It feels like we have all been busy bees this week, whether working in school or at home with remote learning. The children in school are now settling down and establishing new relationships within new classroom environments. All classes that I have visited over the past week appear to be focused on their learning.
With regards to the children learning online, we are enjoying hearing you in the live teaching sessions, and are impressed by a lot of the work that is being submitted. We realise that this change in learning has impacted on all of us from the child, carers/ parents and the staff members now grappling with teaching through technology. Behind the scenes, we are trying to secure further devices for families who have none or one between several siblings. We are glad to hear through feedback, that the new online learning offer is being well received – please take the time to comment on the survey sent out, all remarks are most welcome, as we are keen to tailor what we do to support you.
Thank you to those of you who are continuing to keep your children at home. This has allowed us to prioritise places in school for those children who really need it, and limit contacts for children and staff. The Government has shifted their approach to schools, they are stating that if you can keep your children at home, you should. I know that this means some of your children will be in school some days and at home others, but this helps to keep us all safer.
Demand for places in school is now over 70% higher than in the lockdown in March. It is becoming a struggle to find enough teaching capacity to be able to run multiple classes in school and also deliver online learning at the same time. This is a common issue in many local schools. We have been informed that our neighbouring council, Coventry, have had to refine their critical worker criteria further, to begin to tackle the issue, with an offer scaled on need:
· Both parents, or single parent households, are critical workers.
· One parent is a critical worker and the other parent undertakes a job which cannot be done from home.
· One parent is a critical worker and the other parent is working from home.
Warwickshire County Council has not yet introduced this measure but if the trend continues changes will need to review our offer to ensure that school remains a safe environment for eligible pupils and staff. A relook at places might have to happen anyway if any extension to the current lockdown period is announced.
Staff Lateral Flow Testing begins in primary schools this week. Staff have the opportunity to self-administer the Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test twice weekly in a bid to further mitigate the risk of Covid-19 infection. The test is not mandatory and is for adults only – WE ARE NOT TESTING CHILDREN.
By identifying those with Covid-19 but who are asymptomatic, the school has another layer of protection on top of its existing system of controls. In terms of the practicalities of this new testing programme, there are certain things that you must be aware of.
Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test - this is to test asymptomatic adults in school twice a week. It provides almost instant results but is considered to be less reliable than the PCR test.
If a member of staff who tests positive, plus those adults and pupils who are considered to have had close contact with them in the previous 48 hours, will be required to self-isolate as per the national guidance. The school will inform you if your child needs to self-isolate. The member of staff must then immediately book a PCR test to confirm the result – this takes time.
If the member of staff's subsequent PCR test is positive, then the self-isolation period for the adult and their close contacts continues as per national guidance.
If the member of staff's subsequent PCR test is negative, then the self-isolation period for all will stop and the member of staff and their close contacts can resume school.
The school will communicate these outcomes to relevant parties in a timely way, however, there is a chance that bubbles in school will be closing more frequently as we await confirmation – please make sure that you and your child are familiar with carrying on the learning at home. We will try to ensure that the remote learning continues.
As you must be aware, we have had some significant snowfall today. We will assess the local roads and school site to make sure the school is safe to open, please take note that Hayes Lane is on a hill, it frequently freezes over in the winter, and is not on Warwickshire’s roads gritting routes – we have asked! The site safety assessment is likely to be completed only on Monday morning, as the local weather forecast is often unreliable – make sure you keep checking the normal communication routes we use.