Dear Parents and Carers
I am writing to you today to thank you all for the continued support during these challenging and unprecedented times. Over the last two weeks we have had a number of students and staff test positive to Coronavirus which has increased further the pressure and challenge to us all.
This has led to a number of year groups self-isolating and staff isolating. I have had a number of parents contact school sharing their frustrations and seeking clarity to why we have chosen to isolate full year groups. So I thought I would attempt to explain our specific situation at Shevington High School and how we are applying the Government Guidance.
As you are aware all schools were issued Government Guidance to use, to help prepare for a full return of all students in September. We have used that guidance and applied all the safety measures that are within the document, to ensure all students and staff are as safe as possible.
To this end we have created year group zones and implemented staggered break times, staggered lunchtimes and one way systems to try to reduce the transmission of the virus across school and our children’s families. We also took the decision to introduce face coverings from the start of this term again to help to reduce the transmission of the virus as students move around school.
In Secondary Schools the Guidance says that year groups are to be seen as a bubble. Therefore we have five bubbles across the school. To follow the guidance further we have Years 7,8 and 9 following their timetables from one classroom and our teachers move around to them lesson by lesson. This was to reduce movement around school and limit the times that students from different bubbles mix. We could not achieve this with Year 10 and 11 as they have individual timetables due to student option choices, so they move lesson to lesson in their zone.
There are a number of challenges that we face ensuring students in all years are safe and we meet all the risk assessments and control measures we have. All year group bubbles have a break and lunch in their bubble and we clean and sanitise the canteen between each bubble sitting. We do only have one canteen and to comply with the risk assessments we have introduced a one way system for the students as they collect food and take their seats. We have also had to reduce the number that can sit down at tables as students can’t sit and face each other.
This is one of our major issues, so despite students spending time in the same classroom that does avoid student movement and reduces possible transmission, we still have lunch and break as a full year bubble. Because of the small size of the canteen and the challenges with social distancing it is really hard to ensure we can safely identify close contacts following a positive test result in a year group. Even though we do remind the students to social distance and wear masks throughout the day. It is really difficult for 175 students to do this while they eat their lunches during their recreational time.
We are trying our hardest to ensure students are safe in school. The school is sadly a drastically different place since the pandemic. Our role is not only to ensure the students are learning and making great progress but we have the additional pressure to try to reduce the possibility of a Covid 19 outbreak across the school and our families.
This responsibility isn’t taken lightly and we do work closely with Public Health every time we have a case. We do also contact trace as much as we can despite the challenges I have highlighted above. Many parents have had a call from me personally over the last two weeks as we try our best to identify those extremely close contacts and make sure our students and families are safe and supported.
What keeps me awake at night at the moment is the thought that we have an outbreak and that in turn is passed to our Shevington families and staff. So for that reason I will always respond in the best interest of the health of all our students, families and staff. Sending a year group home is the last thing we want to do, but self-isolation is the best way to reduce the spread of this extremely contagious and potentially deadly virus.
I know self-isolation of a year group can be inconvenient but the alternative is to put others at risk. We have Google Classroom in place and are running live lessons, lesson tasks and coaching for all classes and will endeavor to ensure students are not disadvantaged while they are isolating.
I hope this has helped parents to understand our current position and that we are truly trying our best to educate the children under extremely difficult circumstances but also as a school are doing everything we can to keep the children and staff safe and well.
Mr J Grant