15th December 2020
Following the text, I just wanted to give you more of an explanation following an update we have received from both the local authority and DfE (department for education) regarding the early closure of Islington schools this term and the delayed reopening following the Christmas holidays.
As I explained yesterday, Camden and Islington public health team have highlighted the very high and rising number of COVID cases within the borough. Based on this information, Islington local authority instructed schools yesterday to introduce a ‘circuit breaker’ either side of the Christmas holidays by closing on 17th December and not reopening until 11th January. This was to reduce the risk of transmission from pupils to their families and friends, prior to the suspension of restrictions for 5 days during the Christmas period. It would also enable us to have a clear sense of infection rates in early January before inviting the children back in to school.
However, this morning, Islington were told by the DfE that there were legally required to keep schools open as normal. As a head teacher, I am concerned at the escalation of infection rates in Islington and other London boroughs and the potential risk this poses to pupils, families and staff. I am also acutely aware of the massive disruption for parents given the repeated change of advice over the last 24 hours. However, I am also aware that we cannot act illegally without our school governing body facing serious consequences.
The Chair of governors and I have therefore made the decision to keep our school open as normal this week for ALL children, closing earlier on Thursday as planned. However, I recognise that many parents may choose to not send their children in to school given the current public health situation, and will instead keep them at home tomorrow and Thursday. As a school, we will fully support you should you choose to take this approach. There will be breakfast club as usual on both days but only after school care tomorrow and not Thursday.
Unlike many other schools, we had already planned an Inset day this Friday 18th so will not be open. In order to keep children and families safe, here are the home time arrangements for Thursday:
Nursery – 1:30pm – school office
Reception – 1:45pm – Gard St gate
Year 1 – 1:30pm - Gard St gate
Year 2 – 1:45pm – school office
Year 3 – 2:00pm - Gard St gate
Year 4 – 1:30pm – back gate
Year 5 – 2:00pm – back gate
Year 6 – 1:45pm – back gate
I sent you out a letter earlier about reporting COVID between 18th and 23rd December. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org if your child or a member of your family who lives with your child contracts COVID. We will be checking this email from our homes until 23rd December. It is essential you email rather than ring the school as there will be no-one in the office.
The school will re-open for all children as planned on 4th January unless we receive further updates from the DFE over the holidays.
Once again, I want to express my apologies for the chaotic and inconsistent manner in which we were strongly advised to firstly close and then remain open, with virtually no time for parents to make suitable provision. I hope that the solution we have reached as a school will enable parents to make an informed decision about what is best for them and their children.
We fully intend to make the last few days an enjoyable experience for those children who are able to attend and wish you all a very enjoyable and safe Christmas holiday.
With best wishes
Executive head teacher