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All Saints Church of England Junior School

Loving All Our Neighbours

Social Distancing Outside School

Good morning everyone: my Saturday has started with a parental complaint over allegations that children are going home to report that other children are having play-dates and gatherings in their homes contrary to both current and forthcoming social-distancing rules.

While school cannot police what families and children do in their own space and time, I would remind everyone that the coronavirus has not gone away and that, for certain people in our community - if they contract it, the resultant COVID-19 illness could be fatal.

Some, who are sending children into school, are doing so because of the safety assurances we give about how we control the Groups we have, including restricting children's and staff interactions.

Maintaining these Groupings is extremely challenging: children and parents want pupils to be able to swap between groups, for us to restore friendships by being more flexible, to split siblings so that each can be restored to their own peer-groups.

The simple response to all of this is that - one restructure aside to rationalise our service to adjust for low numbers amongst Year 6 pupils and staff availability - it cannot be done. Our service is very close to full and swapping some in and out will have a domino effect. As I said out the outset, there is no room for personal preference and negotiation around our in-school service.

I must consider, first and foremost, the safety guidance I have and that is to preserve the bio-integrity of each Group as best I can.

Children within the in-school Groups are expected to not only follow the rules in school but everywhere else as, to breach them, invites the chance of their being an outbreak of the virus in school, for contagion to spread in our wider community and for someone, somewhere to fall ill and, possibly, die.

All parents and carers are reminded that - because of vulnerabilities in some families - anxiety over this issue is exceptionally high and I would ask them to seriously consider what they are allowing if their families are not fully compliant with the social distancing measures in force at any time.

If, after due consideration, families feel that they cannot comply with the social distancing requirements of wider life, I would ask that - for now - they do not take up in-school places and - instead - revert to home learning using the material that is still posted regularly on ClassDojo and not to risk the welfare and well-being of anyone, and their wider families, who is coming into school.

I know that, for some, this will feel like an impossible demand and an unreasonable position for school to be taking; others will applaud it. For my part, I will do what I can to keep the majority safe and settled.

I do also ask that, if parents become aware of alleged breaches by children, they speak to the relevant parents to try and resolve matters. The personal touch can often sort out issues quickly and ease understanding rather than it coming through the likes of me. It may well turn out that the alleged breach is more to do with a properly socially distanced interaction being misreported and exaggerated between children rather than anything else.

Ultimately, the coronavirus is an unwelcome guest in our lives; one that has already outstayed its welcome but one that is going nowhere for quite some time. Come September, the Government plans that in-school "bubbles" will increase in size to whole classes but - if the surrounding regulations about maintaining bubbles don't change - all the rules and restrictions will remain and, to that end, we are all going to have to get used to them and maintain them for our own sake and that of others.

Equally, it may give me and my colleagues some peace on a Saturday morning!

Thank you.

Keep safe; stay happy; be kind.

Richard D Rhodes,
LOVING ALL OUR NEIGHBOURS - John 15: 12 'This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.'