarding which children should be considered vulnerable:

  • Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
  • Children who have a social worker include children in need, children who have a child protection plan and those who are looked after by the local authority. We will work with schools, early years, FE providers and local authorities to help identify the children who most need support at this time.
  • We know that schools will also want to look to support other children who are vulnerable where they are able to do so.

What is the plan for children of Key Workers?

We have written directly to all parents/carers of Key Workers that we know of with details of how school will operate.

If you or your partner are a Key Worker and need your child/children to attend school and have not already been contacted by us, please email secretary@cheam.sutton.sch.uk or telephone the school.  

Please contact us as soon as possible so that staffing arrangements can made.

Please bear in mind that government advice is that schools should only be open for students who absolutely need to attend.  This is, of course, to minimize the spread of Coronavirus as far as possible.

As stands, these arrangements will continue even in the event of government enforced lockdown in London and surrounding areas.

Link to Key Worker letter can be found here.

What is the plan for children who are in the government’s vulnerable group?

We have communicated directly with parents/carers where we are sure their child or children fall into this category.  If you feel that your child is vulnerable and have not been contacted by us by please email secretary@cheam.sutton.sch.uk or telephone the school as soon as possible.

We appreciate that, for some children, home circumstances may change and many families will face particular pressures at this time.  If you feel your child is vulnerable and, for a particular reason, may need to attend school but only on a particular day or for a short period of time, please contact us by 3pm the day before you wish them to attend and we will endeavor to make arrangements where possible, assuming your child meets the relevant criteria.

Please bear in mind that government advice is that schools should only be open for students who absolutely need to attend.  This is, of course, to minimize the spread of Coronavirus as far as possible.

As stands, these arrangements will continue even in the event of government enforced lockdown in London and surrounding areas.

Link to vulnerable group letter can be found here.

What is the plan for children who receive Free School Meals?

Students who receive Free School Meals will still be able to receive these whilst the school is closed, even if they are not children of key workers or part of the government’s vulnerable group.

We have communicated directly with all parents/carers of students who are entitled to Free School Meals to outline arrangements.  If your child is eligible for Free School Meals and you have not received correspondence from us, please contact us via office@cheam.sutton.sch.uk or by telephone as soon as possible.

Students who are entitled to Free School Meals should attend school at 12.50pm on any day, Monday-Friday, during normal term time.  They will be escorted off-site by 1.30pm.

If you would like your child to continue receiving free school meals please note:

You must inform us by 3pm on the day before your child will be attending for a meal so that we can make catering arrangements.  Please also inform us immediately if it is your intention that your child will be attending for a meal every day by emailing office@cheam.sutton.sch.uk or telephoning the school.

We very much recognize that the financial situation may change for some families over this period.  If you become concerned about your ability to provide appropriate food for your child/children, please contact us, even if your child/children are not usually entitled to Free School Meals.

Students who only attend to receive Free School Meals do not need to wear school uniform but they must bring their lanyards and cashless cards for them to be allowed on site.

Link to FSM letter can be found here.

What do I do if my family experience financial difficulties during this period?

The government have stated that they will be offering as much financial support as possible to people facing difficulties with employment, rent and mortgage payments or running their businesses during this time.  Information regarding this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

As a school, we very much recognise that some families may face sudden and unexpected financial difficulties during this period.  If this is the case, and you become concerned about your ability to provide appropriate meals for your child/children, please contact us by emailing secretary@cheam.sutton.sch.uk or by telephone.  Please do so, even if your child is not normally entitled to free school meals.

Will school be open to key groups of students over Easter?

The education service as a whole will be endeavouring to offer support to the children of Key Workers during the Easter Break to enable society to respond to Covid-19 where necessary.  There is potential for collaborative work between schools, depending on circumstances.  Cheam High School will be taking decisions in coming days regarding this.

What we may provide as a school will very much depend on need amongst our catchment.  If you are a Key Worker and will need childcare for your child during the Easter break, please contact us by emailing secretary@cheam.sutton.sch.uk or by telephone as soon as possible

Please note: if we have not heard from you by Thursday 2nd April at 3pm we will assume that you have arrangements in place for your child.

As it stands, the school will be closed to all on Good Friday and Easter Monday as usual.

The school will be closed to all other students during this time, as usual.  We will re-open for both the children of Key Workers and vulnerable children on Monday 20th April, as per the standard calendar.

What will happen with exams?

On Wednesday 18th March, the government announced that schools across the UK would close from Friday 20th March until further notice, and that this summer’s exams won’t go ahead.

The government has assured us that students will be awarded their qualifications to enable them to take their next steps with their education or careers. This means ensuring GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in.

The government has since announced more details of how grades will be awarded this summer:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-details-on-exams-and-grades-announced

The main points from the announcement are (please note this information is subject to change/update):

- Teachers will be asked to provide the exam boards with their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if the exams had not been cancelled. Teachers will take into account a range of data to make this judgement, including mock performance data and non-exam assessment. Clear guidance on how to do this fairly will be issued to schools in the near future. 

- The exam boards will then combine the teacher judgements with other relevant data, including prior attainment, to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in. 

- Students should receive these calculated grades by the end of July. 

- There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to. 

We know that this is a very unsettling time for our Year 11 and Year 13 students who were entered for external exams this summer. However, we would like to reassure your children that all students across the country will be in the same position and that there is no option but for the government to find the best possible solution to this situation. Of course, there are very serious public health reasons why the decision to cancel exams has been taken which we all very much appreciate.

If my child is using the internet to learn, how do I make sure they are safe online?

Stephen Welding, a specialist Education E-Safety Advisor from Cognus, has released a letter to parents advising on E-safety measures.  You can find it here and we hope it proves useful to you and your family.

What are expectations for learning for Year 11 and 13 students?

We understand that this is a very unsettling time for our Year 11 and Year 13 students who were due to be sitting external exams this summer and we recognise the hard work that our students have put in to preparing for these exams.

Whilst exam results are important, the real purpose of schools has never been simply to get students exam grades. Our real purpose is to help young people learn as much as they can about the world in which they live and to help them develop their skills, knowledge and sense of self so that they become happy, confident adults who contribute positively to wider society in whatever role they choose. Teachers will still be setting work for students for all subjects according to their timetable on Show My Homework to support our students to keep learning and to avoid any regression before they access their next step. We therefore recommend that students continue to study their examination subjects using the resources and web links provided. 

It is also worth noting that the current government guidelines say that students will receive a calculated GCSE grade before the end of July but will then have the option of sitting an exam early in the academic year if they are not happy with their calculated grade. It is therefore important that we as a school provide students with the opportunity to continue to work on their subjects, should this situation arise.

We also encourage students to explore other avenues of learning and specific interests and encourage them to follow their learning passions as they see fit with any additional time they may have.  If there are any particular areas of study students are keen to explore, they can liaise with their teachers via the Show My Homework system who can point them in the right direction for new learning and discovery.

What will happen with prom and end of year celebrations for Year 11 and 13 students?

We fully appreciate the disappointment of our students at the disruption to their end of year celebrations.  We are aware that many Year 11s were already planning their last day costumes and looking forward to prom.  We have promised all students that we will do our utmost to provide them with an event to mark the end of their time at Cheam High School. 

However, of course, public health must take priority and we cannot put anything into place that risks the further spread of coronavirus and hence endangers lives.  We have been very impressed with the maturity and understanding that our students have shown regarding this situation and will update you as soon as possible if government advice changes regarding mass gatherings.

The latest government advice can be found here: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19#contents