Dear Parents / Carers,
As you are aware, Amy Findlay - Head of School, left the school over the christmas break. I would like to take this opportunity to wish her well in her future endeavours.
I would normally be welcoming pupils back into school after enjoying a lovely festive break with friends and families but we have all experienced something a little different this year! I still hope, however, that you were able to keep in touch with loved ones via social media, or over the phone.
Cherry Oak has remained open throughout most of this pandemic resulting in impressively high attendance rates from our pupils and I thank parents / carers for your support in making this possible. Staff have been working tirelessly, both in school and behind the scenes, to ensure the school continues to run smoothly. However, over the festive period the UK has had an unprecedented rise in covid cases with Birmingham being plunged into tier 4 restrictions. This has mainly been down to a new variant which is more transmissible than the original. Most concerning for me is that COVID rates in the 5-9 age group have increased from 93/100k on the 7th December to 125/1000k on the 27th December. We are now seeing rises in this age group in a pattern we did not see in November.
You may have seen on the news several teaching and support staff unions pushing for primary school closures nationwide. Over the weekend unions advised their members that it is currently unsafe to attend work in person under the same conditions before tier 4. This leaves Cherry Oak in a difficult position where we do not have the staffing ratio required to run the school safely.
After many lengthy discussions, the leadership team and I have unanimously agreed a partial reopening is the only viable option for the safety of our staff and pupils. It will also help to ensure that we remain open and provide support for our critical workers and extremely vulnerable pupils throughout this period. This means the school will only be open to children of key workers and selected pupils based on risk. By now, you should have already been contacted by your class teacher to discuss these arrangements. Please get in touch if this has not been the case. Please note: if you choose to keep your child at home throughout this period it will be authorised by the school meaning you will not be penalised.
The partial reopening of school will be assessed on a daily basis although we have initially planned for two weeks. If union advice changes, the infection rate lowers dramatically or we increase our staffing ratio to a suitable level we will of course open up more of the school. On a practical level, children coming into school throughout this period will be grouped into small ‘protective bubbles’ called Pods, of no more than 6 children, areas will be cleaned regularly, children and staff will wash their hands regularly throughout the day and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided for staff. Pupils who are not attending school will be provided with home learning materials. These will be discussed with your child's class teacher.
I have got to admit, this is not the welcome letter I would have wished to send out to parents / carers on my first day. However, it is important to note that even though I'm new to the school I have your child’s safety at the forefront of everything I do. I really hope my next correspondence to you all is something that we can all celebrate together.
I appreciate this may be a worrying time for you and your children, especially as it may mean a delayed start to school. We are here to listen and support the best we can, please keep us updated with how you are doing and engage with your class teacher over learning resources. Please note, there is a list of services available on the school website under parents; Family Support.
I will be in touch again with updates in the coming days. Until then, please take care and please be safe.