Letter to parents and carers 11 March 2021
Dear Parents and Carers
By now you will be aware that schools in Wales will begin to welcome pupils back to school next week. You will also have seen the letter from Helen Morgan-Rees, Director of Education for Swansea, which outlines the approach that is being taken by Swansea schools.
Just for you to be aware, secondary headteachers in Swansea were very keen for there to be a unified approach across all the authority’s secondary schools in order for there not to be confusion amongst parents and in order to prevent unhelpful comparisons being drawn between schools.
Consequently, all pupils in Years 11 and 13 will return to Olchfa on Monday, March 15th. All pupils in Years 10 and 12 will return to Olchfa on Thursday, March 18th. Once these year groups are back in school they will stay back in school for all of their time. Remote learning will stop for those year groups at the point at which they return to school.
Key Stage 3 pupils will have the opportunity to ‘check in’ with their teachers at Olchfa during the last week of term. We have decided here to go with the same dates as our immediate neighbouring schools, Bishop Gore and Bishopston. Therefore, all Year 9 pupils will come in for one day only on Wednesday, March 24th, all Year 8 pupils on Thursday, March 25th and all Year 7 pupils on Friday, March 26th.
All pupils in all year groups will follow their normal timetables when they return to school. The only difference will be a slight extension to the registration period to allow Key Stage 3 pupils, in particular, to have some catch up time with their form tutors.
The ‘landscape’ that pupils will return to is very similar to that which operated in September. It is outlined in the document attached. The main change in advice is around face coverings. We are now required to encourage pupils to wear face masks in classrooms and when moving around inside the school (where social distancing between them is not possible) but not when they are outside. Please note that teachers continue to be expected to distance themselves socially from pupils and from each other in the way that they did in September, for example using the space(s) allocated to them at the front of classrooms etc.
All of the other advice remains essentially the same, including the advice around hand washing, good ventilation in rooms and so on.
Please note that there is one difference between Olchfa and most other Swansea secondary schools. Catering provision in other schools is mainly provided by the local authority which is not in a position to recommence food provision until after Easter. At Olchfa, we manage our own catering provision and have made the decision to make food available to pupils in the normal way from Monday, March 15th. I hope you see this decision as a positive one.
You will have heard a fair bit of commentary and debate about Lateral Flow Testing in schools. We are not yet sure of the position in relation to LFTs for pupils and expect guidance at the end of the week. Testing will certainly be voluntary in this regard and there is no obligation to be tested.
If you are anything like me, you will welcome this opportunity to get back to some sort of normality. Only time will tell whether this national decision is the right one and whether it is happening at the right time. All I can say is that our pupils need to be back in school, that Covid appears at last to be beginning to turn some kind of corner and that the vaccination programme is beginning to protect us all. As for the rest, we must just continue to show empathy for each other, respect each other’s sensitivities and continue to act, as far as we are able, with courtesy and respect as we navigate our way out of this thing that has cast such a shadow over us this past year.
I hope, as always, that this communication finds you safe and well.
With warm wishes