18th March 2020
As you will no doubt have already heard, the Government has made an announcement about school closures. The message is:
It is clear that education and children’s social care settings are increasingly finding it difficult to continue as normal, as illness and self-isolation impacts on staffing levels and pupil attendance. To provide parents, students and staff with the certainty they need we are announcing that schools, colleges and early years settings will be closed to everyone except children of key workers and vulnerable children from Monday, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.
Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans.
As a special school, all our pupils fall into the latter category of those with EHCPs. We intend to stay open to support our vulnerable children and to provide a safe and clean environment to which they can attend. However, this is an entitlement for our pupils, not compulsory. It is for parents to decide what to do in the best interests of their children and families depending on their own individual circumstances. If you intend to keep your child at home, please let us know so that we can ensure that all our pupils are accounted for, and are in safe hands. Currently we have a growing number of pupils off school, either in self-isolation for a 14 day period as someone in the household has shown symptoms of the virus, or as social distancing to avoid any unnecessary contact with others to reduce the risk of infection.
Staffing at the school is currently at a level whereby we can continue to operate safely, but this is changing daily. As long as we have sufficient staff we intend to remain open. Our previous wonderful plans to provide home learning via electronic means linked to staff working from home has now had to be shelved for the time being. We are unable to provide this additional service whilst the school is still open. As staffing and pupil numbers will fluctuate, we will be operating on a more responsive level. The curriculum and timetable will go on hold, and pupils will be provided with a more creative range of learning activities according to the population of the day. The school kitchen will continue to provide hot dinners. Unfortunately, I have had to make the decision to close boarding temporarily, and parents of boarders will receive a phone call from Mrs Levitt today.
Other practicalities such as transport have yet to be clarified. I will keep you informed as and when I have more information.
This is a difficult time for us all, but I can assure you that we are doing all that we can to help to keep your children and our staff safe and healthy.