COVID-19: Back before Summer

We hope you are all right under the circumstances and thank you very much for your continued support of your children and the school as we continue our learning under lockdown.

I am sure you are all aware of the announcement by education minister Kirsty Williams about re-opening schools, and you are probably wondering what this will look like at Bro Edern. We have received guidance from Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government and our plans are based on that guidance. However, the situation continues to evolve daily and I ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to arrange for the gradual re-opening of the school, as we adjust those arrangements in the light of any further development.

What is the intention of re-opening schools?

The phrase ‘check-in, catch-up (together) and prepare‘ is now a daily phrase in the education profession, and that is exactly what the intention is, with schools about to re-open. It is an opportunity for your children to get used to the new routine at school, to see some of their peers and to get ready for September. A clear message has come from the government and the Director of Education that providing intensive learning sessions for pupils is not the intention of this period. For Welsh-medium schools, this is a key opportunity for pupils to speak Welsh and re-establish their Welshness – for some pupils, the first opportunity for a long time. Bro Edern will re-open for pupils of Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12. By this time of the year Years 11 and 13 have officially finished for the summer.

What will happen to the Hubs?

The Hubs, in their current form, come to an end on 26 June. From 29 June, any Bro Edern pupils attending the Hub in Glantaf will be able to have access Bro Edern five days a week. If you are a key worker and would like to apply for a place for your child at Bro Edern from 29 June onwards will need to do this through the central system. It is Cardiff Council, and not the school who will decide who can access Bro Edern five days a week as part of the key worker provision for pupils. From 29 June onwards all hubs in Cardiff will be open between 8:30am and 4:30pm.

What will happen to the online lessons?

We will continue to provide online lessons between now and the end of term. However, from 29 June onwards the nature and frequency of the work set may change slightly as it will be impossible for teachers to plan digital lessons and hold sessions in school at the same time. We ask for your understanding in this regard, and we will do our best to ensure that our digital learning remains relevant and interesting.

Which safety measures will be in place?

We will be following the Cardiff Council and Welsh Government guidelines for safety measures. There will be a one-way route through the school and pupils and staff must follow the route. All pupils and staff will be expected to keep a distance of two metres from each other at all times (unless there is a medical reason). Signs through the school will remind pupils and staff of these requirements. Hand hygiene stations will be installed by Cardiff Council and pupils will have to wash their hands with soap regularly. There will be a queuing system for using the toilets, in order to comply with social distancing requirements, and staff members will supervise the queue.

How often will areas be cleaned?

When the school closed to pupils in March, all areas were thoroughly cleaned, and all areas will be cleaned again before pupils and staff return. All areas used at the school from 29 June onwards will be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each session. If any area is used by two groups of pupils during the day, the area will be thoroughly cleaned between sessions. The intention is to use different parts of the school on a rota basis so that we can leave as much time as possible between each use. We will receive additional guidance on cleaning from Cardiff Council over the next few days and put any additional measures in place.

Bubbles

All pupils will need to be in a ‘bubble’ for the time they are in school. The definition of a ‘bubble’ is a group of pupils and teachers who attend the same area of the school at the same time. Even within the same bubble social distancing regulations will still apply. This is to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Because of this, pupils will attend school at the same time as other pupils who are in their bubble. Key worker pupils will form one separate bubble and will need to remain within this bubble at school. Pupils who are the children of key workers will not mix with other bubbles who are in school on different days. We are hoping to ensure that siblings are in the same bubble, and will therefore be able to come to school on the same day in an attempt to reduce the possibility of cross contamination.

Who will be in my child’s bubble?

The arrangements and logistics of organising the bubbles are very complicated, so we don’t yet have further details. As mentioned above, we will do our best to ensure that siblings are in the same bubble, so that they can attend Bro Edern on the same day. Within each bubble, pupils will be divided by year into small groups for the day’s activities. The bubbles will be decided by the school, and due to health and safety reasons, it will not be possible for pupils to attend school on days other than the day specified for their bubble.

What will the structure be for pupils?

Many factors need to be considered as we weigh up when exactly your child will be able to attend school. An obvious consideration is that under the new phased return rules, only up to a maximum of 33% of the school’s pupils may attend at any one time. Once we know how many pupils are planning to return before the summer, I will contact you again with the start and finish times of the planned days. These will be different from normal times, as we will need to ensure that all pupils do not arrive and leave at the same time.

What will happen during the week commencing 29 June?

If your child is eligible to attend key worker provision at Bro Edern, then he / she will be able to attend school all week.

For everyone else, the intention is to get groups of pupils in for half a day each during the first week to familiarise themselves with the new routine, to take part in wellbeing activities, and for pupils to share information with staff about any particular piece/s of work that has/have been difficult during the lockdown. For this, we will use different parts of the school to reduce the risk of spreading any infection e.g. Welsh corridor Monday morning, Humanities corridor Monday afternoon; music and drama corridor on Tuesday mornings, English corridor on Tuesday afternoons etc, if groups are small enough.

What will happen during the week commencing 6 July?

We will receive two or more groups, per day, so that pupils will attend for a whole day during this week. We will continue the familiarisation periods and carry out wellbeing activities, and your child will have the opportunity to have a period with subject teachers, going over any work they have not understood. As I have already explained above, this is not a period of intensive learning; rather it is an opportunity for your child to be able to get subject support if there is anything s/he does not understand. It is likely that your child will not have sessions with their usual subject teachers, as they, like the pupils, will also be allocated to a bubble.

What will happen during the week commencing 13 July?

The week beginning 13 July will be the same as that of the week of 6 July.

What will happen during the week commencing 20 July?

This is an extra week that has just been added by the government to the summer term. Currently arrangements for this week are to be confirmed, depending on what we have achieved in the previous three weeks. The school will now close for the summer on 24 July, not 17 July, as originally planned.

Will equipment be shared?

Under the new guidelines that we have received, no equipment may be shared, therefore your child must bring all the necessary equipment with him / her to school. This will include all stationery e.g. pens and pencils, and a fully charged iPad (years 8 – 10).

Will food and drink be provided during this time?

Cardiff Council is responsible for providing food and drink to the school, and the council has decided that it will not provide food and drink during this time, including from the vending machines. Your child will therefore need to bring enough food and drink to school with them. Water bottles cannot be refilled at this time for health and safety reasons, so your child will need to bring plenty of water for the day. The system for free school meals continues, where the council pays money directly into your accounts via ParentPay.

Will school uniform be required?

Pupils do not need to wear official school uniform for this period. However, there is a specific requirement for your children to wear clean clothes to school each day. This is vital to try and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

How will my child get to school?

As these are unprecedented times, the Council is encouraging all pupils to walk or cycle to school during the last four weeks of term. At Bro Edern we understand that this is not practical for everyone, due to the distances involved. Parents will be welcome to drop their children off near the school. We are still awaiting confirmation of the situation with the school buses. Although the school buses may be able to run in this period, they will only be able to transport a very small number of pupils to school due to social distancing reasons.

What do I need to do next?

There is a questionnaire for you to fill in so we can see how many of you want to send your child/ren back to school before the summer and how many of you plan to apply to Cardiff Council for a daily place as a key worker. Finding out this information will allow us to finalise the arrangements for the bubbles and groups for the last four weeks of term. We cannot do any further forward planning in terms of timetable, rota and staffing until we know how many pupils plan to attend school. For this reason, we kindly ask you to complete the questionnaire by 10am on Tuesday morning, 16 June.

Link to the questionnaire: https://forms.gle/gsk4WagBCfxVTGps8

I am sure that you have many unanswered questions, having read this blog. That’s probably because I don’t know the answer to them yet. The date, for example, for the extra week of holiday in the autumn half term has not yet been confirmed. There is a comments box at the end of the questionnaire, if you have any specific comments or questions.

Once I have an update on the situation I will contact you again.

Thank you very much for your continued support.

Iwan Pritchard
Headteacher

Gadael Ymateb

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