25 February 2021
Transcript of the video message
The second of these updates about return to school focuses on the key issue of safety. As I said at the end of my update yesterday the best way to visualise our return is to think about what it was like last term, but with COVID testing and an even greater focus on safety.
So we keep the year group "bubbles" who can't mix - therefore we are keeping the "staggered" lunchtimes and slightly staggered arrival and departure from school. We keep the carefully managed movement between lessons, the one way system and the holding of students outside each block before being admitted once hygiene has been completed. We keep the sanitising of hands and the wiping down of workspaces when students come into a room. We keep the fact that we can't share equipment or books or indeed anything at all. We keep the fact that students can't move independently around school - we have to know where they are and manage the movement to keep year groups apart. We are very fortunate that almost all our movement around school is outside and it has become clear that the risk of infection is greatly reduced outside. We keep the calm atmosphere that is good for everyone's mental health - students and staff.
The key change is the focus on face coverings. We are in a situation where there are variants of the COVID virus that are more transmissible and therefore, wherever social distancing cannot be maintained face coverings have to be worn. This now applies to classrooms. As I say we are fortunate that most of our movement is outside and face coverings do not have to be worn outside owing to the much reduced risk of transmission. Students may, of course, wear masks outside if they wish. However, inside a building they must be worn. There is a specific exemption for PE lessons. Teachers may remove their masks to speak to the class because they are able to keep appropriate social distancing, but members of staff who need to work more closely with students will be wearing appropriate PPE. So the difference that students will notice is that we will have to be stricter about face coverings.
Now we know that some students cannot wear face coverings for perfectly reasonable medical reasons, but we need to know who they are so that we avoid challenging individuals unnecessarily. If you son or daughter is exempt, please can you complete the online form at the link on the website to let us know the reason why. This will apply to school, but please be aware that there are separate requirements for the buses (both school buses and public transport) which we do not control. Students who are not exempt and do not have a face covering may not be able to travel. If your son or daughter is exempt then it may be a good idea to follow the example of several of our students last term who carried a badge or card to identify the fact that they are exempt from wearing face coverings. There are several templates on the internet - I have put the link to the government one on the website with this video - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own. On another practical note, please make sure that your son or daughter has a face covering, and a spare, with them - we don't supply them.
So, safety of our students and staff is our primary concern and we have to follow the government guidance. As I say the main difference that students will notice is the renewed focus on face coverings (in addition to all the other safety measures that they are familiar with from last term).
The next one of these updates will look at the practicalities of school life as we return - uniform, forms, behaviour, support etc...
Best wishes and stay safe
The online form to complete to let us know your child is exempt from wearing a face covering is here.
Posted by James Harris
Category: WLD Updates