A staff member working closely with all children in the Early Years bubble has tested positive for COVID-19. They became symptomatic on Friday evening and their test result came back today - Sunday. In line with government guidance for contact with a positive test, we now ask that all staff and all children in this bubble that have been attending school during the last week remain at home and isolate for 10 days. They can return to school site on TUESDAY 19TH JANUARY. If they begin to show symptoms you should get them tested and please let us know this.
Unfortunately, if your child was due to start the F1/F2 key worker bubble provision from tomorrow (w/c 11th January) they will not be able to attend their allocated days until after we re-open this bubble on 19th January.
For any and all parents and carers of children in F1 & F2 this may also mean some disruption to home learning activities - they will all pull together and do their best but any staff sickness will obviously mean a reduction in capacity to provide learning. We will do our best but please bear with us all.
Please be advised that if you are a parent whose F1/F2 child has siblings attending other year group key worker bubbles, those children may still continue to attend, unless your child in F1/F2 or the sibling begins to show symptoms (in which case the whole household would need to isolate, whilst those family members showing symptoms were tested).
I feel we are starting to see the ease of spread of a new strain of the virus and, as I said in my newsletter on Friday, the bubbles in school are still not immune from disruption and closure with the numbers we have coming in to our site.
I will be in touch again next week with any more updates.
If you have any queries regarding the details shown in this email, then please call the school office from 8am tomorrow morning.
Emma Beardah, Headteacher
This message is to reiterate some really important points about how and why we have had to allocate space in school the way we have.
First of all, thank you to those of you who have been immensely supportive of staff here in school, patient and sent in kind words.
We all empathise and understand what a dreadful situation this is – not just nationally but for our own community of Walter Halls. We are acutely aware of the financial implications this national lockdown decision will mean for you. We also understand how difficult home learning is for working families and more importantly for all of our children – especially when faced with it for a second time.
We are all in the same storm but very different boats. As a key worker parent myself, who has been unable to secure a full-time space at my own child’s school due to limited capacity, I do feel justified in saying that I understand the huge strain and frustration this places on many factors of your life – and after having to deal with this for too long already.
Here are our methods for allocating places over the course of yesterday:
This led us to having to make the decision to work in 4 bubbles only across the site. This will be different for different schools who have different sites and different staffing complexities.
Allocation of Key-worker/vulnerable spaces – in more detail than my first communication:
1) NHS worker on the frontline supporting COVID specifically - both parents or a single parent family
2) NHS worker in any way, supporting the national health crisis - both parents or a single parent family
3) Safeguarding children (of which we have a significant amount of here who need support)
4) One NHS worker and one other critical worker in a family of 2 parents
5) Other key worker from the criteria list - single parent
6) Other key worker from the criteria list - both parents key workers
7) Other key worker from the criteria list
Because of the tight time-frame we also looked at previous registers from the first lockdown to inform our judgements. If your circumstances changed we may not have the capacity to possibly know that in such a short timeframe.
There are 64 children now accessing on-site learning. This compared to an average of 20 during the first lockdown – we are seemingly in a worse state nationally than then but have more than tripled the provision we are offering. We had 83 requests – so clearly a fair few of you are now upset, worried, angry and disappointed.
In many of our bubbles, we reached capacity by point 3 on the above list. We could have filled some bubbles twice-over if we had allowed this to happen – but this is wrong for the safety of everyone in the current climate we are facing, including all of our staff here at school.
I’m afraid our time has been limited in being able to respond fully to you all with clear reasons for decisions – perhaps you can imagine what the timeframe has been like for us compared to the workload required for fielding enquiries and information for 420 children.
I do have a duty to do everything I can for our key worker families. I also have a duty to keep my staff and community safe from transmission. I have many staff who are isolating or ill right now as well as a staff member with a new born baby who is ill with COVID-19. This isn’t something I take lightly for us all here, in any way.
It was always our intention to keep looking at our waiting lists and making calls to offer whatever we could do. We will do this over the course of the next few days and be in touch with whoever we can be – matched to the listed criteria in that order.
We are also aware of a certain degree of dishonestly about job roles, single parent status, part-time hours vs the need for a full-time place. We don’t have the capacity to investigate this ourselves for every case – especially with the ridiculously short time-frame we have been expected to work in. This is based on trust and respect for the situation.
I now ask you to trust and respect the staff here at Walter Halls and leave us to continue to work hard to look at this and call you back whenever a space may be available – we will do this wherever we can and when we can. If you are using a space that is not needed on any single day of the week someone else could have this slot and it could help save their livelihood. If we have cases of children repeatedly not accessing a space we will remove them from the list and contact the next person according to the criteria.
Emma Beardah, Headteacher
Unfortunately a decision has had to be made today to only open school to key worker and vulnerable children.
This provision will begin on Wednesday 6th - and at the same time all other children will move to remote learning provision at home from this day.
Tomorrow – Tuesday 5th – school will remain closed to all children as an emergency scenario so that staff can continue to prepare resources and organise key worker provision on site.
This is not a decision I have taken lightly or alone and comes with the full backing of our Board of Governors and of the Local Authority team. We have spent the entire morning discussing the reality of what we face here are school and what staffing capacity we have to ensure the safety of our children and staff. Both of which we have a duty to protect.
Not one member of staff here wants this to happen and all of us have struggled greatly to come to this conclusion. Here is an overview of what has forced us into taking this action:
We therefore have significantly reduced capacity to clean our site, manage lunchtimes safely, offer a full provision for our most vulnerable children with additional needs and also no longer have a full safeguarding team willing to work on site. This is even before we start to see issues with isolation and illness creep in – as we speak I have 3 further staff members isolating and awaiting test results.
This is the full and honest picture here for us at Walter Halls School. I know of other local schools who have been forced into a similar situation with full or partial closure, despite what the media or central government are saying. Equally there will be schools locally who can currently manage their staffing levels a lot more positively and remain open for the time being.
Key Worker / Vulnerable provision
I will be in touch again tomorrow with further finalised plans of our key worker and vulnerable child provision on site, as well as some reminders of how home learning will take place.
For now, the following criteria applies for you to be able to secure a place for your child on-site:
Places are limited and there won’t be provision for absolutely everyone so it will be granted using the above criteria in that order. The school office will start taking names and organising registers from this afternoon and again in the morning. After this point we will be able to offer more clarity on who will access this provision.
As an education professional I find this decision exceptionally difficult to have to take and am hugely disappointed and frustrated that it has been placed in our hands to make these crucial decisions which massively impact our young people.
We will review it weekly and continue to work with our Local Authority team to seek a rapid shift in getting everyone back to school where they belong.
Our teaching staff are now responding as quickly as they can to set up a high-quality remote provision which we hope shows improvements ad amendments in approach from the last time we were asked to do this. This will be sent to you all for Wednesday 6th January onwards.
Children attending site in one of our allocated bubbles will receive a reduced provision from our kitchen staff but meals are available still or packed lunches can be brought in. Children in receipt of Free School Meals and working at home will receive vouchers as before.
More information tomorrow will follow. From all the staff and governors here at Walter Halls we send you our huge thanks for your understanding and patience during such a difficult time, yet again.
Chair of Governors
Please read the document below for information on what to do if your child develops Covid-19 Symptoms and subsequently tests positive for the virus.
The F2 bubble (Rabbits and Moles classes) at Walter Halls Primary School is now closed as a result of a member of staff testing positive for Covid-19. Children in this bubble should now isolate at home for 14 days. We have taken the decision in line with government guidance and we will reopen this bubble on Thursday 3rd December. If children feel unwell with Covid-19 symptoms, we would urge parents to register online for a test. We will continue to work closely with Public Health England, Nottingham City Council and Nottingham Schools Trust and will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
The 2B bubble at Walter Halls Primary School is now closed as a result of a member of staff testing positive for Covid-19. Children in this bubble should now isolate at home for 14 days. We have taken the decision in line with government guidance and we will reopen this bubble on 2nd November at the earliest. If children feel unwell with Covid-19 symptoms, we would urge parents to register online for a test. We will continue to work closely with Public Health England, Nottingham City Council and Nottingham Schools Trust and will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.