Covid19- Newsletter update 24/04/2020
Dear Red Kite Parents, Carers and Families,
Firstly, I hope that you are all safe and well. Even after five weeks, it’s hard to comprehend how much life has changed for us all but we should all be proud of how we are coping; even if we have days when we don’t feel like we are. I promised to keep in regular contact with you about the ongoing Coronavirus Covid-19 situation and about Red Kite’s response to the current national emergency. I would like to say here that I am indebted to all of our staff who have continued to work to provide much support to our families and community; they have been truly amazing and your emails thanking us do brighten our days!
Red Kite has been providing educational support and resources for all our children and we will continue to do so during the enforced UK schools’ closures. I have been particularly impressed with the range of innovative methods our staff have been using to do this, some of which have included: staff filming themselves reading stories to their classes and posting these online; providing formal online classroom teaching, mainly for our secondary aged students; sending home resource packs of books and activity sheets and; providing signposts to many external online resources and websites that provide additional activities for children. I hope that you have found these resources to be useful! The videos are a wonderful collection of our school during this time and I hope that you are enjoying seeing both children and staff! This week’s video on ‘Let’s get Physical’ will be out at the start of next week, and week 6’s focus (week beginning 27th April) will be ‘Let’s get Messy’… sorry in advance!!
In my recent letters to you I have emphasised the important role that you as parents and carers can play in supporting your child at home. However, I wish to repeat one key point which is that we do not expect you ‘magically’ to become a teacher overnight! What is much more important for your child(ren) is the time that you can spend with them, perhaps listening to them read or count, spotting patterns, painting, cooking, listening to music and/or helping them to play a musical instrument, or by simply doing a daily PE workout together or carrying out daily chores. Having a daily structure to engage in meaningful family activities provides children with reassurance in these uncertain times, plus it will have the added benefit of preparing them for an eventual return to school.
On the subject of when schools might reopen fully once again, we all need to remain mindful of the likely long-term nature of the current national emergency. The Government announced an extension to the current national ‘lockdown’ for ‘at least’ another three weeks with a review date of 7th May 2020. The spread of the virus appears to be reaching its peak and it will be a good while before the medical evidence supports an easing of the lockdown situation, let alone advising when schools might reopen. Despite current speculation by some political figures (as reported widely in the press and on social media) I must inform you that schools simply cannot reopen fully, until it is deemed safe for them to do so. I am responsible for over 100 children and 80 staff in our school and, within those numbers, there are some children and staff who are currently self-isolating because they (or a family member) have symptoms of the virus. In addition, there is a significant number of children and staff who are following the Government’s advice to undertake a 12 week ‘shielding isolation’ because they have underlying health issues. Given the parallel need for everybody to practise ‘social distancing’ to slow down any spread of Covid-19, then there are far too many risks, both to children and staff, to contemplate an early return date for the full re-opening our school. It is therefore much more likely that schools will remain closed for some time yet, before even a phased return can be considered. I apologise if this is not the news that some of you would wish to hear but I feel it needs to be stated, because ultimately my job is to ensure that every child and every adult in all of our schools, remains safe and well. I hope you will understand and support this.
For those children who are entitled to free school meals (FSM), the Government has now introduced the national free school meals voucher system. I am aware that there have been some technical issues experienced by some of our families while trying to access their vouchers, however I can assure you that these were not due to any school errors. Instead the company providing the vouchers, Edenred, have been experiencing problems, due to the high national demand. At the time of writing this letter, I believe that most of these issues have been sorted but, if not, they should be sorted very soon indeed. The national voucher scheme is for registered FSM children only and I am afraid that it does not cover the Universal Free Meals system, usually provided in school for all children in Key Stage 1, which has been suspended during the closure period. Should you require any support with food and supplies then please do let us know via Samantha.email@example.com
So, please continue to bear with us at this time. We recognise how difficult it is for parents and carers right now – please remember that many of us are also parents ourselves, so we do understand. Our staff are doing all that they can to support you and your child(ren) and will continue to do so. It is important that we don’t underestimate the impact this situation will have had on you all. If, at any point, you are struggling or just want a chat, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Even though we won’t be face to face, you will always have our support. Similarly, if you are worried about anyone else, please let us know.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Together we can get through this.
With my very best wishes to you all as always,