Parent Bulletin 10.09.2020
10th September 2020
Dear Parents and Carers
It has been a relief and joy to have the students back in school – I think this feeling is shared by all staff and most students! Thank you for sending your children in with such smart uniform: this is very helpful as we re-establish our high expectations in all areas of school life. We have now completed two days of induction activities to explain the ‘new normal’ for school routines, and will quickly get down to assessing where pupils are in their learning, and adapting our curriculum to get everyone back on track as fast as possible.
There are two areas about the return to school which I’d like to clarify for you:
Covid Control Measures at School
A number of parents have expressed concern that pupils are not socially distancing at school. The Government re-opening guidance accepts that it’s simply not possible to fully re-open schools in the state sector and observe social distancing between pupils. However, with the relatively low levels of disease at present in the community, it’s considered that the risk of harm from lost education outweighs the risk of harm from possible transmission between school children. The guidelines therefore instruct schools to seek to limit the possible spread of the virus across the school by containing the pupils within year group ‘bubbles’. In this way, if a case occurs in a pupil, their contacts at school will have been limited, the ‘test and track’ service can be quickly implemented and any outbreak quickly closed down. I explained the control measures taken by the College in brief, in the documents I sent attached to my School Post letter on 3 September, which included this section:
As explained in the information video of July:
significant control measures have been implemented. Pupils will remain largely within designated year group areas, each having their own discrete classrooms, outdoor areas, toilets and dining facilities. Subject teachers will circulate around the pupils’ classrooms and remain in marked-out areas at the front of the room, 2 metres distant from pupils. Pupils will not be socially distanced from each other within their area, but will be socially distanced from other year groups and from staff, as much as possible. Pupils will sit in rows, facing forward. Group work will not take place inside. This is in accordance with the Government’s ‘bubble’ principle which enables rapid identification of contacts if a case of coronavirus occurs. Some classes in Key Stage 4 will continue to take place in specialist rooms which will be cleaned between different bubbles’ use.
An enhanced cleaning regime is in place, with frequently-touched surfaces and toilets prioritised for additional cleaning during the school day.
For much more detail, please see our risk assessments on the COVID-19 section of the school website: https://www.cambournevc.org/COVID-19/
As a further precautionary measure, we are only allowing pupils to sit on one side of the dining tables at break and lunchtimes, to increase the face-to-face distance between pupils as they eat.
In outside spaces, when moving between lessons, and at breaks and lunchtimes, pupils are allowed to mingle freely within their ‘bubbles’. It’s acknowledged that the virus is much less likely to be transmitted in outside spaces than indoors, but we will continue to emphasise to pupils the importance of maintaining safe distances between each other at all times and especially of avoiding any physical contact. Please do reinforce this message with your children.
Social Distancing in the Community
I have received a number of messages from members of the community, concerned at a lack of social distancing between pupils outside of school. Large groups of pupils are reported to have gathered after school yesterday at the skate park, and around the basketball courts. We have also received complaints about groups of pupils entering local shops without masks, against Government guidelines. As concern grows about a second wave of severe Covid-19 infection, please emphasise to your children the importance of following all the rules put in place to keep us safe, including observing social distancing when with friends. From Monday 14 September, gatherings of more than 6 people will be banned both in homes and outside spaces.
Face-Coverings in School
As I explained on 3 September, it would be helpful for pupils to bring a mask to school with them, with a small bottle of hand sanitiser of 60% alcohol content, and a plastic bag to keep the mask in. We will ask pupils to put on a mask in specific situations, such as when browsing books with sanitised hands during library lessons, to limit potential ‘aerosol contamination’ of the shared book stock. We may also ask pupils to use a face covering in an emergency situation such as a fire evacuation when all pupils will need to evacuate together. Pupils have been shown a World Health Organisation video on how to manage wearing a mask without contaminating their hands. The video can be seen on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Tv2BVN_WTk&feature=youtu.be
The Government is not at present endorsing all pupils wearing masks in the classroom. Since pupils are remaining within their year-group bubbles at school and are not accessing whole-school communal areas, we would prefer students not to wear masks. Most evidence seems to suggest that wearing a mask helps to prevent the wearer passing the virus to other people but gives limited protection to the wearer. Alongside this, unless masks are handled very carefully, they may cause a spread of infection as wearers touch their faces more often and then touch shared surfaces.
If you wish your child to wear a mask at school, please complete the form on the link below. We can then be sure that the mask is being worn through a genuine parental concern and will challenge pupils who might be wearing masks for other reasons. In this case, we ask that:
- The mask is worn consistently indoors all day
- Two or three masks clean masks are provided each day so that they can be changed when wet
- A plastic bag is provided for each mask brought into school
- Hand sanitiser is used before touching the mask
The school will provide masks and sanitiser to pupils on free school meals and the Pupil Premium. Please apply on the same form:
This is an anxious time for most parents and all of our staff, despite the strong body of evidence showing the very small likelihood of a child becoming seriously ill from Covid-19. However, we’re lucky that the layout of our site makes it relatively simple to organise the year groups in bubbles, and we don’t have the problem of school buses. We will continue to do everything possible to keep your children, your families, and our staff, safe. Please emphasise to your children that we expect their complete compliance with these measures for the sake of our whole community, and please do contact your child’s year team if you have particular concerns.
With thanks for all your support, and kind regards,