Headteacher Update

September 2020

It has been yet another seismic week as the Prime Minister announced the latest measures to tackle the rise in infection rates across the country. It remains a challenging time for everyone and whilst we know that the numbers testing positive has increased partly as a result of  increased testing, this does not remove the anxieties that many of you will be feeling about sending your child into school. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support over the past two weeks as we have worked to open the school safely; we are continually reviewing procedures so that we can keep everyone as safe as possible.

Understandably, there were a number of parents who contacted the school on Wednesday following the letter I sent regarding a member of staff testing positive for the virus. The concerns were a completely natural response to the news and we were able to explain the procedures that we have in place that do minimise the risk of transmission between staff and students; I thought it was sensible to share these with you all;

  • Teachers remain behind the 2m line in classrooms for the full lesson or the 1m plus line for a maximum of 15 minutes
  • Teachers follow hand hygiene guidance prior to handing out equipment before the lesson starts as well as when entering and leaving any room in the school
  • Teachers move between lessons in a 3 minute window whilst students are still in their classrooms
  • Face coverings are used whilst in communal areas

Inevitably there may well be a small number of occasions when staff fall ill with Covid symptoms and the steps we take in these circumstances are listed below:

  • If a staff member reports symptoms for themselves or a member of their household they are asked to arrange a test for the individual with symptoms and remain at home. School staff are usually able to get a test immediately.
  • If a staff member reports symptoms in school, they leave the building immediately and the teacher zone of their room(s) is cleaned.
  • If the member of staff tests positive then there is a contact tracing discussion to identify risks.
  • All information is shared with public health who will make a decision whether or not self isolation is needed for individuals or groups of individuals.

I hope this information, alongside earlier letters regarding the school’s provision, reduces anxiety as far as it is possible to do so. With regard to the member of staff who tested positive this week, the procedures laid out in the first bullet point list had been followed meaning that we did not need to take any further action with students. It is a fact that there is never zero risk, but as things stand this afternoon there has been 1 more staff member tested and 8 students (or a member of their household) tested and all have come back with a negative result.  As a school we are constantly evaluating current procedures and updating them if we feel they can be improved further.  We do have some trainee teachers on site for limited periods of time and we have been informed this morning that one has received a positive test result, but that individual was only on the site on Monday and had no contact with our students. The trainees were all based in a completely separate area of the school from our students and staff. There are robust procedures surrounding trainee teachers on site.

I will provide brief updates as soon as possible if we are informed of a positive test for a member of staff or student, but we will only provide full details to the parents of students where there is an identified chain of transmission. As has always been the case, if you would like to discuss anything relating to our procedures or any other concerns then please do get in touch.

In other news…

  • The students have continued to settle back into school exceptionally well. What was very strange last week has now become much more normal already. Please can I ask you to ensure that your child always brings their face covering to school as we are distributing a reasonable number of disposable masks every morning for students who have forgotten their own. Many students are also bringing in their own hand sanitiser to school, which is great and something we would recommend that all students do to further improve hygiene routines.
  • Unfortunately, we have had to take the decision to suspend the Sporting Academy programme for the foreseeable future. This is in response to a local issue and we feel that if we were to run the programme with external coaches we would be unnecessarily increasing the risk of transmission.
  • The Catering Team have informed us that the cashless system is now functioning, but please do get in touch with them directly at parentpay@northtyneside.gov.uk if you are still experiencing problems.
  • Our Open Evening for Parents of Year 6 students is going virtual on 22nd September. The event will go live at 5.30pm so please do look out for the link at the end of next week if you are the parent of a Year 6 pupil or you know someone that is.

I hope that you all have a relaxing and safe weekend.

Best wishes

Jonathan