Keeping Our School Community Safe
A review of our back to school plans, 2nd October 2020
It is now four weeks since the full return to school of all staff and students following the changes to the national response to the Covid-19 global pandemic. All students have returned 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. We have now conducted a second scheduled review of our plans since school reopened as we promised we would.
The first four weeks back at school have, on the whole, gone exceptionally well. There have been some teething troubles as we would expect however, it is fair to say that students have returned to the classroom in a very controlled, calm and well behaved manner. We congratulate them on the way they have adapted to the new changes and behaviours when re-engaging with their studies. It was very important that everyone hit the ground running which is very much how it feels in school.
We must also thank parents and families for working with us through the past four weeks as we all deal with the changes that our whole community face. We asked you to help us in a number of ways and you have done exactly that so thank you for helping us to keep everyone in our school community safe. The safety of everyone in our school community is our priority and will continue to be so.
Community Infection Rates
In developing our plans, we must take into account the emerging evidence and guidance from a number of sources. We recognise that in most aspects of our plans, we could make different decisions and make different judgements. What is clear, is that the guidance in general, is not prescriptive and leaves final decision making to schools and colleges such as ours to make the best plans to suit the local needs. So it is the overall impact of the plans we put in place that is the most important consideration. We have tried hard to balance the educational needs of our students, the workplace safety of our staff and the need to mitigate the potential risks of CV19 in developing the overall plan.
We continue to monitor the CV-19 infection rates within the area and as you will be aware, there has been an upward turn in the current rates. This seems to be a wide spread trend which is higher in some of our neighbouring Local Authority areas. We have considered this in reviewing the plans that we have in place to keep our school community safe. We would ask parents, students and staff to support us in making what we feel are proportionate modifications to our arrangements that take account of the situation.
If a child is ill or injured
Please DO NOT send your child to school if they are feeling unwell.
Thank you to parents for your help and understanding over the past four weeks in relation to working with us when children have not been well. Obviously at this time of year there are often coughs and colds circulating within the community. Everyday we speak to parents concerned about making the right decision about sending their child to school or when seeking advice about the potential need to self isolate.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. 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.
Track and Trace in school
We have put in place an internal Track and Trace team with associated procedures aimed at identifying students and staff most at risk of contamination should we have a positive test result. The system will identify those who have been in close contact and those who have been generally around the person who tests positive. We are now working with the Cheshire East Covid response team and Public Health England to agree protocols which we believe will give a proportionate response aimed at keeping our school community safe whilst getting students back on track with their education.
Coming back to school
When students or staff have been absent from school self isolating or waiting for a Cv-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.
Given the upward trend in CV-19 infection rates in the community, we have decided to revert back to the wearing of face coverings in all indoor spaces within the school. This means that from Monday 5th October 2020, all students, staff and visitors MUST wear a face covering in corridors and classrooms and all indoor teaching spaces. 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. Face coverings will be compulsory for students and staff when inside the school buildings. They will not be needed during outdoor activities including break and lunch times. Any current exemptions will remain in place for identified students and staff.
For staff, visors have been provided for use during lessons but we will expect staff to wear fabric face coverings whilst in corridors and in meetings with other staff.
It is essential that students continue to wear face coverings on public or school transport on their way to and from school. 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
Cleaning: Thorough cleaning of all classrooms and teaching spaces using appropriate cleaning products takes place daily. We also have a daytime cleaning team who are on site during the day to target any areas where any additional risks are identified.
Seating plans: Students must sit in and remain in the place designated by their teacher in the seating plan for each lesson. During the past four weeks our internal Track and Trace team have been running tracing procedures in the background which use these seating plans as a key piece of information. This along with conversations with teachers and students allow us to get a much clearer picture of students who have been in close contact with each other.
Ventilation: During the last 4 weeks, improved ventilation has been maintained. One issue that has been raised by a number of parents is the open doors and windows rule as we move towards winter. Wherever possible, all windows and doors will continue to remain open. Where that causes a problem, internal doors to all classrooms and external doors will remain open to maintain adequate air circulation.
Hand hygiene: 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.
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. We will be making further announcements about this at our next scheduled review.