Dear Wyvern Parents and Carers,
We welcome the announcement this week of the milestone dates for getting back to normal, including the wider opening of schools on 8th March. I refrain from saying ‘reopening’ as, like Wyvern, most schools never actually closed. We currently have 70% of pupils attending during the week.
Further to my message yesterday, we have now made great headway in establishing our staffing picture for the 8th March. We will still have a number of class staff off with personal or medical situations related and unrelated to the pandemic so are currently approaching supply agencies to temporarily plug these gaps until we are back up to full numbers.
Staffing Wyvern safely is so much more involved than in other schools as we have to have such high ratios and many specific skills in place. Although the 8th March will be a milestone date nationally, we know that there will be continued restrictions on contacts, travel etc for several more months so we have to retain many of our whole school risk assessment control measures within the building.
Having said that, it is my expectation that we will have all pupils back in the week beginning the 8th March and will do our absolute best to ensure that they have 5 days a week in school. During the 3 ½ week period between the 8th March and when we break up for Easter (31st March) we will continue to staff the school in class bubbles and lateral flow test staff twice a week. This is still essential to contain an outbreak if we had one. We will continue to attempt to test secondary aged pupils whose parents and carers have given consent. Where a member of staff in a class bubble is absent, we will attempt to get in supply cover. If that fails, we will risk assess the options around reducing the activities in class that day to work with the staff we do have. If that cannot be done safely, we would have no alternative than to close a pupil place for the day. If that were to happen, we wouldn’t anticipate having to close any pupil’s place for more than one day as we would spread the impact of the absence out between pupils fairly.
We will gradually be able to open up more and more activities for the children during this period, including getting out for walks in the locality, trips in the minibus to safe outdoor locations and more use of the hydro pool.
By the 19th April, on our return after the Easter holiday, we very much hope that locally and nationally we will have continued the current significant improvements and so can ‘loosen’ the rules around bubbles to provide more flexibility to deal with absences and remove the risk of place closures.
There is rightly much emphasis put on getting schools back to normal but many of the risks in the wider community remain just as real here as they are anywhere so it is important to be cautious and manage our return to normality safely. By 8th March we expect a dramatic improvement in attendance and just ask that if we don’t get back to 100% on day one that you are patient and trust that we are doing all we can to get there safely and fairly.