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Letter from Mr Burke 06/01/2021

Published on 6th January 2021



Dear Parents/Carers,

Vulnerable Children and Children of Critical Workers – New Information Required

As you are aware the government made a statement that ‘schools, colleges and early years’ settings will be closed to everyone except children of critical workers and vulnerable children as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.’ This was due to the new covid variant and it was acknowledged that children can act as vectors of transmission.

This is a set of circumstances that we all regret. Having spoken to people who know staff working at the QMC and City Hospital it is sadly necessary if those hospitals are not to be completely overwhelmed. As of January 5th 2021, Fernwood School suffered 258 days of Covid related staff absence. The majority of those absences are likely to have occurred prior to the new Covid variant.

We will be opening to children of critical workers (see below); and vulnerable children. This opening will not be the ‘usual school day format’. Pupils will not be in their normal classes; they will be working at computers and supervised by teaching staff. Teaching staff, supervising those children for that time will set work for their normal classes on google classroom. It is not feasible for staff to supervise and run live lessons. The fewer children in school, the less risk of transmission and the higher the quality of blended learning that can consistently be provided.

IMPORTANT: Parents: What do I now need to do now?

If, as a worker, you think you fall within the critical categories below you should confirm with your employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, your specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service. Your employer should be able to provide you with a critical worker status letter, we acknowledge that it may take time to receive your employer evidence and your child will be able to attend onsite whilst this evidence is being generated.

Please can you send the letter as evidence that you are a critical worker to admin@fernwoodschool.org.uk should you require your child to attend school onsite.

If you consider your child falls into the ‘Vulnerable Pupil Group’ similarly we need to know if you intend to take the place in school under this category. If Mrs Cannon or her team have already contacted you a place is already secure.

If you intend on your child please complete the google form (https://forms.gle/e8rZxiWPweM6mr2q9) by Friday 8th January at 9am, this will help us organise our teaching teams for later in the week. You need to complete this form even if you have previously completed a similar form for the staggered return to school.

Children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers by the government can send their children to school if required, but as said, every child who can be safely cared for at home, should be. We are aware that many schools are stating that there should be 2 critical workers at home before a pupil may come in to school.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors, as outlined below. However, it is important to note that many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Parents are therefore asked to follow these key principles:

  • Every child who can be safely cared for at home, should be.
  • Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.

Critical workers are considered to be:

Parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined in the following sections. Health and social care

This includes, but is not limited to, doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare
This includes:

  • childcare
  • support and teaching staff
  • social workers
  • specialist education professionals who must remain active during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response to deliver this approach

Key public services
This includes:

  • those essential to the running of the justice system
  • religious staff
  • charities and workers delivering key frontline services
  • those responsible for the management of the deceased
  • journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting

Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of:
the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, and the delivery of and response to EU transition
essential public services, such as the payment of benefits and the certification or checking of goods for import and export (including animal products, animals, plants and food), including in government agencies and arm’s length bodies
Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food:

  • production
  • processing
  • distribution
  • sale and delivery

as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines)

Public safety and national security
This includes:

  • Police and support staff
  • Ministry of Defence civilians
  • contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and EU transition)
  • fire and rescue service employees (including support staff)
  • National Crime Agency staff
  • those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas

Transport and border
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and EU transition, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass and those constructing or supporting the operation of critical transport and border infrastructure through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes:

  • staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure)
    the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage)
  • information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response
  • key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services)
  • postal services and delivery
  • payments providers
  • waste disposal sectors

Vulnerable children and young people include those who:

  • Are assessed as being in need under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
  • Have an education, health and care (EHC) plan

However, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 I would reiterate: Every child who can be safely cared for at home, should be.

It is unclear at this time how long this period of closure will actually be, however, we have been advised that it will be until at least the end of this half-term. We will of course let you know as we are told.

Thank you for your support at this difficult and challenging time.

I hope that children of school age and staff can be vaccinated as soon as possible so that school not only remains open but that we can genuinely return to normal.

Kind regards,

Paul Burke
Head Teacher
Fernwood School

Head Teacher – Mr P Burke
The Fernwood School, Goodwood Road, Wollaton, Nottingham, NG8 2FT
0115 9286 326 | admin@fernwoodschool.org.uk
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