Update Friday 22 May
I wrote to you on Tuesday and posted this video on Youtube to explain our plans with regards to phasing back more pupils – in our case Year 10 and then Year 6.
The Government have announced that they will not make a final decision on the viability of this date until Thursday 28 May and that they may then delay the phased return of additional pupils. In light of this, and reasons set out below, we have taken the difficult decision that we will not start to phase the return of additional pupils until at the earliest Monday 8 June, and only then if the Government advice is that it is safe to do so.
Our reasons for this are based on the principle that the safety of our pupils and staff is paramount and that the operation of our schools and college is dependent on our ability to keep them resourced and safe.
We need additional time to make sure that we have:
- Completed thorough risk assessments for individual pupils and staff, for groups of staff and for each individual building. This is a significant piece of work and is also ongoing as we adapt to any further guidance or people’s health conditions change.
- Put in place any additional individual or site-specific safety measures following the risk assessments, which includes determining if we have enough staff able to attend on site to operate a safe service.
- Put in place measures to support social distancing on the basis of the physical ‘space’ available in each of their sites. Whilst we cannot guarantee social distancing, we will do everything we can, for example: removing and storing furniture, clearing areas to allow for more thorough cleaning, visibly marking up floor space in dining rooms, corridors and staircases, and instituting one-way entry and exit points.
- Secured additional cleaning throughout the day on all sites, and a schedule of regular deep cleaning.
- Secured sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), whilst unfortunately operating on the basis of receiving no Government advice for our sector on its use. It is a key tenet to support effective infection control and we have worked with the guidance issued to social care settings. Across our schools and college, we have always used disposable aprons, gloves and hand sanitizer to support personal care, medication and food preparation.
- Trained all staff in any new safety measures and protocols, for example on the use of face masks and (rare use of) eye goggles.
- Prepared young people through the use of social stories.
- Ensured transport arrangements are in place.
We are committed to working in partnership with both parents and local authorities to ensure that we are meeting the best interests of the children and young people we support. This must put their safety at its heart.
I understand that you may feel frustrated and I apologise for that. I ask that you please bear with us. We miss our young people, and like everyone else, we want a return to normal for them - and us!
We will continue to plan further and will communicate any updates as soon as we can. Please look out for emails, texts and our website.
To reiterate, no additional pupils will start on Monday 1st June. We will be in touch with Year 10 and Year 6 families to confirm their start date.
Thank you for support. As always, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Head of The Rise School
Update Thursday 21 May
Update Monday 18 May
On 11 May 2020, the Government set out its roadmap for coming out of lockdown, this included how schools and colleges might, at the very earliest from 1 June, take a phased approach to bringing some of their pupils and learners back into their settings. When taking account of this guidance, our first consideration is the safety and wellbeing of our staff, pupils and learners.
There was clear advice published on 12 May to special schools/specialist colleges indicating they ‘should work towards welcoming back as many children and young people as can be safely catered for in their settings.
Our schools and college have developed a set of principles to work to in order to support our decision making:
- The safety of our pupils, learners and staff is paramount
- The operation of our schools and college is dependent on our ability to keep them resourced and safe
- We have considered the maximum number of children, young people and staff we can have on site to allow for social distancing
- We are following Government guidance and keep our position under constant review
- Each child and young person has an individualised Covid-19 risk assessment, that is updated as needed
- Whilst social distancing is difficult for some of our children and young people to understand and practice, we will do all that is reasonably practicable to enable it
- We will also do what is reasonably practicable to support staff to socially distance within an education setting
- If a child or young person has a pre-existing medical condition that places them on the clinically extremely vulnerable list, they must remain at home. If a child or young person has a pre-existing medical condition that places them in the clinically vulnerable category and the local authority’s risk assessment says they are safer in school or college, we will need medical evidence to confirm this
- We will work in partnership with placing local authorities and parents and carers on an ongoing basis
We have updated our detailed approach to supporting pupils and young people in our educational settings during the Coronavirus pandemic, which can be downloaded here.
For those pupils and learners not accessing learning at school or college we will continue to support them to learn at home. This can be through home learning packs and/or through our virtual learning platform. As per Government guidance, we will work with local authorities to monitor the welfare of vulnerable children who are not attending school or college and will keep in touch with other pupils and learners for safeguarding purposes.
Please stay safe when accessing materials online. The following resources may help:
- Internet matters - for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
- London Grid for Learning - for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
- Net-aware - for support for parents and careers from the NSPCC
- Parent info - for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
- Thinkuknow - for advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online
- UK Safer Internet Centre - advice for parents and carers
We have put together new resources for families during this time. Read our information sheets on managing health anxiety and managing more time at home, as well as our other Coronavirus resources on health and well-being, education and legal support.
We will continue to plan further and will communicate any changes if we hear more. Please look out for emails, texts and this website. If you have any questions, please contact Head of The Rise School Helen Ralston on 020 8099 0640. Thank you for your patience and support at this difficult time.