We are nearing the end of what has been an unusual first half term to say the least. I would like to thank you and all the staff here at the school for all the support, patience and understanding you have shown us over the last seven weeks or so. I also want to give a huge shout out to our pupils who have returned to school in such a positive frame of mind. It has been especially challenging for them. Essentially, up until September, most of them had spent little time in school during the previous six months. Coming back to school has presented its own, unique challenges this year, what with the new routines and expectations due to the Covid-19 measures we have in place and the anxiety they must surely be feeling, inundated as we all are with bleak news headlines and bad news constantly pouring from the media.
Our goal, our mission if you like, was to make the school experience as normal as possible whilst doing what we can to keep everyone safe from this awful virus. I have always said that our first objective was to get to half term without having to close any classes or bubbles. I do not want to tempt fate, but we are nearly there. I know that closing classes and sending pupils home for a fortnight would cause huge upheaval for you as parents and your employers. We are doing all we can to avoid this.
We reduced the contacts between different groups of pupils by adopting the Contact Group approach. Essentially, we treat each class as a contact group and avoid, as much as we can, pupils mixing from different groups. Pupils take their lunches at their desks in class and I wish to thank the team in the kitchen for the work they are doing in providing a hot meal for our pupils in their classes. We have staggered start and finishing times. I know that it may seem as though it is taking an eternity to drop your children off in the mornings, but is important that we continue to be careful and vigilant and ensure that all pupils arrive safely and are symptom free. Again, I thank you for your patience. Extra cleaning is taking place during the day, focusing on frequently touched surfaces, in an attempt to reduce the risk of transmission.
We are constantly reviewing the measures we have in place and tweaking our approach. One area of the school day which is causing us concern is lunchtime now that the weather is changing for the worse. Essentially, with wet weather, it is a long time for pupils to sit in their classes over lunchtime when it is raining outside. We do try to let them play outside as much as we possibly can, but it is inevitable that as winter draws in this will not always be possible. Therefore, we have made the decision to reduce the length of the lunchtime break and to finish the school day a little earlier. This change to the end of the school day will only affect the pupils in junior classes from year three to year six. After the half term, from Tuesday 3rd November, (Monday 2nd is a training day) pupils in years three and four will be leaving at 3.10pm and pupils in years 5 and 6 will be leaving at 3.15pm. Hopefully, for many of you, this will also mean that you don’t have such a long delay between collecting your children from the infants and meeting your children from the juniors.
Our success in keeping pupils in school where they belong depends on three key factors:
- Keeping the virus out of school. We can only do this with your full cooperation. If your child exhibits any of the listed Covid-19 symptoms then they should not come to school and everyone in the household should follow the self-isolation and testing guidelines.
- Hands, Face, Space.
- Staying two metres away from each other. All of us, all the time, everywhere. This is essential. If we cannot maintain that distance of two meters from others, then we should wear appropriate protection such as a mask. They are mandatory in certain circumstances, we should all follow the advice. Good hand hygiene is also vital. Twenty seconds with soap and water or, if that is not possible, by using hand sanitizer.
- Reducing the numbers of contacts between everyone in school. We have pupils organised into contact groups within their classes. Staff do not car share, numbers in the staffroom are limited to a maximum of five and for the time being, visitors to school are very limited and strictly by appointment only.
Due to the restrictions that are in place, it will be impossible to conduct face to face meetings with parents this term. However, we will be corresponding with you soon with an initial review of your child’s progress this term. They will be sent to you on the 13th November.
I want to thank all the staff here at the school for all that they, and the pupils, have achieved this term so far, despite the difficult circumstances. Here is just a small selection of the activities that have taken place since we came back to school in September.
Boat building in the school garden, time capsule making, skeleton constructing, science investigating, film-making and much more! Despite the current circumstances, Ysgol Craig y Don staff have continued to provide our pupils with exciting and memorable learning experiences.
As we’re unable to gather in the hall for assemblies at the moment, the classes have been taking it in turns to create weekly videos to share across the school, from Nursery to Year 6. So far, our assemblies have been based on:
-‘The Go Away Bird’ – friendship
-Yom Kippur – the importance of saying sorry
-‘Ruby’s Worry’ – how to cope when you’re feeling worried
-World Mental Health Day – how to cope when you’re not feeling yourself and how to support others
Our virtual assemblies have helped us to feel more connected across the school and all pupils and staff have enjoyed watching the videos and discussing the important topics. We look forward to seeing more after the half term break!
Well done everyone. Thank you to all those in Ysgol Craig y Don, both staff and pupils, for all their hard work and dedication. The respect and the compassion they have shown toward each other have made the school feel like a family again.
Finally, I would like to thank you, our parents, for all the kind words and positive remarks we have received during what has been a complex and challenging time. They really do mean so much and we value your support. Let us hope that this crisis does not last too much longer. Look after yourselves and stay safe.
Iwan Lloyd Jones, Headteacher.