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SCHOOL CLOSED - 03/04/2020 COVID-19 Parent/Carer Update from the Principal

SCHOOL CLOSED

Updated 03/04/2020

COVID-19 Parent Update from Mr Nunns (02/04/2020)

Dear Parents & Carers

I am writing to update you, following a series of in-depth discussions and complex risk assessments that have been completed, regarding the possibility of reopening the school site to a small group of students and staff.

We fully understand that this is a difficult time for all, both in terms of the national effort to reduce the spread of infection and also regarding your child’s education in such uncertain circumstances. We are very grateful for your support and the kind comments we have received.

The Trustees and I have discussed the implications of the latest Department for Education and Government guidance at length and reviewed the levels of staff resource currently available in school. We have had to balance this with the wider responsibility that we have to the public in reducing the spread of infection which is still growing at a rapid pace.

We have considered at length the possibility of opening our residential provision.  However, after completing thorough risk assessments on each of the properties, it would not be possible at this time to enforce, within these small spaces, the necessary guidance on social distancing to keep staff and students safe from possible infection. 

As a result, the school will be able to open for a small group of students for day provision only.  Parents who requested provision will be written to and contacted separately to notify them of the Trustees’ decision making.

The Trustees have agreed the following:

1.     We will open for a small number of students who have Key Worker parents, who cannot provide any provision within the family home following a full assessment of the parent survey.

2.     We will open for a small number of children who are known to Social Care either at a Child in Need or a Child in Need of Protection basis.

3.     The School will be open to these students from Monday the 13th April (which is the second week of the Easter holidays). The provision will be operational from 9am -3pm each weekday.

4.     Students will need to be transported into school by parents/carers to minimise the risk of infection to both staff, students and family groups.

5.     Staff will be selected and placed into groups to work onsite on a rotational basis to ensure that risk of infection is minimised and controlled as far as possible.

6.     Staff working offsite will continue to populate the Virtual Learning Environment and will provide distance learning activities to those remaining within their homes. There will be no live broadcasting of lessons through video-calling platforms at this time. Therapists will continue to support remotely wherever possible.

Unfortunately, the Trustees have not been able to approve provision for all who have requested it due to the restraints placed upon us.

Although we understand that for some students and parents the decision to not offer a wider provision may be disappointing, however we are certain you can all understand that the School has a duty of care to offer a safe and manageable environment that complies with the wider expectations placed on us from the Government.

We also have considerable levels of staff absence which makes resourcing any sort of provision a challenge to ensure we have key staff available on site. 

The Trustees and I are reviewing our position along with how this crisis evolves and government guidance on a three-weekly basis.  We will keep you updated on any changes as and when they happen.  We are trying to strike a balance between keeping you well informed and not bombarding you with information. 

We thank you in advance for your continued support during this difficult time and please do not hesitate to contact me, should you have and queries.

Trusting you all stay safe and well.

With kind regards

Mr Nunns
Principal

 

Updated 02/04/2020

Additional Safeguarding Information

Please see the Addendum 1 COVID-19 Policy to be read in conjunction with WHS's Child Protection Policy added to the website today.

Updated 31/03/2020

Additional Safeguarding Information

Parents and carers may choose to supplement the school (or college) online offer with support from online companies and in some cases individual tutors.

It is important to secure online support from a reputable organisation/individual who can provide evidence that they are safe and can be trusted to have access to children. Support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online includes:

Updated 30/03/2020

Safeguarding Information

Parent/Carers - Please note, that in line with recent guidance, we are currently reviewing our Child Protection Policy to ensure any required additional information is included.

Staff - Following Julie Goodyear's email sent to you all on 25/03/2020, the Child Protection Policy is being reviewed in accordance with guidance received this weekend and today. We will advise you of any changes to policy. 

 

Updated 26th March 2020

Dear Parent/Carers

During this very different and difficult time we hope the following update is useful to you.  Thank you again for your messages of support appreciation for the way staff are supporting albeit remotely.

The school is currently in the middle of a “deep clean” which should be completed by Friday, 3rd April, at which point Becky Heaton (Deputy Principal) and I will be able to make a full risk assessment of the school site. 

As you may already be aware, the whole staff team have been working remotely this week and we are endeavouring to continue to provide an educational and therapeutic provision to all of your children.  The Senior Leadership Team and I meet remotely every morning for updates and to ensure that we can continue to support your children and yourselves effectively.  

You will all be aware that the School’s new Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) has gone live and it enables teachers to upload home learning activities for the students to access during the school closure. Both yourselves and your children should have received log-in credentials and we hope you are beginning to access and enjoy these resources.  We have uploaded some emotional wellbeing resources which may be useful.

Home learning tasks will be uploaded each week in a variety of subjects, as well as some “flexible tasks” and the teachers will be monitoring their activity and providing feedback on each one completed. 

If at any time you have difficulty in logging in, please contact your child’s tutor who will be able to help you. The school calendar will also feature all homework set across the school. This can be accessed by visiting www.westheathschool.com and using the link “ShowMyHomework” on the Home Page.

Our therapy support continues for the students and their regular counselling sessions are taking place. During this difficult period, we understand that many students and parents/carers may be feeling very anxious and would like additional emotional support. As such, please feel free to contact the Mimi Kirke Smith mimi.kirke-smith@westheathschool.com who will endeavour to provide this help for you, depending on staff availability. Our students’ emotional wellbeing is paramount and therefore they will be a priority when allocating therapeutic staff time.

Please remember that safeguarding contact details and additional resources if you need support or advice in this area during the closure are available from our website www.westheathschool.com

The Heads and Deputy Heads of School, together with key members of staff will continue to keep in contact with you all on a regular basis during this time and I will send out further updates on a weekly basis.  All update letters will be emailed to staff and a text notification will be sent to inform you. Please let us know if your email or mobile phone contact details change by emailing reception@westheathschool.com to ensure that we are able to keep you informed at all times.

And finally, the Trustees will be reviewing our risk assessment in reference to provision for pupils of parents, who have requested their child returns to school following the deep clean.  Becky Heaton and I will be remotely meeting with the Trustees next week to discuss the risk assessment.

Thank you for your understanding and support during this difficult time.

Yours sincerely

 

Mr J Nunns
Principal

 

 

 

Updated 25th March 2020

 

Safeguarding advice for parents/carers during current school closure.

 

School staff remain available for support and guidance whilst the site is closed.

If you have any safeguarding concerns during the school day (8.30am - 3.30pm) please follow this link

https://www.westheathschool.com/page/?title=Safeguarding+Concerns+during+Covid%2D19+Shutdown&pid=145

 

You can also contact your local children’s social care duty team 24 hours a day. Contact details are available on their individual websites.

 

Kent:

 

https://www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health

https://www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/report-abuse

 

https://www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/special-educational-needs

Services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

 

https://local.kent.gov.uk/kb5/kent/directory/service.page?id=ehkENLK95w4

Kent Children and Families Information Service (CFIS) provides, free, confidential, impartial information and advice to parents, carers and members of the public.

 

https://www.nelft.nhs.uk/home

The provider of all age eating disorder services and child and adolescent mental health services across Kent and Medway.

 

Useful Information:

 

https://www.nspcc.org.uk

The NSPCC helpline provides help and support to thousands of parents, professionals and families.

It's a place adults can contact by phone or online to get advice or share their concerns about a child, anonymously if they wish. It's staffed by professional practitioners with backgrounds in jobs like teaching, healthcare and social work, who know how to spot the signs of abuse and what to do to help.
 

https://www.childline.org.uk

Support for children and young people.

Call Free: 0800 1111 

 

https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk

 

Updated 22nd March 2020

SCHOOL CLOSED TO ALL PUPILS AND STAFF

Please see the email and text sent to Parents/Carers on the 22nd March 2020. Do not send your children in to school Week Commencing 23/03/2020. 

Updated 20th March 2020

Dear Parent/Carer

I am writing to update you following the announcement made by the Education Secretary and Prime Minister on 18th March 2020, in reference to school closures.  Following on from this announcement, we have received today the Department for Education (DfE) guidance on critical workers (see guidance for schools and parents at the links below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

Trustees and I have discussed the implications of this guidance at length.  We are committed to continue to care for our students where we can and help with this national crisis.

Trustees have agreed the following:

  1. From Monday to Wednesday (23-25 March 2020) the school will open to year 11 students and year 11 to year 15 in HEART.
  2. The school will make a full assessment of parents’ critical worker status, student vulnerability/need and each child’s individual risk assessment.  Following this assessment Trustees will approve the students permitted to return to school.
  3. Assessment of staffing will be ongoing and will determine how many students we can safely care for.
  4. We also ask you inform the school if you are eligible for free school meals, as Trustees have set funds aside to support should your child not be in school.

We strongly believe it is important to take our time assessing eligibility as we want to be as helpful and fair as possible.  We will contact by Wednesday the 25th March (if not before) to inform you of our decision making with more detail of the level of care we will be offering.

Separate correspondence will follow regarding our distance learning and remote therapeutic offer of support.

Please bear with us at this exceptionally difficult time and thank you in advance for your understanding.

With kind regards

Mr J Nunns

Principal & Chief Executive

 

Updated 20th March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

HOME LEARNING PLATFORM

We are writing to launch our new home learning platform to support students who are working from home with accessing education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The platform goes live next week and work will be uploaded by staff during the week commencing 23/3/20. Please do not contact the school regarding the new platform as the system is not yet fully functional and staff are working hard to provide material ready for the launch. Until the site is fully functioning please continue to access the resources on the website.

The platform is called Show my Homework by Team Satchel. To access the system you will need to download the App onto a smart device or use the following web link:

https://www.satchelone.com/login?userType=parent

Login in details will be sent to you next week when the site is up and running for West Heath students.

While the school remains open for some students we have to carefully balance the limited teaching resource we have across the children in school and those who are at home. To begin with we have directed staff to place a variety of subject content, activities and tasks onto the platform. This will be kept under review and will continue where staff are fit, healthy and able to submit and mark work. We will keep the online platform functioning as comprehensively as possible. It is for each individual household to manage the appropriate level and time spent on home learning. This will vary depending on each household’s access to devices, individual anxieties and circumstances. We would like to thank you in advance for your support.

Dr Mimi Kirk Smith is working alongside the therapy team and where possible telephone therapy and counselling sessions will continue. You will be contacted directly if your child is going to receive any of these provisions. This may not be possible for all children currently accessing sessions due to staff illness or home self-isolation, but the school will do all it can to support you during this difficult time. We thank you in advance for your continued support and patience.

To be absolutely clear there is no expectation or pressure to ensure that your child completes the work. We also fully understand that this approach assumes that families have access to the internet or home computer. This platform is accessible from all smart devices including phone and some games consoles. We fully accept that this system is not perfect but we feel it offers the best we are able to deliver under the circumstances. If you are not able to complete the tasks set we understand.

With kind regards,

Becky Heaton and Nick Taylor

Teaching and Learning Team

 

Updated 19/03/2020

Dear Parent/Carer

Following the government’s announcement last night, we are writing to inform you that the school will remain closed today and tomorrow to the students identified in our correspondence yesterday (see email/text dated 18/03/2020).  This is due to ongoing and increasing staff absence.  We are really sorry for the disruption this undoubtedly causes.

I will be meeting with the Trustees tomorrow to consider the school’s response to government guidance. Following this meeting there will be an update on our decision making and arrangements will be made available Friday afternoon via the usual routes (text/website).

We sincerely thank you for your patience and understanding, during what is an exceptionally challenging time for everyone.

With kind regards

Mr J Nunns
Principal

Updated 18/03/2020

Dear Parent & Carer

Following careful consideration, including discussions with our Trustees, we have decided it is necessary to close part of the school. 

This is due to a significant increase in staff absence which continues to rapidly increase.  The escalation in staff absence is due to the requirements to self-isolate either due to relevant symptoms or pre-existing vulnerabilities, child care responsibilities with other school closures and general ill health absence. 

From 3.30pm today school will be closed to the following year groups as follows and until further notice:

  • Lower School (year, 6, 7 & 8)
  • Middle School (year 9 & 10)
  • HEART (year 6,7,8,9 & 10)
  • EOS (year 6,7,8,9 & 10)
  • Induction (year 6,7,8,9 & 10)
  • Boarding (year 6,7,8,9 & 10)

The school and boarding remains open to year 11 and sixth form students only.

For those boarding students required to return home today, boarding staff will contact you after 1.30pm to discuss suitable transport arrangements.

During this school closure, there will be a limited selection of downloadable PDF work packs on the school website.  These are separated into subjects and year groups and can be found in the ‘Education’ tab under ‘School Closure Work Packs’.  During this partial school closure, school staff will still be contactable if they are on site. 

The school will contact SEN transport informing them of the closure.  We would be grateful if you could contact your child’s transport provider and check they are aware of the school closure as described above.

With kind regards

Mr J Nunns

 

Updated 16/03/2020

Dear Parents/Carers

I am writing to make you aware about the Prime Minister’s briefing statement this evening. This statement changes previous guidance relating to self-isolation and the  statement can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-on-coronavirus-16-march-2020
The following outlines the directive the Prime Minister gave regarding self-isolation and we would be grateful if you would respect the government’s guideline.
“If anyone in your household experiences a new and continuous cough or a high temperature the whole household must isolate for 14 days.”
Please pay close attention to this statement relating to self-isolation and should anyone in your household experience a new and continuous cough or high temperature please keep your child at home.
The school continues to remain open until directed otherwise by the government. However, we will keep a close eye on their guidance which is changing rapidly. 
We continue to monitor and assess our levels of staff absence to ensure that we are able to deliver effective educational support for our students.
Thank you again for your understanding and cooperation.
With kind regards
 
Jim Nunns
Principal
 

 

Updated 14/03/2020

Dear Parent & Carer

 

Following the government’s announcement to enter stage 2 of their response (delay) on 12 March 2020, we thought it might be helpful to update you on the school’s response and contingency plans.

 

First of all we are committed and determined to carrying on as usual, continuing to educate and support our students.  That said it is possible the government guidance in reference to self-isolation, as outlined in our previous email (12 March 2020), will have an impact on staff absence.  We will be assessing on a daily basis our levels of staffing to ensure we can continue to operate appropriately and safely.  Should the levels of staffing absence become an issue we will consider a range of options as follows:

 

  • Adjust the usual curriculum offer within the usual school day and redeploy staff as necessary
  • Use managers/leaders to cover lessons and duties.
  • Close parts of the school
  • Close the school for a period of time

 

We of course will also be working in a preventive way, ensuring there is good hand and respiratory hygiene, along with looking after general cleanliness and hygiene at school.  Our email to you yesterday outlines how you can support the school by ensuring your child doesn’t attend school if they are symptomatic as described in the guidance (see links below).

 

Should there be a need to close parts of the school or the whole school for a period of time, we will send you a text and post a letter  communicating decision making on our website.  In the event of a school closure (full or partial) packs of work have been prepared and will be available on our website.  We ask you pay close attention to texts, emails and correspondence from the school and continue to observe government guidance (see links below).

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-government-announces-moving-out-of-contain-phase-and-into-delay

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

 

We appreciate closing the school is hugely disruptive to our students and you as parents/carers.  We will do all we can to stay open.  However, we felt it was fair and appropriate to pre-warn you that an adjustment to our usual offer and school closure may be necessary.  I’d be grateful if you could discuss this letter with your child, if you feel this is appropriate.

 

Thank you in advance for your support and understanding.

 

With kind regards

 

Mr J Nunns

Principal

 

Updated 13/03/2020

Dear Parent and Carer

With the rapidly changing situation with regards to the coronavirus outbreak, we thought it would helpful to send you an update, following the governments announcement today.

We’d be grateful if you could take note of the guidance on the links below and monitor your child’s health accordingly.  Please keep your child at home if they have the symptoms described in the guidance. (A high temperature, 37.8 degrees and above.  A new, continuous cough.)

If you are unsure as to whether your child should come into school due to their health, we ask you to take a cautious approach and keep them off school.  You are welcome to contact the school if a discussion about your child’s symptoms would help.

We will continue to encourage good hand and respiratory hygiene.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-government-announces-moving-out-of-contain-phase-and-into-delay

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

Thank you in advance for your support with this.

With kind regards

Jim Nunns

Principal

 

 

Updated 10/03/2020

Dear Parent/Carer

Please see DfE helpline below.

Following consideration and guidance we will be avoiding shaking hands at the moment as part of "looking after hand hygiene". Apologies, if we appear less friendly and welcoming than usual.

Department for Education Coronavirus Helpline

The helpline is now available to all parents/carers and young people to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children's social care.

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)

Please see our Newsletter page to keep up to date with the information that has been shared with our Students and Parent/Carers