Today sees the return of our open day and open evening and it is wonderful to see so many of our students volunteer their time to support both events. There will be additional covid measures put in place following discussions with Public Health Lancashire, ensuring that these are appropriate to maximise the safety of our students, staff and visitors throughout the day and evening. We remain confident that despite these changes, prospective parents will have an opportunity to see our dedicated staff and students in action and will leave with a view so many of us share, that Haslingden High School is a fantastic community in which to learn and grow.
Since my letter last week, there has been a great deal going on in school. Auditions for the school show have taken place, year 11 students have been awarded their prefect ties, and extracurricular activities have been taking place in every corner of school. It is wonderful to see our students engaging in these opportunities and enthusiastically pursuing their interests and passions. We have also invited Lancashire County Council into school to assess our classrooms and office spaces to ensure we have appropriate measures in place to maximise ventilation in classrooms. Although these processes can feel like a distraction from our core business of teaching and learning, they combine to provide the safest environment for our staff and students and ultimately, allow students to remain in school to continue their education.
Yesterday saw the announcement regarding the vaccination of 12-15 year olds in schools. The chief medical officers have recommended that this is offered in schools and we await further instruction from the government. A strategy has yet to be published to schools and whilst it is likely that we will be expected to encourage as many students to receive a vaccination, we will only do so where parental consent has been obtained. This will remain a voluntary process. Our ultimate aim is to ensure all students can attend school as regularly as possible and if this measure takes us a step closer, we will be asking parents to consider offering their support. However, we acknowledge there are mixed views on this topic and if you do not feel this is appropriate, we will continue to respect your decision. We had reports yesterday of students being approached at the end of school by an adult with anti-vaccination flyers. We will ensure that we remain vigilant over the next few school days to avoid any upset for our students.
As part of the government’s approach to the return to school following the summer holidays, all schools have been asked to complete a contingency management plan. The plan is designed to identify the steps the school will take if transmission rates are deemed to have reached a given threshold. These steps range from the wearing of face masks, reducing large gatherings such as assemblies or after school activities, the reintroduction of onsite testing and in extreme cases, limiting attendance. We are keen for school to feel as normal as possible and will be working closely with health professionals to continually assess our provision and ensure our response is both measured and proportionate. The government has provided guidance in relation to the rates of transmission and we have developed a robust system in school to monitor this carefully on a daily basis. The contingency management plan forms part of our risk assessment.
Following a conversation with Public Health Lancashire yesterday, we will be asking all students, except for those who are exempt, to wear a face-covering in indoor communal spaces when they return to school on Thursday. For year 7 parents, if you feel your child should not wear a face-covering due to medical reasons or as a result of increased anxiety or stress, please send your child into school with a note from yourselves and we will issue a badge so that colleagues are aware of the exemption.
This decision is to prevent transmission between year groups during break and lunch and on corridors and will remain in place for the duration of this half term, remaining under review throughout this time. We are satisfied as a result of that conversation that we have not met a threshold but agreed that this step would limit further transmission at social times. We greatly value your support and ask that you discuss this with your son/daughter ahead of returning to school on Thursday. We will have some spare face coverings available but politely ask that they bring one to school with them on Thursday morning. Students will not need to wear face coverings in lessons at the moment and we hope that this is not required in the future.
I am certain that we all want as minimal educational disruption as possible and we will continue to do all we can to manage the situation in school as sensibly and sensitively as possible. There are a number of ways in which you can continue to support the school community over the coming weeks and months:
- Encouraging the use of hand sanitiser and where possible, ensuring your child has a small bottle on their person in school
- Ensuring that your child has a face covering for travelling on public transport and where appropriate, for use in school
- Encouraging your child to participate in the twice-weekly Lateral Flow testing at home and input the result via testregister.co.uk
- Ensuring that a PCR is undertaken if contacted by NHS track and trace or by a friend/relative regarding a close contact
- Being mindful of the covid symptoms and not sending your child in to school if they present with any of those listed
We hope that the next few weeks will continue to see students settling into new routines and benefitting from a much more rounded educational experience. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Mr Russell Clarke, Headteacher