MHS update 17-9-2021
MHS update 17-9-2021
A full-on Covid blog this week, but not on what you might be expecting. There is nothing here about the decision to vaccinate 12-15 year olds, other than to say that as yet I know no more than you do. I can guess that we will be asked to host the vaccinations, but as yet I have received no information what so ever about how/when etc or how consent will work.
Instead I want to focus on the day to day situation in school and how we are aiming to keep things as normal as possible. I’ll say at this point that the students have been fantastic since they returned. Calm, polite, hard working and full of the Marple Hall Spirit. I’m so proud of them and especially the new intake of Year 7 students who have taken to life at MHS so well. Like all my colleagues I came into this profession to help the kids, and our wonderful cohort of young people makes that so much easier to do. We are determined to give them the best possible experience despite the challenges we all still face.
Our aims of course are firstly to keep everyone safe, followed closely by delivering as good an education as we possibly can. We were proud of our remote learning offer last school year but I never want to have to use those skills again!
Obviously any increase in covid cases in school threatens both of our aims. The more students and adults are infected the greater the chance that someone will be properly ill, the more students who miss out on face to face lessons and the more members of staff who cannot do their jobs properly. To date this year we are seeing on average just over two cases a day amongst the students, and four members of staff have had positive covid tests and had to isolate. A couple more colleagues have also had to take some time to look after their own small children who have contracted covid. However the infection rate within both groups – students and adults – is already increasing as the term goes along. It’s not as high profile this year as obviously we don’t have ‘bubbles’ or close-contact students going home, but the virus is present and the disruption caused by absent staff is just as significant as last year.
Here’s what we are doing, and what you can do, to help us keep things as normal as possible for as long as possible
1) We’re keeping certain safeguards in place – good ventilation in classrooms, the use of hand sanitiser, a limited one way system and separate areas for year groups at break and lunch. These all work and have little impact on learning, hence why they have stayed.
2) I took the decision yesterday to stop almost all assemblies for the rest of the term. I absolutely loved seeing the year groups back in the hall again in the first fortnight of term but we have to be sensible. Gatherings of 300+ people are an unnecessary risk and they will stop in all but the most important situations.
3) Members of staff have been instructed to maintain social distance from each other when indoors, and I have strongly recommended that they wear ‘masks on the move’ inside the building. I have also asked teachers and learning support assistants to limit the time they spend closely supporting students. We all want to help children when they are stuck, but educationally it’s counter productive if the class then has to have a cover teacher for a week as a result.
4) We have moved our annual Open Evening online again this year. Open Evening is a major event for us but I cannot justify over 1200 people coming into school at this time, with the risk that this poses to staff welfare and their ability to carry out their roles should they have to self-isolate.
5) We support the right of students to wear masks at any time if they wish.
1) Please continue to support your young people in doing lateral flow tests at least twice a week. A pack of a further seven tests was made available to all students yesterday or today.
2) Please don’t send your child into school if they have any of the three main symptoms of a new cough, a fever or a change to the sense of taste or smell.
The challenges clearly remain and at the moment we’re doing ok…but I have bigger ambitions than that and I want only the best for MHS. No absent students and no cover lessons caused by Covid. I cannot predict the future and it may be that we have to bring in bigger changes sooner or later, such as a return to ‘masks on the move’ for all students, but for now I hope that the measures above will make that unnecessary.
Thank you, as ever, for your ongoing support.
Ps The canteen choices have been pretty disappointing this week and I apologise for that. I know that our catering partners have struggled with supplies like many in the food industry and they are trying hard to fix this, but I know that the situation hasn’t been ideal.