RED ADMIRALS (and an elephant hawk moth) 2021
The newsletter will tell you more about the Red Admiral prizes for excellence. Every year a prize is awarded to a boy and girl in each year group with one additional award for a Marvellous Migrant (someone who joined our school after Reception). The important thing is that there are no outsiders and everyone could, by their own endeavour, win a book prize. Winners might be nominated as Red Admirals for personal, social or academic endeavours. In each phase teachers nominate a shortlist of children from whom winners are decided. All exemplify one or more of our core values: caring for themselves, others or the environment, usefully, kindly and unlimitedly!
As with the Oscars, Nobel prizes, the Turner and Booker prizes, there are always more worthy people than prizes. But this year was these children's year and their book prize was very well deserved.
All the books were on the subject of Evolution, connecting back to the Belonging art project, now on display in the hall where children's drawings of living things from lyme disease to leopards, ebola to echinacea, nawals to Norwegian forest cats and giraffes to garlic mushrooms, each circle of life containing a human, show how we belong in nature.
sports day and regulations in school from 19th july
Firstly, massive thanks to Mrs McHugh who has been doing her utmost to keep us active and planning a different sports day, but nevertheless, a Sports Day. She is a trooper.
A perfectly reasonable question would be why, given the government are relaxing restrictions on Monday, can't parents and carers be invited? This was our first thought too. However, a quick scroll down this page, with the images from the Government's interactive map will answer that question. 19th July was chosen because the government were aware that most schools will have broken up or be on INSET days. Relaxations are being made because schools have broken up. School holidays are described as a 'circuit breaker'. Therefore, for us to relax at a time when infection rates are on the increase would be a cynical misuse of the guidance and in direct opposition to scientific advice. Therefore there will be no relaxation of our measures until September, at which point we will be working to the risk mitigation measures planned for Whit half term but postponed due to the local situation. We allowed Ladybird parents and carers in because there was one activity to oversee and it was possible to socially distance on the field with only 45 children. Key Stage 1, Lower and Upper Key Stage 2 each have 90 children. The responsibility for staff to focus on children participating in different games while having to be aware of adults who may or may not choose to distance from friends and who may or may not remove masks was not something where I felt we could mitigate risk to an acceptable level.
The very last thing I want to be responsible for is NHS track and trace the start of your Summer break informing you you have to self-isolate as a close contact. From 19th July school's responsibility for tracking and tracing come to an end and while I make no promises I will to do all in my gift to reduce risk. I would rather Track and Trace are contacting the families of thirty children and not ninety or more. Equally, I know our staff are exhausted after a full year of working through a pandemic. Just when the light was at the end of the tunnel the tunnel has got longer and we as much as folk at home and the children are sick of it all. I don't want any adult or child to be isolating in late July or early August because of something we could have prevented.
The Government have removed the requirement that people wear masks but the Prime Minister has said that we are advised to do so in crowded places. The only real change is that from 19th July it is a matter of individual responsibility. Bus drivers, shop managers, cafe owners and headteachers will take on the responsibility for enforcing the policies for their own establishments. On Monday-Wednesday next week, in this establishment, we will expect you to wear a mask on the school grounds and will provide one for those who have forgotten. Those unable or unwilling can bring and collect children from the main entrance as we have already agreed. The newsletter is out on Wednesday and gives updates on next term as well as celebrating this term. Meanwhile, re masks, I leave you with the words of Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan - 'It's the most unselfish thing you can do.'
Kind regards, Ms S :-)
vaccination info from CW&C
The images below make grim reading at a time we are looking forward to restrictions easing. Please be respectful of the measures we are taking to reduce infection and risk of the virus mutating.
positive case in Dragonflies
We have been informed this evening of a positive lateral flow test (LFT) for coronavirus. This case was identified as part of routine testing and not as a result of a child having any symptoms. A PCR test will be taken tomorrow to confirm if this is a positive case. We wish the family a speedy recovery.
All of the children in Dragonflies and some of the staff will have been close contacts as the child was in school today. This means that parents or carers of children in Dragonflies and members of staff affected need to self isolate for 10 days. Tuesday is Day 1 and so Day 10 of isolation is Thursday 15th July, meaning children and staff can return to school on Friday 16th July, just in time for Ms Stewart's wedding celebration.
We are very sorry for the disruption this causes for families. Online learning will commence on Wednesday 7th July and information regarding this will be on Google Classroom.
Any updates and subsequent information regarding this case will be on the website, signposted from the homepage. School emails and phones will not be monitored.
update for next week - including masks!!!
Please note we have not relaxed our position on the wearing of face coverings for ALL adults on site. People who are exempt or choose not to wear one may bring their children to the main entrance at 8:50-9am (they will not be marked late) and collect them from the main entrance at the 3:20pm. Don't worry if you forget, we will offer one on the yard. Thank you to the overwhelming majority of folk who do wear a face covering or take up the reasonable adjustments we have made for those unable and unwilling to wear one. Masks will be in place until at least the beginning of the new term. I am drafting the risk assessment for September as I write as it is anticipated full relaxations in wider society may well not apply to schools.
I wrote today to parents and carers of children in years 2,3 and 6 following yet more news about the Local Authority not authorising trips. Recently we attended a public health meeting where we were informed trips should be kept to within CW&C to avoid us taking the high level of infection. Today we heard the LA we no longer authorising any visits but that the decision would be left to the headteacher.
I have written to families concerned as to why I have taken the decision, supported by the chair of governors, to allow these events to go ahead.
I would like to thank families for their understanding and cooperation in what continue to be very challenging times. Since we broke up for half term, workload and issues with Covid have been as time-consuming and serious as at any time in the past eighteen months.
Happy weekend - the weather is smiling on us at least!
Ms S :-)
end of term events
With July looming and a bit more clarity about Covid, it is time to let you know about the end of term. National restrictions look set to cease on 19th July with three school days left but we will not be making any changes until September. Not all restrictions are due to end on 19th, bubbles in school will remain until at least September. The Government chose 19th July because most schools will have already broken up. Rates are increasing among children. Epidemiologists and modellers took the view that the restrictions ending at the start of the Summer holiday would mitigate the inevitable spread of the Delta variant with schools them being closed. We have listened to and are following advice, guidance and instructions from CW&C public health and health professionals. It's masks on, one way and bubbles until September I'm afraid. Hopefully this means no class will begin their summer holiday confined to barracks for ten days.
Most High Schools, including Leftwich, have cancelled year 6 induction. Head at Leftwich, Mr Snelson has written to families explaining the reasoning. We support their decision as in the best interests of pupils in the circumstances.
Similarly, our transition will have to be more virtual this year. Teachers are making videos to welcome their new classes and we will be letting children know their new class for September next Tuesday. Teachers will be able to take advantage of split times for playtime and lunchtime to pop in (for less than 15 minutes at a distance) to introduce themselves and begin to meet their new class. There are some staffing changes for September too: Miss Tweedie will move to Upper Key Stage 2 and take on Pine Martens while Mrs Buzzard will move to year 4. Yesterday we appointed some new Teaching Assistants to school who we look forward to introducing to you and welcoming in September.
Sports Day will go ahead on 20th July (as every year, subject to weather) with children in EYFS and KS1 at a separate time to LKS2 and UKS2. Classes will need to maintain their bubbles and we will use a scoring system for the family teams we had in previous years to collate scores and announce a winning team. Sadly, we are not having parents or carers in this year for reasons outlined above and the fact that policing adults distancing while supervising pupils could result in both jobs being done badly. We will put photographs in the newsletter which we'll publish on the last day of term. While we know this will cause disappointment we thank you for your understanding.
Upper Key Stage 2 teaching staff are planning an outdoor leavers' assembly for the last day. Sadly the planned Barbeque with Year 7 will not go ahead and as the three year 6 classes will be unable to mix. Manley Mere will be a lovely end of term event. Thanks to Mrs McHugh and her team for all their work planning this.
End of year prize giving will be on the field on the morning of 19th July rather than in the hall. Every year teaching staff nominate a girl and boy from each year group for a prize. The annual award is for transformational effort or progress in any aspect of a child's contribution to school. Like the Oscars, the choice is always difficult but it is a way to celebrate the whole range of wonderful children we have at Kingsmead. Looking back, recipients can be found for all different reasons and range from the highest achievers to those with great barriers to learning and everything in between.
Reports go out next week via Google Classroom and instructions for accessing them, via your child's log on will be issued. Parents and carers can then make an appointment with the class teacher to discuss the content of the report. Sending reports this way enables all parents to get the same information at the same time. Not printing is environmentally friendly. We will of course be happy to print any child's report on request to the school office. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a printed copy from when they are released next week (we'll let you know on Google classroom).
Reports are one of my most time consuming jobs as to do them justice takes more than a signature and a swipe. However, I always find the work joyful. This year Mrs Rutter-Brown is writing the comment for years 1, 3 and 5 with me doing Reception, Year 2, 4 and 6.
My final reflection on end of term
We all know that children have experienced many disappointments, frustrations and difficulties through the pandemic. As I hope I have shared above, we are making our best endeavours to mark the end of the year suitably and safely. Yesterday 20,479 people tested positive for coronavirus and in the last seven days national cases have risen almost by 73%. We're not out of the Covid tunnel yet.
I now want to make what I think is a really important point. How our children respond to events, whether they are disappointed, angry, sanguine or optimistic, will be largely due to the guidance and support they hear from adults they trust. If they hear that someone is to blame, that 'other people' have let them down and they are hard done to, we must not be surprised if they are resentful and feel hard done to. If they hear that this pandemic has run a terrible course in our country and that plans including parties, holidays and even funerals have had to adapt, they will be sanguine – disappointed maybe but optimistic and hopeful of better times to come. I want the best for our children and I know that when I am sanguine and optimistic I feel a whole lot better than feeling hard done to and resentful.
Schools have worked through the pandemic since Spring term 2020. We have done our best to taken on advice and guidance, often at very short notice. We have taken on additional work such as holiday meal provision and holiday provision for working families. We attended countless briefings on health protection and became more knowledgable about contagion than we could have imagined we'd ever need. We have tried to maintain learning and education along with a sense of continuity and a whole school community when learning has at home and in school restricted to class group. We know families too have experienced many challenges and loss. You at home have been invaluable partners with us in school and your great efforts to support your children's learning alongside your own work and commitments have been humbling and can be seen in outcomes for children at the end of this year. I would like to thank you and the staff in school all for the efforts we have made together, and will continue to put into making the end of this school year the very best it can be.
Thank you for your support.
invitation for all our children
Dear Parents and Carers,
In one month from today I will be getting married and from 16th July will be known as… Ms Stewart!
After the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday and the meetings I’ve been in with CW&C Public Health I can now tell you more about how children can be included, should you wish them to. I hope your children will be up for helping me and Mr Kent (aka Mr Stewart) celebrate our wedding, humanist style!
I had planned to include all the children before the announcement. The main change will be that rather than for external guests, governors and staff after school, the music will become part of the ceremony in the afternoon.
Weddings in all cultures share a number things:
Outfits! 16th will be a Dress Up day where we can put on fancy clothes and usual hostilities on shoes, nail varnish and hair styles will be suspended! If children have been bridesmaids or have special clothes for celebrations we’d love to see them. There have been fewer parties this last year and this will give clothes an airing before they’re too small. It’s Eco though – I am wearing an old dress – you may have even seen it. So please, wear something you have already or can borrow.
Music. On the afternoon of 16th, weather permitting, we can be outside, classes distanced, on the field. We can listen our fantastic musicians who have worked so hard in very difficult times. In the light of recent information, I have cancelled the event planned for staff and friends of the school after school where they had been booked. Now, rather than play for a party before a wedding, we will be performing for an actual ceremony. Obviously we can’t bring family or friends onto the site. Other than some older ex-musicians who will be socially distanced from your children at all times there will be no other guests. If wet we will do a smaller ceremony in the hall and film it live for classes.
Ceremony and Words. There will be some vows (humanists have to write their own) and a tying of the knot (I think this is an old Celtic thing and as Mr Kent and I have Scottish ancestry a Celtic twist will be apropos). A humanist celebrant or two from Chester Humanists will preside and they lead a ceremony much like a priest, rabbi or imam would do in a church, temple, mosque or synagogue. There are no prayers though so I am hopeful children of all faiths will be up for witnessing the event and joining in.
Celebration food and drink. As Cheshire West and Chester is Covid Central at the moment, food will be individual fairy cakes. There will be no nuts but if your child has a different allergy let me know what they can have. I will be buying up stocks for some Kingsmead Apple Juice Orchard Mocktails for staff and children so if you want to buy Apple Juice, get in quick!
Family and Friends. This wedding will be for the Kingsmead Primary Family. Our family are far flung and it wouldn’t be right to invite them into school. The priority is to have a nice afternoon at minimal risk to all in attendance. We will do something with family the following day when we pop along to Wyvern House sign the register.
My celebrant friends at Chester Humanists know children are young and can’t listen to long spiels. They’ll keep it fun, brief and visual.
I do hope you will be happy for your children to join in. If this is the case, please do nothing! It’s all taking place in school, risk assessed for Covid. I hope it might children an opportunity to learn about and experience a type of ceremony that may well be new to them. And something jolly, which we are all in need of right now.
If you do not wish your child to be included, please let me know and we will of course respect your wishes.
CONWAY FOR YEAR 5 and 6 IN SEPTEMBER
With a very heavy heart we cannot go ahead with the Conway residential as planned in September. Thank you to everyone who has paid a deposit (which will be refunded in full) or contacted us to explain circumstances and/or request a bursary. Sadly we had just not heard from enough people and could not risk a trip that could end up costing the school many thousands of pounds.
We have already paid a large deposit; although this is not refundable it can be carried over to future visits. We are looking into possible dates later in the next academic year, subject to availability.
Please note that this decision has not been made because families are hard up or unable to pay the contribution. We had made arrangements for bursaries for all who had applied for them. It was because we had no information about the intentions of people we had not heard from.
Hopefully we will be able to plan something for the next academic year. Meanwhile, I apologise for the disappointment but hope you appreciate this decision was necessary in the circumstances.
WE DO NEED TO KNOW OF ANY POSITIVE CASES OVER THE WEEKEND IN ORDER TO COMPLETE THE NECESSARY RISK ASSESSMENT. Please email email@example.com if your child tests positive or has symptoms over the weekend. I will check twice a day on Saturday and Sunday and take action as appropriate with the website and google classrooms being the first places you would be notified.
Please remember that children or adults with symptoms that may be coronavirus should not come into school but should isolate at home for ten days or until they receive a negative PCR test. Be mindful that children have a range of other symptoms: nausea, a snuffly nose, headache and very few lose their sense of taste and smell. So we are asking, while local rates are so very high, for all families to err on the side of caution in the hope we can minimise class closures.
Please can I also urge folk to keep up Lateral Flow tests (recommended for all adults) and seek a PCR test if you haven't already done so.
It is even more important at the moment that we all wear a face covering in the school grounds (thanks to the almost everyone who does). Rates are very high and the Delta variant far more contagious. Please note we are not obliged to allow adults without masks on site at the current time. Access to school grounds is conditional on compliance with measures we have put in place to minimise risk. While we 100% respect everyone's right to their own views, we don't have time to debate them. Our job as school leaders, teachers and support staff is to must prioritise practical mitigations against unnecessary risk. If you are unable or unwilling to wear a face covering please bring your child to the main entrance at 9am and collect from 3.20pm.
I hope this doesn't cause unnecessary alarm. Is school safe enough for children right now? Yes, and that's not me talking that is consultant doctor on the Covid team at Addenbrookes in Cambridge and CW&C Public Health. Children's welfare and learning are best served in school and with all us adults doing our bit, we can ask our children to do their bit.
There may be changes to events and at short notice. Please bear with us; if it feels like we're reacting on the hoof and things keep changing it's probably because we are. We are trying to do the best for children's enjoyment of enriching opportunities as safely as we can.
May I wish you all a safe weekend, enjoy the things you can and our special wishes to all our families isolating at home. We know many are self-employed and please get in touch if you are in need of support.
Stay safe and let's hope it will be Monday before you hear from me again!
Catriona Stewart :-)
positive case and further consequences of the local rates of infection
Today there has been a positive results for a PCR test in Red Squirrels. In our area almost all new cases are the Delta variant and is possible in at least one of the cases from over the holiday. Children in this class and a few other contacts have been sent home and asked to self isolate for ten days. Parents of affected children have been texted and will be sent a letter today via email.
So how can we do our bit to help?
All staff and families in school are being asked to have a PCR test as soon as possible if they have not had one in the last seven days.
The NHS and CW&C public health are pleading with anyone who has not yet taken a PCR test to please do so; this helps them track infection and develop more accurate models from the data, models on which decisions are based.
Adults (and certainly ady adult coming onto the school grounds) should take a Lateral Flow Test twice a week to reduce infectious people unknowingly spreading disease in our community.
Avoid travelling out of CW&C; some areas in Wales for example have no cases at all of the Delta variant. Imagine how someone would feel if they unknowingly took the virus somewhere and infected other people with potentially fatal consequences.
Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose.
Avoid unnecessary mixing, including play dates (especially with children in different classes or in different schools),.
Maintain distancing when out and about - just because some restrictions have lifted and something is within our rights doesn't mean it will be the right thing to do.
Ensure you know where your children are and who they are with. Mitigations and measures in school are far less effective when children mix across classes outside.
Get vaccinated as soon as possible. For those concerned about vaccines and things like blood clots, Dr Matt was clear. There is a very low risk of blood clots for a small number of people but the risks of Covid are far greater. In his experience treating patients with disease is that blood clots are a common side effect of infection. The risk of blood clots is higher from Covid than from a vaccine.
Yesterday I heard the same advice twice. First from Ceriann Tunnah who leads the council's Covid response for schools at CW&C Public Health and also from Consultant geriatrician at Addenbrookes Hospital Cambridge and part of their Covid team. We are at a critical moment, one where we could be at the beginning of another epidemic of Covid if we don't act now to prevent spread. In Northwich we are experiencing an exponential rise in cases of the more infectious Delta variant at a time when central government is looking to relax restrictions. This means that the national Guidance from DfE and government does not reflect our position here in Cheshire. Dr Matt was clear, the Delta variant has an R rate greater than 1 with current restrictions in place and even if there are no further relaxations, will continue to rise.
Due to the level of concern and the local picture, Mrs Rutter-Brown will be hosting an online meeting for parents and carers on Monday at 5pm where we will repeat this information. It will also give you an opportunity to raise questions in the Chat. The meetings can be restricted to 200 people so it will be recorded and shared via Google classroom which is where you will also find the link.
It's not all terrible news. Dr Matt is confident that if vaccination goes as planned we will achieve herd immunity by the end of August in the UK when most adults, including younger ones, will be vaccinated. He assured us that children are no more likely to be seriously unwell than with previous variants but that the vaccine is less effective until people have had their second dose. With children unvaccinated, it is even more important we mitigate in school. The risks of Long Covid, which children can get, are less well understood and Dr Matt advised precaution. With us so close to herd immunity why ruin things with the end in sight?
Current evidence is that ventilation and outdoors are the best mitigators for the virus. Enhanced cleaning already in schools is sufficient and there is less clear evidence regarding efficacy of cleaning regimes; ventilation is the thing. He also said if we want to relax something that should be the quarantining of resources which interferes with learning and has more limited benefits. On masks though he was in no doubt; the laws of physics are that if the virus is spread through droplets in the air, covering the nose and mouth of people will reduce infection. Therefore there will be no relaxation of expectations for mask wearing.
One of the biggest risks from further spread is the the Delta variant, already more resistant to vaccine, will mutate further. No one wants to risk an Epsilon variant. Therefore, while national measures may ease we should be mindful that in school up to 80% (the children and younger staff) are unvaccinated and therefore there is a higher percentage of unvaccinated people in schools than in supermarkets. Mitigations therefore remain in place for the time being.
This means that the planned Family Fun Evening planned for 9th July has been cancelled. We just can't ensure distancing, even outside. We are disappointed but sanguine and the KFA can postpone to the new term when new EYFS families will be able to meet new people and there is less risk of unpleasant consequences of a large community event.
Trips and visits out are in CW&C and as we are not travelling out of area with some further risk assessment (such as not mixing class groups) these may be able to go ahead. However, we may need to change decisions at short notice. In the event of cancellations any monies received will be refunded. Young Shakespeare on Monday will now be virtual to enable pupils at home and in school to access the session.
It looks likely that on Monday, there might be a delay to further relaxation. But even if there is not, we must remember that in our area rates are high with the Delta variant and national guidance may not be in line with local circumstances. Please act usefully, kindly and responsibly. Dr Matt is concerned that hospital rates will rise again as they are just starting to do. If we act now we can reduce hospital admissions four weeks down the line. Dr Matt reminded us that it is not only lives lost to Covid we should think of but to cancer and heart treatments delayed and the terrible consequences for patients and their families when hospitals are overwhelmed with patients coupled with staff off work, self isolating or infected.
conway for year 4 and 5 in september
Dear Parents and Carers of children in Year 4 and 5,
I am writing to let you know that without further voluntary contributions, the residential visit planned for September will not be financially viable, and we will have no option other than to cancel. We need to give the Conway Centre a lengthy notice period not to lose the considerable deposit we have paid already. We will look at any further payments and communications from families at mid-day tomorrow at which point we will make the decision as to whether to cancel the trip.
Some folk might be wondering why we don't just have the trip for those who can afford it and do something in class for the rest? There are two reasons for this, the first being that it would be unlawful. By law, we can only request voluntary contributions for school visits during the day; we can require payment for food and board but otherwise all payment is voluntary and relies on the goodwill and ability of families to pay.
The second reason is that to split children by virtue of their parents' income would go against our stated ethos and values, including equality and behaviour principles (the value of everybody). Children already experience widely different opportunities as a consequence of the relative affluence of their parents. This is just a fact of life. It would be unconscionable to add further to inequities already within our community and which are beyond our control with those that we offer in school. This is why we use pupil premium for the families in greatest hardship, offer families the opportunity to apply for a bursary and ask for voluntary contributions. It is also why we do only two residential visits, one in Key Stage 1 and another in Upper Key Stage 2 and have never gone abroad (if anyone remembers what that is like!).
We are aware that many families are experiencing hardship as a consequence of the pandemic and the economy more generally. I therefore respectfully ask everyone to be sanguine about this and not judgemental, whether about the school or other families whose circumstances we just don’t know. If you have not paid a deposit and this is an oversight, please do so before 12 noon tomorrow so we can have a more accurate picture of support for this trip before we take the decision whether to cancel or not. If we do cancel all deposits will be refunded.
Ms S :-)
Young shakespeare - year 5 and 6
After a meeting with colleagues in Public Health yesterday evening, I felt I had no option but to contact the YSC, advising them of the high rates in our area and the potential increase in risk for their young actors who may not yet be vaccinated. The risk was to them, not us as we had already planned for a socially distanced performance. I have had a long discussion with the YSC today and they are touring already in the North West. We had planned for a distanced live visit on Monday but, with a positive PCR result confirmed in Red Squirrels this afternoon plans have had to change and the event will be virtual. This will mean all the children can take part and we may postpone so the class isolating can be in class together for it.
I would like to thank the YSC for their detailed risk planning so we can go ahead and then late on more changes to plans. AI would also like to thank the KFA for supporting this event which we are able to provide without asking folk at home for a voluntary contribution. The YSC is outstanding value for money but is costly and we are so grateful to be able to offer live Shakespeare without increasing financial burdens on adults at home.
As for the play? Well that's classified information until the day and after school when I hope your children will come home buzzing and tell you all about it!
communication in holidays
After any critical incident, and a positive case of coronavirus and contact tracing is such an incident, it is important that we act as promptly and effectively as we can and then, reflect and ask ourselves searching questions. There is very little in life or school improvement that couldn't be better with reflection and hindsight. Could things be managed better if this were to happen again? Could our response in future be improved?
When we were informed by the staff member of her positive lateral flow test, on the first Saturday of the holiday, we needed to act quickly despite having no staff on duty. Mrs Rutter-Brown came into school and Mrs Cocker joined her as soon as she could. I completed the risk assessment, update the website and communicated with Mrs' Rutter-Brown and Cocker from where I was staying, 250 miles away. The decision was taken by me to email families; it was the method Mrs Rutter-Brown could access (although on her email account she doesn't have the distribution lists available to admin staff so had to do this child by child). By the time Mrs Cocker was able to come into school, Mrs R-B was half way through.
Sending text messages is not as easy as might be thought and is not like texting at home. We needed to use the school gateway account, this work is done by admin assistants, all of whom were on holiday. At the time, email was the fastest method of getting a message out. We also tweeted and updated on the website. Mrs Cocker placed a purchase order for more texts before then learning how to send a text to all families, with other staff all on holiday. We did our best but acknowledge it was not perfect and could be improved. When staff are away from Cheshire, as I was, the website and Google Classroom are more accessible for updating information.
It is difficult to know what's the best method of contacting people during a holiday. Many families pick up emails on their phone and I was in email contact with some families over half term. Others might be in places with no phone signal. Google classroom is used by some not all, ditto the website and it is to be expected these will be accessed less in a school holiday. Therefore it is improbable that we could ever guarantee every family receiving communications in a school holiday. What we are asked to do is to make our best endeavours to support the response to Covid and this we have done. Just as we can't guarantee a child or adult in school won't catch or spread Covid, we will make our best endeavours to minimise the risk and keep everyone safe enough for our core business of education to continue.
Going forward and for the Summer holiday, should we have a positive case within 48 hours of children being in school we will:
Continue to use the website as the main source of information for families with important updates all on or accessible via the homepage. The website will always be the most up to date source of information and will be updated before emails and texts are sent - it is faster and accessible to anyone via the internet.
Continue to send a link via a tweet for families to access information easily.
Update Google classroom at all stages as this is faster than texts or emails and can be done for the whole school from anywhere with Internet access.
Ensure that we have a bank of text calls paid for before we break up for any school holiday.
Have a member of staff on call who has the technical facilities to text each family and email all families using the email addresses for all parents provided where we can send information either in the email or as a link to the website.
Continue to update the website and Google classroom as soon as new information is available.
This information is also published on https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/communication-letters-home/covid-faqs.
I am sure you appreciate that schools are not staffed over holidays and the work we undertake is voluntary for the benefit of children and families. We called the CWAC public health on Saturday; they returned our call on Tuesday in the afternoon. The member of staff who took a PCR test got her result on Thursday. It is clear that even services with staff employed over the half term found themselves challenged in the capacity department.
Hopefully this will reassure you of two things: that we have made our best endeavours and that we have not been complacent. In the unfortunate case of this happening again, those best endeavours will be improved and more belt and braces.
3rd June - 5:30pm
UPDATE FROM CW&C
Advice for residents in Northwich and Winsford to seek a PCR test
Over the past 7 days we have seen a large increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 resulting in a number of outbreaks in businesses and schools. The current increase in the number of new cases are more likely to belong to the Variant B.1.671.2 ( Delta variant) which is more transmissible than other previous variants. To reduce the spread of the virus, and understand the extent of spread, Cheshire West and Chester Council Public Health Team are now advising all residents in Northwich and Winsford to book a PCR test regardless of whether they have symptoms or not. To book a test you should visit https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test and select ‘My local council or health protection team has asked me to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms‘ or call 119. Lateral Flow Device home tests should not be used instead of a PCR test in this situation. We would advise everyone who lives in a household to go along to get a test together, pupils who are under 16 will need to be accompanied by a parent/carer to access a test. If younger children are unable or unwilling to be tested it is important that adults in the household are still tested as this will enable us to identify household cases. Please notify the school if you or anyone in your household tests positive.
While waiting for your test result you do not need to self-isolate unless:
You develop symptoms of COVID-19 - a high temperature, or a new and continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
Someone you live with develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19
You are contacted by the school or NHS Test and Trace and advised to self-isolate
We would also like to remind all parents and carers to ensure all adults and secondary age pupils living in the household complete twice weekly Lateral Flow Device home tests. These tests should be completed twice a week even if your PCR test is negative. Details about how to collect test kits can be found below.
Collect home testing kits from a local community collect site, locations can be found in this link: https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/
Collect home testing kits from a testing site, locations can be found in this link: https://find-covid-19-rapid-test-sites.maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/
Ordering home testing kits to be delivered to your home using this link: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
update on cases in school population
The staff member who took a PCR test on Saturday has this morning received a positive result. Therefore people in Hen Harriers and the four children who were contacts in Sparrows should continue to isolate. People who did not develop symptoms over the holiday should treat Thursday as day 0 meaning Sunday is the tenth day of isolation and they can return to school on Monday.
Children who have developed symptoms and/or recieved a positive test result over the holiday should follow the advice they receive from public health. We would ask families to adopt a principle of caution if their child is unwell; many people start with symptoms like a runny nose and sore throat, developing coronavirus symptoms later on.
Residents of Northwich and Winsford have been urged to get a PCR test and given school reopens on Monday this would be very helpful in minimising the risk further in school. Given a week with the building more or less unoccupied and the cleaning regime, the school will be safe enough for people without symptoms to return to on Monday.
Sadly, plans for some small relaxations for playtimes, assemblies by phase and seating and eating arrangements will have to be postponed and we will carry on as before half term until things are looking more hopeful.
Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go to everyone who is unwell. Take care and stay safe. We hope to see most people on Monday, well and ready for a last half term of learning in what has been a second very challenging and unusual school year.
guidance from CWAC public health
Two children in Hen-Harriers have tested positive for Covid. We wish them both a speedy recovery and our thoughts are with their families. It is advised from public health in CWAC that families arrange for a PCR test.
guidance from CWAC public health for all families where a child has been identified as a close contact
If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus you are advised to book a PCR test. Taking a test is not an alternative to self-isolating. You will still need to isolate for the full 10 days even if you test negative for coronavirus. If you live with the person who has tested positive, you should book your test 3 to 5 days after their symptoms started. If you do not live with the person, you should book your test 3 to 5 days after the day you last spent time with them. If you can’t book your test within 5 days, book it as soon as possible. If you’re a close contact, but you’ve already tested positive in the past 90 days, you should not get tested but still complete the full 10-day self-isolation period.
Hen-Harriers - coronavirus positive case
We understand that not every parent/carer in Hen Harriers has received the email advising them to self-isolate. We assure you that an email was sent to every family and apologise if these haven't been received.
Every child in Hen-Harriers who was in school last Thursday should self isolate for ten days with last Thursday being day 0 and this Sunday being day 10. One child was absent from school that day and has not been asked to isolate. the families of four children in Sparrows class have also been asked to self-isolate.
UPDATE - A number of people are asking when we will have the result of the PCR test. This will be shared as soon as we receive it. However, lateral flow tests which are positive are extremely likely to be accurate and the member of staff has all the usual symptoms of coronavirus.
We understand that this was very unwelcome news do apologise for the impact on the school holiday.
Kind regards, Ms Stewart
positive case of coronavirus
I am really sorry that your half term has been affected by having to isolate. As of 6.30pm today there is no news to share. We appreciate this is a difficult time with holiday plans affected and promise that we will update (here and on Google classroom) as soon as we know more.
Kind regards, Ms S
positive case of coronavirus
We have been informed this morning of a positive lateral flow test (LFT) for coronavirus. This was taken by a member of staff on Saturday morning. The staff member had taken a LFT on Thursday morning as part of routine testing and this was negative. However, on Friday evening she was feeling a bit unwell and by this morning was feeling much worse. She has ordered a PCR test, taken it and is currently awaiting results. We wish her a speedy recovery.
Some children and staff will have been close contacts (less than 48 hours before our member of staff developed symptoms and took the LFT Saturday morning which was positive). This means that parents or carers of children and members of staff affected are being informed that they need to self isolate for 10 days. Thursday was Day 1 and so Day 10 of isolation is Sunday. Those impacted will be informed today and if you have not received an email there is no need to self isolate.
We are very mindful this is the school holiday and are sorry for the impact this will have on your plans.
Any updates and subsequent information regarding this case will be on the website, signposted from the homepage. School emails and phones will not be monitored. Please report any positive cases to us by email as this is useful for colleagues at Public Health and remember, should anyone develop symptoms or test positive over the holiday, the ten days' isolation may impact on school attendance the first week back. Although hopeful there has been no onward transmission this is of course a risk.
I would like to thank the staff member for being so prompt and vigilant with her testing regime and wish her a speedy recovery. I would also like to thank Mrs Rutter-Brown and Mrs Cocker who have spent Saturday morning supporting me with risk assessing, tracking, tracing, and informing our colleagues at Public Health Cheshire West and Chester.
Ms S :-)
consultation on expansion
There were no requests to meet with CWAC officers or school leaders regarding the proposed expansion of the school. The concerns that have been raised informally to us have been around traffic. Today, Ian Lovatt from CWAC Highways came out to look at our site and I am hopeful we might be able to make some improvements. CWAC own the road outside the school but as this unadopted there is no requirement for Highways to fund improved safety measures.
We are coming up to the holiday and I am contacting you to inform that if anyone is experiencing hardship that we are able to refer families to the local foodbank for support. Clients do not need to be in receipt of benefits, or for their children to be in receipt of the pupil premium. A crisis can hit anyone at any time, and we want to be there to help you support them, whether it be long term by signposting to other agencies, or for a one off need because something unexpected has happened.
Please contact us before mid-day on Thursday if you would like us to arrange a time for you to collect a food parcel; due to coronavirus restrictions all clients have a five minute time slot. All conversations with us are in confidence and you can either call and ask to speak to Mrs Rutter-Brown or myself or alternatively email with your request on a document attached and mark the subject CONFIDENTIAL.
Ms S :-)
TRIPS, VISITS and playing together
It was with much sadness that we had to inform year 6 yesterday that the leavers' trip to Conway had been cancelled by the centre as school trips are not allowed into Wales.
We are cautiously proceeding with enrichment and some relaxing of restrictions but the facts are that with the B.1.617.2 variant we cannot guarantee that this will continue. The data below shows that while there are some concerning increases in infection in the North West, our LA and immediate locality has shown a reduction in infection.
Please don't be concerned that you might lose contributions to trips if these are cancelled. We will ensure that any trip cancelled is either rearranged for a later date or we will refund families for contributions made.
If rates continue as below, it could be a good time to begin to allow phases to play together at playtime. With toilet and handwashing time, if actual playtime outside is kept to no more than 14 minutes outside, children would not be deemed close contacts. Our current thinking is that we will start with mixing the three classes in each phase at playtime only with lunch time remaining in class groups. We are balancing children's genuine and much understood desire to play with one another with minimising risk of more than one class having to isolate, should there be a positive case. We also need to consider the logistics of classes continuing to use the toilets separately. Not easy but not insurmountable either. Fingers crossed.
We are looking into an alternative for year 6 and parents with the KFA are already kindly arranging an event here in school. As I said to the Year 6 children (who were impressively sanguine) yesterday, we must focus our attention and bother about the stuff within our control and not waste energy on that which we cannot.
Ms S :-)
Covid Data from 24th May 2021
After half term...
This document is an update to previous parent/carer friendly versions of the full risk assessment. Please note that with almost three weeks until we are back for the final half term of this year there may be changes and updates but I thought it might be helpful to share in advance. Do take some time to look at it; it reflects the consultation we undertook with families on allowing some more mixing. With the impact of the new variant unclear at the moment, we have been more cautious than we had hoped but look forward to communicating further in due course.
Ms S :-)
easing of national restrictions and RATES OF INFECTION - How might this affect us?
The two maps from today (see below) show that both in the immediate locality and North West of England, coronavirus rates have risen. The Indian variant is far more contagious and we must remember that children and young people have not been vaccinated yet. Nevertheless, the national easing of restrictions has gone ahead today and we too have considered what is reasonable and safe enough in our local circumstances.
We are permitting limited mixing between class or year groups in the same phase for certain educational activities: tuition, small group work and some enrichment activities such as sport and French clubs and Forest School. This is because of their value to children's learning, achievement and enjoyment of school. Also, there is less risk of large numbers having to isolate at home should someone test positive. If a child in a tuition group or enrichment activity were to test positive, they along with their whole class and anyone from another class in the group or activity would also have to self isolate and get a test. However, if children are mixing at playtime and lunchtime and one were to test positive then all three classes, 90 children in an entire phase would have to isolate.
Governors met last week and fully support the measures outlined above. They also support school leaders considering phases mixing at play and lunchtime outside after half term, if the data suggests this is reasonable. The parent and carer quick survey was overwhelmingly in support of more mixing for children and this is what we want too. The survey showed very strong support for the manner in which we have managed so far during the pandemic and trust and confidence in our judgement going forward. The survey was taken before the news of the Indian variant was as clear as it is now and our ultimate decision will consider your views, staff and governors' aspirations alongside the data.
Although a decision has not been made yet for whole class groups mixing in phases after half term, we will keep a careful eye on data and are mindful we may not be able to proceed as soon as we had wanted. That said there are three weeks until the start of the final half term and there are other things to consider.
Scientists and data analysts tell us infection will further rise with the easing of national restrictions and a far more contagious variant. However there are other factors to take into account. The vaccine roll out means that people in the most vulnerable groups have been offered vaccinations and most have been vaccinated. If rising rates in the community are not mirrored with rising cases of people becoming seriously unwell, suffering long Covid or needing care in hospital, if the death rate does not rise, this must be put into the 'for consideration' pot.
Coronavirus is likely to be with us for some years and learning to live with it means we must consider a range of evidence, listen to those who know more than us and then proceed in a reasonable manner that is neither reckless or needlessly prohibitive. It is most disappointing that just as we are looking forward to easier times, this variant is putting the cat among the pigeons. I am keeping everything crossed that rising cases won't be mirrored in hospital admissions, long covid cases and mortality rates. If the cat is ineffectual and the pigeons are OK, I am hopeful of good news before too long.
Ms S :-)
Covid Data from 17th May 2021
mobile phones in school
Please note that children are not permitted to bring mobile phones into school. This is for reasons of children's safety; those interested can read more at https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/e-safety.
The risks from mobile phones, and especially as most include access to cameras and the internet, far outweigh any limited and disputed benefits they offer children of primary school age. Children are old enough to walk to and from school unaccompanied when their parents and carers judge they are sensible enough to be safe and care for themselves, other people and the environment without adult supervision or access to a mobile phone.
Today eight phones were handed in in year 5 and 6. This time, it has been explained to children that phones must not be brought to school. As it says on the e-safety page, if any parent or carer think an exception needs to be made for their child, they must make an appointment to speak to myself or Mrs Rutter-Brown. While we will consider 'reasonable adjustments' on a case by case basis there is no reasonable adjustment that includes bringing a phone to school and keeping it in your bag in the classroom.
On this occasion, and as a consequence of the children being honest, admitting having their phones in school and handing them in without argument, the phones have been returned to them at the end of the day. In future, the consequence of flouting the policy of no phones in school, we will not be returning phones to children but will require their parent or carer to come into school and retrieve them.
Our policy has been consistent for many years. The only change was that phones dropped off in the school office would be for the most exceptional reasons only, in order to minimise risk contact with surfaces that may carry coronavirus. We ask that you respect the policy which is there for your children's benefit and accept the consequences for your child if they fail to comply with what is a reasonable expectation.
UPDATE FOR MAY 2021
Thank you folks for reading the letter yesterday and the super quick turn round in responses (you are fab!). I'll look again after the 48 hours are up but after a day and 58 responses I thought I'd share how the land lies.
While your comments are currently overwhelmingly supportive of prioritising learning and wellbeing, please respect that our decisions carry great responsibility. Your views are so important in informing our decision making but they don't make the decision (unlike Brexit or electing a new government!).
Thank you too for all the useful, kind and appreciative comments. These were a real pleasure to read, including the thoughtful reasons you gave for your opinions as well as the kind thank-you's. There was one regarding limited home learning with one class isolating and some children from another class having to isolate too. Fear not: in the event of a class isolating, the teaching staff would be at home too and leading home learning as in the time when school was closed to most children. I am hopeful though that the risk is minimal. Like you, I am not in the market for any more days off school and will not relax anything unless the risk is minimal.
As the children are now all back and have been for a while, Mrs Rutter-Brown and I will use the headteacher's blog as and when we have something significant to tell you. It's a weekly job I enjoy but we have to focus our time and effort where it has best impact; I know some of you read it and we will continue but with seeing folk at the gate and things opening up, it is now time to cease the twice a week. It has been interesting for us as school leaders, thinking of what we talk about and do in assembly and how to share that with adults. Hopefully it might have stimulated some conversations at home over tea. Mrs R-B and I will continue to blog about children, education, school and learning but this will be less routine and we will signpost new ones from the website homepage. Meanwhile, assemblies will continue to be posted on the website for your information and possibly even interest!
Happy Thursday, Ms S :-)
Update on face coverings
The data shows that levels of infection are reduced enough for us to make the wearing of face coverings for staff in their usual classroom or office optional. This reflects our policy of relaxing first those restrictions which have the biggest impact on children, their wellbeing and achievement.
All adults coming onto the school grounds and staff when outside their usual office or classroom are still required to wear a face covering.
important info for holiday and the summer term
Here is the latest newsletter – thank you to all who have contributed; it was a delight to edit!
Please note that we will be supporting the government with track and trace over the holiday. We would therefore need to be informed of anyone who developed symptoms within 48 hours of breaking up from school today. Therefore I will check my email between 4-5pm on Friday and Saturday of the holiday to see if there is any information that requires me to undertake track and trace. After this time, there is no need to inform us, other than for usual non-attendance for medical reasons when school reopens to children on Tuesday 20th April.
Do read the updated document for Summer and remind yourself of things like the one-way system. Page 8 details some changes with some more enrichment and extra-curricular activities. We will be having some school trips in the Summer term (national and local restrictions permitting). These will be risk assessed as before with additional risk assessment for Covid. We would dearly love to tell you that class groups can start to mix for playtimes but sadly, infection rates in CW&C make this too high risk just yet. Activities in clubs are more structured and can be carried out safely enough. Nevertheless, I assure you, children will be able to play together as soon as rates are low enough. We look at infection, vaccination and hospital admission rates to make an informed decision. Our priority must be playing our part in avoiding sending rates back up and risking further school closure.
In terms of relaxing measures, we will prioritise first those which have the biggest impact on children's wellbeing, learning and achievement. Therefore, things like enhanced cleaning, no face-to-face appointments, the one way system and face coverings for all adults outside their usual workspace will be the last measures to be lifted.
We thank you for your understanding and on behalf of myself, governors and staff, wish you a lovely Spring break.