21st May 2020
Dear Parents / Carers,
RE: Government plan to re-open schools commencing on 1st June 2020
I hope everyone is keeping safe and well during this complex period. Everyone is doing their best and we love all the pictures we have of all the amazing activities you are doing. We miss our whole school community and want to assure you that we are working hard to support all our families. I appreciate all the support I have had during this challenging time and want you to know that the decisions I make are not made lightly and are based on ensuring the health and safety of the staff and children in school. I would like to update of our response to the Government plan to re-open schools which has been taken with all the heads in the local area as part of the CASPA cluster.
As we are sure you are aware schools have been asked to undertake a risk assessment to determine as to whether it is safe for children and staff to return to school, with planning for this starting FROM the 1st June. Along with other local head teachers, we will be starting to work on the official risk assessment from the Local Authority. Our CASPA Cluster of Head Teachers and Governors have spent much time analysing and discussing the current situation in an attempt to see how we proceed particularly ensuring the safety of all our children and staff.
First, we looked at the facts:
• Cumbria (as part of the North West) currently has an R rating of 0.73 (Compared to London at 0.4).
• Cumbria currently has the 3rd highest death rate in the country.
• Death rates (today) are at present higher than when schools first went into lockdown.
• Carlisle is 9th in the Country with regard to deaths / Covid19 cases.
Then we looked at what you are saying:
Our surveys for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 said that some parents would like their children to come back to school, however the majority of parents are not sure about their child returning. I am sure that as parents you would like more information and reassurance.
Then we asked our staff:
It is clear that our amazing staff all want to ensure that children return to school as soon as possible, but they believe the return should be in such a way that ensures the safety and wellbeing of both the children and of their colleagues. As you are aware, staff have been calling you regularly combined with setting work during the lockdown. They have also been volunteering in the school hub (including during their holidays and Bank Holidays) in order to support our NHS and critical workers, they will continue to man the hub again through the upcoming half term. It has been very challenging, but I am sure you will agree Upperby staff have and continued to do everything they can to support the children and yourselves.
Then we looked at the guidance:
We find conflicting advice and very mixed messages from the guidance and this is not helpful in supporting a safe opening. Parents are welcome to review the guidance on the Gov.uk website and I will put the links also onto the school website.
Given the facts; we are clear that we will undertake the following careful steps to re-open our school to wider groups when the time is right;
• The Upperby childcare HUB WILL BE OPEN FOR CRITICAL WORKERS ONLY DURING HALF TERM.
• Our school will then be deep cleaned in preparation for some children returning.
• Complete the Government / Local Authority official Risk Assessment and discuss with Governors / Staff to ensure it is completed to their satisfaction.
• Upperby school will re-open on the 1st June for Critical workers and vulnerable pupils only (i.e. children who have attended the HUB before half term)
• Children of key workers who now have to return to work may also apply for a place, you must be able to prove that you are a key worker. You must contact school for a place is allocated before your child can start. We are limited on places available.
• NO other year groups will be starting on the 1st June, we need to ensure we can do this in a safe manner.
• We will prepare classrooms and re-organize the school back from the hub organization in to our new school organization.
• From the 15th June we will look to start our Year 6 children. The children will work in small ‘bubbles’ to minimize the number of contacts in school. We will support the children to socially distance as much as possible. We will be able to support this year group in their transition to secondary school and find a way to celebrate their time in primary schools within given guidelines.
• Once we are confident that we are able to work effectively we will work to re-introduce Year 1 and then consider how to integrate reception and nursery children.
• At each step we will be contacting parents in the year groups involved.
Throughout the whole process we will be referring to data and guidance given by the government and will respond accordingly. We will contact parents if new information changes our plans. We have had to react quickly throughout this crisis to changes and I am sure this is not going to change.
I hope parents understand why we are taking small steps to move forward with the re-opening of the school to wider year groups and will support our decisions. I am also aware that some parents may be disappointed that the school will NOT re-open to wider groups on the 1st June but your child’s health and wellbeing is our priority. Please do not hesitate to contact school if you require further information. The schools in the CASPA group are following a similar pattern of opening.
I know when the time is right we can all meet again. Until then please remember we are here to help and support you and your family. We are only a phone call away.
Take care and stay safe.