Hollygirt School is now closed for the majority of staff and pupils until such a time as the government enables us to be back to business as usual. This is a blow to all of us but we understand both the need and our duty.
The Department for Education make their line clear in the following:
As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
And the most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
The trustees and management of the school understand that these are challenging times and that we are all making adjustments to working practice to do what is right to stem to likelihood of infection and to minimise the risk of exposure to all our community.
School will continue to be open for pupils of key workers and other identified children in line with the DfE guidance below:
Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
Health and social care This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Education and childcare This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.
Food and other necessary goods This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Public safety and national security This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
Transport This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Utilities, communication and financial services This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service
In my duty of care to employees, and following guidance, the staffing on site will be minimal and our opening hours are reduced to 08:30 to 16.30.
However, we are all working full hours remotely and we will be responsive to your enquiries, as normal. This includes all office, site and support staff. There are further notes on incoming communications in a later section. Teachers are setting work on line, will mark pupils work, and will make contact as required with families. We know that the transition to this way of working will take a few days to settle down, and ask for your forbearance with the teething problems that will inevitably arise at the beginning of next week.
Whilst we are doing everything possible to support those with genuine need, I ask that in line with the advice, children are cared for at home if at all possible. If we end up with larger numbers than necessary, we are concerned about the greater risk. I must at this stage reiterate that the service in school is not teaching – the teaching will be online. The staffing ratios will be appropriate to numbers but is unlikely to be more than two in Junior and in Senior School each day. The children will be in mixed age groups (categorised as Junior age and Senior age – though any Year 5 and 6 children who can self-study will be in the Senior School). Pupils are unlikely to be with their own class or subject teacher. The teachers also have to be simultaneously setting and supporting their online pupils. Pupils will have access to a computer.
For those children coming to school, they can wear their own comfortable and warm clothes, and bring lunch and drinks with them. I also recommend a good book in case their work is finished, though they will have access to school libraries so there are plenty here… We will ensure they get appropriate breaks and down time, but social distancing guidelines will be adhered to where possible.
Year 11 are anxiously awaiting news of how grades will be awarded, and a briefing is expected later this afternoon, which I will communicate on Monday. Other aspects of Year 11 life, as they approach the end of their Hollygirt schooling, (with no clarification of when we will be permitted to be back in school) is still being planned. We will be postponing the PROM but cannot say until when; staff will be contacting Year 11 directly to ensure that their other ‘end of an era’ activities will happen, sometime.
Between our working hours of 08:30 to 16.30, from Monday, there will be one administrative member of staff on duty on the phones, and passing on emails from our firstname.lastname@example.org box to the relevant member of staff.
If your enquiry is for a specific member of teaching staff, please send direct to them, as all will be working from home in their normal hours. If you wish to speak to a member of staff who is not on site, leave a message and we will ensure it is passed on and that they call you back. Any news for social media should be sent to Miss Hutley email@example.com as normal; likewise any enquiries about admissions or for my specific attention to Mrs Bamber on firstname.lastname@example.org and finance on email@example.com. We will make timely but not necessarily immediate responses within our normal working hours.
Following on from my notes on yesterday’s email, I can confirm that as we continue to provide our basic services, the basic fee for next term will be payable to ensure access to resourcing and support is available and that the child is able to return to school as soon as the crisis is over. All retrospective charges for this term will be included on that bill but we are not adding some additions, which may later become payable if trips and visits are resurrected.
- The playhouse has cancelled the productions of Private Peaceful and we will receive a refund. This will be passed back to those who have paid. They anticipate running the show when given the all clear, and at that stage we may send out a further request, if the timing suits the school.
- Any seniors who get a lunch pass – this will not be charged. When we return, next term, we will send a further invoice for the portion of the term with the 8 days credit for the rest of this term.
- We will not charge for The Mill residential currently scheduled for June, until we clarify if this is able to go ahead.
- Peripatetic music lessons will not be charged and will be rearranged on a pro rata basis when we return.
- We will seek refunds via specific insurances for other cancellations for example the ski trip and will inform you as soon as we have information about this.
- Any junior children who add after school fees in advance on the bill will not be charged and a supplementary bill sent to any regular users once we return.
Mrs Crawford’s dyslexia support is still going ahead through specific online resourcing so this is chargeable with the exception of Year 11. Please could parents of Year 11 confirm with me if they would like to continue with this provision after Easter.
We are working hard to be fair and understand the difficulties families may be facing in today’s uncertain climate. We are balancing these in our minds alongside our own business planning.
Please continue to send in your queries and I will respond to them all in my updates, as most of the things individuals raise are relevant to all parents. I will be working at school so will respond to individuals who contact me directly if the concern is more personal, at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you all keep safe and well and look forward to normality being resumed as soon as possible.
Mrs Pam Hutley