It’s good to be back! Welcome to the families of all pupils who are new to the school, and welcome back to all the other families who have been keeping your children safe and well both at home and at school during the last few months. There were lots and lots of smiles from the pupils when they came through the door on Wednesday, as they greeted their friends and staff again. They really were beaming! It has also been really good to have spoken to so many of you on the telephone over the last few days.
It’s been a great start to the term as the pupils settle in to their exciting new learning and we all adjust to our ‘new normal’. We’ve been able to welcome almost all of the pupils back, after ongoing discussions and site visits with NHS, Local Authority (LA) and Amber/OCS site management colleagues throughout the summer. We are very grateful for their support in helping us to make some mechanical changes to some of our rooms to ensure we can follow national guidance in terms of suctioning. We are also very grateful to City and County Transport Services, who have worked with us to ensure transport to and from school is as streamlined as possible, to limit any potential transmission of the virus. And to NCC School Meals Service, who again have worked with us to organise lunchtimes in 2 sittings, for the same purpose.
Whole school risk assessment: Covid 19
We do understand that many families continue to be anxious about the potential transmission of the virus, and would like to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to continue to try to ensure that your children – and the staff – are as safe as possible at school. For those of you who haven’t spotted it yet, our updated whole school risk assessment is on our website: Menu/Key Information/Covid 19. You can find the link here:
This follows the National and Local Authority guidelines for the full opening of Special Schools, and has been discussed in detail with David Thompson (NCC Schools Health and Safety Manager), Senior LA and NHS colleagues, Governors, and professional bodies. It is also 40 pages along! So here is a very brief summary of the key measures we have in place for this half term, which we will review in October, or as circumstances change.
- Pupils come in to school, and go out, in their Key Stage corridor bubbles, and as far as possible there are no more than 2 KS bubbles on any one bus. Pupils who come to school with their families have staggered arrival and departure times, in line with the KS bus phases, and it is really important that parents/carers stick to their allocated drop off and pick up times.
- Pupils stay in their class and Key Stage bubbles throughout the day, including eg for Art and Music sessions. This also includes at lunchtimes, when they eat lunch in their classrooms, and outside time is staggered. They go to the (very large, well ventilated) Hall for PE, and are using our outdoor spaces as much as possible. Assemblies are ‘online’ within the school, streamed from the Hall.
- Pupils have their own sets of equipment/resources as far as possible, and we have timetabled regular transition/cleaning times between sessions.
- Regular and frequent hand-washing (pupils and staff!).
- For this half term there will be no community visits or after school clubs.
- Staff continue to wear their usual PPE for personal and intimate care tasks, and more specialised PPE for tasks which require this, such as use of a ventilation machine.
- For those pupils on the Complex Health Team caseload, the NHS staff are wearing ‘full’ PPE for chest suctioning.
- Staff are socially distancing from the pupils and each other as far as is practicable.
- Vistors on site are being kept to an absolute minimum – meetings such as EHCP Reviews will continue to take place online.
NHS Health staff
The Complex Health Needs Team are in school. Physios and OTs are also working with pupils in school in a clinical capacity, and SaLT if a specific need for face-to-face intervention is identified. Here is a reminder of some important phone numbers for NHS Health staff:
- Community paediatrician hub: 0115 840 4848
- SPA – for community nurses, Physios, OTs, SaLT: 0300 123 3387
- Rosscare – for wheelchair repairs: 0115 684 8275
What do I do if my child is showing symptoms of Covid 19 (Coronavirus)?
- If your child has a a new continuous cough, a high temperature, and/or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of smell and taste, do not send your child to school! Go to gov.uk to book a test, or phone 119 to arrange this as soon as possible, and self isolate. Please phone school as soon as you know the test result.
- If your child displays any of these symptoms while at school, we will phone you and ask you to collect your child as soon as possible. Please make sure we have up-to-date contact details, including an emergency contact, and that your phone is switched on at all times.
- If anyone in your household displays any of the coronavirus symptoms, the whole household will need to self isolate at least until the test result comes back negative. If it comes back positive, self isolate for 14 days from the first day when the first person became ill. Phone school and let us know!
- If you are contacted by Test and Trace, please also let us know.
What if I have any questions about anything?
- We appreciate that this time continues to bring many challenges for families, and Senior Leadership Team staff will be very happy to answer any questions or concerns, or to signpost you to someone who can. Please don’t hesitate to phone and ask to speak to one of us: me, Laura Wyatt (Deputy Head Teacher), Matthew Riley (Deputy Head Teacher) or Ryan Ward (Safeguarding Lead).
- Please also use the home-school diaries to communicate with your child/young person’s class teacher – or again, phone and ask to speak to them. The best time to do this is between 8.20 and 8.45am, at lunchtime, or between 3.45 and 4.20pm.
We very much look forward to working with you and your children as we go in to the new school year, and thank you for your continued support.
Patricia Lewis (Headteacher)