19th March 2020
You will be aware by now of the decision yesterday evening to close schools by the end of tomorrow. We have been working hard on getting things ready for just such a situation over the last week. We are so proud of how well our students have dealt with the changing situation in such an unprecedented way. Your support for us as we deal with this has been very welcome. The LSU school values have shone through in so many ways this week, and it just goes to show how resilient and supportive the St Anne's community is. The most important thing to say is that we will not cease to be a school community. We are moving from a traditional school model to a "dispersed school" approach, and that we want to be able to continue to serve our pupils and parents in whatever practical way we can, given the national restrictions.
Contents of this letter
Plan for tomorrow for ALL year groups, including years 8 and 9
We expect years 7, 10, 11, 12, and 13 to be in tomorrow. We are very conscious that we haven't seen pupils in year 8 and 9 since Monday and we would like to see before we close. We invite them to come in tomorrow morning for an assembly to explain how we are going to help them to continue to learn, to empty lockers and to visit the library to get out any books they would like. Year 9 are invited to come in at 08:40 and go to the hall. They will be leaving by 09:30. Year 8 are invited in at 10:10 and will be leaving by 11:00. They are to come in to the school via the quad gates. They do not need to wear school uniform.
We expect years 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13 to attend from 08:40. We ask that year 11 and 13 bring in text books and locker keys so we can store those in case we do not re-open before the summer holiday. Year 11, 12 and 13 will be dismissed after an assembly for each at 02:50. Years 7 and 10 will be dismissed after an assembly at 3:25.
We now know that the summer exam season has been cancelled. It is unclear at this stage exactly how pupils in years 11 and 13 will be awarded their qualifications, but the education secretary has said that they will aim to ensure that no-one is disadvantaged by the change. Although the details are unclear, we have to assume that there will be some form of assessment. As such we will continue to provide work for our year 11s and 13s. Regardless of the assessment, year 11s and 13s will want to be as best placed as possible in terms of their knowledge and understanding when starting their next steps beyond GCSE and A Level, and what they learn now will prepare them well for that. See below for details of how learning will continue when we disperse.
Understandably, pupils in year 11 and students in year 13 have asked about summer events such as the school prom. At this stage, it is unclear when we will be returning, but I want to give an assurance now that whatever happens, we will ensure there is some form of celebration when current restrictions on gathering are lifted. It may be that the prom will be able to go ahead as planned, or we need to defer to a later time, or it take another format. At the moment, we cannot say what those plans will be, but we have already provisionally booked Friday 2nd October as a backup date for the year 11 prom!
Continuing with learning
It is inevitable that learning is about to be severely disrupted for all year groups. There is no way of avoiding this. However, we want to ensure that learning is disrupted as little as possible. To that end, we have launched our new learning platform ahead of time, called Microsoft Teams. Your daughter can access it using www.office.com and also as an app on a smartphone. The login is the same as her login for school computers (firstnamesurname), but with @student.st-annes.uk.com added to make firstname.lastname@example.org. Her password is the same as the one she uses for school. We are excited to be rolling it out, and it has been a little more rushed than we originally planned, but staff have been quickly getting to grips with it this week and it should be relatively intuitive for pupils to use. Years 7, 11, 12, and 13 have had training on it this week, and we plan to train years 8 and 9 on it tomorrow.
Attached is a "how to" guide for your child (and you!) to get on to it and to see what it can do. This will be our main way of communicating work to our pupils, as well as other aspects of the Catholic life of the school through tutor groups and year groups. We want to make it an "online school", not just a list of tasks. We expect students to be accessing it at some point every day during the week to see what has been updated. We do not expect students to be sitting in front of it from 08:40-15:25 every day! If your daughter is having trouble getting on or using it, then email email@example.com to get support. Be aware that not all her classes will be visible at first and that everything she writes is visible to all members of her class, and cannot be deleted, so it needs to be used professionally. See the attachment for more information on how to use it.
To communicate with the school while we are closed, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with generic questions. Also, your daughter's head of year will be checking emails regularly if you have a more specific pastoral matter that you need help with. For safeguarding concerns, our email@example.com email address is available to you and our pupils if they have worries about their safety. Of course, if there is an immediate safeguarding concern during the school closure, you should call the police. We will also be updating our website so please do look there from time to time or for specific information before contacting the school as your question may be answered there. It is unlikely that the phones will be manned so it is better to contact using email as these can be accessed remotely.
Provision for the children of key workers
Further to the government messages last night that schools are to remain open for children of key workers, we would appreciate you emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know if you are a key worker and would require your child being looked after during the school day. We aim for this to be from 10am to 2pm. We would also provide a hot meal. If these timings don't work for you, please let us know so we can consider a change from those if needed. The education secretary gave examples of key workers as NHS workers, emergency services workers, and delivery drivers. We are awaiting further guidance on what classifies as a key worker. If your job is different from these, but is relevant to helping support the national effort in beating the coronavirus pandemic, please also email Mrs Veal and let her know so we can see what the need is and how it compares to the government definition.
Access to free school meals
For all pupils who are able to take free school meals, the government is planning on organising a national approach to providing this. In the meantime, we are offering a hot meal every lunchtime from Monday until such time as other national plans become available, or we have to close our kitchen due to staff absence. Please can you email email@example.com to let us know by the end of Sunday that you would like your child to start this provision. We will assume that this is every week day unless you tell us differently. We are aware that the pandemic might affect jobs and incomes, so if your circumstances change and you would like your child to start accessing a free school meal, then please get in contact. The criteria will be one of the following: If you receive written notice that you have lost your job (we will need to see evidence of this), proof of a benefit claim (for Universal Credit or Housing Credit) or if household income (income of both parents in the household if there are two parents) falls to below £20,000.
To finish, I would like to share a prayer that the LSU sisters have sent us. They send the whole community their best wishes and continued prayers at this unusual time. I wish you and your family all the best, and we look forward to welcoming your daughter or son back as soon as we are allowed.
Yes, there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,………..
………All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness……
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
we are always encompassed by Love.
Lockdown by Richard Hendrick
(Brother Richard) Ireland March 13th, 2020