Dear Parents and Carers,
On Wednesday, 24th February 2021, I posted information on the school blog about our plans for the full reopening of our schools. This included a request for children to wear face coverings whilst they were inside the school building. This was never compulsory, but a request. However, this afternoon the Department for Education updated their guidance on face coverings in schools and have stated that children in primary schools should not be asked to wear face coverings when they return to school from 8th March 2021.
Therefore, we are no longer asking children to wear face coverings in school.
We still firmly believe that this initial decision was the right one for our schools and that school would be a safer place if we took all of the steps possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
I would like to explain the reasoning behind our previous decision.
This decision was solely based on keeping our staff, pupils and their families safe during the current situation. The country remains in a national lockdown, since there remains widespread transmission of COVID-19. The South African Variant has been identified within the Croydon area and the vast majority of our staff have not yet received the vaccine. There are only a limited number of strategies that are available to protect our staff and children. Wearing a face covering is one of these. The science supports using face masks. Research shows that face masks cut down the chances of both transmitting and contracting COVID-19, with some studies suggesting that masks might reduce the severity of infection if people do contract the disease. The World Health Organisation recommend children from the age of 6 wear face masks, assuming that children are supported to wear them correctly. In our school, the classrooms are not sufficiently large to ensure that children and staff can keep 2 metres away from each other.
During the last half-term, before the winter break, a number of staff and children became extremely unwell with COVID-19, with a very large proportion of these staff taking a very long time to recover, due to the severity of their illness. This is not only a serious concern from a wellbeing perspective but also led to bubbles being closed and children not able to come into school, impacting their education. We wanted to avoid this situation occurring when school fully reopens to children on 8th March 2021, for both the continuation of education for the children and the safety of our staff.
At this time, many members of staff, even those who are vulnerable to severe infection, have not yet been vaccinated and the senior leadership team are extremely worried about heightening that risk. This is especially worrying given the government announcement today that school staff will not be prioritised for a vaccination.
As a result of the DfE decision today, staff have been left feeling anxious and worried about returning to school, concerned for the safety of themselves and their families, alongside those in the school community. The entire leadership team are worried about the safety of having 30 children in a small, enclosed space without taking all of the preventative steps available, given the wider context at present. I reiterate that we are still subject to a national lockdown and the restrictions currently in place prevent individuals from gathering outside of their household, both indoors and outdoors.
If you feel that your child would be safer wearing a mask in school, we will support you (and them) with this. We have disposable, child-sized masks for anyone who would like one.
Thank you for your continued support and help.