Dear Parents and Carers,
In light of the new information that has been released from central government overnight, I am writing to you again to reiterate their key message of ‘Stay Home to Save Lives.’
We have had unexpectedly high demand for places for children from next week to attend school. We are mindful of the need to keep numbers to an absolute minimum, in order to protect both our staff and the children who attend. If the provision becomes too large, it negates any benefits of the social distancing measures we have in place, and through associated contact, both staff and children will be exposed to unacceptable risk.
All medical advice is clear that the safest place for children and families to be at the moment is at home, with as little social contact as possible. Eligibility for emergency childcare in the school building from Monday 23rd March is that children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers can potentially send their children to school, during the periods when this is required. However, I must emphasise that the government guidance also states that ‘many parents working in these critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.’
It is with this in mind that I urge all families to re-assess their circumstances and to ensure that they will only be sending in their children if they meet the criteria for critical worker status AND only on those days when other childcare arrangements are impossible to make.
Of course, we have received many genuine requests for support in this regard, and our offer to those children remains open for the foreseeable future. However, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is that we know exactly when you will be needing a place for your child, as far in advance as you possibly can, please. If you know your shift patterns early enough, please send us a copy, as our daily registers are already being prepared now for the next four weeks. Please note that your child will not be able to attend if we have not received specific notification of your shift patterns in advance.
I have received some queries about the children’s learning during this time and have been asked if their child would be better off attending school rather than completing tasks that staff have prepared for them at home. This is not the case. From Monday, we will not be a place of education, but one of emergency childcare only. Your children will be able to establish a far better education routine by accessing the remote learning from home that I have described in my previous letters to you this week.
I am absolutely committed to ensuring that our school continues to serve our families during this time of national crisis. However, I also have a duty of care to my staff and it is therefore imperative that parents let us know exactly when their children need a place and why it is impossible to have them cared for at home, so that I can keep our rota to a skeletal minimum. I know that you will all understand this and appreciate your continued support.
On a different note, I have been overwhelmed by the many messages of support we have received this week from parents. I will try to answer all of these individually once the mayhem of this week pauses a while and I actually have a moment, but please know that these have kept us all going and are very much appreciated.