18thth March 2020
Dear Parents/Carers/Governors/Staff of School and Day Care,
As the media continue to share updated information at a rapid rate, I am keen to share how Howe Dell has responded to date.
- Ongoing contact with local Heads has meant ideas and solutions have been pooled for keeping schools open and communities as safe as possible.
- I have contacted Herts County Council to thank the Director’s team for some very useful ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ and answers which have informed provision to date. I also raised that many schools are finding more staff are self-isolating due to the risk to self or someone in their immediate family, or pregnancy. These queries and answers will be updated by Herts County Council weekly. Advice has stated regular cleaning and hygiene remain a priority.
- No-one has been diagnosed to date from our Howe Dell Family with Corona Virus, but vigilance is key.
- Up to now we have managed to retain two members of staff in each class, relying on flexible attitude and roles beyond job descriptions at times. Thank you to all staff.
- For money sent in where events have been cancelled, the funds will be carried forward or repaid after Easter– bear with us please.
May I please remind parents and other stakeholders to read the letters sent already so that the office staff time is not unnecessarily taken up with questions relating to queries already answered (e.g swimming or clubs or medical advice). We are all managing our day jobs and hence staff are exceptionally busy
Today’s update can confirm:
- Senior Leaders of School and Day Care watched an Herts County Council webinar for the most up to date guidance, hosted by Jim McManus – Director of Public Health. We had our Chair and Vice Chair of Governors in attendance, as was our Facilities Manager.
- From the webinar it was made clear by the Director of Public Health that SARS, TB and measles are more infectious than the Corona Virus and it is mildly worse than the flu. This is to alleviate the fear and panic, referring to key facts from experts.
- As in some other schools, we alerted Nursery Class parents yesterday that from Thursday 19th March, Nursery with Miss Hymas will be closed so that she and the team can be deployed to cover statutory aged primary classes and site duties.
- Mrs Payne was due to leave for maternity leave on Friday and has been off since Tuesday. Her staff gifts (and any cards or gifts from others) can be passed to her by Mrs Allgood as she lives locally to Mrs Payne.
- Staff updated epi-pen training is cancelled and will be rebooked.
- Budget and Year End may have dates changed for consistency of personnel.
- Facilities staff currently reduced to two. Please only call if an emergency as they are busy keeping the site safe and clean.
- Two Phonics Workshops cancelled
- All clubs are cancelled next week.
- Staff self-isolating or self-isolating due to high risk will be paid for their self- isolation period. They will also be paid if diagnosed with Coronavirus on sick pay.
- Staff, PLEASE do phone Mrs Massey if you are going to be absent. Do not email her as she has many more emails and only accessing emails in spare moments. This is as well as contacting Line Managers and the School Office as usual.
- Subject Leader days should be taken if enforced closure happens or if currently working offsite.
- Lucy Sende who comes in to school from the Hatfield Sports Partnership will not be leading sessions from Thursday in our school until after Easter.
- Cancellation of all music lessons including First Access (Y4 strings tuition) from today.
- We do not recommend bringing in hand cream or sanitiser into school, children have access to hand sanitizer in school. Children can moisturise in the morning and at night at home as they do with sun cream.
- If a child has eczema then prescribed medication/cream for their hands can be applied and the normal procedure applies with a parent filling out a medical form so the child can administer it.
- For those already at home then children can use: BBC Bitesize, Mathletics and Timestable Rock Stars are available for learning as is the encouragement to keep reading.
- The Oxford Owl website, which has a large amount of free reading scheme e-books for all ages can also be used. All parents would need to do is register on the website. The website also has Maths activities and games, as well as phonics and spelling resources. It can be found at: https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/
If closure does happen we will give further information on Home Learning including Twinkl and website year group resources will be made available.
- All Herts for Learning training has been cancelled until further notice.
- Day Care will open at 8am and close at 5pm daily from next week. We will assume the additional hour Day Care are missing is covered by administration to keep Day Care open. Hence no refund will be available.
- Staff with respiratory ailments should consider their capacity to access the school site from next week, seeking medical advice and knowing their own condition.
- Next week, working on site hours are 8am - 5pm.
- If a parent with English as another language or has poor literacy skills, please advise the school office and staff will read the letters to that parent or a parent can support them in mother tongue if we are notified of that need.
- All letters are to be sent via email – no paper copies will be sent home now as at least one contact for each child has an email address.
- Letters can be found on the school website, please use the translate letter on the website if required. Letters can be found under ‘Latest News’ at: https://www.howedell.herts.sch.uk/stream/news/full/1/-//
- All letters have been recorded and will be put on the school website for parents to be able to hear the content.
- As more staff need to self-isolate due to pregnancies or through vulnerability of a close family member, staff will be asked to be flexible in roles and responsibilities (and many are already doing so). They may need to cover classes and tasks beyond their job descriptions to keep School and Day Care open.
- Due to enforced closure of these additional childcare facilities (Breakfast and After School Club) what we will do is carry forward your remaining balance towards next term when facilities reopen.
May I thank you for your support at this time and please do be assured that if partial closure of school becomes imminent, priority will be given to those who have working parents and the children most vulnerable and/or eligible to Pupil Premium Grant.
At this time of need, do consider others when shopping: our Food Bank collection point in the Main Entrance remains a welcome destination for donations.
With many thanks for your ongoing support at this exceptionally challenging time. My priority remains the safety, well-being and learning for all in our Howe Dell Family.