I am writing to update you on the situation for school for this term following the recent guidance from Welsh Government. You will be aware that schools have been given Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th January to plan and prepare for a number of eventualities which may occur due to the Omicron variant. There has been a significant increase in positive cases reported in Cardiff in recent weeks and this may impact on teaching and learning at Cathays High as we navigate through the next two months or so.
Neither the Welsh Government, nor the central UK Government, have highlighted the need for the lockdown of all schools and a return to home learning. However, in the Autumn a number of schools in Cardiff and throughout Wales found themselves in the position of having to ask classes, year groups and even the whole-school to work from home for periods of time due to staff absences and/ or a high number of cases in a short period of time. Cathays High was fortunate in not having to resort to such measures and we were able to continue to teach all year groups for the whole term. I am sure that this was in large part due to families, pupils and staff adhering to measures that we kept in place to reduce the risk of catching COVID.
However, it may be necessary for us to resort to home-learning for some groups of students for limited periods during the Spring term. Whilst we are keen to avoid such a situation it may become necessary for us to do so. I will give families as much warning as I can if that becomes a reality. I would ask for your continued support try to avoid any form of home-learning by emphasising to your children the importance of following our risk reduction measures.
The most crucial are:
- Mask wearing in all indoor and communal spaces including the classroom and on school transport (unless your child has a genuine medical exemption and is displaying the sunflower lanyard- we have a limited number of these available should you have lost them over the holidays).
- Sanitising hands and work areas at the start and end of each lesson
- Following the one-way system around the school, including the new block
- Sticking to year group zones in the yard at break and lunchtime
- Undertaking 3 LFD tests per week (school will provide all pupils with LFD tests).
Our students have been excellent at adhering to these health and safety measures since our return from the first lockdown. I am sure they will continue to do so. Our wish is for pupils to remain in school, learning with their teachers as much as possible. This will require everyone to work together to avoid pupil and staff absences from positive COVID tests.
Should we have to ask any groups of pupils to stay home and carry out remote learning activities we will still offer an in-school placements for the children of key workers. In line with Cardiff Council guidelines, we will offer places to health, social care and education workers’ children from the affected groups in the first instance. These children will be supervised in school to carry out the remote learning tasks set by teachers. We will send parents information on how to register for that service in the coming weeks.
In the event of having to choose groups to work from home we will prioritise examination years groups (i.e. Years 10 to 13) to continue face-to-face teaching as much as possible. This is because they have the least amount of time in which to make up any lost teaching before being assessed for crucial qualifications. Whilst it is not ideal for any year group to lose teaching time I am sure you will recognise the logic behind our decision to support students sitting external examinations this year.
Hopefully, our planning here is just us being well-prepared and we are not forced into asking any groups of students to work from home. I look forward to welcoming back all students on Thursday 6th January from the recent holiday. We will be providing them with a health and safety briefing to remind them of the key actions they can take to keep themselves, their families and school staff as safe as possible.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further details or have any questions.