Sunday 22nd March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers ,

 

TIME TO SHIELD THE VULNERABLE

I am writing to you to ensure that you know the St Oswald’s and Bedeburn position on school closures.

It is not acceptable for any child to arrive at either school tomorrow unless they have been specifically contacted by us because their parents have identified themselves as Key Critical workers or they have been invited specifically by us following government instructions.

The only exception to this is if you are a Key Critical worker who has not already contacted us or your child has an immediate safeguarding concern.

The Government now instructs that the childcare that schools provide from Monday should be a last resort as children are safer to remain at home.

I know that this is different to what was publicised on Friday. The change in emphasis is because when the Government have looked closely at who should be part of the Key Worker groups the number of roles is much bigger than they expected and therefore the number of children potentially being cared for by schools is much larger than expected.

The guidance the Government released yesterday contains the following expectations:

“The most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they SHOULD, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. The fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

Schools, and all childcare providers, are therefore being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.

Since Friday leaders of both schools have had conversations with a number of parents that suggest a misunderstanding of what schools have been asked to provide and when children should access it.

Some common corrections include:

  • Schools are not providing education, they are providing child care
  • Children should only come into school if parents have absolutely no other option
  • Children should not come in because they or parents would prefer it to staying at home
  • Children should not come in because they want to be with their friends
  • Children should not come in because they will get bored at home
  • Children will not be taught when they are in.

I want to ensure that we are able to provide a safe environment for the children of Key Workers who have no other option but to rely on the school provision. As well as this, I must ensure I fulfil my duty of care to the available staff.

I am concerned that, due to misleading information in the media, more children than absolutely necessary will be in schools, putting the health of other children and school staff at unnecessary risk.

In a nutshell, I do not want any child in school unless absolutely necessary. Please note, we are still experiencing high volumes of correspondence with us. Only contact the school via any means, if your query is essential.

The government slogan is

Stay at home

Protect the NHS

Save lives

As Boris Johnson said on Saturday, “The numbers of deaths are stark, and accelerating. As a country we are dealing with unprecedented challenges for the NHS”

Today, he said. ‘‘The time has come to shield the vulnerable. We must all make sacrifices’’ ”

The reason we are taking these unprecedented steps… is of course that we want to save thousands of lives.’’

At Bedeburn Primary and St Oswald’s CE VA Primary we want to protect the NHS and we want to save lives. I am pleading with you, if you can, please stay at home. This unprecedented situation will pass; we can do something now to reduce suffering in our school, our families and our wider community.

 

Thank you for your support

 

Helen Smith

Headteacher