I know that many of you will be wondering how the new national lockdown affects education. As Sandwell is already in a tier of response there is little change.
We have already implemented the government’s advice for our re-opening by introducing staggered start and finish times, and Year Groups are separated from one another, and taught in smaller ‘bubbles’ where possible.
Clinically Vulnerable and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Students
Now the government knows more about the virus, they have revised the guidance on who is considered at most risk. If your child is considered clinically extremely vulnerable then your GP or hospital doctor will contact you to confirm that they should stay at home for the duration of the lockdown. If this is the case, please notify the Academy, and ensure that your child engages with the online learning here.
Those students who were previously considered clinically vulnerable are not required to shield and should attend the Academy.
The rules on face coverings, which have been in place in Sandwell since early September have now been enforced across the whole of England, so there is no change to the current requirement for students to wear face coverings when entering and exiting the building and moving between lessons in communal areas. We recognise that this may be uncomfortable for some students, but the movement along the corridors and communal areas takes no more than five minutes. An alternative to a face covering is to wear a visor. If you find it difficult to source a visor please let us know and we’ll try to help.
There are perfectly understandable exemptions to wearing face coverings, but parents/carers cannot object to their child wearing a face covering or visor on grounds of principle. The Health and Safety Executive have recently been carrying out visits to educational establishments across Sandwell, and to prove to them that we have implemented the government direction thoroughly, we will be in contact with you to confirm your child’s exemption if necessary. The guidance on face coverings can be found here.
We recognise that students will from time to time forget their mask, and we will provide them with a mask. Those students who repeatedly forget their face covering or choose not to wear it will be sanctioned and the sanction escalated if necessary.
The Prospect of Partial Closure
As more students and staff test positive, and are required to isolate there may come a time when it is unsafe to open the Academy. To avoid a full closure we will endeavour to remain open, but only to selected Year Groups. Such a partial closure is part of the government’s education strategy, but we would never make this decision without first discussing the prospect with Sandwell Local Authority and their government educational advisors.
As promised we will keep our plans under constant review and make amendments when necessary. I have been greatly impressed with how the students have coped so far and I am especially pleased with the mature and positive attitude of Year 11 and the Sixth Form.
Thank you all for your on-going support.
Mr M Arnull
Head of School