Once again I am writing to you following a significant change in the government’s approach to dealing with the pandemic in relation to schools.
Last night the Prime Minister announced another national lockdown for the nation in order to protect the NHS and bring down rapidly rising infection rates. Up until now, there has been a drive to keep schools open, a measure which we fully support at Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School, but the surge in the pandemic now means that there has to be a different approach.
The advice from the government is to stay at home due to the significant increase in infection rates, the impact on the NHS and the concerns around the new mutations of the virus. The UK is now in its highest level of alert and I am sure many of you have seen the images and reports in the media about the intense pressure on the NHS.
Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School will remain closed for the majority of pupils until after February half-term. The only exception to this will be for pupils of key worker parents who need childcare and pupils who are identified as needing to attend school due to vulnerability.
If you are a key worker parent and need to send your child to school, please inform us via the enquiry email address email@example.com. You will need to provide proof of key worker status. A full list of key worker definition can be found at:
For those pupils who are attending, they should arrive in school through the main gate and report to O’Donnell hall to be registered at 8.50 a.m. Their school day will finish at 3 p.m. and pupils will be able to purchase a lunch, although the menu will be limited. It is really important that you tell us if you are sending your child in, as we need to ensure we have adequate staffing; as of Wednesday 6th January we will operating with less staff on site.
The government has also announced that summer public examinations for Y11 and Y13 will not go ahead as normal and alternative arrangements will be put in place. We do not have the details of what these alternative arrangements are yet, but we will inform you as soon as we are told what the plans are. It is our understanding that the exams scheduled for this week and next week are going ahead as planned and staff will communicate directly with pupils regarding these.
For pupils who are entitled to free school meals, we do not know as yet if there will be a continuation of the voucher scheme but until this is confirmed, we will continue to offer pupils a packed lunch which can be pre-ordered and collected from Reception.
I recognise that this decision will pose challenges for many families, but the infection rate, the pressure on the NHS and concerns over the new strains of the virus clearly indicate that additional measures must be taken. School leaders are not given information on school closures any earlier than the general public and we are often having to respond very quickly to rapidly changing situations. I know you understand the position schools have been placed in and we will continue to follow guidance and keep you informed when changes happen. Please continue to monitor the school website for further updates and information.
Every family in our school community will remain in our thoughts and prayers over the coming weeks and let us all hope that the vaccine will bring a renewed sense of optimism for a return to normal life.
Stay safe and well