School Resumes as (the new) Normal

School Resumes as (the new) Normal

Graeme Searle
Graeme Searle
School Resumes as (the new) Normal

The first students started back at Bushey Meads School on Thursday 3rd September.  These were the Year 7 and external Year 12 students so that they could familiarise themselves with the school site without having other students present.  As each day went by we introduced another year group and on Wednesday 10th September, all students were back at school.

I have never witnessed such a calm, orderly and positive start to an academic year in my career to date.  The students have been impeccably behaved and have already established positive routines in accordance with our new systems in place.

As you will be aware, several changes have been implemented at Bushey Meads School as we want to minimise the risk to students and staff as far as possible and keep everyone safe as best we can.  One such change was the staggered start to the year.  Having one year group in each day allowed all staff to focus their attention on a small group of students to ensure that they understood and followed the new routines correctly.

Other changes include staggered break and lunch times so a smaller group of students use the catering facilities at any one time.  Four year groups start their break at 10:45 and each have a separate serving hatch (restaurant serving area 1 / restaurant serving area 2 / the POD / Sixth Form Cafe).  By the time the other three year groups start their break, all four areas have been vacated and wiped down.  The same also applies at lunch time.

For social time at break and lunch, each year group has a specific Year Group Zone that they report to and stay in until lessons resume – students are not permitted in any other area.

Mr Campion (Senior Caretaker) has installed three sinks with hot running water, soap dispensers and paper towels in a central location that all students are allowed to use at break and lunch.  These facilities are staffed to ensure that only one year group uses them at a given time.

Desks in classrooms have been spaced out as far as possible and all are facing the front of the room to ensure that students are not facing each other.  Students have been assigned a specific seat in each of their lessons and are encouraged to enter the classroom as soon as they arrive, collect a surface wipe to wipe the desk and chair and then sit to begin work.  This means that there aren’t lines of students waiting outside in corridors.

School assemblies used to consist of two year groups in the hall at the same time.  This year however we have reduced this to one year group per assembly as this is in line with government guidelines (students within the same year group form a bubble).  House assemblies that used to comprise of students across all seven year groups are now being delivered remotely in Character Development rooms instead of the main hall.

If a student or staff member feels unwell, we follow every published government and Public Health England protocol to the letter.

As you can see, a lot of time and effort has gone into the planning of Bushey Meads School reopening and if you have read the Covid-19 Risk Assessment and School Reopening Plan you will be aware of this.  Life is never completely risk free, but we have minimised it as far as possible while continuing to provide a quality education for our students.

I have a wife and three children of my own and I therefore have a duty of care to keep the members of my family as safe as possible as well.  I would never therefore take any unnecessary risks, but I am confident in the steps that we have taken at Bushey Meads School and as a result feel happy coming into work each day.

I am also going to take this opportunity to ask for your support in putting things into perspective when making decisions.  The start of every academic year is hard – for students and staff – and the shock to our body clock and information processing systems after a long summer break more often than not makes us feel tired and ‘under the weather’.  I already feel physically lethargic and have a runny nose, but I keep checking my health against the published checklist for COVID-19 symptoms and am confident that it is only a mild cold.

As the winter draws in, these types of ailments will become ever more common.  Therefore, students and staff members are going to phone in sick and miss school every now and then, but it doesn’t mean that we have a large outbreak of COVID-19.  As previously stated, we follow every published government and Public Health England protocol to the letter and so if, in accordance with the Track and Trace system, you needed to be contacted, I can assure you it will happen.  For these reasons, please have faith in us.  In this current climate, no news is good news.

I’d like to finish by restating something I started with.  The students have been fantastic so far this year and are a credit to themselves, the school and you as parents or carers.  Please congratulate them and support us in helping them to continue in the same way.

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