Letter to parents/carers 15th July - The September return
Dear Parents and Carers,
Following the announcement that all students will return to fulltime school in September, to a broad and balanced curriculum, I would like to outline our plans to make this happen safely.
Of course, I am sure you are all aware that any plans we make may be subject to change. We will communicate any changes to the plan below on August 24th. In the meantime, if there is anything that you wish to discuss, please contact us via the usual telephone or email channels. We ask that parents/carers do not attend the school site without a prior appointment.
Below, you will find an outline of our plans thus far. A detailed risk assessment, which will include all actions taken to mitigate risk within the school community, will also be posted on our website shortly but much of this information is available in what follows here.
Please note that letters will go out to students in each year group detailing the changes to their school day and other relevant information, some of which is outlined below.
Of course, students or staff must not come into school if they have symptoms of Covid-19 (CV-19) or have tested positive in the last 7 days. If any student becomes unwell in school with CV-19 symptoms they will be isolated at the front of school away from the school community and parents/carers will need to collect them as quickly as possible. All members of the school community must follow government advice if this is the case and self-isolate for at least 7 days. They must also arrange to have a test.
Please note: the results of any tests must be shared with the school so that any necessary decisions regarding the safety of others can then be taken. If a student is collected from school having shown symptoms, they will not be allowed to return to the school site until we are aware of test results. The same rule will apply to staff who go home ill with possible symptoms.
Minimising contact with others:
We will be creating Year group ‘bubbles’. Generally, each year group will be based in a particular block of the school and each class in KS3 will largely remain in the same classroom for all lessons. This will reduce the need for students to move around the school and come into contact with students of other year groups. Students will, however, continue to move for subjects needing specialist teaching bases such as Technology, ICT or PE but they will remain within the same learning bubbles. Staff will maintain a distance of 2m from students in the classroom and PPE will be provided to staff who may choose to wear it or where they may come into particularly close contact with students (such as staff who are first aid trained and may attend an incident or deal with a situation where a student is unwell).
Each year group will also have specific areas that they will use to congregate before school and for break and lunch times. Additionally, there will be changes to the break and lunch routines to ensure that bubbles can be maintained as far as possible.
Changes to the school day:
In order to minimise contact between large groups of students, particularly those from different year groups, there will some changes to the start and end of the school day. Some year groups will start school at 8.20, whilst others will begin at 8.30. Likewise, the close of the day will also be staggered with some groups being dismissed at 2.40 and others at 2.50. There will also be different entrance and exit points for different year groups.
I ask all parents/carers to reinforce the importance of social distancing to their child as they come and go from school. This means avoiding mixing across year groups as this increases the risk of transmission for all parties.
Maintaining high standards of hygiene:
There will be a hand sanitiser station in each classroom. Tissues and paper towels will be available to ensure that staff and students can follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ strategy. While face masks are not recommended by Public Health England, we will understand if young people or adults wish to wear them in school. However, if they plan to remove them during the day, you will need to provide a sealed plastic bag for your child to bring the mask home. School staff will determine whether or not a particular face-mask is not appropriate for use in school and will communicate with you as soon as possible if this is judged to be the case.
As currently with our Year 10 and 12 provision, sharing of equipment will be kept to an absolute minimum.
There will also be more frequent cleaning of rooms and especially surfaces which are touched more frequently. PE changing rooms, for example, will be cleaned during lesson changeover where necessary; this is particularly important as these will be used by different year groups across the week unlike other rooms which will be designated for use by the year group only.
Travel to and from school
Advice continues to be to avoid public transport. If this is not possible, masks must be worn on the bus: ideally students should walk, cycle or travel to school by car, until advice changes. If driving your child to school, please avoid actions that will cause congestion or heighten risks for others in the area e.g. choose a set down point a little distance away.
Please note that your child must wear a mask when travelling by public transport.
If there is a confirmed CV-19 case:
Track and trace procedures will be strictly followed to ensure that all students who have been in contact with the relevant individual can follow isolation measures. Given our year group bubbles, if a case does occur we hope to minimise the number of students whose education may be affected by this. Of course, the health and safety of our students and staff remains of the highest priority and if isolation measures are needed to ensure this, they will be undertaken immediately.
Attendance, expectations and pastoral care:
We expect every young person to return to school, except where they have been advised by their GP or consultant to continue shielding. Our attendance policy will be adhered to with absence calls going out as usual. Students will be reminded of the importance of full attendance
Some students may find it difficult to resume normal routines, however, they will be reminded of expectations of behaviour and our expectation of their full engagement in their learning. This is particularly important given the amount of school time that students have missed.
However, we will also introduce COVID specific expectations in terms of behaviour eg the need to remain in the year boundaries set; the need to keep social distancing from adults. As contravening these guidelines puts others at risk, there will be significant sanctions in the event of any student not following the instructions with regard to these matters.
Of course, we very much appreciate that whilst many students will be excited about the return to school, for others it may seem daunting and may present challenges. As you are aware, our pastoral support for students has not stopped during school closure and a dedicated pastoral team will be available to work with students as needed once we re-open.
As always, please do communicate with us if you have any particular concerns regarding your child and we will do everything we can to make their transition back to school as positive as possible.
Full school uniform must be worn; please see our website for further details. The Department for Education (DfE) advice is that uniforms can now be washed as normal. PE kit will be needed for PE lessons. All students must have their own supply of equipment e.g. pens, pencils, calculator, maths kit, in order to reduce the need to share these items.
Tutor time will run from 8.20/8.30 – 8.50am. It is essential that all students arrive on time, to settle them for the day and receive any updated messages. Year group assemblies will be able to take place in the school hall. Classrooms will be rearranged so there are only rectangular tables facing the front of the room. Lesson 1 will start at 8.50 am. Each lesson is around 1 hour long. Break times and lunch times will be different for some year groups. Year 7 and 8 will have break at 9.45 to 10.10 am and lunch at 12.05 to 12.40. Year 9 will have break at 10.50 to 11.10 am and lunch at 12.40 to 1.10 pm; this will involve the need to split their period 4. Years 10 and 11 will have break and lunch time as usual. Each year group will have their own separate canteen and playground area to maintain year group bubbles.
All students will have their full complement of subjects, including options in Year 9, 10 and 11. Contact sport will not take place in PE.
Assessment of progress:
All students will be assessed with regards to their gaps in knowledge during the first few weeks of the autumn term. We know that there will be a range of needs from those students who kept fully up to date with their work to those who have not. Our teachers are skilled at differentiating the work and ensuring that students are challenged and supported so they make progress.
Feedback and marking of work:
We will take the necessary steps to ensure students get feedback on how to improve further their work and celebrate success, whilst maintaining safe practices in how this is done. We are working on the best way to operate this, and more information will be on the website before September.
There will be no mixed year extracurricular activities before or after school on the school site, in the first instance. We will pilot same year group activities where this is manageable. We can resume non-overnight domestic educational visits where it is restricted to single year groups. We will review DfE guidance should the requirement for year group bubbles change and will obviously keep students and parents informed.
Development of remote learning to support changes in circumstances:
Home learning will be set on SMHW. Only students who have been advised to continue shielding by their GP or consultant will need to access on line learning and this will be organized on a case by case basis.
Actions in the event of local spikes in CV-19 numbers:
As advised by the DfE, we will continue to work closely with our local health protection team and follow their advice for actions for the school.
Finally, we are looking forward to seeing our students return to school; it has been a long time since we have had a “normal” school day. Whilst we know that there will be lots of differences in September, we hope that these arrangements will allow students to continue to learn, keep social activities enjoyable and prepare them for their next steps in life.
We wish you all a very good summer
Cheam High School