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Change to Christmas Holiday Dates 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

Yesterday afternoon we received a COVID-19 update form the Department for Education (DfE) with new advice on holiday dates and school management of the track and trace process.

The update stated: ‘Schools may wish to use an INSET day, making Friday 18th December a non-teaching day and using the day for staff training which could be delivered online.  Where term would normally finish in the week commencing 21st Dec school’s may wish to consider adjusting term dates to make Friday 18th December the last day of term and bringing forward the start of term in January by the same number of days.  In all circumstances, teaching time must be made up at another point in the academic year.'

This policy change has come very late, with schools having previously been told not to change term dates. The guidance is intended to prevent the need for school staff to be providing a track and trace service and potentially contacting parents instructing them to self-isolate their child on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day itself.  Neither the school nor parents would want to find ourselves in such a situation.

As Chair of Governors, I have taken the decision to follow the Department for Education advice to adjust the published holiday dates for the end of this term.

As our school was due to finish term in the week commencing 21st December I have taken the decision that the last day of term will now be Friday 18th December and children will return on Monday 4th January instead of Tuesday 5th January as previously published. It also means that the additional closure day on Friday May 28th which was communicated recently will now not need to happen and school will be open to children on that day.  These changes ensure that the children will receive 190 teaching days as is statutorily required.

I know that these changes will cause some disruption to the arrangements parents have made and I apologise for that.  We are continuing to follow government advice - as we have done through every stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Term dates are set by governing bodies a year in advance and therefore we could not have anticipated this situation.  The decision to change term dates at such a late stage is unprecedented, however it reflects the seriousness of the situation and greatly reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission and the need to self-isolate during the Christmas holidays.

As part of the guidance update, we have been asked to ensure staff, parents and carers are aware of the following information and relevant arrangements regarding positive cases in the holidays:

  • Where a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in school, the school should not be contacted. Parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.

 

  • For the first 6 days after teaching ends, if a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms within 48 hours of being in school, the school is asked to assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation, as the individual may have been infectious whilst in school.  If your child develops symptoms within 48 hours of being in school please notify Mrs Bland on cbland@stmarysonline.co.uk

 

  • School staff are not asked to remain on-call or conduct any contact tracing more than 6 days after the final day of teaching. Where a school’s last teaching day is on Friday 18th December, there should be no pupil contact tracing beyond Thursday 24th December.

Also in line with this guidance, the email for notifying positive cases, cbland@stmarysonline.co.uk will not be monitored from 5pm on Thursday 24th December and from that point all track and trace responsibility will be undertaken by Public Health England.

I wish to reiterate that the decision to close earlier than planned has been taken with the well-being of all our school community at heart and to minimise the chance of track and trace self-isolation during the Christmas holidays.

May I wish you a happy and healthy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you all safely on Monday 4th January 2021.

 

Best wishes,

 

Ms. L. Laggan

Acting Chair of Governors

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