COVID - JANUARY
As the situation is rapidly-changing, rather than typing and formatting daily newsletters, updates on developments will mostly be posted here and/or via the app for now.
A booking form for critical worker places has been sent out via SMS.
As noted within that, our aim at this point is to ensure that places are available so that those who are critical to the pandemic response are able to continue to fulfil their roles.
Whilst teachers are performers at heart and thrive when they have a physical audience, we do need the next week or so to be more like a tour of small, intimate venues where we try out new material, rather than a sold out stadium tour.
If you can, please keep children at home and engage with remote learning, even if you can only manage that on specific days.
If you can't, for whatever reason, then please do request a school place - we are able to accommodate those who need places most.
Rest assured, we'll be aiming to fill stadiums again as soon as it's considered safe to do so!
12th January 16:39
Just a brief update today, as there has been little of direct relevance to our school in the news today.
Many, many and many more thanks to all those of you who are supporting us in our endeavours to provide what we hope is a fairly robust and accessible remote learning offer that will be able to carry us right through to February.
As you might expect, our staff are essentially learning how to do a lot of this 'on the job', and daily debriefs and reflection are informing improvements for the following day.
Little things like wearing school uniform and a regular timetable (including breaktime) are helping to make it feel more normal, and the support of parents, and positive feedback from them, is helping to reassure staff that things are going in the right direction.
We know this is not easy for any of you either, but hope that at least those 3 hours of online input each morning are helping to support you and ease the pressure you're under a little too!
We are expected to publish a brief summary of what our provision involves and the first draft has been added on the right - or below on smaller screens. As we find our way over the coming weeks this will be updated.
Keep up the good work at home. You're all doing great!
11th January 17:00
JOINT LETTER FROM BRAMPTON SCHOOLS
Within the geographical area around Brampton, the fifteen primary schools are part of a collaborative group, BASC. Within this we share our experiences and collective knowledge, to support each other in our respective roles.
At this point in time, we all recognise that the anxieties of our staff and parent communities are higher than they have been throughout this pandemic.
We are also aware that, at this point in the response, the over-riding message from Cumbria and National Public Health bodies is often at odds with the guidance to schools from the DfE. Similarly, the way the DfE guidance can be applied in each school is inevitably different.
Both issues are creating further confusion, frustration and uncertainty throughout the broader Brampton school community.
The attached letter is a collective statement to parents within the BASC area in response to this.
Alongside this, I would like to repeat the message from Cumbria's Director of Public Health, Colin Cox, made this weekend in light of the continuing high incidence of positive cases:
“Our primary strategic focus at the moment is the preservation of life. This means that measures taken to restrict movement, contact and community transmission are a priority.”
Where they can, we ask critical workers to make use of the remote learning on offer. Staying at home over the coming week or two might be the thing that helps us all turn the corner.
10th Jan 17:00
UPDATE ON ATTENDANCE OF KEYWORKER PUPILS:
As you may be aware, there was a minor update to the guidance on Friday evening, This has seen wording changed to: 'Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers SHOULD keep their children at home if they can.'
The DfE blog was also updated with the following:
'If a child has a parent who is a critical worker, it is for the parent to decide whether they are able to keep the child at home. We encourage parents to consider the spirit of the lockdown when making their decision. Only one parent needs to be a critical worker, and they may be working from home and still require their child to attend school.
Schools should continue to encourage vulnerable children to attend, and make provision where critical workers identify a need for their child to attend.
Schools are free to clarify a parent’s critical worker status, but should not seek to discourage critical workers from sending their child to school for any other reason.'
These updates do not materially change offers of places for the coming week, but we encourage those parents who have already been allocated places, and who can, to follow the spirit of this advice, particularly if there is a parent at home who can provide care and supervision of remote learning.
As there has been ongoing debate over eligibility throughout the weekend and concern over infection rates continues to mount, we anticipate that there may be further changes during the coming days.
This may clarify specific keyworker roles that are considered critical/non-critical or introduce additional qualifying criteria.
If this is the case, it will be reflected in allocations of places for the following week.
8th Jan 10:55 am
Following the publication of guidance late yesterday, we now have clarity over the allocation of places now and over the lockdown period.
Having assessed localised risk in light of the high numbers of cases in our area, keyworker places will be limited to 40 next week, as outlined in the attached newsletter. Nursery will operate as normal.
If, having read the attached newsletter, you would like to request a keyworker place next week, please contact Mr Spencer via phone or email by 1pm at the latest.
It is not envisaged that there will be undue pressure on places. Confirmation of a place will be sent via SMS by 6pm (and probably by return email too).
6th Jan 17:30pm
Whilst I had hoped to be able to report that we now have a clear idea of what the next 2-3 weeks might involve, the operational guidance to schools still hasn't been updated; so I can't.
It seems unlikely that there will be any sweeping changes made, so the delay is confusing. The existing measures listed to control transmission don't appear to be able to be improved upon significantly, so I can only imagine that the delay centres around subjects such as free school meals, safeguarding and remote learning requirements.
We did have confirmation today that all keyworker and vulnerable children who use school transport will remain eligible for this throughout the lockdown period. We have advised the council which children are in this category, and as I understand it they will make the seats available as required.
Those of you who completed the KS1 device loan forms earlier today now have these ready for collection and an SMS will be sent to advise how to do so.
Teachers are formulating their strategies for remote learning, which need to be robust enough to maintain for at least six weeks, and possibly longer. In KS1 & 2 we are planning to teach those in school whilst those at home follow the lessons live and are supported online by the TA during independent phases of the lesson. It won't quite be the same as coming to school, but we hope it'll work!
More positively, we enjoyed sausage and mash for dinner today - which is a great improvement on the packed lunches from lockdown one. At least something has improved this year...
5th Jan 17:55pm
As you might expect, today has been a different day to the one we had anticipated. It was great to welcome children back this morning, albeit not in the numbers we had hoped for prior to 8pm yesterday!
That said, I'd imagine today has been quite different to your anticipated Tuesday too!
Much of the day has been spent trying to clarify the finer details of the situation and beginning to ensure that all those at home can access remote learning. Now our attention is turning towards the journey of the next six to seven weeks and how we can fulfil our educational role within the guidance both now, in the midst of high infections, and as the recovery begins.
There will be a fuller update on remote learning later in the week, but for now please note that remote learning is slightly different in this lockdown and the learning happening is expected to be of a similar standard to that in the classroom. We also now have to closely monitor pupil engagement with and responses to the work set and have daily contact with pupils working remotely, which we will achieve via video links.
Tomorrow we will survey KS1 parents to determine need for loaned devices to support remote learning.
At this point, we understand the following:
- The cases reported nationally have spiked dramatically in recent days as well as locally, leading to a lockdown period expected to last at least 6 weeks, and potentially longer;
- All schools are described as open during this period - but only to children of critical key workers and those who are vulnerable (KW&V);
- The guidance on KW&V was updated earlier today. The list of professions remains largely the same, with the addition of workers involved in the EU Transition process;
- Only one parent needs to be a keyworker;
- If evidence of employment is required a payslip or ID badge is sufficient;
- Vulnerable pupils outside the listed categories should be determined at the school's discretion discretion.
However, we do not yet have an update to the broader guidance on school operations during this period so some aspects remain unclear. For example:
- If there are to be limits placed on overall numbers of pupils on site;
- What the attendance expectations are for those eligible to attend;
- Whether we will be able to continue to offer wraparound care.
For now, we await the publication of the updates to the Government's 'actions for schools'. These now seem likely to appear overnight and we will be able to respond accordingly after that.
Once we know more and can cross reference with the information available on the 'Who can attend school?' page, we will be better placed to determine the answer to that very question!
4th Jan : 10.40pm
Following the announcement by the Prime Minister this evening that all schools are expected to transition to remote learning and provision for limited numbers of pupils from midnight, our immediate response on the basis of guidance already available is attached.
We know that the sudden announcement will place many parents in a difficult position in coming days. We will do all we can to support you.
It will take us a day or so to get everything in place and switch from our previous plan to welcome all pupils back. Please bear with us while we process the guidance that will undoubtedly be published overnight.