Tuesday 29th September 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
As we have entered the next phase of restrictions due to Covid, it is time to look back on the first 3 weeks in school. I am really proud of how staff, pupils and parents have stepped up to help to keep our school safe and open to the vast majority of pupils. Staff have opened their classroom doors earlier, worked through their breaks and lunchtimes and trained on new technologies in the evening. I want to thank each and every one of them.
Our first collapsed bubble came earlier than we had anticipated but Miss Pickles was quick to get the daily teaching up online and has been trialling the new Teams portal with groups of children. Thank you if you have been part of this. We can’t wait to have the children back in on Friday! The good news was that the control measures we have in place meant that, although by law the members of the bubble had to isolate in the home, as yet we have had no further positive tests.
Each day remains a challenge as staff have to isolate if they or a family member show symptoms of COVID. Thankfully up until now the tests have come back negative but slow testing and results means that they can be out of school for several days. In order to preserve the integrity of our bubbles, we try to avoid moving staff from one class to another but this is becoming increasingly difficult.
Lunchtimes are our hardest time. To get 207 children through lunch without losing learning time is a huge challenge with the limited number of staff and keeping children in their bubbles. All tables and chairs need to be disinfected between sittings. Staff are working through their lunchtimes at the moment but this is not sustainable in the long term. We know that the grab bags are not ideal but with reduced capacity in the kitchens as well as the restrictions on keeping the children separate, these are the only option. It means that children can remain in their seats and not come into contact with other bubbles – all their rubbish goes in a bag and can be collected by staff. This week we are trialling jacket potatoes. This is more complex than it sounds as it involves having a meal on a tray with knife and fork, served by staff and then cleared away. We will review it at the end of the week with the kitchen staff. It was popular with the children who had it yesterday but did add another layer of complexity. This is even more challenging when the weather is bad. We are not in a position to consider a return to full hot meals at this time. If there is anyone who could volunteer to help us over lunchtime, it would be a godsend. It would mean a regular commitment from 12-1pm on one or more days just to help clear and clean tables. If you can, please get in touch to find out more. If you do wish to change your child’s lunch option, please do give us the 2 weeks’ notice otherwise school could be charged for the food as it will have been ordered. Our spending on COVID secure measures is already high, income has been cut and we can’t afford to carry this additional cost.
Talking of staffing! Miss Duffy, our Deputy Head, will be leaving us at the end of next week to start her maternity leave. I am sure you will join with us in wishing her all the best as we can’t wait to meet her new baby later this term. I am delighted to say that Mr Dancer has been appointed Acting Deputy Head Teacher whilst Miss Duffy is away. In order to allow him to fulfil his leadership role, Mrs Birch will be joining the year 6 teaching team to work with Mr Dancer and the class. Mrs Birch is an experienced Year 6 teacher who has worked at Deighton Gates on many occasions and we are delighted that she will be joining us.
Let’s hope this sunshine lasts!