MHS update 18-9-2020
Ready for Remote Learning
Last week I shared a blog that updated everyone on the situation so far in school. It talked of the approach we were taking to managing risk whilst providing a full education, some changes to the system in place and also a brief run down of what may happen if a whole year group had to isolate. Today I’ll follow that up with a similar range of issues, but focussing more on the plans for remote learning in the second half of the blog.
In terms of how the first three weeks of reopening has gone I could hardly be more pleased. Almost all of the plans that we put in place seem to be working, and where we found little niggles we’ve managed to find fixes along the way. For example we have had some success in reducing the busyness of corridors and have completely separated all year groups in the canteens, something that last week had emerged as unexpected issues. We’re at the stage now where (we think) any future changes will be even more minor. For example, to speed up the queues in the canteens we’ve ordered some credit-card sized ID badges for students so that they can scan their codes without the need to drag their planners out of bags, and as of Monday next week we’ll slightly change the outdoor zones for Year Seven to Nine to further separate the different age groups. However, like I say, on the whole we have been really pleased. Most importantly I cannot praise the students highly enough. They have risen to the challenges posed by this pandemic in fantastic fashion – attendance is 96%, students are following the one way system, wearing their masks, moving from room to room sensibly and are getting on with their work in class really well. I said yesterday to one of our catering colleagues that I am so proud of the students. She passed on that their team currently includes colleagues who normally work in other schools and they have all said how polite and respectful our students are. Couldn’t agree more.
Last Wednesday I highlighted the fact that back then, a number of schools across Greater Manchester had closed down classes or year groups as a result of positive Covid tests. By the middle of this week the Manchester Evening News was reporting over 100 GM schools in this situation, and the number in Stockport is now growing too and includes some secondary schools. Therefore of course it makes sense to assume that MHS – the largest school in Stockport – won’t escape this forever. Staff at school have been working really hard to get ready for all eventualities and I’m pleased to say that we have a strong plan ready to go. I’m sure there will be some teething issues especially the first time around, but there’s every chance that should a year group have to isolate then they will receive almost their full timetable of lessons online across the two weeks.
The plan for a full year group closure
After communicating the closure to students and parents, we will make sure that work is set on Show My Homework (Satchel One) for the first two days. This will be work that the student can complete on their own, using their exercise books that should all now be kept at home and not in classrooms overnight.
By day three, or possibly before, the full school day will take place on Microsoft Teams. Starting at 8.35am with form tutors, students will be expected to log on to their timetabled lessons and meet their class and teachers. Video will be disabled but microphones will be allowed so that students can communicate with staff. We’ve developed a nifty way of sharing all the relevant links to the classes with every student so they’ll easily be able to see what to do and where to go – it’s all very clever!
Lessons will then take place during the day, with work set and students expected to either send it to staff or bring everything back in at the end of the isolation period. Students have seen a virtual assembly on how this plan will work, a letter is going out to parents and carers and the key information, including the virtual assembly, can be found here.
Like I say, the dream would be that Marple Hall avoids all connection to a positive test but I think that chances of that would be astronomical! Every day we have everyone here is a bonus and we’re not taking that for granted at all.
What if a student has to isolate but the rest of their year group does not have to?
Again, things have moved on from my message of nine days ago and we are now pretty much up and running with the plan to cater for students self-isolating and therefore missing classes. Most teachers are now setting work that matches the lesson content via Show my Homework on the same day, so all that an isolating student needs to do is log on, complete the work and then they’ll be up to speed on their return. If for some reason work isn’t appearing then please get in touch with your child’s Head of Year.
And finally…what about the rest of the term?
Two weeks ago I wasn’t sure what the future held. Having seen the school come back to life and thriving again I am growing in confidence that this term will be manageable. If things stay exactly as they are then we’ll carry on as we are indefinitely. If year groups close down and come back, then we are ready and will cope with that too. The only uncontrollable aspect at the moment is if too many of my colleagues have to isolate, making it difficult to run the school day to day. At present a) not many colleagues have had to do this and b) those who have, have managed to get themselves or their relations tested very quickly and then return to school. I have everything crossed that this situation continues for as long as possible!