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All letters for COVID-19

July Letter from Mrs Willis

Monday 13th July 2020

Dear Parents, Carers and Guardians,

Thank you so much again for your patience while we arranged our staffing for September, following the new Government guidance. Also, I hope that you all now know who your child/rens’s class teacher will be. We have had to think this through very carefully as we do have highly vulnerable staff whom we need to protect. I am also acutely aware that we have highly vulnerable children that we must continue to protect. Therefore, I would like to respectfully remind everyone to keep to the strict rules for safety that we put forward for September opening. The virus has not gone away and we will need to continue to do all we can to make sure children, their families, staff and their families do not become ill. We will do all we can, but we must accept that even with all the measures I will outline today and in September, we cannot make it 100% safe. We must also accept that every person has a responsibility to follow the rules to keep others safe, as well as themselves. We cannot and must not be less than strict – lives are at risk here.

Last week, we were also working hard to deliver your child/ren’s reports in as safe a way as possible, knowing that we could not possibly have large numbers of children and families arriving at school to collect them or afford to send every report by post. We made the most of the technology we have to solve that issue, but I do understand the frustration and cost of using technology when many of you can only access our systems through your phone. We are looking at further ways of supporting families so that in the event of another National Lockdown or a more local lockdown, we can still support children’s learning and stay connected.

For now, I will try to give you as much information as possible, but I will resend the information, including any further guidance in September, before the children begin back at school on Wednesday 2nd September, 2020.

The government has stated that all children must return to school in September and this is not a choice. They have stated that attendance will be monitored closely and actions will be taken for those not attending school daily.

We say:

1) school will be open to all children on Wednesday 2nd September, 2020

2) not all children will start at the same time: family groups will be considered and timings of the day must be adhered to for safety reasons

3) parents/carers/guardians must make sure their child is well enough to attend school; if they have Covid19 symptoms, we must be told straight away and we will help to arrange for a test to be taken. This is not optional, but an imperative

4) parents/carers/guardians must make sure that every day their child is fit and well, they attend school. Sanctions and fines will be in place, as instructed by the Government

The Government has said children must have at least the statutory number of hours in school and schools must use staggered starts and finishes for start of day, end of day, lunchtimes and breaks. Where possible, class sizes of 30 should be classed as a ‘bubble’ and must not mix with other classes. Where that is not possible, year group ‘bubbles’ of more than 30 can be considered. Schools must make sure there are no large gatherings of people in or around the building.

We say:

1) children will be grouped into four groups: A, B, C and D and will be given start and finish times. Details of which entrances and exits to use will follow; these MUST be stuck to by parents/carers/guardians. There will be no ability for anyone to come in through the office reception door unless by prior appointment. Latecomers will have to phone ahead and they will be given strict guidance for how to safely get their child/ren into school. These times will also be added to the attendance figures as lost learning time. Parents/carers/guardians must appreciate that staff time will be taken up ensuring the complex systems in place within school run smoothly and that they will not be able to immediately accommodate late arrivals. Getting up early and arriving on time will be more important than ever. Safety and lives are at risk here, not just convenience.

2) some year groups will have to run as a large ‘bubble’ due to the nature of the building; Nursery and Reception are two year groups that will need to exceed the limit of 30. They will be in their respective bubbles of 39 and 60

The Government states that where it is necessary staff can teach across bubbles as long as they remain 2 metres away from pupils; children must sit in rows and face the front and where possible keep safer distances away from their peers (1m is suggested); younger children are less likely to be able to stay away from one another, but older children must be encouraged to keep safer distances.

We say:

1) Time 4 Sport will continue to help support our PE delivery and help to provide staff with their planning preparation and assessment time, but we will need to think carefully about the use of space in school during the winter months

2) Some of our teachers can continue to teach across year groups, but we are keeping this to a minimum to support the ‘track and trace’ principles. Some of our staff will remain protected, but we will use the technology we have to help deliver teaching videos where we can.

3) children will work at tables, but space in school will not allow for 1m apart. We will do what we can and continue to encourage safe practice of handwashing, cleaning tables and touch points regularly; using ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approaches. Hand sanitisers and additional hand washing stations are in place where required

4) dinner times will work very differently with some classes having their dinners on a rota in their rooms; children with sandwiches will eat in their rooms and only hot meals will be served in the hall. Strict cleaning will be required between sittings and throughout school during this period

5) we will continue with whole school worship on ClassDojo. We hope parents will join us for these at home as it makes us all feel much more connected

The Government states that uniform is to be worn in school and children may take bags into school.

We say:

1) clean uniform must be worn every day; blazers need not be washed every day and children can also bring in coats

2) to cut down on movement around school and problems with storing bags and PE kits, on the children’s PE day they will be allowed to come in full PE kit. They will remain in this until the end of the day. We cannot have children using other classrooms to get changed and therefore, we feel this will be safer

3) lunches can be brought into school in bags, but equipment needed for learning will be provided by the school; reading books can go home for home reading but there will only be two opportunities a week to change reading books – we will tell you more about this in September. The books will need to be cleaned and stored for 72 hours before being used by another child. This is in line with Government guidelines.

There is so much more that needs to be arranged and given to you, but for now I think that this is enough. The task of organising this has been, and continues to be, huge. How effective we are in preventing a future lockdown will be dependent on every single one of you and every single one of us in keeping to the strict rules of safety. These are not optional, they are imperatives! We all have a responsibility to each other and we need to follow the rules for the sake of those who could potentially die, if they caught this virus. I never want to be in the position of informing you of the loss of one of our Stoke Minster family members – ever! We have become a stronger community because of this period in history and we must hold onto that, but equally we must remain vigilant in our determination to keep each other safe and prevent the spread of this virus.

I hope this has given you some insight in to the way school may begin to function in September. However, I do caution you that you need to start getting the old model of what school was like before lockdown out of your head. This is a new era with new rules and an old enemy that continues to linger. School will be different, but the love and care we have for your children and you will continue as before.

I will send out details again before the start, Wednesday 2nd September, to remind you of some of these new arrangements, but during this week you will be messaged with the group your family is in; the start and finish times for their school day. Your group will be one of these designated groups:

Group A – arrival 8.30am, departure 3pm (children will go through two different doors: kitchen door and KS2 door)

Group B – arrival 8.45am, departure 3.15pm (children will go though KS2 doors only

Group C and D – arrival 9am, departure 3.30pm (children will go through two different doors; kitchen and KS2 door)

Parents/carers/guardians MUST NOT linger or wait on the playground after their child/ren has/have gone into school. There will be designated gates to go through so as to avoid ‘pinch’ points. This is for everyone’s safety not just to make life difficult and the rules must be strictly adhered to.

Nursery and Reception children will have a slow, phased start which will be communicated to you shortly, but their brothers and sisters must come on 2nd September in the group they have been told they are in. We will give everyone the group, start and finish time before the end of the week.

Working parents must inform the school now if they will need breakfast club and Little Minsters wrap around care. There will be a charge for these, but we aim only to cover our costs not make a profit as the private sector does.

I cannot tell you how much we are looking forward to welcoming our children back in September. This has been such a very strange and upsetting year for everyone. Thankfully, there have also been some extremely positives aspects of this time in lockdown; not least being the increased sense of community and connection with you. We could not have done this without your support, encouragement and love. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Thankfully, the Government have said that we may now rest and for that we are also extremely grateful. Staff here have worked tirelessly to support, encourage, connect and hold up children in their learning, emotional, mental and physical states of being; we will continue to do all we can, on our return in September, to reconnect, repair, reignite and reinvigorate our children so they will become the best they can possibly be. It is our hope that we may also remain more deeply connected to you, their parents, carers and guardians. Together we can build a learning community that will be strong enough and better equipped to face anything life has to throw at us.

In the meantime, please continue to stay safe, keep those around you protected and yourselves fit and healthy ready for a new day and a new academic year. Enjoy time with your families this summer and let’s pray we will all see each other soon.

With blessings and kindest regards

 

 

 

Mrs L Willis (Headteacher)

Copy of June Update Letter

Thursday 11th June 2020

Dear Parents/Carers and Guardians,

Re: Coronavirus update

I hope this letter continues to find you and your families well and that you are continuing to follow the rules in order to stay safe and save lives.

It was heartening to see the new guidance released last night, enabling one parent families to connect exclusively with one other family group. Hopefully, this will enable single parents to connect again with a support network. This also means that single people, who may be struggling with loneliness, will have an opportunity to benefit from the company of one other family group. This is wonderful news! From our position, we need to respectfully ask that everyone continues to follow this guidance, strictly. We are going to great lengths to ensure children, families and staff are safe, but ‘test and trace’ only works if people stick to these rules. Thank you.

We welcomed back some of our Reception children this week and were really pleased to see how well they followed the new rules in school – they are a credit to you. Next week, we are set to welcome back some of our Y1 children. As a result of having to stick to very strict health and safety guidelines we cannot increase numbers quickly, in the event that people change their minds. If you have said ‘no’, you must honour that, for the foreseeable future. Our plans only work with the numbers we currently have as definite ‘yes’s’. Any changes to the current planned provision will have to be thoroughly reviewed and assessed for health and safety risks; this will take time so please be patient. This is an incredibly difficult task that we are trying to accomplish with a finite number of staff and teaching spaces within school. Your cooperation and patience is greatly appreciated.

Last night’s announcement also stated news of a further ‘catch up’ programme over the summer, despite having also reassured us that there would be no requirement for schools to remain open over August.

Our staff and leaders in school have worked incredibly hard over the past few months and are in need of a full and complete break. They have worked tirelessly to plan, prepare and deliver online learning, giving support and feedback to learners and parents. In addition, staff have been on a rota to come in to teach key groups, prepare and deliver work packs for home learning while teaching and looking after their own pre school children (those that have them). This has also been true for our support staff and admin team.  I remain in complete admiration of their dedication to our children, families, and their profession and am incredibly proud to work with such a hardworking, conscientious team. So I would like to reiterate again that whatever changes are recommended, time will be needed to plan, prepare and deliver those suggestions. I will only do so if, and only if, we have the resources – both human and physical - to do so, safely. Your patience and forbearance will be greatly appreciated as I endeavour to fulfil the next round of expectations and I will do my utmost to keep everyone safe.

It was good to hear that Stoke-on-Trent schools received a positive mention from Gavin Williamson (Education Secretary) in the Houses of Parliament this week for our response to the current situation, proving that our spirit of ‘can do’ is still a driving force in our city.

Finally, as we have so many staff members returning to school to teach classes, may I take this opportunity to inform you that the teachers managing ClassDojo may now change from the usual class teacher. This will be for some year groups, not all.

In the meantime, keep your faith and hope in better days ahead; keep to the guidance so that we can protect each other and ultimately save lives.

In the words of Julian of Norwich:

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

Many thanks for your continued support.

With blessings and kindest regards

Mrs L Willis ( Headteacher)

COVID-19

Following the latest Government advice, we have taken the decision to cancel all out of school visits.

The safety and wellbeing of our pupils, staff and families remain our priority. We are grateful to all of our school community for your support during this difficult time.

Cancelled Events:

  • All Mother's day events 
  • All swimming lessons (Y1 & Y3 )
  • Stoke City Football Club - Thursdays
  • Recorder Festival - Y5
  • Postponed Y1's trip to Conkers and Y3's trip to Think Tank
  • Easter Service 

All parents are encouraged to sign up to Class Dojo, speak to your child's class teacher for more information.

Latest Government Advice and New Guidance for Households with Symptoms - 17/03/2020

  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.
  • If you are showing symptoms of a temperature (37.8 degrees or higher) and/or a new continuous cough, then you need to stay at home. The full stay at home guidance for households with these symptoms can be found here.
  • If one member of your household has symptoms of Coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home for a period of 14 days. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
  • Anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, needs to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
  • If you have Coronavirus symptoms do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, you do not need to contact 111 to inform them of the self isolation.
  • If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 Online Coronavirus Service.
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Updated handwashing advice

It is essential that everyone washes their hands more often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing with soap employs mechanical action that loosens bacteria and viruses from the skin, rinsing them into the drain. Drying hands afterwards makes the skin less hospitable to the virus. Hand sanitiser can be effective if soap is not available or the situation makes using soap less feasible (i.e. when outside) but using hand sanitiser provides none of the virus-destroying friction that rubbing your hands together and rinsing with water provides.

The latest guidance and video on hand washing can be found at:

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