MHS Start of term update
Happy New Year to everyone, I hope you all had a good break and are ready for the term ahead.
As you can imagine school staff have been working hard to get everything as ready as we can for the new term, acting on the various changes that have occurred in the past week or so regarding covid measures. This blog is therefore quite long but, I hope, useful.
As always we are happy to answer questions from parents and carers so please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
In many ways it’s both sad and frustrating to be having to write a blog like this again. There were pockets of light last year where school felt more normal again, and so I am hopeful that we can get through the next phase quickly. Whatever happens I have absolute faith that we’ll all do our very best for our community.
1) Lateral Flow Testing Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th January
Monday 10th January: Tests will take place for students in Year 11, 10 and for one half of Year 7. These students will come into school for the test at a given time and then return home. Teachers will deliver lessons on teams to all classes, years 7-11.
Tuesday 11th January: Year 11 and 10 will be in school for face to face lessons
Years 9, 8 and the other half of 7 will come into school for their test and then return home. All classes in Years 9-7 will have live lessons on Teams for all subjects, including all of Year 7 regardless of when they have their test.
Wednesday 12th January: All students in school for face to face lessons
2) New/renewed covid precautions January 2022
National guidelines have changed with regards to covid measures in schools. The key changes as of January 2022 are as follows
- Unless exempt, all students will have to wear face coverings in lessons. This is a national expectation and will be reviewed at the end of the month. Having a mask is an essential part of the MHS, and we advise students carry at least one spare just in case.
- Teaching staff will once again be instructed to stay at the front of classrooms. This is not ideal, but we need to do all we can to keep staff in school.
- We are reintroducing a one way system on the corridors in Bradshaw building only. I will explain this to students on a virtual assembly next week.
- Windows and doors will be open in classrooms regardless of the weather. Students are advised to wear suitable clothing under their uniform if necessary, and coats can be worn when rooms are cold. Non-school jumpers and hoodies will be confiscated though so please explain this to your children.
- All assemblies and other such events will return to being online.
- A range of staff specific covid protections are returning, such as maximum occupancy levels for communal areas.
- As of Tuesday 11th January anyone having a positive Lateral Flow Test does not need a follow up PCR test to confirm infection. They can instead start their isolation straight away, coming out of isolation on day 7 provided that two negative lateral flow tests are completed on day 6 and day 7 itself. The guidance on the MHS website is currently being updated to reflect the rapid changes in national policy
- For a short time all non-essential extra-curricular activities will cease (see below)
3) Pausing of extra-curricular activities
As will be covered in the next section, perhaps the main challenge this coming term will be managing staff absence from school. Prior to the break we experienced absences of roughly 8-10% of staff on the most difficult days, and we have been advised to plan for if 20-25% of staff are not available for work. Therefore for the short term the intention is to focus on the core school business of teaching lessons and supporting exam candidates above all else. I have therefore asked staff to pause all clubs for the time being. Revision sessions, coursework session (ie GCSE Drama rehearsals), individual music lessons and small group tutoring will continue. The return of extra-curricular was one of the very best things about last term and I assure you I will bring it back as soon as possible.
4) Staff absence and remote learning
Many of your children will have experienced more ‘cover’ lessons than usual last term, mostly caused by teaching staff being off for a range of covid related reasons. Given that infection rates in the North West are now three times as high as they were when we broke up, it stands to reason that we may have some difficult days ahead. If we get to a point where we cannot safely and effectively teach all students in school then the following will happen:
a) A decision will be made to close a year group and switch them to remote learning for a set time. This may be as short as one day and is unlikely to be for more than a week at a time.
b) We plan to protect older year groups from remote learning, but if younger year groups miss too many days in school then we may have to switch Year 10 or Year 11 to remote learning for a short time.
c) When on remote learning all students will have work to do. The intention is that every lesson will be delivered online via Teams, but there may be some gaps caused by staff illness. Where this is the case work will be set on Satchel one for each lesson.
d) When a year group is on remote learning, all students identified as vulnerable or the child of Key Workers will be able to attend school and access the remote learning from school. We will be asking for information on VKW status next week just in case.
e) Switching to remote learning will only happen as a last resort and may happen at short notice. We will always aim to give parents and carers as much notice as possible.
5) Hybrid lessons
Where students are off school due to covid they will be eligible to attend live hybrid lessons as if they were in school. These hybrid lessons are a great way to engage students in their learning and make sure that they do not fall behind. Students can access these lessons without the need for an invite, they just need to access Teams and open the relevant class Team. The only reason why a hybrid lesson might not take place is if the teacher is sick or unable to run the session, which clearly may occur more often than has been the case up to now. In all such situations work will be set for the class on Satchel One. If your son or daughter does not have a laptop or suitable device, please email the relevant head of year as we might be able to help.
6) Public Examinations
We expect exams to go ahead this summer and will be working towards that end with all exam students across Years 9 to 11. Trial exams will therefore take place for Year 11 in January and February as per the calendar.
The school will be asked to host a second round of covid vaccines fairly early on this year. As per last time, no student would be vaccinated without the permission of a parent or carer. Consent will be needed again regardless of whether it was given last time, and once again will be processed electronically. More details to follow.