5th November 2020
I am writing to update you following the introduction of the new National Restrictions. I received guidance as to how these restrictions will impact on schools late yesterday afternoon. Fortunately, there should be little impact with regard to ourselves as the main change regarding the wearing of face coverings is already compulsory at Seaham High. Below is the Government guidance regarding attendance for all students including extremely clinically vulnerable and clinically vulnerable children.
“Schools continue to remain open for all children and young people as they have since the start of the autumn term for the duration of the national restrictions. Being at school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Time spent out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children. This impact can affect both current levels of education, and children’s future ability to learn. It continues to be our aim that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full-time.
The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in the classroom far outweigh the low risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).”
Extremely Clinically vulnerable Children
“More evidence has emerged that shows there is a very low risk of children becoming very unwell from coronavirus (COVID-19), even for children with existing health conditions. Most children originally identified as clinically extremely vulnerable no longer need to follow original shielding advice. Parents should speak to their child’s GP or specialist clinician if they have not already done so, to understand whether their child should still be classed as clinically extremely vulnerable. Those children whose doctors have confirmed they are still clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend childcare or nursery during the period this advice is in place.
Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend education or childcare. Parents of clinically extremely vulnerable children will be receiving a letter shortly confirming this advice.”
Clinically vulnerable children
“Children who are clinically vulnerable or have underlying health conditions but are not clinically extremely vulnerable, may continue to attend early years and childcare settings in line with current guidance.”
I am very pleased with attendance. The national average figures being published for October are around 83%. Our figure is standing at 94.20%. This is below what we normally have at this time of year but still very pleasing.
If you have any worries or changes in circumstance that may impact on your child’s welfare during this period do contact us to let us know. My main worry is staffing the school if numbers of staff self-isolating increase. I don’t want to use large numbers of supply staff and would be unable to find significant numbers given this is a national issue for all schools. Therefore, Governors gave me permission to move to a rota basis if needed for Key Stage Three Year Groups. This would involve a year group staying at home for a period of one week and completing their learning via Google classrooms to enable the rest of the school to be fully staffed with our staff. This is not ideal, we are not yet at that stage and I would endeavour to avoid it if possible. I will update you with more detailed plans should this step be required.
Another worry is the lack of access to specialist rooms for some subjects. We are trying our best and have made huge improvements to access to specialist Music, Science, Art and DT facilities especially for Year 10 but I will not compromise the integrity of Bubbles and the necessary cleaning requirements. I do not want any classroom to be used by students from a different Bubble without it being thoroughly cleaned first. We have purchased a Fogging Machine which is helping with this but a room then has to be left vacant for an hour before it can be used again so the logistics are complex. Staff are being very creative to ensure this doesn’t impact too much on students but the reality is Science is best taught in a Science Laboratory for obvious reasons.
Thank you once again for your support. Take care and stay safe.
Mr G.W. Lumsdon