4 January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

With sincere apologies for the short notice, I regret to inform you that unfortunately, Steeple Claydon School will not be fully open to any of our classes from tomorrow for the whole of this week in the first instance. We will only be partially open for children of key workers and families deemed to be ‘vulnerable’ i.e. with a social worker, looked after etc. All other learning will move online using SeeSaw and children should learn at home.

This decision has not been taken lightly and we fully understand the difficulty and inconvenience it will cause to many parents. This very difficult decision has been taken due to staff illness and the number of staff who have submitted letters stating they do not believe it is safe for them to work at the current time. I would not have enough staff, including first aiders, to open any full classes safely. It is perfectly understandable that this action may anger some parents and I accept that but I would implore you to please direct that anger at the impossible situation we all find ourselves in rather than at my staff for the following reasons:

 Three of the staff continue to experience severe ‘debilitating’ symptoms having contracted the Covid-19 virus and are therefore not well enough to work. This has understandably also made other staff nervous as to their own ability to fight off such an infection.
 All the members of staff who submitted a ‘section 44’ letter to me yesterday, stating in line with union advice that they do not feel it to be a safe working environment to have contact with large groups of children have very understandable personal circumstances making either themselves or a member of their immediate family more vulnerable than most should the virus enter their household. Please do not judge their decision without knowledge of their personal reasons for doing so.
 Three members of staff and four pupils (as well as their parents in some cases) have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus during the last week of last term and over Christmas. We do not believe we can do any more than we have already to make our school safe with large numbers of children and therefore, it is highly likely that if we returned to school at this point, more members of our school community would become ill. The fact that we are in a tier 4 area with very high transmission rates currently and the head of Buckinghamshire Council has declared a ‘major incident’ in the NHS has made staff understandably very nervous currently.
 The model letter from unions states the following as the main reasons for considering primary schools to be an unsafe working environment at the present time.
o Recent advice form SAGE is that schools should not open in January
o There are new variants of Covid-19 that are highly infectious and infection rates have increased significantly since schools closed, particularly in this, tier 4, area.
o Before Christmas the highest infection rates were in children of school age, and the new variant may be more transmissible amongst students than previously.

In terms of practical arrangements, teachers are busy using the INSET day today to convert their plans for this week and make them suitable for remote learning. They will begin posting lessons and timetables for each day by first thing tomorrow morning at the latest. If you believe your child qualifies for key worker or vulnerable pupil provision in school, please email the office or me directly (headteacher@steepleclaydon.bucks.sch.uk) to
Steeple Claydon School and Nursery

More information on home learning and how to download and install SeeSaw click here