Headteacher's Weekly Update - 7th January 2022
Happy New Year, I hope this email finds you and your families well. I hope too that you managed an enjoyable and restful holiday period without too much disruption of a Covid-19 nature, or otherwise. A weekly update that is very Covid-centred, unsurprisingly.
You may well have seen the government guidance that came out on January 2nd with expectations
for schools, around Covid, for the new school year. The re-introduction of masks and other
measures have been brought in with immediate effect. At Kelmscott, in reality, the new measures
have not meant significant change as we had already adopted many of the measures last term.
As you know, we began the calendar year, testing consenting students here in school before they
returned to lessons the following day. It was the largest number of students that we have ever
tested. I thought you would be interested to see the numbers of students testing and the positive
With those relatively high, asymptomatic cases having been identified, this further cements, in my
mind, the importance of continued, regular testing at home. We plan to send a polite, twice weekly reminder to families urging you to do this – many thanks for your ongoing support here. The more we can do here the better.
Please see the accompanying letter from the Borough which outlines the current situation for schools
and steps we may need to take, including; testing and isolating, what to do if your child tests
positive, and what to do if you are a close contact of a positive case. Please read this letter carefully.
We have been working hard this week to prepare for a number of different Covid scenarios. I would like to share three scenarios with you and our action plan for each. I would politely ask that you read each one very carefully please as there is a fair bit to digest:
1. A student tests positive for Covid-19 but is asymptomatic and feels well. Subject teachers
will upload the work from the lesson missed on the day to Google Classroom for students to
work through independently. Please let the school know if this is the case by asking
your child to email their subject teachers, using their Gsuite accounts. This way,
staff will know who to expect work from.
2. There is an outbreak in a specific year group (10% of the cohort – 16-20 students depending
on year group). In order to act as circuit breaker, that year group will be sent home for five
days. This, coupled with a weekend, makes up the seven days required for those self-isolating. The first lesson will be a pre-planned series of tasks for students to work on independently. Every subsequent lesson will be a Recorded Lesson (RL) from your child’s actual teacher. This should ensure that learning can continue with minimal disruption.
3. There is a staff shortage. If we don’t have enough staff in school to cover each lesson, we
may need to send a year group, or groups, home to work remotely to create capacity for
staff in school to cover classes. Work will be provided as per your child’s timetable and,
again, can be accessed on Google Classroom. These are likely to be tasks for students to
complete independently, not RLs.
In this scenario, we will be working day-by-day and it may be that remote learning only has to be in place for one day. If we experience a shortage of staff on day two or beyond, it will be a different year group that is asked to work remotely on day two and a different one again on day three etc. hopefully minimising disruption to families.
We will try to ensure that Year 11 remain in school, as much as possible as we are getting ever
closer to GCSE season and their final exams.
A number of important points to raise:
1. Having access to a laptop or computer is clearly very important for students to access remote
learning. We surveyed students prior to the holidays and are aware of those who do not
have access. We are addressing this with individual families.
2. I will make a decision about scenario two and three with limited notice for families e.g.
scenario 3, I will communicate at approximately 8am that a particular year group is to stay at
home and work remotely. We will communicate this via the MyEd app. Suffice to say, it is
vital that you have the app and that it is activated. The app deactivates if you have
not engaged with it for four weeks. To re-activate it, all users need to do is open the app
and check the message box for unread messages.
It is very important that students are able to get into the family home or have a contingency
plan if parents/carers are at work for example, e.g. go to a Grandparents’ house. We will be
able to accommodate a small number of students, asked to work remotely, in school in one
of our ICT suites. This may be because parents/carers are out at work for example.
3. Vulnerable and key worker students will be expected in school to access their lessons in an
ICT suite. We will inform individual students and families about this directly.
The government have also outlined their intention to provide a second vaccination for students aged
12-15 years of age, twelve weeks after their first. For those that took advantage of the Covid-19
vaccination programme here at Kelmscott, this means the earliest a second jab could be
administered is the 25th January. My understanding is that we will be offering the second jab here on site, but families can also book the vaccine at centres across the Borough too: NHS booking system
More information to follow in due course.
Looking ahead, it is highly likely that the Year 7 Parents’ Evening on Thursday 3rd February will be
virtual. We are exploring the use of an online booking system synchronised with MyEd, that will
allow families to book a five-minute telephone conversation with the subject teacher. More
information to follow about this in due course too.
On a much more sombre note, next Saturday the 15th January marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of Mr Mandaza. For new families’ benefit, Mr Mandaza was a much loved DT teacher here at Kelmscott and passed away quite suddenly, much to our distress. We plan to mark the anniversary by observing a silence in school next Friday morning. I know such occasions can bring back upsetting thoughts and feelings for losses we have experienced ourselves, hence me raising this with you in advance. I know you will speak to your child in advance, should you think it necessary. We also plan to plant a tree in his memory in the summer term. I have been in contact with Mr Mandaza’s family who are touched and appreciative of our plans.
Congratulations to Inaaya Kamar in Year 7, who amassed the most rewards points in the last week of term with a noteworthy forty - keep up the good work.
It’s upsetting not to have more of an upbeat first letter of the new school year, with more of a focus
on new beginnings, resolutions etc. but it is important to be realistic of course. I am an optimistic
person by nature, however, and I do believe that we are not far away from a time where we can
learn to live happily and safely with Covid-19. I also believe that we will reflect as a community on
this time, and feel proud that we were able to continue to provide a first rate education for your child during the pandemic.
As always, please get in contact if you have any questions or queries about your child’s education. I thank you for your ongoing support.
Mr Sam Jones