Principal's update: plans for reopening
Published on 14/07/20
I hope you are well and continue to come to terms with our current situation and the ongoing implications of COVID-19.
Since the Government guidance about schools fully reopening was released, we have been planning for September 2020 and what this means for our children and young people. We have also taken the advice of Public Health England and considered all available risk assessments and information. We now want to communicate some of the most important decisions for September 2020.
Year group bubbles and changes to tutor groups
According to government advice we must aim to keep our young people in year group bubbles as far as possible. This will allow us to be able to track and trace any potential infections in school. This means that we will have to change our tutor groups from mixed year groups to single year group tutor groups. Each year group will be put into tutor groups and named HOPE (for example 8H, 8O, 8P, 8E); this will be familiar to students as these are used for teaching groups, particularly in Key Stage 3. We will not be keeping these groups in every subject where other groupings (within the year groups) will still apply. As we put tutor groups together, we are taking into account what we know about our young people and their friendships etc. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s tutor group once we have shared these details.
Another change will be that our Senior House Tutors will take responsibility for a year group or key stage so Mrs E Scorer will be the point of contact for Y7, Mr M Fitton for Y8 and Y9 and Mr A Jenkinson for Y10 and Y11. They will still keep an oversight of the house system but as we cannot mix year groups their focus will be on the year group rather than the house.
Changes within the school day
The school day will start and end as normal but we have made changes within the day so we can achieve two important things:
- Allow staggered lunches, so we can keep year groups apart.
- Allow time for Year 10 and 11 students to have catch-up sessions.
The proposed school day timings are:
(Please note that for arrival, break, lunch and social times students will be in separate areas supervised by staff)
08:30 Students can arrive in school and go to year bases
08:55 Period 1
09:55 Period 2
11:10 Period 3
12:10-12:35 Y7: time to buy and eat food
12:35-13:00 Y7: tutor time
13:00-13:30 Y7: social time
12:10-12:35 Y8: tutor time
12:35-13:00 Y8: time to buy and eat food (dining hall)
13:00-13:30 Y8: social time
12:10-12:35 Y9: tutor time
12:35-13:00 Y9: time to buy and eat food (hall)
13:00-13:30 Y9: social time
12:10-13:00 Y10: catch-up time
13:00-13:30 Y10: time to buy and eat food (dining room)
12:10-13:00 Y11: catch-up time
13:00-13:30 Y11: time to buy and eat food (hall)
13:30 Period 4
14:30 Period 5
15:15-15:30 Release for buses – Y7 first
As you will see from these timings, we have tried to incorporate the important catch-up time for Year 10 and 11 students during the normal school day. Other schools have added an additional period 6 at the end of the day but we cannot do this because of our reliance on scheduled transport services. This does mean that these students have less social time in school than others. However, I hope you can see why this is important, given that we do not want these students to be disadvantaged in their GCSEs. I do know of other schools where they have removed morning break altogether, so I am pleased we have been able to retain this for our students.
We will also be keeping students together in year groups at social times by providing a ‘year base’ with inside and outside space and staggered lunchtimes to buy and eat food. It is likely that we will be offering a slightly reduced menu to speed up service time. If you don’t already, please consider using our online cashless system ‘Wisepay’ to pay for your child’s food as this will speed up service and help us to avoid handling cash. See: https://www.hopevalley-chorustrust.org/wisepay
If you would like to bring a packed lunch, this can be eaten alongside classmates who are buying food. Students will also need to bring a drink/water and a snack for morning break as we cannot provide food at break time.
The end of the day will be staggered to allow students to leave school in year groups – this will begin at 3.10pm for Y7 and end at 3.30pm for Y11.
To alleviate the number of students at the front of school, we will be using the school car park for minibuses to pick up students who travel home this way, larger buses will still be at the front of school. If you are collecting your children and young people, please bear in mind that the car park will be busier with the mini buses and it will harder to park. We continue to work with the Council to find solutions for our transport challenges and will explore any options presented to us. Our website has details of a ‘bike bus’ being trialled by parents this week https://www.hopevalley-chorustrust.org/news/?pid=3&nid=1&storyid=83
You will know that currently face masks are compulsory on buses. Conversely, government guidance (Guidance for full opening: schools, 2/7/20) states that:
‘Public Health England does not (based on current evidence) recommend the use of face coverings in schools. This evidence will be kept under review. They are not required in schools as pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups, and because misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission. There may also be negative effects on communication and thus education.’
Please help us to reinforce this message with our young people so that we can safely manage the situation.
Items students should bring
We suggest that hand sanitiser and tissues are now essential items for school. Please ensure that your child has these in their bag. If they are using a mask, please remember to bring one for their return journey. If wearing a reusable mast please keep each in re-sealable plastic bags. There will be bins at school where students can safely get rid of disposable masks before entering the school building.
On 11 August the government is confirming its decision to reopen schools fully and will review the situation. Following this we will examine any further guidance and then provide you with more detailed information about our arrangements for the start of term, including when and where students should go to on their first day, as well as the general rules about safety within school. At the moment, we are planning for all students to return to school on Thursday 3rd September and Friday 4th September but will confirm this after the 11th August 2020.
Like you, we are taking a common sense approach and will keep up to date with guidance as it is released.
We know that these changes will make a difference to the day for all our students but we hope that they will maintain safety, maximise learning time and provide important social interaction. We will review this provision every half-term and react to any changes in guidance as they arise.
I know you may have questions about the arrangements, please submit these to enquiries or the headteacher account and we will try to answer as many as possible before we break up for the summer.
Mrs Gaynor Jones
Principal of Hope Valley College