Update on the actions we are taking to continue to keep our schools fully open, as much as is possible

Dear parents and carers,

I am writing to you again on behalf of the Cabot Learning Federation, the multi-academy trust of which your child’s school is a part. When I wrote to you in March, as we faced the first period of national lockdown, I noted that it is unusual for the trust to communicate directly with families, since your usual contact comes directly from your child’s school.

Since then I have written again to all families in July and in September, with updates about school opening. With the ongoing challenges of Covid-19 it was important for you to know that we work very closely as a broader team across the trust to ensure that all CLF schools are supported in providing the best possible school experience for all of the pupils in all of our schools.

From the start of September our schools have been fully open for pupils, with careful measures in place to comply with Public Health England’s guidance and ‘system of controls’, which have helped to minimise the risk of spread of the coronavirus within our school communities.

Following the Prime Minister’s press conference on Saturday evening, which announced a further period of national lockdown but with schools remaining open, I am writing again to inform you about the actions we are taking as a trust to continue to keep our schools fully open, as much as is possible.

Our schools have established the recommended safety measures that continue to minimise the risk of spread of infection for everyone in our community; frequent thorough hand washing, good respiratory hygiene, enhanced cleaning, restricting contacts and keeping a safe distance between pupils as far as possible. Until now we have followed the Government guidance closely and this has not recommended that wearing face coverings was necessary for staff or pupils in schools in our area.

Face Coverings

Since the start of this week we have been talking to our secondary school students about face coverings and encouraging both staff and students to wear them in communal areas and when moving around inside the building. Your child, if in Year 7 or above, is encouraged to wear a face covering at school from tomorrow and this will be obligatory from Monday 9 November 2020. We recommend a material face covering that is washable and re-usable. If you will not be able to provide your child with a suitable face covering, or if your child is unable to or exempt from wearing a face covering, or you would like to discuss this further, please contact your Academy directly.

Face coverings are not required or expected to be worn in classrooms during learning, where protective safety measures are in place that mean the risks of spread of infection are mitigated. We will continue to inform and train all staff and students in our secondary schools about how to wear and take care of a face covering safely and our expectations about safe use.

At this time, and in line with previous Government guidance, it will not be mandatory for pupils or staff in our Primary schools to wear a face covering. However, we recommend that parents/carers wear a face covering when coming to school to drop off or pick up your child. This is a precautionary measure to reduce the chances of both transmitting and catching the virus, in line with the latest Government guidance about large gatherings and the upcoming national lockdown requirements. Your child’s academy will inform you further about specific local arrangements, as appropriate.

Staying Safe

As this term, and the period of national lockdown, progresses, what happens to the infection rates locally in society is likely to be reflected in schools. We will continue to manage individual cases and contacts, with the support of Public Health, and where a group of pupils (within a ‘bubble’) may have to remain at home to isolate, schools will remain open for all other pupils as widely as possible. At this time I am pleased to be able to report that the vast majority of the 12,000 children in the trust are in school.

As always, if your child shows any of the common symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature (fever), a new continuous cough, loss of smell/taste) they must stay at home and not come to school – anyone showing symptoms can and should get a test to confirm whether or not they have Covid-19. You must report a positive test result to your child’s school if they have been in school in the 48 hour period prior to symptoms starting or prior to the test.

Continuity of Education

We fully intend for all of our schools to remain open to all pupils throughout the lockdown period and for the foreseeable future. The Government guidance that we are expecting before the lockdown begins on Thursday 5 November is likely to include advice for people with certain health conditions that means they are recommended to stay at home. For this reason, and if staff are otherwise obliged to isolate, our schools may have to reorganise our arrangements for learning. We remain committed to ensuring that there is continuity in the delivery of our curriculum and that pupils’ learning is well-supported and of value. Since the first lockdown we now know a lot more about what works well in different working and learning environments.

Staying in Touch

During the four-week lockdown from Thursday 5 November, as always, your Academy is your main point of contact and your Principal will provide further local details about current health and safety measures and any changes to arrangements for pupils that may follow. We are aware that sometimes messages appear on social media that are not always accurate. Please do check school announcements and newsletters posted on the school website for any updates. If you have any questions or doubts about the arrangements for your child please contact your Academy.

I want to reassure you that our utmost priorities are safety and continuity of education. If any of our pupils have to remain at home, they will be provided with learning to be completed remotely.

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and continued support for our schools, for my colleagues and of course for your own child’s learning.

Yours faithfully

Mr S Taylor