Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope you and your families are all well.
We are pleased to announce that we will be welcoming back our Year 11 pupils from 10th June and Year 10 in the week commencing the 15th June, in line with the Government’s recent announcement.
Provision will also be made for vulnerable pupils, if they require face to face learning.
Our intentions are to have in place a specially designed, safe timetable that takes into account all the Government’s safety recommendations which will allow for face to face teaching combined with our current programme of home learning.
I understand that some of you will be very concerned about the reopening of schools and, as both teachers and parents ourselves, we share those concerns with you. I will share with you later in this letter, how we intend to manage the risks associated with the Coronavirus.
If you feel that you do not wish to send your child back to school, the Government and the Local Authority have been very clear that you will not be penalised. It will still be very important, however, that you continue to support your child to engage with our programme of home learning and I would like to congratulate you all for the way in which you have done so over the recent weeks and months. The home learning programme, which includes pastoral support and clinical counselling, is an important factor for safeguarding, mental health and wellbeing in addition to continued learning.
It is important that you can make an informed decision about sending your child back to school and I would like to reassure you that we have your child’s safety and wellbeing at the heart of our planning, as we move to this next stage of preparing our Year 10s for their final and important GCSE year.
Before you send your child to school, you must be absolutely certain that they have no symptoms of the Coronavirus: this includes a raised temperature, a persistent cough and occasionally other flu-like symptoms. Please keep your child at home if they display any of these symptoms. They must self-isolate for 7 days. If anyone else in your household displays the symptoms, the same applies: do not send your child to Merit.
From the week commencing 1st June 2020, staff will be at school to prepare the building for the arrival of students. Included in our wider planning:
- We will have 2 meter distanced taped lines on all floors so that students and staff will always know that they are the recommended distance from the next person.
- We will have painted lines, 2m apart, outside of the entrance to avoid getting too close to each other while waiting to get into the building
- Pupils will have their temperature recorded on entry and will need to return home if they have a raised temperature above 37.8
- Pupils will be required to wash their hands, or use the provided hand sanitiser as soon as they enter the building: this will be done using the staff toilets in reception, now designated for hand sanitisation
- Tissues will be provided in each classroom and pupils will be reminded of the “Catch it, Bin it, Kill it” campaign for the management of sneezing or coughing.
- At the start of each day, teachers will remind pupils of the 20 second process for thorough hand washing
- All doors will be propped open to avoid coming into contact with the virus via handles or surfaces of doors
- A one way system will be clearly marked down narrow corridors to avoid passing within the 2m guidelines
- “Stations” will be set up by the entrances and exits where pupils and staff can use hand sanitiser
- Face masks will be issued to all pupils on entry and these will be mandatory for all to wear whilst in school.
- Teaching staff will be wearing full face visors to avoid spreading the disease whilst they talk and teach.
- We will not be wearing gloves for extended periods of time as they have been shown to spread the virus. We will however insist on the use of gloves when going to the toilet. These gloves will be discarded after use in specially designated bins.
- Classrooms will be set up to accommodate a maximum of 4 students, plus one teacher and a teaching assistant.
- Teaching groups, including staff, will be classed as “bubbles” and there can be no mingling within or between these set bubbles.
- Pupils will have a designated seat and desk and will be required to stay in this space.
- Staff will not be allowed to mingle with students, so 1:1 work will be lead from the front of the room
- Breaks will be designed to avoid any possible mingling, so breaks will take place within the classroom
- Safety procedures for using the toilets will be in place and your child will be informed on arrival.
- Lunch will not be provided at Merit as delivery personnel would need to come on site. Merit will therefore close at 1.15pm each day. Students entitled to free school meals will continue to receive food hampers delivered to their home address. Pupils will be provided with work for the afternoons by the teachers who are on duty so they can continue to learn at home.
- Pupils can bring snacks and drinks for the session, but will need to take their litter home with them.
- Water can be taken from the water fountain in the hall, but gloves must be used to dispense the water. The gloves will then be discarded into a designated bin.
- No visitors will be allowed into school and no parents. We will ask you to remain on Willeton Street and call staff to say you have arrived. Telephone numbers will be provided.
- Pupils will not be asked to wear school uniform. It is important that pupils wear freshly washed clothes each time they come to school. Try not to send your child with additional garments, such as coats, unless the weather is cold and wet.
- Pupils will not be required to bring their own writing equipment: we will provide sanitised packs for each pupil. The packs will be clearly named and used only by your child.
- Classrooms, including writing equipment and keyboards, will be thoroughly cleaned after use
- Pupils who will need to travel by taxi will need to let Mel James know, so that we can arrange for your child to be the sole occupant of the taxi. The safest option will be for you to transport your child.
- No pupil should use public transport to travel to and from Merit.
We are currently awaiting the final numbers of parents who wish their child to attend from 15th June.
Please let us know your intentions by June 3rd 2020, so that we can put the final touches to our timetables. We will then be in touch to let you know what your child’s individual timetable will look like.
For those Year 10 pupils who will remain at home, teaching staff will upload the lessons and resources onto our website so that ALL pupils can have access. Remember that the face to face lessons supplement the home learning package. All students have been provided with bespoke and individualised learning from all their teachers. This will not stop once the school is re-opened.
Please be aware of the importance for Year 10 pupils to continue their learning. In the event of further lockdowns, teachers may need to be able to provide evidence of work to submit to the Exam Boards in the same way that we have done for this year’s Year 11 pupils.
- For Year 10 pupils: we will design the teaching around English, Maths and Science with some teaching in other GCSE subjects such as Geography, RE and ICT.
- There will be a continuation of the home learning programme and your child will continue to be supported by teachers and teaching assistants as we have done since March
- There will be a stronger focus on Intervention work. Mrs Keates will be contacting pupils individually and delivering lessons via Microsoft Teams. Your support for this will be invaluable.
Pupils will be invited into school to meet with the careers team including our Careers Advisor, Mrs Sharon Williams. This is to ensure that college applications can be made and that our students have the correct information about what will happen in September.
If you feel your child needs support in this area, or for anything else, please let Mel James know as soon as possible.
Expectations of pupils when they come to Merit:
Pupils will be issued with following set of guidelines for how they will need to behave during their time back in school.
- To always follow the social distancing rules and use the distancing markers at all times.
- To wash hands thoroughly, as instructed
- To line up safely outside the building, if required, following the 2m distancing rule
- To wear the face masks as provided by staff
- To use the one way system as indicated within the building
- To sit in a designated space as indicated by teaching staff
- To remain in the designated space unless given permission to move
- To follow the safety guidelines about using toilets and the water fountain
- Once dismissed by teaching staff, to leave the building immediately and continue to follow the social distancing requirements
By allowing your child to come to school on and after the 15th June, we will understand that you and your child agree to the above expectations.
We hope you find the above information useful, but please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need more information. We have very detailed risk assessments in place to protect our pupils and staff and can spend time with you to go through these in more detail, if you still have concerns about your child’s return to school.
All the staff at Merit look forward to seeing your child return to some form of normality and to get back into the routine of face to face teaching before the long summer holidays.
We have missed all of our pupils and look forwards to welcoming them back to school in a safe and controlled way.
In the meantime, please take care of yourselves and stay in touch if you have further questions.