Friday 7th January 2022
It has been great to welcome our children back to school this week following the Christmas break, and although it is still a concerning and disrupted time for so many of us, it is an incomparably better situation than this time last year in terms of our children’s schooling.
We hope that everyone managed to have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year, and that our families’ plans were able to go ahead without being impacted too much by illness or self-isolation. Thank you again on behalf of all of the staff team for your kind gifts and wishes we all received at the end of last term. The children have returned to school extremely focused upon their learning and have quickly got back into familiar routines, which has been brilliant to see. It seems likely of course that pupils, staff and families at Cropthorne will continue to be impacted by COVID-19 in the coming weeks, and everyone can help play their part in limiting any potential disruption through continuing to follow the most recent guidance as we have done since the onset of the pandemic. Please take a moment to read through the latest guidance and advice here which we all will need to continue to follow, especially the advice around testing of ‘close contacts’ and when pupils can return to school following a positive test.
At school, staff will continue to test regularly, socially distance where we are able and keep handwashing (at key points during the day), and cleaning etc. as we did last term. Staff will continue to wear masks in communal areas and at the start and end of the day. Doors and windows will be kept open as much as possible for ventilation, whilst ensuring room temperatures remain comfortable. We have C02 monitors set up around school to identify where air is circulating poorly, and doors and windows are opened when they exceed the advised levels. We will continue to limit the length and frequency of whole school assemblies but children will be able to still play with other year groups outdoors. We will only move back to bubbles, separate entrances etc. as outlined in our contingency plan, if advised to by the Local Outbreak Response Team in response to increasing case numbers in school (you may recall we had to partially enact these measures prior to the October half term break) or if the DFE instructs schools to.
As in other sectors nationally, we along with other schools expect to be impacted by staff absence, either due to staff self-isolating themselves or caring for their own family members who are isolating. We will though do everything we possibly can to keep every class open, every day, so children can continue to attend school. Our efforts to do this may however impact on some aspects of school operations so please bear with us if things do not run as smoothly as normal at times due to staff absence. If faced with extremely high numbers of staff absence, with relief staff difficult to source due to high demand across the educational sector, and we find we are unable to operate safely, we may have no option to but to enact a short term closure of one or more year groups/classes or in extreme circumstances the whole school. As you would expect, these measures would be a very last resort. Staff have been, and I know will continue to be, very flexible in order to ensure children’s experiences at school are not disrupted through covering each other’s classes, duties or working in different year groups when other staff are not able to be in school. Therefore, we ask that everyone please understand that we never take cancellations, postponements or changes to arrangements lightly, but the next few weeks may be very challenging indeed in our attempts to operate as normally as possible. We are resolved to doing so however and hope that we can navigate this period with as little disruption as possible. It is again still extremely important that everyone continues to follow the latest guidance to provide us with the best chance of ensuring school remains fully open to everyone and children can access the fantastic educational experiences which they deserve every single day.
Years 2&3 are scheduled to restart their swimming lessons next week and I know Years 4&5 are very excited to have received their letters detailing their residential trip planned for later this year. Things are of course still far from ‘normal’ but the children have been brilliant throughout and we hope that the next few months will see a return of more familiar events, such as our Nativity Performances and Carol Service which took place last term and those outlined here, which we know mean so much to all of us.
Thank you for your continuing support,