A letter from the Headteacher (Wednesday 2nd September).
Dear Parents / Carers,
I very much hope you and your family are safe and well and have managed to enjoy a break over the summer period. We are really looking forward to welcoming all of our students back to school over the coming days.
Here at school, we have been kept busy over the summer, ensuring the site is safe and ready for the return of all students and staff. In my letter dated July 17th, which is also on our school website, I did go through some of our arrangements for September. I will recap these and give a few more details below. Apologies in advance for the length of this letter but it does contain crucial information for all members of our community to support and secure a safe and efficient start to the school year.
The beginning of this term is staggered, to allow for all students to be informed of our new ways of working, and become accustomed to them. The start times / days for each Year Group are as follows:
Friday 4th September
Year 7 at 8.35am
Year 12: External students 10.00am. Internal students 11.30am
Monday 7th September
Years 7, 9, 11 and 13 at 8.35am
Tuesday 8th September
Year 7 at 8.35am Years 8, 10 and 12 at 9.25am
Wednesday 9th September
Years 7, 9, 11 and 13 starting at 8.35am and finishing at 2.40pm
Years 8, 10 and 12 starting at 9.25am and finishing at 3.30pm
These start and end times for year groups will remain the same until further notice.
N.B. An 8.35am start will have a 2.40pm finish and a 9.25am start will have a 3.30pm finish.
Please note that for health and safety reasons the school site is not accessible for students before 8.15am so please ensure your child’s journey to school takes this into consideration. For the same reasons, we cannot welcome visitors onto our site at the moment. Apologies in advance, but you will appreciate and understand the reasons for this safety precaution. Please do email us with any questions or queries for the time being.
You will appreciate that we have made arrangements within school to keep year groups segregated. We have a designated area for each year group to work within so they can have their own ‘bubble’. They will be in their ‘bubble’ for lessons, break and lunchtime – hence the staggered start and end of the school day. To ensure these ‘bubbles’ are maintained, we are identifying the three pedestrian entrances to the school for specific year groups and we will be insisting that students enter and leave the school site by these entrances only:
Front Gate in Woodside Lane: Years 7, 8 and 9
Back Gate in Woodside Grange Road: Years 10 and 11
6 th Form entrance in Woodside Grange Road: Years 12 and 13
All students are expected back to school and we are very much looking forward to welcoming students in all year groups into lessons to continue with their learning. We have been instructed to ensure that our usual protocols around attendance, punctuality and uniform are all adhered to as part of our strategy to support students’ return. However, it is vital that students do not come into school if they display any of the symptoms of Covid-19. The symptoms to look out for are:
- A new and persistent cough
- A high temperature
- A loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
Students should not come to school either if they have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 10 days. Anyone developing Covid-19 symptoms during the school day will be isolated and will need to return home.
If your son or daughter displays symptoms of Covid-19, it is essential that self-isolation takes place and that you arrange for a Covid-19 test for all members of your household. If your son/daughter is tested, it is important that you inform us immediately of the results and you should do this by contacting Student Services / 6th Form in the usual way.
If any student tests positive, s/he must remain at home in self-isolation and continue to follow government guidance. Following at least 10 days of self-isolation from the onset of the symptoms, s/he can only return to school if they do not have symptoms other than a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste. The cough or loss of taste or smell can last for weeks after the infection has passed. The 10-day period starts from the day that s/he first became ill. A person must remain in isolation until her/his temperature returns to normal. Other members of the household must continue to selfisolate for the full 14 days. We will all need to ensure that these government guidelines are followed to secure the safety and well-being of all.
As all students prepare for their return, you will be ensuring that they have the usual equipment for each school day. There is a list on our website of the required equipment here at FCHS. In addition, all students must:
• Bring a face mask to wear when using public transport and for use in communal indoor areas here at school. Please ensure students have a small, clean bag to keep their mask in when not being worn.
• Have an individual water bottle for personal use during the school day as we have obviously had to shut off the communal water fountains.
• If possible, a small bottle of hand sanitiser and a packet of tissues for personal use. We do have hand sanitiser points around the site and in each classroom, but you can understand how much more efficient it will be if students can use their own hand sanitiser rather than queue up to use school dispensers.
• All students will be issued with a plastic wallet when they return to school which will contain some essentials such as a mini whiteboard, pens, etc. Please ensure these packs are brought in by students each day.
• Please also make sure that if your son is in Years 7 through to 11, he has a reading book with him at all times, which can be used between lessons whilst teachers move classrooms.
As students will be remaining in ‘bubbles’, they will not have access always to specialist rooms. We have planned to accommodate this but have had to amend some of our curriculum plans accordingly. An example of this will be for PE: students will still have their physical PE lessons but because of restrictions, we cannot offer our usual range of activities and sports. To help with social distancing and logistics, we are asking that students come into school wearing their school PE kit on the days that they are timetabled to have PE or Health & Fitness. We are hoping that this will avoid students changing in close proximity. It is far from ideal, but as many of our arrangements are, it offers a ‘best fit’ for now.
As I mentioned in my letter in July, as we have to implement a staggered break and lunchtime system and ensure year groups are kept apart, we cannot have all year groups having access to the school canteen each day. We have to implement a rota for the canteen and provide points within each ‘bubble’ where students can purchase sandwiches and hot snacks. Again, this is not ideal or what we would choose, but is necessary, given both the restrictions of our site, alongside implementing government guidelines.
The following sets out the overview of how the interim system will be operated:
• 6 th Form students will be able to purchase food from the Food Cube in the 6 th Form centre, or alternatively go off site for their lunch time. The Food Cube is only for 6 th Form and so they are unable to access the canteen currently.
• Years 8 and 10 will have lunch time at the same time and so there will be a 2-week rota for accessing the canteen. We will begin the week commencing 7 th September for Year 8 to be able to access the canteen, and Year 10, therefore the following week, commencing September 14th . On the weeks students do not have access to the canteen, they will have access to a food point to be able to make purchases of snacks and hot food from a more limited menu.
• Years 7, 9 and 11 have their lunch breaks at the same time and we therefore will have to implement a 3-week rota for students to be able to access the canteen.
Week beginning September 7th – Year 7
Week beginning September 14th – Year 9
Week beginning September 21st – Year 11
And then revert to Year 7 the week beginning September 28th
I understand that some parents might well want to arrange for packed lunches for their child during this time. We will have some sample menus on the website in the next few days so you will be able to see the limited offer available at the food points so you can make an informed decision about lunch arrangements for your son / daughter.
Schools have also been asked to ensure that parents consider how their child travels to and from school in September and beyond. If there is the possibility of walking or cycling to school, please can this be considered as an alternative to public transport.
We are in school today and tomorrow with staff, undertaking training and briefings to ensure we are as prepared as we possibly can be for our new way of working. We will be having assemblies for all individual year groups as they return, to outline the new systems and ways of working, and these key messages will be reinforced in tutor time and as part of our planned re-orientation programme. As I have said to staff today however, our plans will only work and be successful if all members of our community ensure that they adhere to the instructions given. I have to rely on the co-operation and support of all, to keep everybody here at school as safe as possible. I urge you to please speak to your sons and daughters about the importance of following the instructions of staff, adhering to our systems here at school and of maintaining social distancing as far as possible. Staff will move between ‘bubbles’ to teach their classes, always maintaining social distancing and staying within their designated areas at the front of the classroom.
Our arrangements will work if everyone is as co-operative and supportive as possible.
Thank you in advance for your support. I will write again soon with further updates as required. If you have any initial queries, please do contact your son or daughter’s Form Tutor in the first instance.
With every good wish,