January start of term
First, I hope that you have had a safe and peaceful Christmas, but I am aware that there will be many people who have had their lives affected by the current pandemic.
We were still contacting parents of students who were close contacts of positive cases up to Christmas Eve and I am so sorry that we had to bring this news to parents in the lead up to Christmas.
It also appears that there will be further changes to the planned return to school. We await an update from the department of education later today and I am sorry that information is so late in continuing to come from government.
However, at present I wanted to ensure that parents had as much information as possible - we now expect that all students will be undertaking online learning from Tuesday 5th January. We plan for the regular timetable to be taking place (we return on a timetable week two) and so students should log onto google classroom at the beginning of every lesson to receive guidance and teaching from school teaching staff.
The return to on site learning appears also to be staggered, with year eleven and year thirteen students returning to school first, followed by other year groups. We hope that the dates for this will be made clear later today.
Lateral Flow Testing
The senior leaders at the school met yesterday to discuss the arrangements for testing and we hope to provide further detail on this when we return. At present we are issuing consent forms for parents to sign so that when the testing programme starts we can undertake it as quickly as possible. We will ensure that all parents have full details of the programme. I have spent some time over the Christmas break in meetings with the DfE regarding the testing programme and will also be visiting a university test centre in the forthcoming week.
Thank you to the parents and friends of the school who have offered their time as volunteers for the lateral flow testing. I have written to all our volunteers to arrange the next steps. If you feel you may have the time and skills to support the school in the testing programme, please contact us.
Support for online learning
Please can I request that parents do everything possible to help children prepare for a new stage in online learning. The school will be providing equipment in cases of exceptional need and we will be in contact on 4th January with eligible families to confirm this.
Students will need a clear place in which to learn and to access the teaching on Google Classroom / Meet. Please make sure there are no other distractions and that you spend some time before Tuesday 5th talking about preparing for online study so that learning can take place as effectively as possible.
Thank you in advance - we always plan to be decisive and clear in our communication and expectations. This has meant having to anticipate the next stage of both the local and national situation and we thank you for all the support you have given us in the school's response.
We already anticipate that we will act further to keep our staff and students safe in the new term; not only through the roll out of the testing mentioned above, the welcome news of the programme of vaccination, but also we anticipate that we will be asking for staff and students to extend the wearing of masks into the classroom environment next term so that transmission is reduced as far as is possible. Thank you for your support in this.