26th February 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope that you have had a good week. There is lots of important information in tonight’s letter so please keep it to refer to moving forward. Thank you!

As you will know, the government has issued new guidance for the full reopening of schools on Monday 8th March 2021.

  • They reiterate that being in school is vital for the children (for both their education and their well-being) and that the benefits outweigh the low risk from Covid-19.
  • They advise we should continue with our risk assessments and put in place proportionate protective measures.
  • Face coverings for primary aged pupils are not required.
  • Clinically extremely vulnerable adults should work at home and clinically extremely vulnerable children be educated at home. Adults and children in this group will receive letters to say they are in this group. Everyone else should come to school.
  • The advice is that children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend education.

We have reviewed our risk assessment in the light of the new guidance and will run school as we did from November. This is because:

  • we recognise that in a special setting social distancing is really challenging;
  • we want to support our whole community to feel confident to come to school and reduce anxiety;
  • we are determined to make school as safe and happy as possible.

For these reasons:

Arrival and Departure

  • We ask that all parents who are not exempt continue to wear face masks for drop off and collection. Staff have the option to wear masks in the classrooms as well as communal areas should they feel safer in doing so.
  • Please ensure you keep a safe distance from other families as far as possible at arrival and departure and arrive as near as possible to your allotted time slot which will continue to be the same as it has been since September (please see the table below).

·       Arrival – Parent Pool door:

·       8.50 Penguin, Hedgehog, Jellyfish

·       9.00 Flamingo and Bluebird

·       9.10 Seahorse, Caterpillar and Bumblebee

·       9.20 Any personalised arrivals

Departure – Parent Pool door:

2.20 Any personalised departures

2.30 Seahorse, Bumblebee and Caterpillar

2.40 Flamingo and Bluebird

2.50 Jellyfish, Hedgehog and Penguin

 

Arrival – Parent Side Gate:

8.50 Squirrel and Wolves

9.00 Elephant and Giraffe

9.10 Starfish, Dolphin and Rainbow Fish

Departure – Parent Side Gate:

2.30 Dolphin, Starfish and Rainbow Fish

2.40 Squirrel and Wolves

2.50 Elephant and Giraffe

Timetable and resources

  • We will continue with an adapted timetable to ensure resource use is as safe as possible. Our intention is to move to a timetable that allows access to a greater range of shared resources after Easter.

 

  • Children can wear school uniform but do not need to and can dress in PE kits and forest school clothing on the days they are accessing these activities to avoid Please do continue to provide them with a change of clothes, their own water bottles and snacks.

Covid symptoms and procedures: essential protocols that should be followed by all

  • The covid19@palatineschool.org is for parents and carers to use if their son or daughter tests positive out of school hours. This is checked out of hours at regular intervals by the duty manager. If that occurs before 9 pm in the evening we will phone the parents and staff who have been in direct contact to explain the situation and to ask them to remain at home the next day. If we cannot get hold of someone we will email them. If we get notified after 9 pm (10 pm is the latest time we will check the email) a message will be sent via School Ping to those who need to stay at home the next day. We will then contact the DfE and PHE once they are open and follow their instructions and contact you again with full details of the actions we and you need to take. Please do follow these procedures enable us to remain open. Please only use this email if your son or daughter has tested positive. All other information should be shared using the usual channels and in the working day. Thank you.

Vigilance with Covid Symptoms

I ask that you are extra vigilant and take the extra precaution of not sending your child in even if they are presenting with what you think is a normal cold or bug.

It is absolutely essential that we follow the guidelines and children must not come to school if they are displaying the following symptoms:

Symptoms of COVID 19

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:

  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19

If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19, they must not come to school and should remain at home for at least 10 days from the day after their symptoms appeared. Anyone with symptoms will be eligible for testing and this can be arranged via https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.

All other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days after the day the first person developed symptoms or had a positive test resut.

Staffing

As you will be aware if staff are ill or staff have to isolate because they have been contacted by track and trace or have received a positive lateral flow test result this puts pressure on staffing and may make it unsafe to have all classes in.

Those being identified as clinically extremely vulnerable was updated at the end of last week and we now have more staff who fall into this category and are not able to be in school until March 31st.

This means we are running on extremely tight staffing with no wiggle room. This may mean that we need to contact you in a morning to say that a particular class is closed. We will do everything we can to avoid this. Safety is paramount and we will only do this if we have no choice. I hope that preparing you for this possibility will help.

Non-Covid related (but never the less, important) information!

Governance arrangements

The Thrive Federation (Palatine, Herons Dale, Cornfield School and Oak Grove College) is changing the governance arrangements to enable us to be more effective in terms of governance and leadership and ultimately to be better able to serve the school community.

As of the 1st April 2021 the Governing Body will move from being the governing body of all four schools to what is currently the management committee of Palatine becoming the governing body.

The Thrive Federation will still be a group of schools working together that do so through a strategic group of Chairs of Governors from each of the schools and the relevant head teachers. This will enable us all to continue working together. This change does not preclude us from any current work or future work as a group of schools and fundamentally stops lots of repeat reporting at Management Committee and Governing Body level.

As part of this we will need to formally (re)elect a staff governor and parent governors.

If you have any questions about this please speak to me or Raye Mills.

Safeguarding spotlight

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet, facilitated through technology like computers, tablets, mobile phones and other internet-enabled devices.  It can happen anywhere online that allows digital communication, such as:

  • social networks
  • text messages and messaging apps
  • email and private messaging
  • online chats
  • comments on live streaming sites
  • voice chat in games.

Cerebra, in conjunction with Mencap and Ambitious about Autism have produced a guide – Learning Disabilities, Autism and Internet Safety which outlines some suggestions to help parents limit the risk of their child having negative experiences online and understand what action can be taken if they do.

World Book day: Reminder

World Book day is Thursday 4th March

As we said in our letter before half term World Book Day is all about celebrating and sharing our favourite stories and we would like everyone to take part whether they are at home or at school.

Children are invited to dress up as their favourite story character. Here are some ideas for easy homemade costumes, please don’t feel like you need to buy something especially for World Book Day. https://www.madeformums.com/toddler-and-preschool/last-minute-easy-world-book-day-costumes/

We would love to see photos so please share them on our Facebook page or email your child’s class teacher.

We know that some children find dressing up very challenging so there is no pressure! You can let us know what your child’s favourite book is, read stories together or get involved with our competition.

Competition

Since the first lockdown we have been creating bedtime story videos for children to enjoy at home. Now it’s the children’s turn! Make a video of your child sharing a story in a way that is appropriate to them (they might read it aloud, retell a story, talk about the pictures, look at the pictures, act out the story, explore sensory ideas related to a story, listen to you reading one or share a sensory story). Email your video to Sophie, smilner-smith@palatineschool.org by Monday 8th March and there will be prizes for the best videos! In your email please let us know if you are happy for your video to be on our Youtube channel.

Thank you so much for working with us. I want to reassure you that we continue to do everything reasonable, possible, practical and sensible to keep our community safe and to ensure school can remain the happy, vibrant place that it is! We so appreciate your support, flexibility and positivity and are really looking forward to seeing everyone again a week on Monday.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and enjoy the spring sunshine!

Very best wishes

Catriona

 

Please be advised that the website is undergoing updates and maintenance until 8th November.

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