Dear parents and carers,
This is a very difficult letter to write, as it is necessitated by such difficult and unprecedented times. As you know, due to the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, Newtown Primary School closes at 3.25pm today and will not reopen for the foreseeable future.
The government has asked schools to provide care for a limited number of children:
- Children who are vulnerable (DfE definition – children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including children on child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care plans (EHCPs))
- Children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 Coronavirus response and cannot be cared for at home. The government has produced a list of key worker roles: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
The advice from government stresses that every child who can be safely cared for at home should be. It goes without saying that fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society. Please help us to keep everyone safe.
Yesterday we asked you to make contact to provide us with information which would help us to plan this cover. If you have been allocated a place we will be in contact with you to confirm the provision. If you have asked for provision and on reflection now feel that you can use alternative care please contact the school immediately. If you fit either of the categories listed above and have not made contact with us about provision for your child please call the school office on Monday. Do not bring your child to school until a place has been agreed. If your circumstances change and you become a key worker, please contact us to discuss possible care provision.
What will provision look like in school?
This is a very different type of provision than schools usually provide; for these pupils, it will be about care, not education. This is about keeping children safe and allowing key workers to go to work and care for the sick, or to keep food supply chains moving.
Can the school still decide they need to close?
It remains the case that if we do not have enough staff to care for pupils safely (even based on the new ‘reduced provision’ approach’) then, subject to a risk assessment and consultation with the chair of governors, a full or partial closure may be necessary. We will review the situation daily.
Planning and timetabling.
A rota has been developed on a three-week cycle so that staff are in three teams and have one week on site, one week working remotely, one week off. This timetable will continue to run through the Easter holiday and summer half term (if we have not returned to school by then); or until an alternative provision is made.
- Staff on site will be responsible for the care provision for the limited number of children on site.
- Staff working remotely will be setting online learning assignments on Google Classroom, keeping in contact with parents via Class Dojo, developing the curriculum , completing online training and preparing for when we eventually return to normality.
- During their week off, staff will not make contact with parents – they will set assignments in advance to cover this period.
From Monday, teachers will be setting assignments using Google Classroom. You can access this directly from the Wonde login that was sent home last week. In additional to this, our school website has links to websites which are useful to support learning. If you have lost or not received the Wonde login please contact Mrs Herbert or the school office and we will get this information to you. As we are now on a continuous rolling 3 week rota, we will continue to set work for the children across the whole Easter period and into the summer term.
Please use Class Dojo to make contact with class teachers, but they will not be responding is made during their week off. I will be available on ClassDojo every week.
Free School Meals
If your children are currently eligible for benefits-related free school meals, we will be providing a supermarket voucher for the week beginning 23rd March 2020. Please ensure that this is used for food items only. We will be in touch about ongoing support for families entitled to benefits-related free school meals. Vouchers are not being provided for pupils in EYFS or KS1 who would usually be entitled to a free school meal.
If you need support during these difficult times, the school can issue vouchers for Exeter Foodbank.
Keeping In Touch
The school office will be manned by Ms Back or Mrs Maynard from 8.30am to 12pm daily. Please avoid coming to the office – phone or email instead. The out of hours’ school mobile number (07955787667) should only be used in an emergency.
If you have any worries or questions please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are here to help. I will keep you updated via ClassDojo and the school website.
Thank you to everyone for your support, kind words and smiles this week. Together we will get through these difficult times.
Take care and stay safe,