A review of our back to school plans, 1st November 2020

This review has taken place during the half term holiday and represents the end of the first two months since the return to school. Before publishing the outcome of the review we considered the impact of the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday 31st October 2020 when he announced the details of a second national lockdown period.

School will reopen as normal to all students and staff on Tuesday 3rd November 2020. School starts prompt at 8:40 am and finishes at 3:30pm (3pm on Fridays)

All students will return to a full five lessons per day timetable with the right teachers and specialist classrooms. The intention has been clearly set at getting all students ‘back on track’ with their learning whilst doing all we can to keep our school community safe. We recognise our responsibility to manage the school as safely as possible so we are constantly reviewing the information and guidance from the Department of Education, NHS and other organisations to inform our plans.


The first half term went well and we believe that students and staff settled back into school quickly. Overall, behaviour standards have been good and levels of progress across year groups has been strong. We are confident that students are now clearly heading towards ‘getting back on track’ with their learning as we enter a crucial second half term. There is no doubt that the success we have seen over the first half term is the result of a combined effort from students, staff and very importantly, parents. We asked you to help us in a number of ways and you have done exactly that so thank you. The safety of everyone in our school community is our priority and will continue to be so.

Second national lockdown

To many, the announcement of a second national lockdown will not come as a surprise given the alarming rates of spread of COVID-19 in many areas of the UK. It has been announced that schools will remain open during the lockdown period which we fully support. We are planning to keep our school and Sixth Form open as normal throughout this period. Obviously, this is subject to change should the government decide otherwise. We have contingency plans in place to deal with staff absences and will use the weeks ahead to further improve and strengthen the use of google classrooms to ensure all students can continue their learning in school or at home. The safety of everyone in our school community is our overwhelming priority.

Please DO NOT send your child to school if they are feeling unwell.

A major success of the first half term has been the way that parents have worked with us to keep children at home and seek advice if they are in any way feeling unwell. We are extremely grateful for the high levels of cooperation and understanding. From the school team’s perspective, it has very much felt like a combined effort, so thank you.

Moving into the new half term, as well as the three key symptoms of COVID-19 listed below, we would appreciate it if children with coughs or colds would please be kept at home and for parents to contact us so that we can agree a joint plan on a student by student basis. We will have no choice but to send home children with cough or cold symptoms if we haven’t had the opportunity to consider their symptoms before they come to school.

  • If your child is unwell for any reason (not necessarily with symptoms of CV-19) they must not come to school. If you are unsure, keep your child at home and email Nocv19@hccs.info for support.

  • If your child or any member of the household has CV-19 symptoms that are defined as a high temperature, persistent cough or loss of taste and smell, they must not come to school but please let us know by email to Nocv19@hccs.info or attendance@hccs.info.

  • If a child becomes unwell during the school day, we will initially look after them in the usual way and parents will be contacted to pick them up ASAP. Whilst waiting to be picked up they will be isolated from other children in the reception area.

Staff members will continue to follow the normal procedure if they are too ill to come to school by contacting the Headteacher and Cover office directly before 7:30am. Staff members with COVID-19 symptoms, coughs or colds must stay home, contact us and arrange for a test as soon as possible. We appreciate that this represents a tightening of the current advice. Members of staff who develop symptoms during the school day will also be sent home immediately and asked to arrange an urgent test.

To arrange a CV-19 test please call 119. Our experience suggests that this is a quicker way to arrange a test than the online booking system.

Coming back to school

When students or staff have been absent from school self isolating or waiting for a COVID-19 test result, please contact us via Nocv19@hccs.info before returning to school.

We will ask to see a negative test result or confirm 14 full days of self isolation before permitting a return to school. If anyone tests positive for COVID-19 we will insist the individual stays out of school until the end of their household’s 14 day isolation period.

Track and Trace in school

From Monday 2nd November we will increase the capacity in the track and trace team so that we can continue to rapidly respond to the changing circumstances. The team will continue to monitor the Nocv19@hccs.info inbox seven days per week. The team have in place protocols to cover tracking both students and staff. We have shared our protocols with the local Public Health team and are making some fine tune adjustments based on their input.

So far, we have had two positive cases reported in school and in both cases because of our track and trace system running in the background, we were quickly able to have detailed discussions with the local COVID-19 response team and agree on a proportionate response. We have now asked a total of 27 students to self isolate as a precautionary measure none of whom have gone on to develop symptoms during the isolation period. Furthermore, no other students or staff members in the wider group have gone on to develop symptoms during the two week period. This we believe gives us some confidence that the systems we have in place, including the stance on the wearing of face coverings whilst inside school buildings, are effective and less disruptive than sending home whole year groups.

We will continue to review and develop our plans as we have promised and are grateful to the local COVID response team for their help and support.

Face coverings

All students, staff and visitors MUST wear a face covering in corridors and indoor areas, no exceptions Lesson changes are just a few minutes in length and are as such we expect students and staff to be able to tolerate a face covering of some sort during these short periods of time. This represents a change to the current requirements.

In classrooms and teaching spaces, all students and staff will wear face coverings unless they have an exemption agreed with the school student Healthcare Officer. This represents the system and exemptions that are already in place. Exemptions are printed on the back of a students identity card.

Compliance with the rules around face coverings has been extremely high and some students have already chosen to keep them on during lessons. The step up in the use of face coverings is very much a reflection on what is happening outside of school where the government has introduced heavy fines for non compliance.

If students or visitors arrive at school without a face covering, they will be able to purchase one at reception and will not be able to continue into school until they are wearing one.

For staff, visors have been provided for use during lessons only. Fabric face coverings, with or without a visor are COMPULSORY for all staff on corridors and internal spaces when not teaching or supporting students directly. Staff are also expected to wear fabric face coverings whilst in meetings with other staff. This represents a re-enforcement of current protocols.

School and public transport

During the lockdown period we expect transport operators to enforce the rules around the compulsory use of face coverings on public or school transport. Operators have a duty not to allow anyone to board or remain on a bus or train if they do not wear a face covering unless they have and can show an exemption.This is mandatory and not just a school rule. We have had a number of complaints from transport operators and members of the public about students removing their face coverings or refusing to wear them. It is important to remember that for the drivers, the bus is their workplace. We would ask parents to talk to their children about the need to wear face coverings whilst on the bus. Your help with doing this would very much be appreciated.

Managing the classroom and learning environment

During the coming weeks and months as we move towards winter we need to remain cognisant of the key components of classroom management that we have in place as part of our work to keep our school community safe. During the half term break we have made some adjustments to a number of classrooms and office spaces that will help us going forward. The whole school has also been cleaned and made ready to reopen.

One important component of safe teaching and office spaces is the need for ventilation. During the time ahead we will continue to keep all classroom doors and where possible windows open to allow natural air flow. Student movement at lesson change also contributes to creating air flow.

We have continued to build on the availability of hand sanitisation stations with now well over 100 available throughout the school and sixth form which are refilled regularly. EVERYONE, students and staff, must sanitise their hands before entering the buildings and classrooms.

School uniform

During the winter months, ensuring good ventilation is possible will mean doors and windows being open which is likely to make classrooms colder than usual. Students may wish to consider wearing a base layer of some description under their uniform. We will continue to insist that students attend school in uniform.

We have two uniforms which are not interchangeable. Students need to decide which one they are wearing. The choice is the full, formal school uniform or the full PE uniform. A black coat can be worn with both uniforms. The full uniform policy can be found on the website.

Learning whilst at home

Students who need to stay at home should continue to access learning by signing into their google classrooms where upto date work is available. Every student should have access to a google classroom for each subject on their timetable. From now, any student who needs to stay at home should be encouraged to access their google classrooms to ensure that there is no break in their learning. Students who are for any reason learning from home will be contacted by a member of the school team within the first few days. This should help to deal with any problems or issues they may have.

Visitors to school

During this half term and throughout lockdown, we will not be inviting parents or other visitors into school unless desperately necessary. We will do everything we can to minimise the risks associated with people coming into school and meeting with staff face to face. We hope that parents will understand the importance of restricting access to school and work with us to find acceptable ways of working together through the coming months. We have a range of communication options available which include both Zoom and Google Meets that will help us all to stay in touch.


The government has said that they will not be making the same recommendations around shielding for the most vulnerable groups during the new lockdown period that were in place during the first lockdown. We know from conversations with parents and staff over the past few months that many people will be very anxious about the current situation in relation to specific extreme risk factors such as immunosuppression or severe cardiac and respiratory illnesses. If you have any specific concerns that you wish to discuss, please contact us in the first instance on Nocv19@hccs.info

For staff, please discuss your concerns with your line manager in the first instance.

Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School

& Sixth Form College


Selkirk Drive

Holmes Chapel




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