31st March 2020
Dear Parents/Carers and Children
I hope that you are all keeping safe and well, and are settling into your new routines at home. The school feels very different and we miss you all. Last week and this week class teachers have been arranging their class pages and systems of communication. I would expect this to evolve again for the summer term as we get used to working in different ways.
There are also many weblinks that might be of use. Whilst mentioning online please can you ensure that you have reviewed your home e-safety routines. This was a reminder sent out to schools recently.
Underneath this message I have added a new link to support mental health and well-being.
We've also been putting information and weblinks to resources to support our faith and religious education. These can be found on the 'Our Faith' section on the Key Information tab.
Finally, it will be Holy Week next week and I'm sure that more links will be sent to us. We usually do a special Stations of the Cross Assembly with the children as close as we can to Holy Week. I'll add our Holy Family booklet that you may wish to use at home for your own Stations of the Cross reflection.
Take care, stay safe
25th March 2020
In addition to Fr David’s message below please see a message from Abbott Hugh (link below).
24th March 2020
Like us I am sure that you are adjusting to a new way of doing things. Today I was seeing how school and home interacted in our EYFS class. After Boris Johnson's message to us all last night it is vital that we stay indoors and follow all the latest requirements. I've added a few bits below.
Message from Witham Foodbank
If people would like to donate food or money to Foodbank, they can bring them to the Centre @ Witham Methodist Church (nearly opposite the Catholic Church) on a Friday between 10-12. In these desperate times, we are giving out more food than we are receiving.
22nd March 2020
Dear families of the Holy Family School Community,
I want to assure you, especially at this time, of my love and prayers and know that I am saying Mass daily at home. These are hard times but trust in the Lord and keep the faith. Whatever we have to face we will face it together and hope for brighter times ahead.
God love you all,
20th March 2020
It has been a strange kind of day knowing that we won't see the children for a while. They have all been fantastic, and although they must feel uncertain about what the next few weeks, months will bring, I am so proud of how they have behaved. They are a credit to you all.
I have had to take a difficult decision, and be very strict with which key worker children we can support, in child care provision over the next few days/weeks. The aim of school closures is to reduce the opportunities of us spreading the coronavirus to each other. Schools have held on as long as they could, and the government acknowledged this. Seeing the rapid increase in coronavirus cases they too made the difficult decision to close schools.
My response to help Holy Family keep going for as long as we can, has been to concentrate solely on families with two identified key workers, and those single parent families who had no other support network around them. I would like to thank all those families who supported me in this, and made the challenging decision to speak to their employers, or change their lives around to care for their children at home. In doing so they have allowed their key worker partner, and staff at HFS to last longer to support those families for whom there is no other option.
My thanks go to our staff who have given me their unfailing support and will continue to do so. They are concerned about their families too.
Over the next week staff will be reviewing their class webpages to ensure that we have lots on there for the children to do. Please check the pages regularly for information. We'd love to receive emails with work that your children have done or videos of them talking about it. Send then to the admin email and I will ask Mrs Buet to send them on. If you're in agreement we might be able to put them on the class webpage too.
Thank you everyone. Keeping looking after each other, I know you will.
I have spent much of the morning reading through latest Government, LA and Union guidance about school closure, and who should be offered a child care place in schools. It is summed up by 'every child who can be safely cared for at home should be'. Below is a letter from me explaining how these 'offers' of child care places will operate and also a form for those key workers with no alternatives for keeping children at home. For these families we will do our very best.
From next week we will be offering a very different type of provision than schools usually provide; for these children, it will be about care, not education. This is about keeping our children safe, and allowing key workers with no other child-care alternative, the ability to go to work and care for the sick, or to keep food supply chains moving. All expectations regarding educational provision have been lifted.
Please follow the very latest guidance in social (physical) distancing and keep yourselves and families as safe as possible. Look after each other.
19th March (22:10hrs)
Please see letter below. We still have many things to establish and will update you as soon as we have heard from the government.
At 5.15pm today, the Secretary of State for Education gave a public statement that all state-funded schools in England would be closed from the end of the school day on Friday.
He also indicated that all the GCSE, AS and A-level examinations due to take place this Summer, have been suspended; and that students would be credited for their learning in some other way.
Having indicated that all schools would be closed, he then indicated that they would be expected to remain open for the children of key workers and for those in various vulnerable categories – providing a safe place and access to meals. We are expecting a definition of ‘key worker’ tomorrow from the Cabinet Office. It will take time to determine the nature of this provision. Please contact our office once The definition is published and you fit into this category. This provision will also be affected as more school staff themselves need to self isolate.
Although we have been anticipating such an announcement, and prepared for various scenarios, the limited details so far released raise considerably more questions than answers. You will all have your own legitimate concerns and queries.
The Secretary of State gave no undertaking that schools would be expected to sustain a pattern of normal learning during the closure; rather that any available staff would be expected to support other frontline efforts. Our school response is yet to be determined.
I will be working my senior leadership colleagues, and all staff, and the local authority to clarify as best we can what this announcement means for the school, for our pupils and for you. I anticipate providing more details later tomorrow.
Thank you for your support and for your patience in the meantime.
For the next two days, pupil attendance is expected to continue as normal within the COVID-19 Public Health England guidance.
NHS Guidance to follow
Stay at home if you have either:
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.
Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.
If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
18th March 2020
We have good procedures in school and all is calm with our daily life, with the children being well looked after. Please help us to maintain this by NOT sending your son/daughter into school is they have a cough or temperature. I cannot stress this strongly enough. I appreciate that I am usually saying how important attendance is, but this is a unique circumstance. If your household is having to self isolate for the 14 days we will code attendance as 'Y'. This means that you will not get prosecuted or have any school action taken against you for your child not being in school.
Strictly follow the 14 days isolation. Keep safe. Ask for help from family and friends as necessary.
17th March 2020
Anyone with a temperature or persistent cough should stay at home for 7 days if they live alone or 14 days if they live with others. The whole household needs to isolate themselves under the new guidance.
People who have to isolate themselves or their household should ask others for help if necessary.
You already know that the safety and care of our children has, and always will be, central to our school.
On this page I will add current national guidance, and also local updates (as in what Essex are telling us to do, and also any decisions that we have to make as a school).
Please check the page regularly as it will give you accurate information.
Holy Family aims to remain open as directed by our Prime Minister. We continue to follow all hygiene guidance and remind the children of the need for effective handwashing techniques.
To help me to look after our school community I need:
As none of us know exactly what the next few weeks will bring, it would be prudent to arrange provisional child care cover for your child(ren) just in case. Should the school have to close partially (eg: because too many staff in a given class are having to self isolate), temporarily (eg: for a deep clean), or a full closure (eg: because of a National directive, or local directive from Public Health England) you will be prepared.
If I have everyone communicating effectively we can make informed decisions with the appropriate authorities should the need arise.
I thank you all for your continued support.
A new helpline has been set up to answer questions about COVID-19 related to Education, Staff, Parents and young people.
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
The DFE also states that no school should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless directed to do so by Public Health England.