Dear Parents/Carers

In the current uncertain climate for schools, we wished to reassure you of our plans for students who are due to return or join us for the first time in September 2020.

I am delighted to inform you that English Martyr’s will be opening fully in the first week of September with a staggered start in operation. We will be welcoming the following year groups back full time on these dates:

Year 7 and 12 – Thursday 3rd September 2020
Year 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13 – Friday 4th September 2020

These arrangements have been put into place following a robust risk assessment process. We are excited to welcome all of our students back after such a long period of school closure. We would like to reassure you that the safety of every member of our school community is our priority. We will continue to review the arrangements we have implemented at this stage and update you with any changes as and when we make them.

We have worked with government guidance and Health and Safety partners to identify the risks associated with coronavirus specific to our school and additional measures have been put in place to minimise those risks as far as we are able to. Our risk assessment for the full reopening of our school and Sixth Form College will be published on our school website after 26th August 2020 and we welcome any feedback or queries on the measures we have put in place.

We recognise that some of you may have concerns about your child returning to school and that this is an unsettling time for some children. We also understand that the past weeks will have been challenging for many families. If you would like to talk to us about your child and any concerns you have about their return to school, please – in the first instance – contact your son/daughters pastoral manager by email. If your child has an EHC plan please contact the school SENDCO, Mrs Irvine, who will support you and your child with their return to school.

Allocating Students to a ‘Bubble’

In line with Department for Education (DfE) guidance, we have made arrangements for all students to attend school as part of a smaller consistent group, often referred to as a ‘bubble’. In effect these bubbles are year groups with the exception of our Sixth Form who collectively will form a bubble. These groups of students will remain together throughout the school day and will not interact with other bubbles in school. This is an important measure to limit the spread of any infection and will limit the number of interactions between students in school.   Your son/daughter will remain with their Year Group bubble and will only mix with that year group. Please note, siblings may be allocated different groups and this is supported by the DfE in their guidance.

Attendance

From September 2020, the normal rules around school attendance apply. Therefore, we must remind you of your duty to secure that your son/daughter attends school regularly. The school have a responsibility to record attendance for all children and follow up absence. Please see our behaviour and attendance policy which is published on our website.

School staff

All school staff have been fully briefed on the arrangements in place for a full reopening in September 2020. Some school staff have been shielding during the lockdown and as such we will be supporting them fully as they return to work. I would ask all parents/carers to bear in mind that some staff may have spent a considerable amount of time away from school and that this is also an unsettling period for those members of staff. We ask that our entire school community are patient with each other as we adjust to this new way of life.

Maintaining a safe school environment

There are a number of preventative measures the school has put in place in order to minimise the spread of infection.

As per the advice from the government, the following actions for infection control remain in place:

  • Displaying coronavirus infection control measures information posters around the school
  • Encouraging good hygiene by promoting the importance of handwashing for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap in the following circumstances:
  • Before leaving home
  • On arrival at school
  • After using the toilet
  • After breaks and sporting activities
  • Before food preparation
  • Before eating any food, including snacks
  • Before leaving school
  • Installing alcohol-based hand sanitiser dispensers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol throughout the school
  • Ensuring students and staff understand that they must cover their mouth and nose with a tissue before they cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue away into the lidded bins provided.
  • Ensuring frequently touched objects and surfaces are cleaned and disinfected more regularly than usual
  • Calling NHS 111 if someone becomes unwell, isolating any unwell people in a separate room, and providing a separate bathroom, where possible
  • Telling staff to stay at home for 14 days if they develop symptoms of coronavirus
  • Arranging classrooms so that children are seated side by side facing forwards and removing unnecessary furniture and equipment.

We would ask that you continue to encourage good infection control practices, such as thorough handwashing, at home and keep your son/daughter informed about the things they can do to discourage the spread of infection.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

As per the current NHS and government advice, you should keep your child at home for a period of 14 days if they develop coronavirus symptoms. Symptoms include a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss of taste/smell. Where symptoms continue after 7 days, or begin to worsen, you should call 111. If someone in your child’s household has symptoms, your child must self-isolate for 14 days from the day the other person’s symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear. More information regarding symptoms and actions can be found on the NHS website (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/).

The school will insist that any student or member(s) of staff who show any symptoms that may be compatible with Coronavirus, book a test immediately. Information on booking a test will be provided by the school and the student / member of staff will not be permitted to return until the test result is confirmed and the period of isolation is complete. In addition, guidance from the DfE states that a small number of home testing kits may be able to be distributed by the school in exceptional circumstances. We have not yet received the details of this and will advise parents/carers as soon as more information is available.

If someone you or your child has been in close proximity to has tested positive for Coronavirus, you may be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service. Information on the NHS Test and Trace service is available here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/nhs-test-and-trace-if-youre-contacted-after-testing-positive-for-coronavirus/

If you think your child may have been exposed to or has coronavirus, please contact the school on 01429 273790 at the earliest opportunity. Alternatively email admin@ems.bhcet.org.uk

 School uniform

From September 2020, all students will be expected to return to school in their full school uniform. Although not stated in the DfE guidance, we have taken the decision for our students NOT to wear their school tie when they return as an additional precautionary measure. The DfE guidance states that uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often than usual, nor do they need to be cleaned using methods which are different from normal.

Our uniform is the strongest visual representation we have of our standards. With the exception of the tie, all of our uniform code as stated on our website ought to be followed.

School Bags

It is recommended that we limit the amount of equipment students bring to school each day. Therefore, only essentials can be brought to school by students such as: lunchboxes, hats, and coats.  Lockers will not be allowed to be used in year 8-11 as this would mean mixing bubbles.  If students bring their bags they will be expected to be by their chair in their classroom. A list of equipment we expect all students to have with them will be produced in a Frequently Asked Questions document which we will send out in the next few days.

Arrangements for the start and end of the school day

The beginning and end of the school day are the busiest times for children and adults congregating together in one place, so maintaining safe distances within normal arrangements can be a challenge. We have implemented the following measures for when students return to school:

 

  • Year 7 should meet in the St Anne’s side of the Chapel Garden where they will be met by staff and directed to their classroom
  • Year 8 should use the main entrance to the main building where they will be met and directed up the main staircase to their classroom
  • Year 9 should meet in the St Bede’s side of the chapel garden where they will be met and directed to their classroom up the St Bede staircase
  • Year 10 should use the Holy Family side entrance where you will be met and directed up the Holy Family staircase to your rooms
  • Year 11 should use the Art/Music yard where they will be directed to their classrooms
  • Years 12 and 13 should enter the Sixth Form Block via the main entrance where you will be directed to your rooms

A floor plan will be included in the FAQ document so students can picture where they are to go to.

Punctuality

It is important that our students are in school by 8.40 so learning can start promptly at 8.45 am.  If for any reason your son/daughter is late they will have to come to the main reception and wait until someone comes to take them to their designated area.  Students will not be allowed just to wander in the school buildings late.

Transport

If your child travels to school using public transport, we must remind you that it is a mandatory requirement to wear a face covering unless you are exempt for reasons of health, age or equality. Full guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#face-coverings

Student drop-off

We encourage students to walk or cycle to school if feasible and avoid public transport where possible and at peak times.  Our start time has not changed and the final phase of demolition works will be complete by the end of July.  Parents should not drive up to the main building but use the St Anne’s car park to drop students off. The entrance to this car park is now the old exit near to Catcote School. The old entrance is now the exit. This will enable a safe drop off for students without causing cars to back-up on Catcote Road. A photographed site map will be annotated and uploaded to our website in August, after the contractors have left site.

A new Cycle Store has been constructed and access details will be provided on the site map. I need to remind you that whilst every care is taken to provide safe storage of bicycles – we cannot accept liability for theft and bicycles are on site entirely at the owners’ risk.

 Arrangements for breaktimes and lunchtimes

We recognise the importance for all students to have a break from learning and to enjoy time outside during the school day. Reconnecting with friends will be an important aspect of students settling back into school life, so we have made some adjustments to break and lunch times to ensure they can do so safely.

Planned structure of the school day

Y9 and Y7 will have the chapel garden as their outside space.

We are unable to offer snacks in the usual way in our canteen at break time but are exploring ways in which this could safely be done for each bubble. We encourage you to send them into school with a healthy snack. 

Visiting School

We would like to politely request that parents do not come on to the school site unless it is absolutely necessary as you will not be able to speak to a member of staff face to face.  Appointments will only be made in exceptional circumstances so we can ensure that you and our staff are kept safe. Communications will be via phone, email or through a virtual meeting via Microsoft Teams.

We do not underestimate how difficult the recent weeks have been for us all and we all will have been touched in some way by the coronavirus pandemic. We recognise the need to focus on students’ emotional wellbeing as well as their return to learning. The following support is in place for students once they return to school:

  1. The Form Tutor will be first point of contact for any issues
  2. Pastoral Managers will add further support where required
  3. Student Support Team available for students who are struggling
  4. Special Educational Needs and Disability Coordinator to support those who need additional support

The School/College does have access to staff who are trained bereavement counsellors and if you would like support please contact the Pastoral Manager in the first instance.

Parents may wish to seek support for themselves from the following support agencies:

Samaritans – call free 24 hours a day on 116 123

  • National Domestic Abuse Helpline – call for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247
  • Shelter provide free confidential information, support and legal advice on all housing and homelessness issues if you call 0330 0536 083 (please note, this is not a free phone number and your call will be charged), or their free webchat is available at https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help/webchat

I hope that these arrangements provide you with an outline of information you need to support your child’s return to school. Students of a compulsory age must be in school unless a statutory reason applies.  If you do have any concerns, therefore, about the return to school that you would like to discuss with us, please contact us by emailing us as soon as possible. A FAQ and a School Opening Plan with attached Risk Assessment will be uploaded to the website in August.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for supporting the school over recent months and supporting your child with their home learning.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Hammond
Headteacher