I am writing to update you on the current situation. This is an extremely challenging time and all our staff understand that the parents of children with special educational needs find it particularly difficult and distressing.
The overriding message from the government is to stay at home, and this is because we have infection rates which are probably higher than the first wave, particularly in London where 1 in 30 people are believed to be infected. Unless people follow the advice, this will continue to rise. Approximately 1 in 100 people infected will develop serious illness. Many of our families are likely to have been affected by serious illness and bereavement caused by Covid. We have had several staff whose families have been affected by bereavement related to Covid, and one pupil who was hospitalised for more than 6 months, fortunately now recovering well.
The new strain of Covid does not appear to cause symptoms in most children that are any more severe than the previous strain, although we have a small number of children who are particularly vulnerable because of pre-existing medical conditions, who could become ill if they caught the virus. However, children are more likely to catch it, and spread it than before. This includes people in your family support bubbles. If we were fully open now it is likely the school would be continually closing bubbles, as well as greatly increasing risk to the whole community.
The risk of transmitting Covid in our school is greater than it is in most other schools. We cannot organise children so they have no contact outside the classroom with other bubbles – they are mixed on transport, they mix on the playground and they require a team of staff to work with each group who cannot avoid contact with each other. Our children also cannot be expected to socially distance, or wear masks, though we have worked hard with them to understand the importance of handwashing and good hygiene.
Our staff are not tested routinely, and have not been prioritised for a vaccine. If the government were to do this we feel it would really help us plan to open the school up fully.
We know you want your child to be in school. Our staff do too, they love working with your children, and seeing them learn and develop. However we can only have all children in school when it is safe to do so.
At the moment, by keeping provision only for the children of critical workers and our most vulnerable children who cannot safely be looked after at home, we can reduce the risks and keep our school community safe. We will provide remote learning sessions to all children at home and keep in touch through regular calls. We are updating the web site with more resources them, and parents on the Facebook site are sharing links that they find useful to support each other. If you are not already a member of the parent Facebook page, then search for ‘Parents of St Nicks Purley’ and request to join.
Throughout the coming weeks we are planning to expand on site provision as the risk of Covid reduces. In the first lockdown , we managed to provide rota’d provision for all pupils in the second half of the summer term, and it is our intention to do this again when it is safe enough to do so.
Thank for your continued understanding and support and I hope that you agree that this is the best course of action to ensure we all stay as safe as possible.
If you would like to support the case for teachers being vaccinated, please sign the petition: