RE: School opening update
In my last letter, I stated it was the intention of the school to remain open as long as it was safe to do so. Following considerable debate with union representatives, staff and the Acer Trust, we have taken the difficult decision, alongside all schools in the Acer Trust, to only open the Botley School Site to pupils whose families are identified as critical workers or vulnerable from Tuesday 5th January 2021. All other pupils will be taught remotely through TEAMS platform from Tuesday.
The national context is extremely complicated at this point with some Tier 4 primary schools closed and others due to open and with local transition rates extremely high we have agonised over how we can provide the best possible education we can, for all our children, while keeping our community safe. Our staff remain as committed as ever but they too have been urged to follow their Union’s advice and therefore this combination of issues means we will be working remotely until Monday 18th January 2021 at the earliest. The situation is fluid but we hope by the 18th to have clearer data around viral transmission in our area and the assurances required to safely bring children back into school.
Although primary school aged children are considered very low risk from the effects of the virus, our wider concern is the risk of transmitting the virus via children to staff and further out to the wider community. We believe the government plan is to provide testing for all children and staff in primary schools to reduce the risk, but this testing is not yet available.
We have come a long way since the first national lockdown in March of last year and, as we are now able to use TEAMS as on online remote learning platform, every pupil will have daily contact with teachers and staff remotely and will follow their usual age-related curriculum as far as possible. Further information on how this will be managed will be sent home as soon as possible, including a timetable for logging into TEAMS for each class.
We will also be in touch with families that have responded to the critical worker and vulnerable families survey requesting places in school tomorrow. If you have yet to complete this survey, please respond by 8:30am tomorrow morning to enable us to plan for numbers efficiently. We will also be in touch regarding Free School Meals entitlement tomorrow.
We know that some of you will welcome this decision, we have already received some communications informing us of families that will not be returning this week as you feel the risk is too high. However, we also know there will be many of you feeling frustrated by this too. Please know, this is not a decision we have taken lightly, and it is not one we wanted to make in contradiction to the Government’s Guidance but safety must be our first priority.
Jo Reid Ben Potter
Headteacher Chair of Governors