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05 November 2020


Dear Parents, Carers and Staff

I promised I would write and explain any new changes to school provision arising from the Prime Ministers announcement that England would enter a second period of national lockdown. Schools are expected to ensure any changes required in light of national restrictions are in place as soon as practically possible, and by Monday 9 November at the latest. The changes required will commence in EPCS School on Monday the 9th November to allow parents to explain the change to their children, obtain supplies of masks and allow any parental concerns to be flagged to Heads of Year. 

The school will continue to remain open for all children and young people as being at school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. It continues to be our aim that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full-time if we are able to offer staffing provision to support them. 

We have been assured the risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in the classroom far outweigh the low risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) the school has in place measures to support staff and students to attend school and work together safely. This works on the clear understanding that children comply with the rules in place and work cooperatively with each other as well as adults. Students are familiar with these expectations as they have been in place since our return in September. Our risk assessment will be updated to reflect changes required as a result of the new guidance.

Face Coverings : Currently  the choice to wear a mask or visor in our school is optional. however this will now change.  From Monday the 9th November, all pupils in year 7 -13 will need a mask. Face coverings should be worn by staff and pupils when moving along corridors and in communal areas. This is because social distancing is harder to maintain. Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings and we expect adults and pupils to be sensitive to those needs.  Please can I ask that parents email your child’s HOY if your child needs to be exempted giving a clear reason so we have a list which can be circulated to staff to avoid any anxiety or unnecessary conflict. Face masks will not be expected to be worn in class and the option to wear one inside the classroom remains optional. Face masks do not need to be worn when outside during break and lunchtimes. 

Clinically extremely vulnerable children and staff : More evidence has emerged that shows there is a very low risk of children becoming very unwell from coronavirus (COVID-19), even for children with existing health conditions. Most children originally identified as clinically extremely vulnerable no longer need to follow original shielding advice. Parents are advised to speak to their child’s GP or specialist clinician if they have not already done so, to understand whether their child should still be classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Those children whose doctors have confirmed they are still clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend education whilst the national restrictions are in place. The school will make appropriate arrangements to enable them to continue their education at home. Parents need to contact the school SENCO Ms Buchanan if this applies to your child. Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend education. We have been informed that parents of clinically extremely vulnerable children will be receiving a letter shortly confirming this advice. 

Staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to work from home and not to go into work. Individuals in this group will have been identified through a letter from the NHS or from their GP, and may have been advised to shield in the past. The school will work with these staff to support them and ensure they can still contribute to the work of the school. Until they have received a formal letter they will continue to work as they currently are.  All other staff should continue to attend work, including those living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable. Staff and children who are clinically vulnerable or have underlying health conditions but are not clinically extremely vulnerable, can continue to attend the school in line with current guidance.

Travelling to and from school: Travel in or out of local areas should be avoided, and parents, carers and staff should look to reduce the number of journeys they make – but travelling to deliver and access education is still permitted. Staff, children and their parents and carers are encouraged to walk or cycle when travelling to and from school where this is possible, and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow social distancing to be practised.

Exams:  The Prime Minister and Education Secretary have been clear that exams will go ahead next summer, as they are the fairest and most accurate way to measure a pupil’s attainment. Pupils now have more time to prepare for their exams next year, as most AS, A levels and GCSEs will be held 3 weeks later to help address the disruption caused by the pandemic.

PE provision: The PE provision will continue as now, pupils are kept in consistent groups and sports equipment thoroughly cleaned between each use by different individual groups. We continue to prioritise outdoor sports. We are able to work with external coaches, clubs and organisations for curricular activities if we have assessed the risk first.  School clubs may continue and our PE Department will review what they can offer moving forward. Many parents will be aware that grassroots football clubs have had to close. Dance, music and drama can continue for now. 

So in summary,  we continue to offer a safe, secure environment for your child relying on your support to make expectations clear. Your child will need their own mask to use from Monday wearing it in communal areas as directed unless you have made contact with your child’s HOY

Thank you for your ongoing support of me and my staff. 

Liz Cook