We have been in a sombre mood this week, and were extremely upset to have to send Year 9 in particular to self-isolate, as we had intended the many students who wished to, to be outside the school building to bid farewell to Chantelle on Monday. As this can no longer happen, and with self-isolation regulations being absolutely clear about students remaining at home and Welsh Government not allowing group gatherings either, we will celebrate Chantelle’s life in a variety of other ways, both personally and collectively. We will all take time in school to reflect on Monday, and Friday next week will see students and staff wearing pink or black, Chantelle’s favourite colours, to honour her. We are currently producing a book of memories and have had a star officially named after her. We will also phase other more discreet celebrations of our dear student and friend over coming weeks.
As you are aware we currently have four year groups off in self-isolation, which means the building is a little less busy than usual. The police have asked us to remind all families that self-isolation means that students must remain at home at all times, and not just during the school day. As years 7, 10 and 11 continue following their normal timetable in school, Years 8, 9, 12, and 13 are following theirs, mostly via Google Classroom, at home. Test, Trace and Protect have confirmed return to the school building dates as:-
Years 8&9 – Tuesday 20th October
Years 12&13 – Saturday 24th October, therefore in effect, immediately after half term on Monday 2nd November. Please note, this is an alteration to the information shared last week due a subsequent positive case confirmation.
Having to send whole year groups home to isolate is not the decision of the school but of the Government’s Track, Trace and Protect team, who work in collaboration with Flintshire County Council to ensure the ongoing protection of all students from the spread of the virus. We maintain very strict health and safety procedures in school, yet unfortunately something like this is beyond our control. Whilst none of us want to see students not in school, it is done with the intention of not just protecting our school community but our society as a whole.
The current national picture leads us to anticipate that similar needs for self-isolation could well be necessary in the future, that is, until governmental guidance changes. This is why our programme of distance learning is essential in ensuring that any student who has to self-isolate is able to access the curriculum and engage with their learning.
Teaching Staff have been providing work on line whilst continuing to teach in school. They are available to absent students on line during lesson times, through a combination of both live lessons or via live messaging. Staff work hard outside these hours too, but will not be able to respond immediately to questions all of the time, and especially not in the later evening. It is our priority to ensure that the disruption to learning is minimised as much as is possible. Lessons set on line are continuing the learning of all students and we appreciate the support of parents in ensuring that this work is carried out.
If any student is having difficulty accessing Google Classroom, for whatever reason, it is essential that they inform the school so that this can be discussed and solutions found. Nobody wants to see any student’s learning being impaired and we are here to help. Thanks must go to the Support Staff in school who are working tirelessly, often outside their own roles, to ensure that teaching and learning can carry on, and without whom the Teaching Staff would not be able to do what they do. As always it is a huge team effort here at Castell Alun.
At the time of writing, there is no official news on whether a ‘Circuit Break’ is planned, or indeed if such an intervention would include schools were it to happen. We have become accustomed to having to deal with such announcements at very short notice, but will endeavour to provide relevant information to all families as soon as we are able to, should this become necessary. Thank you so much for your patience.
We are very proud of the fact that so many of our students are so conscientious about their learning and that when on occasion they forget to bring something which they need for either their lessons or the school day, that request for it to be dropped off. We are equally appreciative of those parents who respond to this and make the journey to drop things off for them. However, due to the current situation we would ask that, for the time being at least, parents refrain from doing so. There seems to have been an increase in these instances of late and under current strict health and safety precautions, our reception staff are unable to handle those things being brought in. Teachers will be understanding if students forget to bring something in. If the matter refers to forgetting lunch or lunch money then students should go to student reception and they will be accommodated in the canteen.
Please may I also remind parents that once students arrive in school they are not permitted to leave until the end of the day. There have been some occasions when some students, either having been dropped off by parents or having arrived via the school bus, are then taking themselves off site to go to the shop. This is not allowed due to health and safety reasons. Students should arrive in school with any refreshments they require and can then purchase food and drink at lunch time if necessary. Students are not permitted to leave the site at break, lunch time or any other time without express permission. I would kindly ask parents to remind their children of this fact.
As a school we have been impressed by how well our students have adapted and adhered to the rules regarding face masks in and around the corridors, with very few needing a gentle reminder on occasion. Contributing to the ongoing safety of everyone in the building, and also on school transport, is the responsibility of everyone involved. If a student is confirmed as Covid positive and travels on a school bus, regrettably it may well be necessary for other students on that bus to self-isolate. Students will soon have allocated seats on all buses. Please be aware also, that from Monday it is compulsory for all students on every school bus to wear face masks. They should have their masks on as they board the bus and then keep them on for the whole of the journey. It is also a timely reminder for those who have already been wearing masks on school transport for a while now to ensure that they keep their masks on until they arrive in school and leave the bus.
Massive congratulations to two of our athletes as Bethan in 7U and Seren in 10S have both been selected to play for the Flintshire School Girls Football Teams, with Bethan selected for the under 13s squad and Seren for the under 15s. A huge well done to both girls on a fantastic achievement and we look forward to hearing about how they get on as the season progresses.
The new build is now very much underway. Significant progress is being made as the drainage for the new block is being laid and it certainly looks unrecognisable to how it was before. The site around where the building will be remains secure and we continue to work closely with the contractors, Wilmott Dixon, to ensure that this remains the case. Obviously in the coming weeks and months, as further progress is made, we expect the site to be very busy and again, we are working closely to try to ensure the minimal disruption to the day.
We have recently posted our ‘Google Classroom Parent’s Guide’ on home page of the school website. This contains useful information and guidance from how to access Google Classroom to what to do if a student needs help. Please take the time to have a look if there are any questions you might have regarding the use of Google Classroom at home.
We have just 1 week now until half term, and a well-earned breather for all. I do hope you enjoy your weekend. Thank you so much for your support.