Welcome Back Letter and Risk Assessment from the Headteacher
Dear Parents and Carers
I hope you are all well and have had a good summer break. We are very much looking forward to welcoming our students back to Brentwood, although we do appreciate that this is an anxious time for many of you.
Today has been our first INSET day this year, and staff have been working hard to unpick the latest Government Guidance and how best we can interpret it for the students at Brentwood on a whole school, class and individual basis. This builds on the work we carried out prior to the summer holidays when the school and college were partly opened.
We are very lucky at Brentwood in that we have a fabulous modern building with wide corridors and lots of ventilation, with access to outside space from all our classrooms. This, combined with the smaller class sizes in a special school, means that we can implement strategies to ensure students are kept as safe as possible.
We will be operating a bubble system in school and we will have 5 bubbles. These will be:
- The PMLD Bubble
- Lower School Bubble
- ASC Bubble
- 6th Form Bubble
- College Bubble
Students will remain with their classes for most lessons, but will interact with other students in their bubbles for some lessons and social times. Generally staff will remain working in one bubble, although inevitably there will be some overlap (as detailed in the Risk Assessment) This will hopefully limit contact throughout the school day thus reducing transmission of Covid should it be present in the school.
We will continue to reinforce the need for regular and effective handwashing, alongside wiping down equipment between use. Social distancing will be encouraged at all times and staff will wear appropriate PPE when they carry out tasks requiring them to work in close proximity to students e.g. personal care, feeding and administering medication. Following government guidance on face coverings, we will discourage use of masks in classrooms and allow optional use of masks in corridors and public areas. Students will be taught to use masks where appropriate on community visits.
We will continue to follow the same protocol regarding COVID. If a student displays symptoms, we ask you to keep them at home and seek a test. The student should remain at home until the test results come back. If a student presents at school with symptoms, they will be removed from their class and supported in school until you collect them. We can support you to obtain a test, and do have a small number of home tests available in school should they be needed. If a student tests positive for Covid, we will follow advice from public health regarding procedure for isolation of those who have been in contact.
We have been working with transport to establish safe routines for students entering and leaving the premises. We now have an additional entrance for college students. All students will be asked to remain in vehicles (both school transport and parent/carer transport) until they are asked to come into the building. This should serve to limit the crowding of people around entrances. By doing this we are hoping to limit the extent we have to stagger the length of the school day, although some students will arrive/ leave a little later or slightly earlier. We have planned this but hope you will to bear with us initially as this will be a new system and we would appreciate your patience whilst we establish a clear routine.
Breaks and lunchtimes will be staggered to ensure large groups of students do not congregate in any one area. Some students will eat in their classrooms and some will eat in the hall or dining room. Student will have their break and lunchtimes in their bubbles.
Due to hygiene controls, specialist classrooms will be allocated to specific bubbles and this will be reviewed every half term. This will allow those bubbles to freely use parts of the school without concerns for cross contamination. Our soft play room will remain closed as it is exceptionally difficult to disinfect after use. Furthermore the hydrotherapy pool will be in use for general swimming and splash sessions, but unfortunately we will be unable to offer hydrotherapy sessions to students who require physical support in the water. Physio are working to provide land-based therapy to support those students who will be unable to access the pool. The pool will be available to small groups of students and will be cleaned between use.
Following government guidance we will be aiming to offer some community visits as we feel these are a key aspect of our students developing their skills for adulthood. Each activity will be fully risk assessed, and we will be avoiding crowded public areas. We will also be looking at ways to develop the curriculum given the ‘new normal’ that we live in.
Students will still have access to a broad and balanced curriculum. Alongside core subjects students will continue to access PE and Music and we will follow government guidance on the safe delivery of these lessons.
We appreciate that many students will have suffered anxiety throughout lockdown. They will have missed their friends and their routine, structure and independent time in school as well as the many opportunities school and college offer. We also know that some students may not be too keen to return to school or college. We are really looking forward to students returning to school and want to make the experience positive. We aim to get our students back into a routine as soon as possible so that we can provide them with the learning opportunities they have been missing. However we are also mindful that this will be harder for some students than others and will implement appropriate strategies where necessary to support young people with their mental health and wellbeing.
Unfortunately there are a few students who are unable to return to school and college at this stage due to medical and health issues. We will continue to support these students and their families until we are able to welcome them back into Brentwood in the near future.
We are keen to work with you to ensure that your son/daughter has the best possible return to school/college. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to work with you to find the best solution.
Wishing you all good health
Please use the following link to access the risk assessment: