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Posted on: 11/09/2020

Head of School Blog - Week 1

It has been fantastic to have all of our Hope community back on site together this week. Although this may feel like a very different start to the academic year for many of our students, the plans that we have put in place ensures that they can concentrate on being in school and enjoying their lessons.

It is going to take some time for them to get familiar with the new timings, a two-week timetable and the general structure of the academy day. I want to reassure our students that we will guide and support them through the coming weeks and months. We all need to ensure that we have respect, patience and tolerance for the new system which has been carefully planned to keep us all safe.

With that in mind, we all have an important role to play in ensuring that students follow the plan carefully when entering, moving and exiting the building. Internal and external year group zones have been established to ensure that we minimise movement and remain within year group bubbles. 

Whilst I am mindful that students have a lot of change to deal with, they need to remember that as young people if you don’t change, you don’t grow and the same can be said for us as a community. We must keep moving forward with ambition and adapting positively so that we too can grow.

There are 3 simple principles that I want students to remember in their everyday routine, they are;

  • Sanitising and washing hands on a regular basis
  • Remaining in their year group bubble and wearing a mask when moving around the school
  • Remaining in their year group zone for break and lunch to ensure they are only mixing with their year group.

Many students have shown great courage throughout lockdown and have been through very different experiences.  We can now look forward to the term ahead, working together, supporting each other and helping to ensure that we as a community can continue to be outstanding in all we do.  

We all have a role to play in keeping our community safe.  With this in mind the local authority have circulated a letter regarding an increase in COVID-19 infections in the local area especially Newton-le-Willows. Please click HERE to read the letter.  It is extremely important that we follow all guidance to ensure our own safety and that of others.

The symptoms

Without a doubt the most important thing for us as a school community is that you do not come to school if you have symptoms. Those symptoms are high temperature (37.8 C), a new continuous cough and loss of taste or smell. What a “new continuous cough” means is defined rather well HERE.

Sore throats and a “runny nose” are not symptoms. I urge you again to err on the side of caution, rather than hope all is well. This will ensure we do not find ourselves with an outbreak that could cause much more inconvenience for all.

COVID-19: A guide for parents

We have produced a parent guide to support you when or if your child displays COVID symptoms or comes into contact with the virus.  Please click HERE to read the guide.  You will also find this information on our website.  

Masks

As you are aware, we have asked all our students and staff to wear face covering in communal areas in the building.  Students also need to wear face coverings on school transport.  We understand that everyone is busy and have many things to think about. The key issue with masks is to have a spare, to be sure it is stored in a plastic bag when not in use (rather than pushed into a pocket) and to use it properly. The most important piece of advice is to ensure the mask covers mouth and nose, is comfortable by adjusting the nose strip (this is important for those wearing spectacles), to avoid adjusting it continuously and to remove it by the straps near the ears not be grabbing the mouth covering area.

Masks also form part of your child’s daily equipment so please make sure they bring their mask/wear their mask to school including the days that they have PE.  We have a stock of washable face-masks which can be purchased from pastoral year group offices for £1.00. 

There may be some parents who wish to tell us their child is exempt from wearing a mask. It is important you let us know that and discuss their situation with us promptly by completing the following google form if you have not already done so Face Covering Exempt and Critical Worker Status

Handwashing

Aside from staying away if you may have symptoms, the next most important intervention is regular hand washing. We have hand sanitisers on all entrance doors to the academy and in classrooms. It is important that students sanitise their hands on arrival and before and after break and lunch. Hands need to be washed thoroughly. It is well known that a thorough hand wash will take 20 seconds. Posters will show the usual routine. 20 seconds is far longer than most people think.

Some students will have skin conditions that make normal gel impossible to use. By all means bring and use your own gel at school if you wish to, or we have purchased skin friendly wipes.

Social Distancing

When we are not in classrooms, social distancing is important. It will be clear to students when we must social distance. 2m is far longer than most people think. At times within bubbles, students, whilst not needing to be so far apart, should use common sense. Crowding in huddles, back slapping, handshaking and so on should not be seen. Students are surprisingly tactile and they will need to be conscious not to be.

St Helens Local Lockdown

As you may be aware, the whole of Merseyside has been added to the government watch list because of the increase in the area’s infection rate.  Please read the letter from St Helens Council regarding the Increase in cases in local area. Click HERE

Uniform and Equipment Standards

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our parents and carers for their continued support with our uniform standards.  We have contacted a very small number of families to offer support and advice to help make sure that their child is able to conform to the standards.  Our uniform and equipment expectations are readily available on our website.

Sharing Cars

The Government has issued the following information graphic on how to safely share a school run journey if this cannot be avoided.

Car sharing

Dropping Students off at the Academy

Can we please ask that you drop students off in an area leading up to the academy. Please avoid driving onto the academy site as it will become very congested and unsafe for our students. Similarly, please avoid parking close to the pedestrian crossing on Ashton Road as it becomes very difficult for students to see on-coming traffic. I suggest that you find a safe place to park in proximity to the academy, where students have a short walk to school.

Parents picking up Students

We have been advised by St Helens Council Schools Safety Officers that when parents are collecting their children from school they should ideally wait in their cars.  If this is not possible they should agree a safe meeting place as described above (the site includes the entrance pathways from Ashton Road).  This will avoid students having to walk past parents as they exit the academy site and will further protect our community from COVID-19 infection.

Bus Arrangements at the end of the school Day  

Students who finish earlier than 3.20pm will be escorted to the relevant gates by their final period teacher. Most buses arrive between 3.00pm and 3.10pm. Students will embark on the bus as soon as it arrives. For students who may have to wait for delayed buses there are covered areas within each of the zones where students will be able to sit and wait with a member of duty staff.

Social Media

It has come to our attention that there is a graphic video circulating on social media. Please can you make sure that you are monitoring your child's online activity to ensure they are not exposed to any upsetting, harmful or inappropriate content. 

If your child has seen the video, or any upsetting content, or you yourself have any concerns, please feel free to speak to staff in school who are happy to help. Take care and stay safe

Before I end with Kasia’s reflection, I would like to express my gratitude to you, as parents and carers, and our wider Hope community for your amazing support during this unprecedented time.  

Kasia’s Reflection

As we prepared to welcome our students back to the academy Kasia shared some lovely words and a prayer with us during staff reflection time.  ‘Let us pray to God that we will bring calmness, comfort and security to the students in our care. We have all gone through so many different things in these past 6 months; help us to show each person we meet the love, support and care that we need ourselves.

Let us pray:

Almighty God,

Fill us with understanding as we instruct others.

Help us to see the individual potential of every student.

Fill us with patience as we teach. Help us to keep giving, especially to those who struggle the most.

Give us wisdom when we are with our classes.

Show us when we must discipline and when we can show mercy.

Above all may we love and care for each student we teach, and guide them to be outstanding in all they do.

Amen

 

 

 

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