*** UPDATE MONDAY 23RD MARCH ***
I felt it was important to give you an update following a number of articles/speeches and messages published in the media over the weekend.
At the end of last week, based on all the available information, our schools had a very clear strategy. Colleagues contacted you regarding the options you had. It centred upon our virtual model (for the majority of children and young people) and a school-based offer for other children that fell into certain groups. It now appears that the Government’s message has changed!
Last night Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said schools would now only open for the few, not the many. He stated,
- “If your work is not critical in the response to Coronavirus then please keep your child at home.”
- “We will be closely monitoring what is happening in schools and will ensure they get the support they need in the weeks and months ahead.”
This links very closely with the Prime Minister’s messages over the weekend where he stated on numerous occasions that all people should self-isolate and practise social distancing.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary continued by stating,
- “The NHS is doing everything it can and preparing for the spread of this virus. If people go within two metres of others who they don’t live with then they’re helping to spread the virus – and the consequences of that costs lives and it means that, for everyone, this will go on for longer.”
The Health Secretary said the government advice on social distancing was “really clear” and people should stay two metres apart, staying at home if at all possible.
Over the weekend I received further information stating that special schools were advised to make further risk assessments on a case by case basis, identifying children whose parents are “critical workers” and a very, very small number that are deemed as “vulnerable”. As a result of this advice, our schools have again audited the children and are now only offering (in school) places to these children. You may have had a conversation today about keeping your child at home.
For the very small numbers of children that have been identified, they will now move to our hub schools. We will be in a position to better regulate the cleaning and health and safety requirements in these buildings. In Oldham our hub will be at New Bridge School (Roman Road site) and in Tameside, at Hawthorns School. All our other sites will now close. So, to be clear, Hollinwood Academy, Spring Brook Lower, Spring Brook Upper, New Bridge Learning Centre, Medtia Square and the Springboard Project will all close at 5.00pm today. Horizons will stay closed.
All our schools are continuing to work on our virtual offer – they will keep you updated as to any developments in the next few days.
I have also been asked to tell you about our position relating to children who are entitled to free school meals. Tesco vouchers have been posted to all your home addresses. We will review these arrangements on a fortnightly basis. I have also been asked to inform you that there is “scam” going around at present. Some people are contacting you by either phone, text or email asking for your bank details to transfer credits into your account in respect of free school meals. Please DO NOT give your bank details. This is a scam. Our schools will never ask for those details.
I’ll do my best to try and make sense of the, at times, muddled messages. We are reviewing all arrangements on a daily basis. I’ll continue to post so that you are well informed. I wrote last week about our guiding principle. This hasn’t changed – our decisions will be based on keeping our children, young people and staff safe through this unprecedented time.