Message from the Head
I hope that you have all enjoyed wonderful summer holidays with your sons and daughters and some precious, family time together. You may also be pleased that school recommences on Wednesday 1st September at 8.45 am, where many familiar staff faces will be waiting to greet the students eagerly from 8.35 am. It’s that new shoes and new pencil case time of year and with that comes feelings of excitement and perhaps nervousness for our new starters. My daughters describe this feeling well as ‘nerve-cited’. We can all remember these feelings and are ready to support Hollygirt students (and staff!) through any feelings they may have about change.
Please can new starters go to the main school Reception for 8.35 am in normal uniform and ensure they have completed their Covid testing consent form – thank you.
I need to write not only with reassurances of our care and commitment to all our students but with updates around Covid 19, as the Covid climate has changed and school requirements are different. However, before I get on with the business side of things, I’d like to say I’m really looking forward to my new role as Head of Hollygirt and, perhaps, like the new students am feeling rather ‘nerve-cited’. I hope to meet many of you over the coming weeks. We are looking towards organising a slightly shorter but nonetheless warm-hearted and celebratory prize-giving event (more of this soon). In addition, I will start a ‘Head’s Breakfast’ – a short, informal coffee and croissant-based chat (once a term) where you can share your thoughts about the school easily with me. This will be a quick, early morning 20 minutes and hopefully provide an opportunity for you to drop in at ‘drop off’, on the way to work. I am keen to hear your thoughts about what is going well and any suggestions for how we can continually improve.
As I start my new role, I should let you know that the door is metaphorically always open (literally it has to close sometimes) and I hope you feel free to approach me with any worries, no matter how small. I would much rather you got in touch with us at an early stage of any issue before it becomes a heated topic on Whatsapp, and the proverbial molehill becomes a mountain!
Now to business starting with the most important information first about testing and coming back to school.
Covid 19 updates for Hollygirt September 2021
Testing: Seniors only
There is a lot of media attention around this process at the moment and Hollygirt are keen to follow the guidance and minimise disruption to studies. Please can we ask our parents to ensure that your son and daughter takes a lateral flow test a day before returning to school. Form teachers will check with students that they have done this as they arrive in school too. If this test is positive, your son or daughter will need to remain at home and take a PCR test and follow this guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection.
It is important to note the following change: Students are no longer required to self-isolate if they live with someone with Covid 19 or have been in close contact with someone with Covid 19. Govt. advice is to get a PCR test. Further information is available here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/when-to-self-isolate-and-what-to-do/
If your son and daughter does not have a lateral test at home (these were issued at the end of term), they can collect one from Reception on Tuesday 31st August and complete the test on this day.
In addition, we will test all the senior students on-site on Wednesday 1st September and again 3-5 days later. Please can parents be aware that if, on the 1st September, a student has a positive lateral flow test in school (in spite of having tested negative at home the day before), they will be sent home immediately. Parents will need to allow for this possibility within their work schedules. After this, students will be required to take x2 lateral flow tests each week until the end of September when the Govt. has said it is reviewing the guidance.
Further information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-covid-19-operational-guidance
Changes for September 2021
Happily, according to the Govt. guidance, there is a return to normal for schools and restrictions have been removed.
- Year groups will no longer need to be ‘bubbled’ and year groups can mix freely across the school – an essential part of the Hollygirt ethos in our wonderful, all through school.
- Lunch arrangements will return to pre-Covid times and are ‘back to normal’. Please can students either bring in a packed lunch on the first day or dinner money. Lunch passes will be issued on this day and Year 7 are first in the queue for the rest of the week.
- Good hygiene is still essential. Please use the catch it, bin it, kill it principle and make sure your sons and daughters have a ready supply of tissues. If they forget, we will ensure we have some in school. Please encourage regular hand washing.
- Masks no longer need to be worn but we would still encourage students to carry one in case they are asked to do so.
- Please continue to monitor for the symptoms of Covid – high temperature, new continuous cough, loss of smell and taste. Although there are many other symptoms now being recorded / suggested, the official guidance is still the same.
Hollygirt will use its Covid contingency plan should we start to see more than 5 cases of Covid within the school. This may require face masks to be worn and /or a return to remote learning. We will always liaise with the relevant education and health organisations and follow their advice should we experience this unfortunate turn of events. However, we are truly committed to ensuring no further education is lost after these last two difficult years and by ensuring your sons and daughters take regular lateral flow tests before starting school next week and throughout September, you will really be helping us maintain ‘business as usual’.
School uniform will return to normal but for the time being, please continue to send students to school wearing PE kit for PE days. We will be announcing the long-awaited changes to the Hollygirt PE kit status very shortly. Blazers do not need to be worn to PE anymore but please ensure students are in warm, suitable and practical clothing for PE until we can launch our new PE kit.
A reminder that the usual school buses are not available on Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd September. As a team, we plan to look closely at the term dates for next September (2022) to see if we can better align with the other schools with whom we share buses.
Please do get in touch if you are unsure about anything. We hope that the academic year 2021-2022 brings a more normal school year for our community and I hope to meet you at many events over the next year where we come together to celebrate the talents and achievements of our school family.
Message from the Head of Juniors
I hope you have all had a wonderful summer; I am very much looking forward to hearing about the children’s adventures over the holidays.
As we begin the new term, there will be some changes to the structure of the day. The children will no longer be in bubbles and we will no longer have staggered start or end times.
All junior children can arrive at school from 8 am. They should be brought to the Junior School gate on Elm Avenue where there will be a member of staff. At 8.30 am, children will be taken to their classrooms. Year 5 and 6 children arriving after 8.30 am should be taken straight to the Villa Road building.
As these have worked really well, we will continue with some of the split playtimes, however, lunchtimes will no longer be split. School will finish at 3.30 pm for all juniors and the children will be brought to Elm Avenue. After School Club will run as usual until 5.30 pm and children should be collected from the back gate. Parents should telephone the After School Club staff to let them know they have arrived. This a different number to the main school one; please let us know if you need this sending to you again.
You will be sent details of our new extra-curricular programme next week. With bubbles no longer in place, we will be extending our offering of after school activities and lunchtime clubs will be able to resume.
I am sure the children are very excited to be coming back to school and we look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday.
Head of Juniors