SCHOOL CLOSURE JANUARY 2021
Dear Parents & Carers,
It is with regret that I write to inform you that our school will be closed on Monday January 4th for an emergency INSET. The day will be used to put in place plans to support our families via remote learning as well as ensuring that we are able to support our vulnerable children and those from families where parents are Critical Workers.
The school is unable to open fully as it is not operationally safe to do so. The school will be open for children with social workers, Educational Health Care Plan and for Critical Workers from January 5th. However, please be aware that it may be necessary to prioritise Critical Worker pupils due to staffing shortages. Please be reassured that we will accommodate as many children as we safely can. Please contact the school on firstname.lastname@example.org if you work in health, social care, education, childcare or key public services and require a Critical worker place for your child/ren. Please be reminded that if it is necessary there will be priority given to health care and social service staff.
The school day from January 5th for vulnerable and Critical Worker pupils will start at 9 am and end 3 pm Monday – Friday until further notice. Further details will be provided via the school office once your place has been secured on the Critical Worker list.
The decision taken by the government not to close primary schools in areas where infection rates are rising, and are showing no signs of slowing down, has presented the whole staff with a huge personal and professional dilemma. Regrettably, their unanimous decision is that they do not feel that the school environment provides a safe environment for either themselves or for the children and their families.
As you are all very aware the staff here at CTPS have worked relentlessly in challenging and unchartered waters since March. During this period I have asked staff to be increasingly understanding, flexible and patient and every time they have willingly delivered to the best of their ability. However, with infection rates in our area rising at an alarming rate coupled with the
knowledge that young children ( 3 - 11) most certainly do catch and transmit COVID their concerns I feel are valid.
I realise that this will cause some disruption to you, and for this, I am truly sorry. I also know that this news will be frustrating, but I ask you to try and appreciate the feelings of the staff; they genuinely feel that their health and well-being along with their general safety is not being recognised or valued by the government.
I have included the union’s views below as well as the letter I received from staff on Saturday evening expressing their concerns. Once again I am truly sorry that this decision arrives less than 24 hours before Monday morning, but I trust that you are able to appreciate why.
I will, of course, keep you all fully updated regarding remote learning which will start on Tuesday 5th January following our emergency INSET day on Monday 4th January 2021.
The National Education Union (NEU), which represents the majority of teachers, has called for all English primary schools to move online and advised its members it is not safe to return to classrooms on Monday.
In a statement, the union said: “This is a step we take with huge reluctance. But this Government is failing to protect children, their families and our communities.
“And it is failing in its duty of care to education staff who have worked tirelessly to look after children during this pandemic.”
The union said that while children may not become ill with Covid-19, they can still spread it to others.
The statement continued: “If Government does not act to follow the science, we must.”
Minutes from a meeting between the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and ministers on December 22 revealed members had warned that schools needed to be closed to bring down transmission.
Sage said even a full lockdown similar to the one in spring would be unlikely to get “R would be lower with schools closed, with closure of secondary schools likely to have a greater effect than closure of primary schools,” the minutes read.
The NEU’s joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “Whilst we are calling on the Government to take the right steps, as a responsible union we cannot simply agree that the Government’s wrong steps should be implemented.
“That is why we are doing our job as a union by informing our members that they have a legal right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions which are a danger to their health and to the health of their school communities and more generally.
“We are informing our members of their legal right to protection to be guided by the science.”
Dr Bousted said this means teachers can be available to work from home and work with vulnerable children and those of key workers, but not to take full, in-person classes from Monday.
She continued: “We realise that this late notice is a huge inconvenience for parents and for head teachers.
“The fault, however, is of the Government’s own making and is a result of their inability to understand data, their indecisiveness, and their reckless approach to their central duty – to safeguard public health.”
The general secretary of the NASUWT union, Dr Patrick Roach, called for an immediate nationwide move to remote education due to safety concerns.
Dr Roach said: “There is genuine concern that schools and colleges are not able to reopen fully and safely at this time.
“The NASUWT remains of the view that schools, colleges and other settings should only remain open to all pupils where it is safe for them to do so.
“The NASUWT will not hesitate to take appropriate action in order to protect members whose safety is put at risk as a result of the failure of employers or the Government to ensure safe working conditions in schools and colleges.”
Unison head of education Jon Richards also called for the delayed opening of schools.
Mr Richards said: “Ministers have had weeks to get this right instead of leaving parents, staff and whole communities confused.
The Government is alienating the profession, failing children and being reckless with the safety of the whole school community
Paul Whiteman, National Association Head teachers
Letter from teaching & support staff at College Town Primary School
Re: Health & Safety
We are writing to you following the increase in transmission and infection rates currently recorded across England.
You are, we are sure, aware that you have legal duties to protect the health, safety and welfare of your staff and pupils. Those duties arise under the following legislation: -
· Sections 2 and 3 of the Health & Safety Act 1974
· Regulations 3 and 8 of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
· Regulation 4 of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
· Regulation 4 of the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992
· Regulation 7 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
The most recent advice from SAGE is that schools should not open in January1 other than for children of key workers and vulnerable children. This is because the scientific advice is that it is not safe for schools to open. There are new variants of Covid-19 that are highly infectious and infection rates have increased significantly since schools closed.
We appreciate that measures have been in place since September to allow the school to open but according to SAGE those measures may no longer be sufficient. They state in their most recent report: -
The introduction of Tier 4 measures in England combined with the school holidays will be informative of the strength of measures required to control the new variant but analysis of this will not be possible until mid-January.
Based on the above we do not believe that it is safe for us to return to teaching full classes at College Town Primary School.
If we do attend College Town Primary School I believe that this will present a serious and imminent danger to my health and safety as well as that to the community we serve.
We are therefore writing to inform you that we exercising our contractual right not to attend an unsafe place of work. We believe that not attending work in the current circumstances is an appropriate step for us to take for the following reasons:
1. The dangers that are preventing me from attending work are the risk of contracting coronavirus and/or spreading coronavirus to others.
2. The person(s) we are seeking to protect are myself, my family, our pupils, their families, my colleagues, their families and members of the public.
3. We believe that this danger is serious because coronavirus infection is potentially fatal and has already resulted in more than 73,512 deaths in the UK with a significant up surge in recent weeks.
4. We believe that, if we were to attend work, the danger would be imminent because before Christmas the highest infection rates were in children of school age, and the new variant may be more transmissible amongst students than previously.
5. We will be happy to return to the workplace once SAGE is satisfied that the R rate has decreased, scientific advice has been produced on safety measures required to make schools more “Covid secure”, risk assessments have been updated and a