An update on school opening - January 2020
I sincerely and genuinely hope you have had some rest and respite and want to offer hope for the year ahead for our communities.
I am very aware that many of you as parents will feel very worried about the increase in the number of cases of COVID 19, increased transmission rates of the new variant and what this means for your child, the school and your family. School staff are no different from society generally and of course share your worries and fears. Our job is to listen, to be well informed, to try and reduce risk as much as possible, to plan and to keep you informed of our actions and decisions. We cannot remove risk; it would be untruthful to pretend we can - we can do our very best to minimise, working jointly with you.
As you'd expect I am watching the news and sources of information to see whether there is likely to be a change in decision making about the opening of schools on Monday 4th January 2021 given that Norfolk is now in Tier 4. At this moment the information available to us is that unless our school/area has been identified in the government's new contingency framework (last updated yesterday), that our schools are legally bound to be open. There is mounting pressure from professional bodies for the opening of schools to be delayed.
As I have told you on many occasions, we receive the information from the government at the same time as you and now it is often announced through the press or via 'leaks'. This makes our job very, very hard and the situation exceptionally difficult for families. I want to acknowledge how sorry we are that we have to face a start of term like this, for you, for children and for staff.
I think it is important that staff and families understand that the DFE have used the threat of legal action against schools when they do not comply. It is an extraordinary response in the real meaning of this word. It leaves us with little choice as leaders. Secondly, I think it is vital that we minimise the harm that is caused by some media who portray us as 'demanding' or 'lazy' teachers/school staff. This is so far from the truth and I ask you to question negative press about schools. People that work in schools want them to be open so they can do their jobs well. I am horrified that schools have become persecuted in the press at a time when they have worked relentlessly hard in extremely challenging circumstances. We want to be united with you and for you. We want to be able to collaborate and listen so that we work with mutual understanding for the benefit of the children we serve. We want you to understand our actions and decisions as the best we can do given the restrictions imposed on us often at very short notice.
I am meeting with the heads and deputies later today to discuss what additional measures or changes we will need to be considered and contingencies for possible wider closure. Please be assured when there is a change in formal announcements you will be notified as soon as possible. I would advise you to be prepared for both options. We know how hard sudden closures are for families and children and this is the least desirable option.
Please trust that I really understand the heightened worry, the huge uncertainty and will do all I have within in my resource to help and support you individually, collectively and as a part of our wider public community.
Wishing us all hope for a year that gets better.
Bignold Primary, Angel Road Junior School and Angel Road Infant and