SCHOOL COVID CLOSURE FOR YEARS 7 TO 10
starting 21/01/21. Re-opening 01/02/21
We are moving to an ONLINE offer for these year groups due to a Covid19 confirmed case. Due to our separate bubbling of years 11/12 it is only years 7 - 10 that are affected. THE SCHOOL WILL RE-OPEN ON MONDAY 1ST FEBRUARY. This is because of staffing, not because we feel that any student at the school has had prolonged contact with the staff member who tested positive - it is not one of the main teaching members at the school, rather a R-OUT-ES staff member. Arun Court Children do not need to isolate, students who attended
R-OUT-ES last Monday and Tuesday should and have been contacted separately.
Unfortunately the QR Code is quite a blunt instrument, so whilst not all school staff had close contact with the case all have received a track and trace isolation notice, which we must obey. We therefore do not have enough leadership staff to keep the school open even with supply staff potentially covering the other roles.
You will shortly be getting a timetable of activities led by our isolating staff. This includes a daily offer of 3 hours of real time face-to-face academic tutorials on zoom, plus in addition other hours of PE and mindfulness sessions, psychology for those who need it and additional work on Google classroom.
Those entitled to FSM will be getting a payment to cover the 7 school days we will be closed for.
The person testing positive last came into contact with the school on Tuesday, and would have been contagious Monday and Tuesday; though they did pass a rapid flow test on those days so the risk, even to those few staff members they had close contact with, is low. With a positive test confirmed last night it means the isolation period will end by Monday 1st February
RISE LIKE THE PHOENIX YEAR 11! Lets turn this into an opportunity!
I am not needing to isolate as I was not on site at all at the start of this week. This means that I am available from 'outside' of the bubbles. Paul, our chair of governors, has also offered to come in and continue with some of the amazing practical work experience projects he has started. He has been very careful about Covid rules as he has been volunteering within the vaccination effort.
We will be running a full timetable at the offices Thursday and Friday, 10am to 4pm. Every cloud has a silver lining, so we will use this time to really get some of your Level 2 and 3 certificates finished as I'll be there to help you with lots of 1:1 as you attempt the essays. We will also do the practical tasks, plus we can get your portfolios full of the necessary photos and things for college applications. MONDAY TO WEDNESDAY you should continue with online studies.
Due to isolation notices only 5 young people will be offered this opportunity and I've set up the large conference room with full air flow, and massive desks each so you can spread out and get everything you need to get done completed. I've put screens around each work area too - although you are wide apart, and we've got all the usual covid measures such as masks, gels, handwashing. I am also trained to do the rapid flow tests which we will do daily.
I'm really looking forward to having some quality time with the year group and I'll bring sweets, hot chocolate and music for a nice chilled but purposeful time - lets get some of this evidence really under way.
Encouraging School 'on site' Attendance
We are still encouraging on site attendance when the school re-opens. Its really important as the definition of vulnerable children has changed and those with mental health needs and school anxiety are recommended to try to come to school. If you really don't feel comfortable with them being with us 5 days a week then even coming in for 2 days out of every 5, and completing 3 online, would really help to give them the support they need whilst still reducing your risks further.
If your child does stay at home for some or all of the week we will continue a comprehensive online offer and we ask that you sign the agreement regarding participation expectations as well as us always having daily sight of your child. We have risk assessed each child separately and may sadly remove the ability to be at home if the home-online agreement is breached as we have to evidence our duty of care and safeguarding responsibilities.
I really sympathise with parent concerns, as a mum myself I have them too, but it's really important that these do not lead you to making a decision that could affect the longer-term placement or well-being of your young person. The end is gradually coming more into focus; we've kept them safe so far and we ask you to really weigh up their need for education and therapy against the rise in your concerns.
Young people who are medically in need of shielding will have been written to by the NHS. The current guidance is that if a young person has a parent or carer who is shielding they should still attend school. Very few of those adults previously asked to shield have been asked to do so in Tier 4, and even if you have this letter unless it applies to your child and not yourself then your young person should attend school.
If you are very worried and they are experiencing heightened anxiety we want to help you as much as possible and will do our utmost for you, but you need to be aware that non-attendance and poor attendance are indicators that the placement is not working - we do not want young people to fall into that category.
Hannah (below) is available and happy to help discuss your concerns and also discuss concerns the young person directly. We know it can be very difficult to encourage attendance when the news is so very concerning, but Hannah is very skilled and will help with those conversations.
Please also contact us if you have needs as a family - we may be able to help. Difficulties with sourcing food, or anxiety/depression within the wider family are example issues that we can potentially help with. We are not a 'typical school' so please do let Hannah know and we will always do our best to help. Please also do text me on my work phone and I'll get back to you as soon as possible (see proprietor number to your left)
What are we doing to keep everyone safe?
We are still doing temperature and well-being tests on arrival
Rapid Flow Testing will start weekly on Monday 11th January and will be carried out by Dr Kim Seymour (one of our two head teachers). If a student tests positive they will be sent home to isolate, we then move to daily testing for a designated period.
We are splitting the school even more. We previously operated as a bubble of 20, this will now be reduced to 16.
We are now re-locating our year 11 both to create a smaller bubble and to give them intensive exam catch-up in a quieter environment. This means there will be 4 less students in the Arun Court building.
The remaining up to 16 students will be organised on floors.
The upper students will have the classroom on the top floor, plus the small breakout room. They will also be able to go down the first flight of stairs and access Oppia room, which is being set out with comfy bean bags and as a 'chill space'.
The younger students will have the lounge, the nurture room and Tutkimus.
In this way we can keep groups apart more, although we will officially still be operating as a bubble of up to 16.
We strongly encourage students to wear masks. Windows are open across the school, and are opened fully during lunch and walk times to 'flush' through air. Students are asked to keep as far apart from eachother as possible.
Each work station has hand gel and regular handwashing with soap is encouraged.
There is still increased intensive cleaning and all staff are 'cleaning as we go'.
Due to all staff living in Tier 4 they are not going anywhere or meeting anyone other than to come to work. They are being tested regularly. Contractors are seeing other clients by Zoom, we are their only physical clients (such as Dr Vikki, Clinical psychologist)
Our two new head teachers (Vicki Williams and Dr Kim Seymour) are having additional support from Jo Evans a consultant advisory head teacher. Due to coming from different sphere's of expertise, including medical general pracitice, we are really well-place to keep your young people as safe as possible. I have every faith in your new SLT who are confident and competent, and have been involved in the decision making and planning regarding Covid since August.
There is never a 100% guarantee of safety, but our risks are statistically much lower than in the settings where they are seeing a rapid spread; we are not a large secondary school where teenagers gather at bus stops before arrival or are in year group bubbles of 50 - 200 students. Our young people are less likely to socialise in large groups at parks etc outside of school as they prefer small select groups of friends, and due to their needs our parents know where they are and are often supervising. Whilst our building is small, our student numbers are very very small so we can keep our young people apart. The majority of our young people do not want to get physically close to eachother as due to sensory needs they prefer to maintain a distance.
It is also of note that although our bubble experienced a staff positive case, which was tracked to their partner working in a large secondary school, there have not been any further cases in our school as a result of this - therefore it is a strong indicator that our protective measures are working.
If the situation changes I will of course alter this statement, but at the moment I would strongly urge and encourage you to send your young person to school - they need the educational, anxiety and therapeutic services we offer so very badly. Their mental well-being is paramount, and we want to maintain their programmes in person as much as possible.
With all good wishes,
Bev White (Proprietor)
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SOURCES OF HELP
These services are not associated with us. We are not responsible for the quality of service they provide, we are recommending them based on the positive experiences of some young people known to us. By inclusion in this list nor are we suggesting that we are in any way affiliated with these servcies.
ANXIETY UK - Support, online counselling, magazine, advice
Text line: 07537416905
Info line: 03444775774
A magazine packed full of useful articles around not just ASD, but the mental health aspects associated with it - fascinating reading and lots of signalling to specialist support.
Website provides support for young people, professionals and parents. Young people who feel they are having a mental health crisis can get instant emergency support by texting YM to 85258
OCD UK - advice, online counselling, support and magazine. Dedicated youth services.
PAPYRUS - suicide prevention young people's hotline 0800 068 41 41
An eating disorder support service - smaller than some of the bigger associations, but specifically aimed at young people.