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Latest news from around the school

Our weekly message (02 October 2020)

Posted on 02 October 2020 by Mr Roundtree

This week, we’ll kick off with two thank you messages…

Thank you to so many of you who responded to Monday’s message encouraging you to wear a face mask when dropping off and collecting your child from school – it was really good to see the positive response to this so quickly. We’ve tried as best we can to manage the movement of people in and out of school – we’ve got staggered start and end times, for example. Even so, there are still times when there are lots of adults nearby. Wearing a mask can help protect the wearer, and others around. We encourage you to wear a mask when you drop your child off at school and when you collect them at the end of the school day.

Thank you for helping to keep our attendance so high. For the month of September, our attendance rate was 96.8%. The figures don’t include children absent due to the virus (the Department for Education doesn’t require this); nevertheless, this figure is still really encouraging – please keep it up.

Talking of attendance… There’s so much information (and misinformation!) all the time about whether your child should be attending school. The government has produced this letter about when you should book a test for your child.

In addition, here’s a guide from Leeds which might help to support you when deciding if your child should be at school or not:

And linked to attendance… This BBC article about self-isolation is worth a read. It helps to explain self-isolation. The last section is especially useful – it explains the rules for schools:

If someone in a school tests positive, they must be sent home to self-isolate for 14 days. The school will then contact their local public health protection team, who will advise on who else should be sent home. Anyone who has been in close contact with the person testing positive, will be advised to self-isolate for 14 days from their last date of contact.
Sadly in one of our Sphere Federation schools, we’ve had to send a small group of pupils home based on a Covid-19 incident. Thankfully, the advice from the Department for Education (no longer the local health protection team, as stated in the BBC article) was clear and helpful.
If your child does have to stay at home whilst waiting for a test or to self-isolate, you can access home learning for them.

Graphic showing how a family should self-isolate in the same house

Mask up

Posted on 28 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

This morning was the first of the autumn/winter season when I had some frost on my car windscreen. It was also the first morning standing at the gate that I noticed water vapour from my breath (read this article with your child about ‘seeing’ your breath on a cold morning).

It’s that second observation that made me think even more about the importance of wearing a mask, even when outside if there are other people nearby.

The water vapour from my breath seemed to spread quite a distance. If that’s the case, the virus might also spread quite a distance as we breathe.

I’m not making any scientific conclusions about coronavirus here. What I am doing is encouraging you to consider wearing a mask as you drop off and collect your child.

At school, we’ve tried as best we can to create some one-way systems. Even so, there are still times when there are lots of adults nearby. Wearing a mask can help protect the wearer, and others around.

Our weekly message (25 September 2020)

Posted on 25 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

When the Government planned their guidance for the full return for schools in September, it was on the basis that Covid-19 would be contained effectively, with their Test, Track and Trace system up and running effectively. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Schools across the country are having to close bubbles far earlier than had been anticipated. This week, the BBC news site reported that ‘The number of schools in England sending home groups of pupils because of Covid-19 incidents has quadrupled in a week’. We’ve been fortunate enough not to have to do this yet, but I suspect it may only be a matter of time before we do. (In fact, the National Schools Commissioner predicted yesterday that partial closures ‘will continue until we have a vaccine’.)

Just as important are the numbers of individual children who are staying at home to self-isolate. If the testing service was working better, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but sadly we’re seeing children absent for four or more days while they wait for test results – all negative so far, thankfully, but the wait is just too long. That means we’re having to rush ahead with home learning provision.

Our new home learning page sets out learning for the week ahead. New content will be published by 08.30 on Mondays. The teacher isn’t available to prepare recorded lessons because they have a class to teach in school, so we’re using a mix of learning activities that are linked to what’s happening in class:

  • online lessons such as those from White Rose Maths (which we often use in class, so the teaching and learning should be very familiar), Oak National Academy, and BBC Bitesize
  • activities and ideas that link to some direct activities in class
  • some more general activities that will be familiar to your child, such as ‘RIC’ (retrieve, interpret, choice), reading fluency and Time Tables Rock Stars

Like you, we’re learning about the process as we go along. Things aren’t perfect but we’re trying hard to get things right as quickly as we can.

A free school meal while self-isolating

Your child is entitled to free school meals for two circumstances:

  • for financial reasons, or
  • your child is in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 and are therefore entitled to universal infant free school meals

In either situation, your child can have a free ‘grab bag’ lunch provided whilst they’re isolating at home – you just need to make sure you can collect the lunch from school. Please let us know if you want to do this.

More guidance about Covid-19

Public Health England has produced a letter for parents which explains when a person requires a coronavirus test and what the symptoms of coronavirus are. The intention of the letter is to help prevent children being taken out of school unnecessarily and answer some of the questions parents may have around testing.

Last week, we provided you with this information already: this guide sets out nine different scenarios if your child, or someone in the household, has symptoms of Covid-19. The guide tells you what you need to do and when your child should come back to school.

Bagel bar

Posted on 25 September 2020 by Miss Beatson

On Monday, our bagel bar will be opening at 8.30am. You can bring your child to school for a breakfast bagel free of charge. This will be available Monday to Friday until March 2021.

This is part of a Covid response under the National School Breakfast Programme.

Our school has signed up to receive free healthy breakfast food as part of the Covid response offer, under the National School Breakfast Programme (NSBP), which is being delivered by the charities Family Action and Magic Breakfast.

Reception, Years 1 and 2 will enter through the main door at the office. Years 3-6 will enter school through the playground gate as normal. Please remember to follow social distancing guidelines when dropping off your child.

We look forward to welcoming lots of children to our bagel bar next week!

Covid-19: What to do if...

Posted on 19 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

There’s such a lot of information about Covid-19 that it’s sometimes easy to get confused.

To help, we’ve produced this guide which sets out nine different scenarios if your child, or someone in the household, had symptoms of Covid-19. The guide tells you what you need to do and when your child should come back to school.

(We’ve also included the guide in our Autumn for All booklet – it’s on page 15.)

Our weekly message (18 September 2020)

Posted on 18 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Well, we’ve made it to the end of Week 2 without having to temporarily close down a class or even the whole school. Sadly, quite a few local schools haven’t been so fortunate. Whilst the government is determined that primary schools remain open in any form of lockdown (and we absolutely share this determination), please do continue to be really careful:

  • hands – wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors), and stick to the rule of six, too

Letter from Leeds City Council

This letter from Councillor Saleem Tariq, OBE (Director, Children and Families) and Jonathan Pryor (Executive Member for Learning and Skills) is for you. Please read it. It includes three important ways to support you, your child and us to stay safe.

Home learning

Your child might have to self-isolate. This might be because someone in the family is displaying symptoms or if they’ve had a test and it’s positive (which means the person has Covid-19). It might be because someone in their bubble at school has a confirmed case.

We’ve been working hard to set up a way to support your child at home. If your child has to self-isolate, our teachers are starting to provide an overview of the teaching and learning for the week ahead. It’s still early days, but check out the new Home Learning page in our Learn More section.

Covid-19 tests and symptoms

Getting a Covid-19 test has proved a challenge for many this week. We’ve heard that a batch of available slots become available at different points during the day, so keep trying throughout the day (we’re told trying for slots after 8pm might be more successful, so don’t give up towards the end of the day).

Earlier in the week (14.09.20), we reminded you of the Covid-19 symptoms and made the distinction between a common cold and Covid-19. This BBC article really helps to explain the difference well. We especially like this table…

Symptoms chart

Newsletters

Very many of you have told us how much you appreciate the communication from school in the last few months – thank you.

In these busy times, we’re going to trial not sending home half-termly newsletters. There are quite a few drawbacks with paper copies of the newsletters, including:

  • it uses a lot of paper – not good for the environment
  • it costs a lot – the costs for printing are high and continue to increase
  • it takes up a lot of time – especially for people in the school office (who are currently busier than ever with tasks related to Covid-19) and for teachers who are working on home learning for children self-isolating

Instead, teachers will continue to post lots of class news and school leaders will continue to send messages such as this one.

This is a trial for the next few half-terms. During the trial, please do send us your comments and concerns – speak to the Head of School or drop us an email: headofmoortown@spherefederation.org

And finally…

…this week, here’s the latest edition of the Leeds and West Yorkshire Families magazine. This was a popular addition to our daily messages before summer. In this edition, we especially like the 18 recommended new books and the face-to-face/virtual classes and clubs…

Keep talking to us if you’ve any questions, comments or concerns. Have a really good weekend, staying as happy and healthy and safe as you all can be.

What are the Covid-19 symptoms?

Posted on 14 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

In the Autumn term, it’s quite common for children to pick up a bug along the way – colds, for example. After a long period of isolation away from others, maybe this is even more likely if our immunity thresholds are lower. We’ve got quite a few children absent from school today, but not necessarily with Covid-19 symptoms.

The NHS list these as the three symptoms:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

It’s the cough symptom that might be trickiest. To help, do read the description: ‘this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours’.

A blocked or runny nose isn’t a symptom listed on the NHS website so we’d still expect this person to be in school.

There are two really important ways to protect your primary-aged child from Covid-19 (and other illnesses):

  • wash your hands more often, and for longer – is your child doing this as a matter of routine at home?
  • social distance – are you and everyone in your family aware of the rule of six?

Our weekly message (11 September 2020)

Posted on 11 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Thank you for all the positive comments we’ve received about our daily messages before summer. For the time being, we plan to continue these, but just on a weekly basis. We’ll continue to post other, occasional messages on the website and send other emails, too.

Wow! What a brilliant first week. Our children have returned to school so happily – it’s been an absolute joy to see the smiles on their faces as they arrive at school. Teachers report how impressed they’ve been with how our children have settled. You should feel very proud about how you’ve supported your child so well over the last few months.

We’ve made two important updates to our Autumn for All guide for parents and carers – we’ll tell you about these in this message.

Homework

It’s Friday so your child will be coming home with a homework task: we’re setting weekly homework as we normally do. The key difference here is that Homework Books should stay at home for the time being.

Just as normal, the tasks are posted on the website. Instead of the task pasted into books, children take home a piece of paper with the task on, too. The tasks are a variety of Talk Time, Practice Makes Perfect and Creative, but especially the first two.

Parents can email a picture of the completed task (or task in process) or update about a completed task. (Lots of you were doing this with the home learning tasks we set in Spring and Summer terms). The homework will be reviewed in school, so some pictures would be good!

Emails

Talking of emails, we’re happy for you to continue to use this as the main way for you to speak with your child’s teacher. This might be to send a picture or description of the homework task (rather than sending the Homework Books back to school), or to ask a quick question – the sort of thing you’d normally say to the teacher at the start or end of the day.

We’ve strict policies in place around safeguarding and staff workload, so we’ve agreed a short policy about this – please see page 12 of the Autumn for All guide.

The rule of six

The other update to the Autumn for All guide is reference to the government’s updated rules on social distancing:

When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
  • meet people outdoors where practical: meeting people outdoors is safer than meeting people indoors because fresh air provides better ventilation

Limits on the number of people you can see socially are changing. From Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors.

From 14 September – when the new rules apply – it will be against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble). The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

We know you support us in prioritising the safety of all our pupils, parents and staff. If we have concerns, we may have to ask a parent / carer to collect their child from school, possibly to self-isolate for 14 days or until they can provide evidence of a negative test result for Covid-19. This is because we have to be confident children can attend school in a way which does not undermine the safeguarding of others.

Please read pages 13-14 of the Autumn for All guide for more about this.

How to get a test

The main symptoms of Covid-19 are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

If you or your child is displaying even just one of these symptoms, arrange a test online or call 111. You can get a test by post, at a drive-through or walk-through, or at a mobile testing unit.

Please remember that a high temperature is one of the symptoms of Covid-19. Whilst a high temperature can mean lots of other more minor illnesses, please be cautious: don’t send your child to school (and don’t just hope that some Calpol will help!).

Thank you and well done

We started this week’s message with some thanks to you because your child has returned to school happily and healthily. This is a reflection on how well you’ve been supporting them at home.

Here are some other ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ messages from us to you…

  • Thank you for coming into school as close to the new timings as possible – this has really helped to keep numbers in school low.
  • Thank you for keeping your distance from others so well – we know it’s tempting to have a chat, but we’re grateful you’re helping to protect yourselves and everyone else by social distancing.
  • Thank you for just having one adult drop off and collect; again, this helps to keep numbers low.

And finally a big one: the prime minister announced this week that attendance in England’s schools was at about 90% this week. At 97.9%, we’re way better than that! That’s absolutely amazing attendance!

Since March, you’ve supported your child so well. It’s clear from their happy and healthy start to the new school year. Again: thank you and well done. Have a good weekend.

Own It app

Posted on 08 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Has you child got a mobile phone? If they have, do the have the Own It app from the BBC?

The Own It app helps children and young people take control of your online life. It gives them advice when they need it, in real-time as they type. It’s designed to help them make smart choices, feel more confident, and live their best life online.

The Own It app comes with a special keyboard. This can be used like any other keyboard, but it also gives users helpful tips and friendly advice as they write.

There’s also the ability to track how they feel and improve their wellbeing. There are plenty of gifs and emojis so users can express themselves.

The Own It keyboard and app is personal to the user. Everything your child types is kept completely private, and never leaves the Own It app on their phone.

A summer message (03 September 2020)

Posted on 03 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Today, our teachers are all back, busy preparing classrooms and lessons. We’re all looking forward to welcoming your child back on Monday 07 September.

This morning, we’ve virtually met with colleagues across our federation to consider the key elements in Maths that we need to teach lots of so that children can successfully catch up and consolidate their learning. Later on today, we’ll do the same for Reading.

From next Monday, there are staggered starts and ends to the school day to help social distancing. Read more about this in our Autumn for All guide.

Unlike June and July, we won’t be asking every parent if they’ve been social distancing, but we do need you to be careful to respect the current government guidance. We therefore encourage you to do what you can to reduce the number of contacts your child has, follow the guidance, and socially distance where possible.

In terms of dropping off and collecting your child, for example, you might want to restrict this to someone in your household or someone who regularly visits. Walking to school rather than using a car would be better as the virus is harder to catch in the open air.

Please aim to stick to your allocated drop off / collection time, too, so the numbers of people around school are as low as possible.

One new point in the Autumn for All guide is to make sure that someone from your own household is available to collect your child quickly if they’re at school but displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (or have any other, more ‘normal’ illness, like a cold, too). You might want to discuss this with your employer.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all again.