Dear Parent / Guardian
I am writing to you to share the details of arrangements for pupils’ return to school on Monday 8th March.
First of all I would like to say how pleased we are to be welcoming students back to school. Whilst both pupils and staff have worked extremely hard through the period of remote home learning, it is no real replacement for face to face teaching. We are very much looking forward to having pupils back in our classrooms. That said, we understand that for some pupils and parents this will be an anxious time and therefore the purpose of this letter is to run through our arrangements and ensure everyone knows what to expect.
Through the efforts of our staff in setting up our testing programme including their willingness to work over the weekend, and with the benefit of parents support in booking testing appointments, I can confirm that we will open for all pupils on Monday 8th March 2021.
The only exception to this may be for a very small group of pupils who have not made appointments or who miss their pre-booked testing slots, but we will deal with these youngsters on an individual basis.
Our expectation is that all pupils whose parents have consented will have been tested between Wednesday 3rd and Sunday 7th March which will allow this full return. The proportion of students who have booked testing slots over these days is extremely high, indicating a very pleasing commitment to maximising the safety of pupils and staff, which should be a reassurance to all.
Students will have two further tests in school over the next two weeks and will then begin to receive home testing kits. More information on these will follow in due course.
Beyond testing there are a wide range of elements in place to mitigate any risk created by students returning to school. Your son / daughter should arrive at school by 8.20 on Monday morning. We would encourage students not reliant on public transport to arrive slightly earlier to spread entry times. Years 7,9, 10 and 11 should use the main pedestrian entry gate whilst Years 8, 12 and 13 should use the sixth form entry gate.
Pupils should go directly to their form rooms unless they are registered in the Science block in which case they should go to the main hall.
Through the day pupils will follow their normal timetable. They will as far as possible be kept in consistent groups and each year group will be kept separate through split break and lunch times, separate social areas and its own canteen access. Please note again that there are no catering facilities available on site until Thursday 11th March.
Students should attend with all of their normal equipment and in full school uniform. To minimise use of changing rooms students should continue to attend in their Games kit for the day where they have their afternoon games lesson or a PE lesson. This should be worn with the blazer over the top. Students should have a suitable coat which may need to be worn inside due to the need for open windows to help ventilate rooms.
All classes will have seating plans which will support contact tracing if it is needed. Any students displaying Covid symptoms will be immediately removed from class and we will contact home for them to be collected.
It is extremely important that students are not sent to school if they or anyone else in their household have symptoms. This is possibly the most important part of keeping both children and staff safe at the school. Whilst it seems obvious, we did have situations in the Autumn where pupils attended school despite people in their household being symptomatic.
It is vital that all members of the school community act responsibly in this regard as pupils return. If you are in any doubt please contact the school for further guidance. Parents should email firstname.lastname@example.org if their child is unable to attend school for Covid or any other reasons, and must notify us of any positive cases.
Students will be asked to sanitize their hands regularly and whilst there are sanitizer stations all around the school it would be helpful if students also carried their own small bottle of hand sanitizer, particularly to support practical activities. As before, students will be expected to wear a mask whilst on site (except outside at break and lunchtime) unless they have a medical exemption. However, in addition to these measures students will also be required to wear masks in lessons, at least until Easter in the first instance
There will be strict one-way systems around the school and each block will have its own entry and exit systems to ensure that any face to face contact is minimised. Repeating our earlier processes, there will be a staggered finish to the day with Year 7 / 8 finishing at 3pm, Year 9 / 10 at 3.05pm, 11 / 12 at 3.10pm and Year 13 at 3.15pm.
Furthermore, I would ask parents as well as going through these arrangements with their sons and daughters that they emphasise the expectations regarding behaviour and effort that we have always insisted upon as a school. We put great emphasis on the way that pupils conduct themselves and as they return to school after some time away it is very important that they return to school with this in mind. Pupils are obligated not just to avoid negative behaviour but we expect them to proactively demonstrate positive behaviours, both in terms of their work and also in terms of abiding by our Covid arrangements.
Finally, in common with all schools we now clearly have ground to make up. We know that due to the ‘Kent’ variant young people in areas such as Medway have lost more time in school than those in many other areas nationally. It is vital therefore that from the moment they return to school on Monday pupils have the right mindset to focus on their studies and get themselves back on track with their learning.
Mr E Hodges | Headteacher