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Headteacher Update 25.02.21

25.02.2021

Dear Parent/Carer

I hope you had a break over half term from encouraging/forcing your child(ren) to engage in their online learning.  At least we know now that all pupils will be returning to school soon and your day to day battles, with regard to home tutoring, will be confined to evenings and weekends.

I apologise for the delay in writing to you, however, we confirm with the Department for Education (DfE) that they approve our proposal.  I wouldn’t want us to do the wrong thing at this stage. The DfE have agreed our plan which is to try and give all pupils their first Lateral Flow Test before welcoming them back on a phased timetable from Monday 8 March 2021.

In addition, all staff will be taking a Lateral Flow Test when they return to site next week as well as twice weekly “saliva” testing. We hope that, as far as we are able, this will ensure that Swanmore College is Covid free from 8 March 2021.

In order to achieve our objective and meet the guidelines outlined by the DFE of doing 3 tests in school, 3-5 days apart, we will have to ask you to bring pupils in at a specific time on a specific day. Following their first test, pupils will take their second and third test once they are back at school.  The first test will involve you dropping off your child, waiting for your child to do their test and then taking your child home immediately afterwards.  You will be notified of the result if it is a positive one and you will be able to register online to receive the results also .  The time slots will be organised by tutor group, with only 15 minutes given for each tutor group as we need to get through over 500 pupils in a day.  This is a huge logistical exercise meaning we are unable to make any specialised arrangements.  We do appreciate that if you have more than one child at the school and it will involve more than one trip.  However, we hope you will appreciate the enormity of this exercise and accept that this is an inconvenience that will assist a safe return to school for everyone.

The programme for testing and returning to Swanmore College is attached together with instructions for the day of the test. Your time slot for the first test will be sent to you via Parentmail this week.  In the meantime, it is essential that you complete the Google consent form which was issued via Swan-Bites. A copy is attached also. No test can be administered without your prior consent and we cannot accept consent on the day of your child’s test.

https://forms.gle/FHsREWrVR19RpCW38

Live lessons

Clearly, there will be a great deal of disruption as we prepare for pupils to return and we ask for your patience and understanding over the next few weeks.  We may need to set work sometimes rather than host a live lesson, however, we will do our best to keep disruption to an absolute minimum.

Returning to onsite learning

Once pupils return, we will be:

  • Maintaining the Home Zones for tutor time, queuing, lunch, break, using toilet facilities and travelling on Hampshire Transport.
  • The one way system will remain in place.
  • Teachers will return to their own classrooms and pupils will move around the site.

We have monitored the success of the home zone approach very carefully and have decided, as have many other schools, to revert back to teachers remaining in their own classrooms  with pupils moving around the site for lessons. Teachers will be responsible for ensuring rooms are kept clean, hands are sanitised, masks are worn and desks are wiped down at the beginning and the end of each lesson.

One of the reasons that Year 7 will be returning with Year 11 on Monday 8 March 2021 is because they have never experienced moving from block to block and we need to model this change with them so that they understand the one-way systems that remain in place.

Additional Points

–          Saliva testing is not ready for pupils so they will have Lateral Flow tests (LFT) for the time being.

–          Home testing has not been finalised and we will notify you as soon as we have further information on this.

–          Masks must be worn by pupils and staff in all indoor areas of the College, including the classroom during lessons.

–          Teachers will be able to teach without wearing a mask, providing they are in the 2 metre zone which has been marked out in each classroom. Should they need to go and help a pupil, they will be required to wear a mask.

–          The mask rule will not apply to activities such as PE and the DfE have confirmed that they will revisit this recommendation at Easter.

–          Medical evidence must be provided for any pupil or member of staff to be exempt from wearing a mask.

–          We strongly advise and will be actively encouraging/persuading pupils to spend their breaks outside as masks will not be a requirement when outdoors. Please help us by encouraging your children to go outside whenever possible. Pupils will benefit hugely from being in the fresh air and we have provided more seating areas which you can see on our Facebook page.

–          Attendance at school is compulsory and a legal requirement.  This is a return to the “normal requirement” of parents/carers ensuring their child attends school.

–          Individuals identified as critically vulnerable are expected to shield according to the letter they have received and we would need a copy of this letter as evidence if any absence is to be authorised.

–          A Year 11 communication will be sent out as soon as the DFE confirm to us how GCSE grades are to be determined.

–          If your child has PE or Dance on a particular day then they are expected to come in wearing their PE/Dance uniform.

–          Some after-college clubs are likely to resume once pupils return and we will send further details to you in due course.

–          We are giving everyone plenty of notice about the return date so expect pupils to be wearing full Swanmore College uniform observing the rules with regard to jewellery, hair colour and nails for example.

I apologise for the huge amount of information communicated in this letter.  I understand that a number of pupils may be anxious about returning to onsite learning, however, with all the testing that is now in place, Swanmore College is safer than ever before.

During Lockdown some families will have suffered loss or extreme illness. We are here to help in any way we can so do please contact us via [email protected] if you need any additional support.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your incredible support over this whole unfortunate period.  The number of positive messages has been overwhelming but you can now breathe a collective sigh of relief.  The children are about to return and we cannot wait to see them all again.

Kind regards

R K Jonathan

Headteacher

 

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