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St John's C of E Primary School

5.6.20 Headteacher Update

Dear Parents,

I hope this email finds you and your families safe and well.

Firstly, I need to apologise for my lack of communication over the last two weeks. When this situation started, I promised myself that I would write to you all at least once a week because I feel so strongly that we need to stick together as a school community. I managed to do this for the whole half term, but I have failed for the last two weeks. Having said that, some of you probably welcomed the break from the constant emails!

I found the week leading up to half term incredibly challenging. I felt that the Government and the City Council were refusing to decide on school opening and were leaving it on the shoulders of Headteachers. I had to undertake a risk assessment regarding how safely we could re-open. I had to create a plan based on this risk assessment which minimised the risk of disease transmission within school. I had to meet representatives of Teaching Unions, Headteacher Unions, Public Health West Midlands, Birmingham City Council, the local headteachers, and the Governing Body. I had to research disease transmission, look at generic risks associated with Covid-19 and then consider how the layout of our building could be made as safe as possible.

I also had to audit the staff to see who would need to stay at home, who would need to work away from children, and who could work in school with children. I've had to find PPE for staff to use, create a handbook of procedures to keep staff and children as safe as possible, install hand sanitisers, extra sinks, paper towel dispensers, cleaning wipes, audit equipment which can be washed safely, and find the money to do all this. I haven't done all of this on my own: I have an amazing team around me. But the weight of this responsibility is massive. How can I hope to protect children and staff safe from catching a virus that spreads even more easily than the common cold?

I think the pressure took its toll on me because during half term I was ill. I had to stop working, watching the news and reading daily Government Corona updates. I also had to spend some time with my children who I have been failing to home-school because of all the work I am doing at home. They have had far too much screen time because it has helped me to get work done. I feel guilty about that, and the lack of attention I have given them. I'm sure many of you will relate to this.

This week I have been in school with the Senior Leadership Team and Site Staff, preparing the building for a possible return for some children, and briefing the staff on the new procedures and protocols for minimising risk. It is our intention to open to Year 6 on the week beginning 15th June, although this will be dependent on the National situation.

I will write next week to give you more details on how we plan to open, and what this will look like for the children. Year 6 staff will be producing videos for our YouTube channel so that their children can see the systems in place before Monday 15th.

I sincerely hope that this situation comes to an end soon. I feel that I have drifted a long way from the job I love. I have become a risk-manager for disease control and my worries are not to do with children’s learning, achievement, confidence or happiness. Instead, my attention is turned toward hand washing, hygiene stations, social distancing and PPE.

As the Head of a Church School, I have to believe that God will see us all through this pandemic and that some good will come out of it. The last two weeks have been a struggle for me personally: I long for the babble of children learning in classrooms. Instead, I walk around a silent school, working out where pinch points are situated and how many desks that are 2 metres apart we can fit into our small classrooms. Almost everyone now knows somebody that has had, or died from, Covid-19. These are difficult times. I know that some of you are desperate for your children to come back to school and I want you to know that as soon as we believe we can minimise the risks, we will welcome them back with open arms.

I hope to see you all soon. Take care of yourselves.

Best wishes,

Mrs Seymour

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