SCHOOL CLOSURE

Dear Parent/Carer

It looks like there may be a technical issue/overload with Parentmail and messages are taking longer than usual to get through. Here is the message sent out today at 13.34p.m.

Dear Parents/carers,

Kirsty Williams, the education secretary for Wales all schools will close by Friday at the latest. We have been asked by Claire Homard, Chief Officer to inform you of this, so that you can prepare yourselves. As to when we will close has not been decided yet as we are waiting further clarification from her.

These are unprecedented times, I hope everyone in our community stays well.

We would , however, appreciate it if you did not phone the school at the moment as we are trying to keep all lines of communication open.

I will be in touch soon.

Mrs Stephens

 

As of 15.15 pm

Dear parents/carers,

Kirsty Williams, has made a further announcement about school closures, which can be found using the following link

https://media.service.gov.wales/news/school-closures

Currently the directors of Education from across Wales are asking the education minister what this means in practical terms. I will update you as soon as there is clarity.

Kindest of regards

Anna Stephens

18.03.20 19.15 pm

Dear Parents/Carers,

A week ago I would not have believed that today, I would be writing to you to inform you that schools across the nations will be shutting their doors to the vast majority of their pupils and that St John’s will be no exception.

Apart from our prime minister’s recent announcement at Downing Street, I have received no further clarity of what our school will look like on Monday.  I believe that the local authority are currently meeting to work out the finer details and will release further information to headteachers across Flintshire either later tonight or at some point tomorrow.  This delay can be frustrating when we are all desperately trying to take back some control and make sense of our daily lives.  Once again, I will inform you of what St John’s will look like from next Monday, once I have clarity from our LA and have spoken to our Chair of Governors. 

I would like to thank our wonderful staff especially for the teamwork they have displayed recently.  Since Tuesday, many of our support staff had to be sent home as they were classed as “vulnerable.”  The biggest impact of this has been in class 1, where we simply do not have the staff (and can not get more supply staff) to cover tomorrow’s nursery session.  Therefore we have no alternative but to close our nursery sessions for tomorrow and Friday.  Ideally I would have like to have given you a bit more notice about the cancellation of the nursery sessions, however, this is not a normal time, so I am sorry for the short notice.  At the moment, the rest of the school, including Little Disciples will be open as normal and we aim to be open on Friday too.

As promised earlier, I will be keeping you informed of developments as soon as feasible.

Stay safe and see many of you tomorrow.

Kindest of regards

Mrs Stephens

19.03.20  12.22

Dear parents/carers,

Re: Coronavirus update – school closure to most pupils

Following on from my last update, I’m now writing to let you know that we have now been instructed to close the school to almost all children after this Friday until further notice.

We are waiting for the government to publish more information on what this means, but the LA wants to find out from our parents if your child may fall into one of these categories:

  1. Medical professionals including doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics etc.
  2. Other health workers - such as employment in a medical/health setting
  3. Community safety - police force and fire brigade
  4. Education - teachers, classroom support staff, school cleaners/caretakers etc
  5. Workers in childcare/early years settings
  6. Social care/domiciliary care works
  7. Council staff who will be involved in key roles e.g. streetscene operatives, drivers, school escorts, catering staff etc

 

Please email jbmail@hwbmail.net with the following details:

  1. Your name
  2. Your child’s name and class
  3. Your occupation

This is a matter of great urgency – please send this through by the end of the school day please.  I have a tight deadline as Flintshire LA desperately need all the relevant information by tomorrow morning.  Please share this letter on all your social media sites you have!

More updates will follow, but this needs to be addressed first.

Thank you for not phoning the school – we have been able to focus on essential school work.  St John’s is an amazing community and we are lucky to be part of it.

I’ll be in touch.

Anna Stephens

19.03.20 18.30

 

Dear parents/carers,

I hope everyone is keeping well.  I have had a little more information regarding what will be happening next Monday.  What I, have I will share with you now;

  1. Some schools in Flintshire being referred to by the LA as “a hub base” will be open, from Monday 23rd March to a select group of children.  Today we have been asked to gather information regarding the occupation of key workers/front line staff (please read the letter I sent via parentmail at lunchtime today) this gathered information will be sent to the LA tomorrow and they will make decisions on who will be able to attend, this will not be the headteacher’s decision. 
  2. Our statutory national curriculum has been suspended.
  3. At a later point in time, the LA may want to offer this childcare facility to other children, based on the need of the nation at that point in time.
  4. For the next two weeks fit and healthy leaders, teaching staff and support staff will be expected to work together at a resilience hub.  We are waiting for further clarity on this.

Many questions still remain which include Kirsty Williams’s reference to additional needs, vulnerable  and Free School Meals children.  We do not know where the hubs will be or their opening hours. I expect this will be clarified before Monday.

Homework and distance learning

Despite staff shortages, meaning that teachers have had to cover before school clubs, breaktimes, lunchtimes, cleaning duties and supervising hand washing/good hygiene practices, the staff have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure your child/ren can still access work at home.  You may have seen universities on the news conducting home lectures using the latest technology.  Please understand that St John’s is a small village school with financial pressures, who will be attempting distance learning for the first time (as will most schools in the UK).  More details regarding distance learning will be released via email/text messages over the forthcoming weeks.  Next week, God willing, the staff will have chance to meet and receive online digital training to implement distance learning.  Our longer term aim at the moment is for our foundation phase children/parents to access their seesaw accounts and for our junior pupils to access their hwb accounts.  We are also looking into google classroom.  We decided to stay open until Friday as we wanted to spend as much time as possible with your children, as ever we have put the children first so please now give time for our teachers to train for distance learning.

In the meantime, teachers have prepared physical homework packs which will be given to your child/ren tomorrow, if your child is not in school then you may collect from the school gate from 1.15 pm onwards.  If you are self-isolating, is there a friend who can collect it for you and post it through the letter box please?  Furthermore, homework style topic webs will be uploaded onto our website.

You will be able to contact your child’s classteacher through emails from Monday onwards, their addresses are as follows:

Mrs Tiryaki          tiryakie@hwbmail.net

Mrs Griffith        griffithe11@hwbmail.net

Mrs Barnes         jonesL208@hwbmail.net

Mrs Betts            bettse@hwbmail.net

Obviously, I will be monitoring and replying to jbmail@hwbmail.net

Please be aware that staff may not respond instantly to emails as they may themselves or have members of their family who are suffering with the virus.  You must stay patient and respectful during this time, as I will be monitoring these emails, please correspond with your child’s teacher as if you were speaking to them personally. 

We will be releasing/uploading further information/links to educational website on the school website in due course.

As promised, I will continue to communicate as swiftly and as clearly as possible, our parentmail system is rather slow at the moment, so letters are being uploaded onto the school closure section on our school website.  Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us either by email or by chocolate over the last few days – this has given us the determination and the sugar to carry on!

I would like to thank everyone for their continued patience today, I recognize life changing decisions are beginning to impact everybody at the moment and we are all feeling rather vulnerable (myself included!) Questions still need answering and they will come soon.

Once again, stay safe, support (safely) those in need and carry on… I for one have switched off my news notifications from my mobile phone.

Kindest of regards

Anna Stephens

As of 20.03.20 13.00

Dear Parents/Carers,

We are obviously living in a change of quick change, so this is the latest information for you:

  • St John’s School will be open from 8 am to 5.30 pm from Monday 23 March
  • The LA still want to have resilience hubs in place for Monday 30th March

 

The following text is a direct transcript from the LA email.

“St John’s School will be open to provide provision for children whose parents are vital workers, in the instance where they are

  • A single parent
  • Both parents are vital workers.

At this point we are waiting for more detailed information from Welsh Government on the definition of vital workers. 

The expectation is that any child who can safely be cared for at home should be – this is to avoid where possible social contact.

Newydd Catering services will be able to provided cold meals to cater for all children who attend.”

We do not know at this stage about our vulnerable, ALN or FSM children. 

I expect that this news, will be devastating for all self-employed people, whose livelihood depends on childcare.  I myself at the time of  writing this communication have a husband who is self-employed, so I too feel everyone’s pain.  However, this is unprecedented times, whilst it pains me, I can not make exceptions to government rules and allow children to attend children for childcare reasons – this will defeat the social distancing the government needs to do in order to protect everyone in our community. 

I think everyone will need a strong cup of tea after reading this news.

Stay strong,

Anna Stephens

13.18  For clarification, single parent who is key worker, we will not accept pupils where only one parent is a key worker.

 

As of 20.03.20  18.00

Dear Parents/Carers,

I’m sure everyone is feeling very emotional at the moment, there has been a great sense of sadness amongst the teaching staff at the end of the day.

Further information has been sent through from the Local Authority regarding the shape of childcare facilities over the forthcoming weeks:

From Monday 23rd March – Friday 27th March

  • St John’s will be open from 8.00 – 5.30 pm. 
  • As we are offering a predominantly childcare based facility, school uniform does not need to be worn.
  • A cold packed lunch will be provided, transported from Ysgol Estyn, Hope.

Are the LA making provision for vulnerable learners?

At this stage, the immediate focus is for children of vital workers.  Further discussion will take place around what provision may be required for vulnerable learners.  To this end, from next Monday 23rd March  St John’s will only be open to children of vital workers NOT vulnerable or ALN. This is likely to change although the LA are unsure of the timescales.

How will I know if my child is eligible to attend?

Once clarification has been given from WG to the LA and then to schools, then parents/carers will be notified by school email.  If you have not be contacted by email during this weekend (by 12 noon on Sunday) and you feel that you belong in one of the categories below:

  • A single parent who is a key worker
  • Both parents are vital workers.

Then please email the school office on jbmail@hwbmail.net

Please remember the expectation is that any child who can safely be cared for at home should be.

Are St John’s providing a free breakfast?

This will not be provided by NEWydd catering in non-hub schools, however, St John’s staff will be able to offer this for next week only.  From then on, breakfast will be provided by NEWydd catering staff at the hub.

As from Monday 30th March – onwards. 

The LA have modelled the Hub schools on a geographical/needs basis.  The following have been identified as Hubs:

  • Elfed High School and Mountain Lane CP
  • Alun School and Ysgol Maes Garmon and Ysgol Bryn Coch
  • St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School and Gwynedd CP
  • Ysgol Treffynnon and Ysgol Maes y Felin
  • Connah’s Quay High School and Ysgol Bryn Deva
  • Castell Alun High School and Ysgol Estyn
  • Hawarden High School and Sandycroft CP
  • St David’s High School and Broughton CP
  • Ysgol Pen Coch Specialist School
  • Ysgol Gronant
  • Ysgol Esgob
  • Ysgol Ty Ffynnon
  • Queensferry CP
  • Plas Derwen

St John’s pupils will mostly likely be directed to go to Ysgol Estyn, Hope although this has yet to be confirmed.

Who are key workers?

The LA are waiting WG direction on this.  The reference to single parents is specifically for those who are vital workers only.

Is the provision to be made by schools Monday – Friday or 7 day? 

In the first instance, this will be Mon-Fri.  This may change as we move forward to the Hub model and the support for vital workers needs to be extended.

Are the LA providing free school meals?

Currently meals will be provided for those children of key workers who are attending school.  Plans are underway to provide free school meals to eligible pupils from the middle of next week.  We will keep you updated in relation to this.

The above information has come from direct communication from our Local Authority and applies to all schools across Flintshire.

The harsh reality has hit our teachers today as teachers and teaching support staff will now be expected to leave their families and work in the hubs as and when needed/directed.  This will likely be across the weekends and across the traditional school holidays in order to support our fantastic NHS staff.  Whilst we won’t be dealing directly with patients, we will be placing ourselves and our families at higher risk than those working from home.  Please can you pray for the safe return of all our staff so that we can celebrate our return to school, as and when that happens.  This difficult time will pass.

To our year 6 families – this isn’t goodbye!  I promise we will hold a reunion party sometime in the autumn term if we have not returned by July. However, it will be the teachers leaving in the limousines this time!  Although I have always thought that when I leave, I would quite fancy leaving by helicopter!!

Once again, may I thank everyone for their patience over this immensely difficult past week and as I said in last week’s newsletter… keep calm and carry on.

God bless, I will once again be in touch with further information soon.

Anna Stephens

 

Contact the School

St John the Baptist VA Primary School

Chester Road
Penymynydd
Flintshire
CH40EN

Main Contact: Mrs A Stephens, Headteacher

Tel: 01244 550838
jbmail@hwbmail.net

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