As you will all be aware, the national lockdown was voted through Parliament yesterday. This reflects the severity of the pandemic and the continued risks of viral spread.
The exemption of schools, childcare settings, colleges and universities from the wide spread closures has been a controversial move from the government and you will have a personal view on this. It is their belief that the strict and well-considered protective measures we have in place are good enough to keep communities safe.
I will summarise some of the main points of the updated guidance that was published last night:
It is not mandatory for staff and visitors to wear face coverings. In situations where social distancing between adults in settings is not possible (for example when moving around in corridors and communal areas), settings have the discretion to recommend the use of face coverings for adults on site, for both staff and visitors.
Settings should restrict all visits to the setting to those that are absolutely necessary. This means suspending parent and carer visits for new admissions, settling-in children new to the setting and attending organised performances.
Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Children
More evidence has emerged that shows there is a very low risk of children becoming very unwell from coronavirus (COVID-19), even for children with existing health conditions. Most children originally identified as clinically extremely vulnerable no longer need to follow original shielding advice. Parents should be advised to speak to their child’s GP or specialist clinician if they have not already done so, to understand whether their child should still be classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
Those children whose doctors have confirmed they are still clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend childcare or nursery during the period this advice is in place.
Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend education or childcare.
Parents of clinically extremely vulnerable children will be receiving a letter shortly confirming this advice.
Out of School Activities and Warp Around Care
Out-of-school activities (including wraparound care) may continue to operate if their primary purpose is providing registered childcare, or where they are offering other childcare activities, where this is reasonably necessary to enable parents to:
PE and Sport
It is important that children continue to remain fit and active and, wherever possible, have the 60 active minutes of daily physical activity recommended by the Chief Medical Officers.
Schools have the flexibility to decide how physical education, sport and physical activity will be provided whilst following the measures in their system of controls.
Pupils should be kept in consistent groups and sports equipment thoroughly cleaned between each use by different individual groups. Outdoor sports should be prioritised where possible, and large indoor spaces used where it is not, maximising natural ventilation flows (through opening windows and doors or using air conditioning systems wherever possible), distancing between pupils and paying scrupulous attention to cleaning and hygiene.
Schools are able to work with external coaches, clubs and organisations for curricular activities where they are satisfied that it is safe to do so. Where schools are offering extra-curricular activities (that is, before and after school clubs) they should only do so where it is reasonably necessary to support parents to work, search for work, or undertake training or education, or where the provision is being used for the purposes of respite care.
As you can imagine, I am in a constant state of reflection and action at the moment coupled with a sense of impending change. The constant balance between ensuring the physical health of all stakeholders whilst retaining a sense of normality to ensure the mental wellbeing of staff and children is a challenge. Your co-operation, patience and understanding has been a source of strength and for that I, along with staff, are grateful.
Please continue to abide strictly by the measures we have put in place and continue to demonstrate the positivity and flexibility that makes Langar Church of England Primary School such a special place to be.