Dear parents, carers and families
I trust that you have all been able to have as restful and safe a Christmas as possible. As you will know, new guidance issued from the Department for Education (DfE) yesterday and, as such, I need to update you regarding the following points:
- Delayed return to school – URGENT UPDATE (dated 02.01.21)
On Monday 4th January 2021, Milestone Academy including all satellites will be closed to pupils across all sites to allow for an additional staff training day. This is being done with the full support and approval of the Leigh Academies Trust (LAT), and is needed to enable myself and my staff to:
- Refine our working practices now we are in Tier 4 and have been placed in the Government’s Contingency Framework and
- Prepare colleagues in relation to the DfE guidance on mass testing for all secondary age pupils.
On Tuesday 5th January 2021, we will reopen Milestone Academy to pupils across our whole estate, including all satellites, working to our previously established patterns of arrival and collection.
We will inform KCC Transport of this alteration, but please do feel free to contact your transport provider yourself to ensure that they are aware.
- Catering arrangements for the following satellites only:
Milestone@Dartford Primary Academy, Milestone@The Leigh Academy and Milestone@Wilmington Academy
From Tuesday 5th January to at least Friday 15th January 2021, all of these satellite pupils must bring a packed lunch every day. This is because the catering companies will not be providing a full service due to our host academies only having children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils attending for these weeks.
Any pupils that are entitled to Free School Meals (FSM) are also asked to bring a packed lunch each day throughout this period. A food parcel covering the two-week period will be made available to eligible families during the first week, further information will be sent to affected families next week.
Normal lunches will be provided at our main site in New Ash Green.
- Mass testing for all secondary age pupils
Further information will be sent out next week once we have received resources and training materials, including a consent letter for parents to sign.
I can assure you that LAT have already been very proactive in sourcing practical support, including additional Health Care Assistants, to help this to happen but, as you can imagine, it will still be a logistical challenge to bring this about. Further information about how we will be meeting this challenge will be provided in due course.
I fully understand that not having mass testing in place immediately may cause parents and carers anxiety and, therefore, during this time I will understand if families feel apprehensive about sending their sons and daughters into school and would therefore draw such parents/families to my next point.
- Note on attendance for all pupils
When reading this point please note I can confirm that we are in an area where the ‘contingency framework’ is currently being implemented.
The link to the latest Government guidance is below and was sent out yesterday 30/12/2020:
This states that:
“Where the contingency framework is implemented, special school pupils who are of primary school age should continue to attend school while full-time attendance is mandatory in mainstream primary schools. However, in the very unlikely event that evidence supports limiting attendance in primary schools, attendance is encouraged but will not be mandatory for special school pupils of primary school age and parents will not be penalised if their child does not attend.’’ (DFE guidance 30/12/2020)
“Where the contingency framework is implemented, pupils at special schools who are of secondary school age should continue to attend their education setting full-time. Whilst attendance is encouraged, it will not be mandatory and parents will not be penalised if their child does not attend.” (DFE guidance 30/12/2020)
As before, the following COVID related points continue to apply:
- Any pupils who have any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, must not attend school
- Any pupil who becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), will be taken to a quarantine room, must be sent home and someone must be able to pick up as soon as called
- Pupils and families must follow:
- Clinically extremely vulnerable pupils
The link to the Government guidance is below:
Shielding advice is currently in place in Tier 4, so all children still deemed clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend school.
- Ongoing COVID arrangements as from Tuesday 5th January 2020
I would like to make parents aware that should we have a positive COVID case declared at any point, we may still need to isolate a bubble. Our five step procedures plan (as circulated in my letter dated 20th November 2020 entitled Staying Open Safely) will still remain in place. We will, of course, always aim to keep classes open wherever possible but, unfortunately, we have to apply our risk assessments constantly and sometimes have to take difficult decisions, particularly regarding safe staffing ratios for classes.
Thank you for your ongoing support and understanding in these difficult times. We look forward to seeing your son / daughter on Tuesday 5th January. If your child will not be attending, please follow the normal absence procedure and phone the school on the number above.
May I wish you all a happy New Year.