From the Headmaster - Addendum
Posted by MM - Friday 28 August 2020
In recent months, I have become rather more circumspect when deciding whether or not to publish information to students and parents in response to government guidance. Indeed, part of the reason for delaying the publication of the Welcome Back guide was to give us enough time to make critical decisions based on the very latest updates but more importantly the other part of the reason was being able to publish our guidance at a time when I thought there would be no further changes from the government regarding the full reopening of schools. Clearly, following Monday’s announcement with respect to face coverings, I should have delayed the publication of our guide a little longer!
As it stands there is no statutory requirement for us to insist that face coverings are worn in corridors and communal spaces unless we become a ‘local lockdown area’ and indeed the government is not recommending that face coverings are necessary in education settings generally because the system of controls, applicable to all education environments, provides additional mitigating measures. Nevertheless, a reminder that should any member of staff or pupil choose to wear a face covering in school, they will be able to do so.
Following the updated advice from the World Health Organisation, I can understand that a number of pupils will wish to wear face covering in corridors. However, it is important that if face coverings are worn they are worn properly- when wearing a face covering pupils should:
- wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on;
- avoid wearing them on their necks or foreheads;
- avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with their mouth and nose;
- change the face covering if it becomes damp or they have touched it;
- not place face coverings on any tables or desks;
- avoid taking it off and putting it back on a lot in quick succession.
When removing a face covering pupils (and staff) should:
- wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing;
- only handle the straps, ties or clips;
- not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with their mouth and nose;
- store reusable face coverings in a plastic bag until they have an opportunity to wash them. If the face covering is single use it should be disposed of in a waste bin;
- not give face coverings to someone else to use;
- wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed.
A face covering should:
- cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably;
- fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face;
- be secured to the head with ties or ear loops;
- be made of a material that is comfortable and breathable;
- ideally include at least two layers of fabric;
Unless the advice changes, pupils will not be required to wear face coverings in lessons
We will not permit the use of scarves as face coverings in school
It is important to re-emphasise that we are using a hierarchy or system of controls in school including ‘year group bubbles’, social distancing, promoting high standards of hand hygiene, increased surface cleaning, and other measures as the best ways of managing risk, and that wearing a face covering as a precautionary measure, largely to protect others and not the wearer, should be viewed alongside these other measures.
Further details on travelling to and from school
A reminder that whilst we do need to have staggered start and finish times, we recognise that many students travel to school on coaches and although we will implement these start and finish times to reduce mixing and preserve the ‘bubbles’ on site, pupils will be able to come in to school as soon as their coach arrives, but they will need to go straight to their allocated area. We will, of course make sure all pupils are able to catch their coaches home. This provision for pupils who travel by coach will also apply to those travelling to school by other modes of transport, but where possible, we are encouraging pupils to be dropped off and picked up close to their start and finish times. Several parents have asked questions regarding cycling to school. Cyclists will be able to use the bike sheds as normal. However, when they have secured their bicycle safely, pupils should then go straight to their allocated area and pupils should follow a similar routine upon departure.
There is no doubt that the return to school will be a strange experience for many and that the situation regarding COVID-19 and the advice from government and other administrations across the UK continues to change daily. I am well aware that the situation may be stressful for pupils, parents and colleagues and I would like to thank parents and other members of the school community for the continued messages of support. I am hopeful that the frequency of my updates to parents will return to the usual pattern of roughly once a month once school re-opens, nevertheless I will endeavour to keep parents up-to-date should the need arise. As momentum builds towards the pupils’ first days in school, I can honestly say that I am very much looking forward to witnessing classrooms full of students focused on learning once more. I know that teachers are keen to begin the new academic year as, although during the closure period we worked hard to offer high quality remote learning and face-to-face sessions to try to mitigate the risk of our students falling behind, nothing can replace a lesson in a classroom where teachers and students are able to interact with and respond to each other. We will continue to focus on our curriculum aims to provide pupils with high levels of core knowledge and understanding, foster enquiry, creativity, self-discipline, intellectual curiosity and scholarship.