In my last letter, explaining that school would be open for all pupils on Tuesday 5th (after our INSET day on Monday 4th) I also said that the situation was changing rapidly.
Yesterday and this morning, I have been in contact with all staff, leadership and Mrs Humby Chair of Governors.
Since I wrote that letter, I have become aware of an increased number of staff who will be unable to be in school over the coming week, if we were to stay open to all children.
Staffing levels are currently reduced for a number of reasons, due to:
• staff who are extremely critically vulnerable and are now shielding at home under tier 4 guidance,
• staff who have been unwell with COVID over the break,
• staff who are isolating due to being a close contact with someone who has COVID
• staff who have raised legitimate concerns about their safety and that of the children and families as cases continue to rise locally. Their concerns are in line with guidance they have received from their professional bodies.
With all this in mind, I have had to take the very tough decision that from Tuesday 5th January the school can only be safely open for pupils whose parents are critical workers and invited vulnerable children, including those with an EHCP or who have a social worker/ family engagement worker. All other children will have remote learning at home.
This will initially be for the 4 days this week. I am hoping that staff who are currently unwell or isolating will be able to re-join the team next week. This will put us in a stronger position to be able to open more, provided that, in the meantime, other staff do not become unwell or need to isolate.
This coming week I will also be consulting staff widely about our risk assessment and what further measures we can take to reassure both staff and parents that school is as safe as it can be, whilst we adapt to the new variant of COVID.
I am hoping that later this week I will have further guidance from the DfE, in consultation with unions, that will help me find a way forward. If not, then I will look to strengthen the control measures we have in school further to reassure everyone.
I know that this decision will be inconvenient to many of you and I sincerely apologise that it is coming with little notice. You may have seen the message from Chris Hammond (Leader of Southampton City Council) where he acknowledged the incredible pressure schools are under at the moment, where the council would be supportive of individual schools moving to remote learning while there are staffing pressures and concerns.
I will write to everyone on Friday with an update for what our plans will be for next week.
To be honest, this has been an extremely tough decision that has not been easy to make. I did not want to have to be in this position.
My ‘heart’ is always to have the school open for our amazing children but on this occasion my ‘head’ is forcing me look at the logistics and practicalities of keeping staff, children and families
Thank you for your continued support as we work together in these challenging times.
I will send out further letters later today on how to register your child for critical worker school. We will also be contacting the families of vulnerable children to invite them to join CW school.
I will also write a further letter about how remote learning will work for the next 4 days with guidance for parents.
Take care everyone