As you may have seen in the media, on Tuesday the Department for Education (DfE) gave schools the late option to close on Friday 18th December 2020 for staff training. Southend Borough Council have also provided recommendations regarding the possible closure, in order to reduce the burden on staff involved in contact tracing for school.
Due to the late notice of this, and having carefully considered the implications a closure would cause for families, I can confirm that Chalkwell Hall Junior School will be OPEN as planned on Friday 18th December 2020.
The reasons for this decision are:
- A closure would be at very short notice for parents to arrange child care or get time off work, especially given the time of year and Covid-19 restrictions limiting the crossing of household bubbles. Training day dates are often set a year in advance for this reason, and we don’t want any families to lose out financially.
- We carefully considered the possibility of a remote learning day. While we are happy with the remote learning systems we have in place via Teams, we cannot guarantee access to appropriate devices for all pupils across the school in the same way we can in our contingency plans should a bubble or two close. The extra pressures that remote learning can cause for parents was also a consideration in our final decision.
- Having consulted our staff, the team were already prepared to be in school on Friday as was originally planned. Our team have also planned a number of fun lessons and events into the final week of term, which we do not want the children to miss out on. They have already missed so much this year that we want them to enjoy the little extras we can offer around Christmas time in school.
- The DfE reasoning for offering the option to close is to support staff that would be involved in contact tracing, by reducing the time they need to be ‘on duty’ should a positive case be identified in the days immediately after the end of term. For our school, this impacts on myself and Mr Birkinshaw. We had both already planned for and were happy to be on duty up to Christmas Eve so that school could continue as normal for our children, families and staff.
This is a decision we have thought long and hard on over the last 24 hours, consulting with our staff and governors, many of whom are parents at the school. We have also consulted other local schools, some of which are staying open and others which are closing, based on the correct decision for their individual school’s context.
We are aware that Chalkwell Hall Infant School have made a different decision regarding a closure, and we hope that you support both schools in recognising the reasoning behind their respective decisions. Should these different decisions cause an issue for any Junior child, we are willing to discuss this on a case by case basis.
As a result of the Infants’ closure, the school kitchen will be closed on Friday 18th December. We will therefore be unable to provide a school lunch on that day and we ask all children to come with a packed lunch. If your child is eligible for Free School Meals, and would need a packed lunch providing by the school, please contact the school office staff as soon as possible so that we can make appropriate arrangements.