Covid-19 - Mr. Booth's Response to Carers and Parents
After the events of this week I thought it important to write to you to reassure you of the actions that the school is taking to ensure that a measured approach is taken with regards to the safety of the children, staff and pupils in these most unusual of times.
I fully appreciate the anxiety that COVID-19 can bring and the disruptiveness of having to send children home from school to self-isolate. As a father myself, I have had first-hand experience of the concern this can cause. My own son is currently self-isolating having been sent home due to a COVID incident at his secondary school - adding further demands to family life for my wife and I.
I would like to reassure the whole school community that the COVID Risk Assessment, which has been in place since the beginning of this term, outlines and contains the actions that are being taken. It is reviewed weekly with various teams of people. I would like to stress that parents are welcome to make any contributions and suggestions as outlined in my parent-mail of the 19th October. The leaders of the school are continually reviewing, making changes and adapting procedures in light of new developments and updated national and local guidance from the Department of Education and Local Authority. We are always here to listen to your concerns and consider your suggestions.
It is at this point I would like to say thank you, to you all, for the way you have supported the school by wearing masks when collecting and dropping off your children, adhering to drop-off and collection times and ensuring that you do not gather in crowds outside of school. This has contributed to helping keep children, staff and each other safe. This was introduced earlier at St. Mary’s than many other schools due to the constraints of our school sites, particularly on Boston Avenue, where there is only one way onto and off the school site. It is due to the constraints of the site in terms of toilets, the lunch hall and the playground with 500 children in attendance that year groups are determined to be a ‘bubble’.
The school has taken all reasonable measures to ensure those parents who are dependent on breakfast and after school club can continue to use this service so that they can continue to do their job. So many of our parents and carers are essential workers ensuring that others are cared for and safe within the NHS, Care Services, Public Services and other key roles.
However, I wish to assure you that it is with a heavy heart that I followed the advice that I was given to send children home to self-isolate. Since, school is the best place for them to be! The sending home of an entire year group is not the default position but one that was taken to ensure the safety of all. In honesty, even if at St. Mary's a class was decreed to be a ‘bubble’ - the outcome of sending home the entire Year 3 group would have been the same due to the nature of any possible infection spread.
It is important for all of us in school, and also when not, to adhere to all the requirements of this second national lockdown and any tiered system that may follow. It is important for all of us, every family and even extended families and indeed our community to keep each other safe. This can be hard and soul destroying for many but it must be done if we are to contain this virus.
Just before the October half term, St. Mary’s undertook a COVID inspection with the Health and Safety Executive. It proved to be a very positive but robust experience with only one recommendation to implement which was taken straight away. As part of this, the inspector reviewed our Risk Assessment for both sites. He toured both sites, visited classrooms and spoke with various members of staff to ensure that all that I had expressed to him was truly taking place to keep the children and staff safe.
So in conclusion, I wish to assure you that as the headteacher and a father of school age-children myself, I am doing all that is within my control to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children as well as the community that the school serves. As are the dedicated and committed colleagues that surround and support me in this task. Such commitment and support does not come without personal cost but is done out of a sense of vocation and passion.
Keep Safe, Keep Well, Keep Social Distancing.
With Regards and God Bless,
Mr N. J. Booth