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Return to school – Monday 4th January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers, 

I apologise for sending a second email over the weekend and for waiting until the end of Sunday. 

Since yesterday’s communication with you all, you will be aware that there has been continued debate within the LA, the MAT, the teaching unions, DfE and government about the right course of action for schools in Tier 4. 

I attended an LA zoom meeting this morning and received an update from St Benet’s just after lunch. Since then I have been in communication with the 4 teachers about their intentions. 

As such, I can confirm that as per yesterday’s email, we shall be open as a school tomorrow with all staff on site delivering learning as normal. We are likely to review breakfast and after school club provision and will update you tomorrow with any changes. 

I am aware from a number of emails that have been forwarded through the office to me, that some parents are anxious about sending their child to school, others have already said they are unlikely to send their children in. What I am still unsure about are the expectations placed on the school where parents elect to keep children away. 

In the September DfE guidance we were instructed to insist that all children returned and we were obliged to only provide home learning for children who were required to isolate. This is something we have been doing as some of you will be aware. 

The register codes were amended to reflect this with an X code used for isolation or Covid symptomatic children. there has been no updated guidance (yet) from the DfE for January. 

If you decide that your child/ren will not attend tomorrow or for a period of time, we ask that you inform the office of this decision.

I am also unsure at this stage, what the remote learning expectations are. With teachers working their normal days in front of a class, they will be less able to provide home learning with ongoing communication and support through the day as they did during the first lockdown in March and April. Our remote learning plan which was written in September, outlines hybrid models for the few children at a time we expected to see in isolation. If by tomorrow, the number of children remaining at home is substantial, we shall need to review our offer. I shall suggest to the teachers that tomorrow, once we have a firmer idea of the numbers attending in person and those remaining at home, we shall review the plans and procedures for providing remote learning. 

After getting off to such a great start last term, feeling that children were just starting to gain momentum in their learning and adapting to the new approaches such as Talk for Writing and mastery Maths, I am desperate that no child will be affected by not attending school. However, we shall need to ensure that what we deliver is managed with the same standards as we expect in school. 

It has been made very clear to all headteachers that final decisions need to be made at school level as each school will have different staffing levels. Decisions made on one day will need constant review and may potentially change with little notice. With this in mind, the actions taken by each school cannot be compared to any other – all schools are in very different contexts.  I attach a letter from Mr Cranmer the CEO of St Benet’s MAT. In this, he says that the MAT will back whatever decision each school decides to take.

I would be happy to speak with any parent tomorrow during the school day, via the telephone should you wish to contact me. 

Kind regards, 
Mrs Julia Humphrey
Interim Headteacher