Letter regarding School Closure and Key Worker/Vulnerable Children
Firstly, can I begin by thanking you and the children for how you have responded to the situation we find ourselves in. As you can imagine, it’s been a difficult few days in school, action planning and trying to put arrangements in place, particularly given that we have only received the information about what is happening at the same time as you. I have spoken to some of you and your words of thanks and recognition of the difficulties we have been facing in school have given us strength and put smiles on our faces. Thank you.
The children have remained a credit to you. Despite the uncertainties and their concerns, they have continued to work hard in school this week, have looked after each other and have been a pleasure to teach as always.
Apologies that I wasn’t able to provide any further clarification yesterday about what will be happening next week - we had to wait for the full clarification from the government before we were able to act. That was eventually released late last night and I am able to now explain the plans for our school in this letter.
From Monday of next week, 23rd March, the government is asking schools to close to most children, and to strongly limit the number of children who are attending, in a bid to help prevent this virus from spreading further.
Schools are being asked to remain open for a small amount of children and there are strict parameters around children who we will be opening our doors to on Monday. The vast majority of children will remain at home.
Firstly, if a child has an Education Health Care Plan, we are asked to consider if that child needs to attend school. I will be speaking to the parents of these children to see if attendance at school is the safest and best option for them.
Secondly, as a school, we have a duty to continue to safeguard our children and families. Where there are some families or children with particular vulnerabilities, we will be providing school places and I will be speaking to the families of these children about them continuing to come into school each day.
We also have a duty to help to ensure that parents who are key workers are still able to attend work. Key workers have been defined by the government as those in the workforce who are essential in the fight against Covid 19. I will be listing the full government list at the end of this letter.
The government has also made it clear, however, that where children can be safely cared for at home and other arrangements made, this must be the case. Although one parent may be a key worker, if the other parent isn’t and can look after the child, therefore preventing having more children in school and risking the virus spreading at school, they need to stay at home.
I understand that people are worried financially if they are going to miss work. I also appreciate that people may be worried about their jobs. However, schools are acting in the way that they have been asked to act by the government. We are acting simply as we have been instructed to. Missing out financially is not a reason to ask schools to look after your children and we will only be taking children where there are no other possibilities. The fewer children who are in school the less likely it is that the virus will spread through school. Social distancing is still the Governments key message. I have to consider the needs, capacity and wellbeing of my staff and need to be able to put in a sustainable plan that allows us to continue to stay open over time. If I need to ask all my ‘non isolating’ staff to come in every day to look after large numbers of children, I risk the whole staff team becoming unwell and I will then be unable to open at all.
Following this Parentmail there is a questionnaire for you to complete if you believe yourself to be a key worker. If you feel you fall into this category please can you complete the form and return it by 4pm today. This will allow me to organise staffing and, if necessary, allow me to prioritise which key workers children I am able to offer a place to.
What will school look like on Monday?
For those who are attending school from next week, the school day is going to look very different. In order that children who are not attending school are not disadvantaged, the day will be organised more as activities rather than formal learning. Children are not required to wear school uniform but should be dressed appropriately and ensure that health and safety requirements are still met, e.g. no jewellery and appropriate foot wear. At the moment we plan to provide a lunch for the children but this may be subject to change if the kitchen is no longer to operate due to staffing levels.
What if my child isn’t attending school?
As shared yesterday, the teaching staff have been preparing activities this week that have/ will be sent home. What I feel is most important is that you put a routine in place and you provide some kind of structure for the children. We recognise that children respond best when there are clear routines and this will be even more essential in the uncertainty that is to follow.
What if my child doesn’t complete the tasks set?
We can’t enforce the home learning tasks. They are provided to help support your child and to provide some form of education. Hopefully they are things your children will enjoy and will be able to share with us when we eventually return to school.
How long will this be for?
The answer to that question is unknown. The situation appears to be changing on a daily basis and I will do all I can to keep you informed. My main ways of communicating with you will be through the website and via Parentmail. There might also be occasions when we give you a ring, just to see that everything is ok. If you need to speak to us, contact us through the admin email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I will also write a short weekly newsletter updating you with any news.
Are you open over the Easter holidays?
The government is asking that schools remain open to some children over the holidays, in order to keep key workers working and to help support our most vulnerable children and families during these difficult times. There are still two weeks before the Easter holidays and so although I have made some provisional plans, I won’t be confirming these just yet. I will communicate with those parents it affects nearer the time.
What time will the school be open?
For those children who do are attending school, we will open our usual hours from 8:50 in the morning and close at 3:15. I would ask that all children come into school via the front door so that they can be registered and sent to the area for learning in that day.
These are unprecedented times and I have never known anything Iike this to happen before; hopefully, we will never find ourselves in this situation again.
As a staff, we wish you and your families well over the next few weeks. If there is anything that you feel we can do to support you, please don’t hesitate to contact me via the admin email given previously.
Stay safe, look after yourselves and each other and we will look forward to seeing you all again soon.