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Unions and returning to school

Dear Parents and Carers

I am sure you will have seen in the news that there has been a lot of speculation regarding the safety of fully re-opening all schools.  The unions for teachers and teaching assistants have issued advice and guidance for their members to invoke their rights not to return to a workplace they consider unsafe due to rising rates of Covid infection.

Today we have heard from over 30 staff members that are following their union guidance and believe it is not safe for them to return to teaching full classes at Parkside School and we are expecting more letters to come.  The letters have been received from staff across the school, and it affects every year group.  We also have some staff that have received further instruction to shield, have been instructed by track and trace to self-isolate and are off sick due to other illness.

Today there was a meeting between the Chair of Governors, Head Teacher and Deputy to decide on the safest course of action.  The Governors have decided that the safest option is to keep the school open for critical worker and vulnerable pupils only for the next two weeks due to health and safety due to safe staffing levels.  All other learning will be remote.  This will be reviewed with hope that the conditions have improved enough that staffing can return to normal from 18th January.

Vulnerable pupils will be classified as pupils that have a social worker or are in situations where it is not safest for them to be learning from home.  The school will be in touch with these families.  If you are a critical worker and therefore require a critical worker space for your child please email the line to confirm the details of your job/working hours and your child’s name and class.

As I am sure you appreciate, a change of circumstances like this involves a lot of coordination, especially with other agencies such as transport.  Therefore we are closing for an additional inset on Tuesday 5th as well as Monday 4th. This will give us chance to contact all parents/staff etc and ensure on Wednesday 6th we have Parkside as safe as possible for pupils that are attending and remote learning will be up and running for those pupils remaining at home.

Just to clarify the main points:

  • School is closed to all pupils for Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th January to organise both the testing and in-school and remote provision for pupils
  • 6 – 15th January all pupils that deemed vulnerable by Parkside or are children of critical workers will be educated in school.  ALL OTHER PUPILS will receive remote learning
  • 18th January we intend all staff and pupils can return fully.  (However we are aware that this is a fast moving and ever changing situation)
  • Stay and Play will not be running over these two weeks.

I would like to thank the staff for their quick response to their union guidance which has enabled us to plan quickly.

I am aware this news will be a relief to some families and a concern to other families.  The decisions we are making as a school are all coming down to health and safety for pupil welfare and ensuring we have safe levels of supervision.  They have not been taken lightly and will be under constant review.

Yours sincerely

Carolyn Ellis-Gage and Stephen Hobbs

Head Teacher and Chair of Governors

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