West Lancashire Community High School
School Lane
Tel: 01695 721487
E mail: office@westlancs.lancs.sch.uk
Headteacher: Mr. L.Fazackerley BSc, PGCE, NPQH

24th November 2020

Dear Parent/Carer,

I am writing to inform you of a proposed change to the end of term arrangements this year in light of the current COVID pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic earlier in the year as a school we have continually worked within the national guidance to ensure that school can consistently deliver the highest quality of education to our students and support them with their education. This resulted in a period of national school closure from March to July 2020 and more recently since September 2020 ‘bubble’ closures in response to confirmed cases within our school community.

As we move towards the festive break we are still uncertain of what the Christmas period may or may not look like in terms of national lockdown restrictions or more flexibility to be able to see limited groups of friends and family. Whilst we do not yet have a clear picture of what will be in place it is clear that the government are working hard behind the scenes to try and allow some degree of ‘normality’ around this time.

With this in mind I would like to propose that as a school for the week beginning Monday 14th December 2020 we transfer all of our lessons to remote learning via the school website and Microsoft Teams for the last week of this term. My rationale for putting forward this proposal is to try and protect students and staff where possible from having to completely self-isolate over the duration of the holiday period.

A potential scenario we face is that we could get a confirmed case of COVID within the school community on Friday 18th December 2020. Through our internal tracing system and in line with the national test and trace programme this would mean that a significant number of students and staff will then be forced to self-isolate for 14 days. If this were to happen then this group would have to self-isolate at home up to and including 31st December 2020, with school reopening for the Spring term on Tuesday 5th January 2021. This would significantly impact on any opportunities for students and staff during this period.

If, as I propose, we complete a week of remote learning from home for the week beginning Monday 14th December 2020, then this would effectively mean that the last potential day for students and staff to be impacted by a confirmed case of COVID linked to school, would be Friday 11th December 2020. The 14-day period of self-isolation at home would then run up to and including 27th December 2020. Whilst this would still impact on contact over the key dates of the festive period, it would allow more opportunities over the festive break.

I fully appreciate that whilst I am trying, as best I can, to address one potential issue that may or may not arise it is with the best interests and well being of students and staff at the forefront of my mind, that this may cause other issues in the wider context. There is a growing movement within education for the government to look at insisting that all schools across the country to physically close a week earlier for the reasons I have stated above. However, as with most decisions throughout the COVID pandemic, I would expect any announcement that may be made by the government on this issue may be too late to allow you as parents/carers to react and make the necessary arrangements.

I am confident with the investment in our school systems that we have made this term and the testing of these systems during the ‘bubble’ closures in October, that we can through remote learning provide a high level of access to quality learning experiences in the short term over this period.

I have consulted with the governing body of the school and they are supportive of my proposal to switch to remote learning for this short period of time, given consideration of the balance of risk. Before I come to a final decision and set out a formal plan with the necessary arrangements if we progress, I would like to take some feedback from yourselves as parents/carers. Please could you indicate on the Parent Mail sent out with this letter if you are in support or not with this proposal and feel free to add any specific comments or questions you may have. If you do not have access to Parent Mail please feel free to email me directly on head@westlancs.lancs.sch.uk. Please could all comments be returned by 12.00 pm on Friday 27th November 2020.

We all continue to live and work in extremely challenging times and I must take this opportunity to thank you as parents/carers for your continued support as we adapt to new ways of working to try and ensure that we deliver the highest quality of education for our students. Throughout all of the changes that have had to make since the start of this crisis, the students and staff have demonstrated a high level of resilience and determination to succeed and this is evident on a daily basis as I see the quality of the experiences that the staff are able to deliver. The way in which the students have adapted to a different school experiences is a credit to them and the support that they receive from the staff in school, but also form their family networks at home.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Fazackerley