Letter from Headteacher July 20th 2020

Dear Parents/Carers

Looking Forward

We are currently in the process of planning for the full return of pupils to school in September. Once again, our priority will be the health and wellbeing of all our staff and learners. This will be underpinned by a comprehensive risk assessment, which we will share with you before the children return to school.

Our aim is to provide our learners with a full curriculum from September whilst ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to enable us to do so safely. Essentially, the guidance from Welsh Government suggests the establishment of contact groups of around thirty pupils who will remain together throughout the school day. These contact groups will be the individual classes and contact from group to group will be avoided wherever possible.

We will inform you by email when precisely your child will be attending during the first two weeks. Further information regarding the nursery class pupils will follow.

During these first two weeks we will be able to ease our learners into the new routines and provide them with extra attention where necessary to help them overcome any anxieties they may have regarding returning to school. Let us hope that this “New Normal” is temporary, doesn’t last all that long and that an effective vaccine is available so we can get back to the “Old Normal” as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we want the school to run as normally as possible. To this end, we would ideally like pupils to wear school uniform though this is not compulsory. All pupils should wear clean clothes, every day. Our intention at the moment is to continue with breakfast club unless we are advised otherwise. It may be that different classes are allocated different tables in the hall in order to ensure less movement between contact groups.

Providing hot lunches is more of a challenge. It takes an hour to serve hot dinners to the whole school under normal circumstances. If we have to increase the number of sittings and carry out a thorough clean between each one, then the time taken to serve lunch could increase dramatically. To do this and deliver the expected teaching time during the day would be very difficult indeed. We will keep you informed regarding arrangements for dinners.

We will not have a staggered start to the day. If they do not attend breakfast club (if available), your children will arrive at the school gate between 8.50am and 9.00am and will walk onto the playground where they will be met by staff in High Vis jackets. No adults, other than school staff, will be allowed onto the school grounds. All adults should adhere to social distancing and remain 2 meters from each other and avoid congregating at the gates. For the system to work, it is essential that everyone is punctual.

At the end of the day, we will stagger the finishing times for pupils. More information on this and the routines for nursery pupils to follow.

Good hand hygiene and adherence to social distancing are essential. We are seeking guidance regarding hand sanitisers vs hand washing. We need to know if they are as effective as each other. Ensuring that thirty pupils wash their hands thoroughly before entering class in the morning could be time consuming. Hand sanitising could save considerable time if it is as effective. However, throughout the day, regular hand washing will be encouraged. Welsh Government guidance informs us that masks are not necessary except for certain specific tasks such as the cleaning of contaminated areas or while administering first aid.

Our aim will be to provide a full curriculum in September. However, we are still considering whether certain activities will continue, such as PE indoors, collective singing, school trips, visitors to school and so on. We will assess the risks involved and make a decision accordingly.

Visits to school by parents and meetings with teachers will be postponed until it becomes safe once more for them to continue. We lack the necessary infrastructure such as perspex screens and dedicated meeting rooms that would allow this to happen safely. If you have a concern, or wish to discuss any matter with us, then please contact the school via email or phone and we can arrange for someone to contact you.

Looking Back

It has been five months since we went into Lockdown. During that time I have become more and more proud of my colleagues, our pupils, you as parents and the wider school community. What everyone achieved during those five months was incredible. When we first went into lockdown, we quickly repurposed the school to offer childcare for keyworkers and vulnerable pupils. At the same time, the online learning provision was established and this proved very successful and popular with parents and pupils. There was the odd glitch; lost passwords, device availability, tantrums at the kitchen table (parents and pupils!) but working together we rapidly overcame any problems. We learnt a lot, all of us. Our digital skills developed remarkably and they will stand us in good stead as we move forwards towards the new Welsh curriculum in 2022.

We repurposed again and joined the Hub provision over in Dyffryn Road. Again, this proved very successful. One positive side effect of this was that the staff of the four schools involved got to know each other better and this again will benefit us all in the future as we aim to work more closely together across the cluster of Primary Schools in Llandudno.

Then, on the 29th June, we repurposed again and brought the childcare provision back to Ysgol Craig y Don alongside the existing online provision and the Check in, Catch up and Prepare sessions for pupils. The Welsh Government had asked school to provide three sessions for pupils who wanted to come into school in order to Check in with their teachers, Catch up on where they were at with their learning and Prepare for September. Every single pupil who requested the three sessions were provided with three full days of learning, alongside the Childcare provision and the online learning. I am so grateful to Mrs Walsh and Mrs Thay in the office, and to Mrs Lewis, Mrs Durkin and Mrs Williams for all their hard work in the administration and organisation of registers, rotas, timetables, communications with parents and so on and so on. I want to thank all you parents who sent in so many kind and appreciative messages, thanking the staff for the care, compassion and hard work during the last five months. They meant a great deal to all of us. Thank you.

It has been difficult to remain positive all the time during this crisis, and it has been particularly difficult for some. Those who have been shielding must have had some very lonely times and those vulnerable to the worst effects of Covid19 must have experienced a great deal of anxiety. Learners preparing for GCSEs and A levels have had a particularly trying time and our year six pupils have experienced a very disappointing year. No trip to Cardiff, no leavers’ service, no Prom night. I am sure they feel that the whole thing is so unfair. I do feel for them, we all do. But my message to them is this; things will get better. Perhaps not overnight, or by next week, but soon things will get better.

It has been a challenging and difficult time for all of us, but we don’t want to spend too long looking back. Stare into the rear view mirror for long enough and you will soon drive off the road. So let us look forward instead. By September the 14th we will all be back in school together and by that time we will be closer to finding the means to end this crisis. Every day brings us closer to the solution.

Enjoy the summer. Make the most of the opportunities it brings and thank you so much for all your patience and understanding over the last five months.

Be safe, look after each other, and remember:

The greater your storm,

The brighter your rainbow.

Yours sincerely

Iwan Lloyd Jones, Headteacher