Return to school March 2021(Posted on 08/03/21)
Pupils return to school Spring 2021.
The Welsh Government have indicated that pupils can start to return to school. The operational guidance covering this return is here:-
The guidance sets out several measures to ensure that all are as safe as possible in schools and these are covered below.
The Maelor School will be open full time for years 10,11,12 and 13 from Monday the 15th March. Unless the situation changes and infection rates rise, these pupils will remain in school for the two weeks until Easter and then as normal after.
Years 7,8 and 9 will return to school full time from Monday 22nd March. They will be in for the week prior to the Easter Holiday and then as normal after.
It has always been our feeling that if we can return pupils to their normal routines as quickly as possible, this will allow us to effectively support both their wellbeing and their learning.
Transport and other arrangements
All our school buses will run as normal from the 15th March. For those that pay, you will be charged from the point when school is open for your child. This is not a straightforward task so please allow the finance department at the school a few weeks to process the accounts.
The canteen will run as it did before Christmas with orders being taken during tutor time in the morning, a reminder that pupils need the required amount of money on their accounts.
As before Christmas there will be a limited number of after school activities taking place.
Thursday 11th and Friday 12th March
There are a number of activities that the staff in the school are conducting on the 11th and 12th March to prepare for reopening. We are focusing on rewriting the curriculum to consider the lost teaching time and planning for pupil recovery and support. To allow this to happen I have instructed the staff not to deliver online learning on these two days. Pupils should use the two days to catch up with any missing work or go over important concepts prior to us restarting. There will be a continuation of our online learning for years 7, 8 and 9 from the 15th - 20th March.
Training Day Monday April 12th
As we will have used the time above we have taken the decision to cancel the proposed training day, the first day after Easter. This will now be a normal school day.
We would like pupils to attend school in school uniform. We do understand that they may have outgrown some items and that it has not been possible to purchase them in the shops. All we ask is that pupils try their best to adhere to the uniform policy during this time. Please contact the head of year if this causes any difficulty.
Masks and face coverings
The guidance above is clear that if 2m social distancing cannot be maintained in lessons then face masks should be worn. Our school building does not have sufficient space to create 2m between each pupil and therefore pupils will have to wear a face mask both in lessons, on buses and in social areas.
This includes outside unless the pupils are more than 2m away from each other. They do not have to wear them when eating or when taking part in any exercise.
Given the amount of time that they will be wearing them, we recommend that pupils have a number of these so a clean one can be worn each day. The guidance recommends reusable ones. The school will be giving each pupil two reusable masks when stocks arrive to support them with this.
Zones and areas
The guidance shows that all must be done to prevent contact groups from mixing. Therefore, our pupils will return to the zones and systems that we had in place before Christmas. As soon as we can, we would like to revert to normal teaching rooms for all as we recognise that zones are not ideal for the pupils. I will let you know as soon as revised guidance allows us to make this change.
Content and study
Years 10,11,12 and 13 will recommence normal teacher lessons as soon as they return. We will use the time before Easter to focus on concepts that we have covered online as well as covering material important for their exam replacement assessments.
Years 7,8 and 9. We will be using some of our lesson time to focus on the pupil’s wellbeing as well as ensuring that each subject is able to discuss the work that was set online and cover misconceptions and key ideas. Once we can ascertain what pupils understand we will then be able to formulate the curriculum after Easter to ensure that key ideas are not missed.
Our teachers will be looking forward to getting everyone back on track. It is important that we now look forwards rather than back, pupils should return excited about the future, they will not be reprimanded for missed work or for getting anything wrong.
Lateral flow Covid testing.
There is an offer of lateral flow testing for all pupils in years 10,11,12 and 13 as well as all adults that work at the school. Unlike in England these tests are to be carried out at home. I will send more details including procedures and consent forms to families separately.
What if someone who has been in school tests positive?
As with before Christmas it is possible that a pupil who has been in school tests positive for Covid-19. If this happens then we will take advice from Track and Trace. It is likely in this scenario that an entire year group or bus may be sent home for 10 days as before. In order to avoid this, pupils should not attend school if displaying symptoms or if anyone in the household is isolating due to infection.
What if as a parent I do not think they should return, or I am concerned about a shielding member of the family?
I am sure that for most pupils and parents the return to school will come as a relief. Families should make every effort to return their pupils to school on the above dates. We do understand that not all circumstances are the same so as previously if you do have concerns please contact your head of year. Our online learning offer will end for each year group once that group are back to school.
We sincerely hope that this is the end of enforced school closures, I would just like to thank the dedication, support, and hard work that all of you have shown to our young people. As we move forward, we now have a task of making sure that they are not disadvantaged by this pandemic, we recover lost work and we reignite the passion for learning that is essential to succeed.
Simon Ellis (on behalf of the governing body)