22 June 2020
Returning to School w/c 29th June 2020
A great deal of work has been undertaken in the past week to ensure that the school can comply with the Welsh Government’s plans for a partial reopening w/b 29th June 2020 as safely as possible. Thank you all for your patience at this time and for your continuing support for the school’s home learning provision. Working in partnership with the Council’s Health and Safety teams, the school’s IEB and school Trade Union representatives, we have developed a one way route through lower school which will give us almost all the teaching space we need to allow those children who want to ‘Check in, Catch up, Prepare’ to do so in a socially distanced environment – thanks in particular to the Site Management Team for all their hard work on this! A significant number of our largest rooms in lower school (where we also have the widest corridors and greatest number of toilet facilities) have been repurposed to accommodate very small groups of pupils on a Year Group per day basis. We continue to follow the very latest advice from the Council and Welsh Government to provide a safe environment for the school community to return to but we will need the cooperation of families more than ever before in the next few weeks as we try to establish some sort of ‘new normality’ for our school. We are putting in place what we feel is safe, practical and directly linked to the existing scientific and medical information available. So as to not overwhelm you with too much information at once, this is likely to be the first of a number of communications you receive from the school in the coming days.
Our plan for reopening
Parental surveys have been returned and approximately 50% of pupils in each Year Group have stated an intention to return to school for the provision available from the 29th June 2020. The vast majority of those intending to return will do so wherever possible in Form Groups and will be with their Form Teacher for one session per week. The first week will be a pastoral session currently being designed by the respective Year/Pastoral Teams, the second will begin a two week rota of Science, English, Maths and a plenary session. The sessions will have staggered start and finish times across the designated school day to make it easier for pupils and staff to socially distance. Specifics in this regard will be communicated to you soon but at this stage we are committed to the following rota:
Monday – Year 10.
Tuesday – Year 9
Wednesday – Year 8
Thursday – Year 7
Friday – Extra support for examination classes.
**There will also be extra sessions provided for Year 12 in partnership with colleagues from the Torfaen Learning Zone.
This rotation will run for three weeks from the week beginning the 29th June 2020.
There is some uncertainty across Wales as to whether or not the Summer term will be extended by a week and when we receive final confirmation in that regard we will let you know of our plans.
Strict social distancing and hygiene rules will be in place and we are trying our very best to limit the amount of time that any pupils will spend with pupils outside of their ‘designated bubble’. The vast majority of sessions will be delivered in groups of ten or less but some exam support sessions for Year 10 groups may need to be delivered in larger bases where it is easier to socially distance the larger number of pupils in a particular exam class. Year 10 pupils will also need to be part of two ‘bubbles’ per week if they wish to access the exam support sessions on a Friday. Some reorganising of the Year Tutor Teams will be necessary due to the small numbers we are trying to create in form group bubbles and the number of teaching staff who will not be able to return to the classroom. We need to rotate the number of staff present at the school at any one time not only for safety reasons but also to ensure that distance learning provision continues uninterrupted until the end of term as part of our ‘Blended learning’ approach.
In addition to the provision outlined above, we shall also be running ‘child care’ provision for any of our parents/carers who are Key Workers. At this stage the Council has determined that a Key Worker is anyone who was accessing the Torfaen Key Worker Hub provision before the 10th June 2020 or anyone who works in a school setting (evidence of the latter will be required from the school at which any parent/carer works). Once we have clearly established how many of our parents/carers fall into the two defined categories, we will be in touch to define our provision where relevant.
The purpose of this letter is to outline how CHS will operate from the 29/6/2020 for at least three weeks. Further information and greater detail around areas such as health and safety will follow shortly. As a parent of two secondary aged pupils myself, I completely understand the anxieties that parents/carers feel at this difficult time and it is impossible to address every possible question but in the coming days we will hopefully provide clarity on how and why the school will operate in this way. The Council have an FAQs document about the return to school which you can access via http://www.cwmbranhighschool.co.uk/return-to-school-faqs-local-authority-update-19620/
We anticipate that we will need to review this readiness for September and we will continue to reflect changes as WG assessments are made.
Finally, I must stress that there is NO expectation for pupils to attend and parents/carers who choose not to send their child/children back to school will not be subject to the usual attendance processes. If a pupil who wished to attend (and registered to do so) is unable to attend please inform the school on the first day of absence. Daily registers will be taken. If pupil hasn’t registered for a return to school they will not be permitted to attend until they have done so.
Thank you all in anticipation of your cooperation and support and, if you intend to send your child/children back to school at this stage, we look forward to welcoming them back to allow us to ‘Check in, Catch Up and Prepare’.
Mr J Hicks