We have created this page on the Bennett website to ensure that the relevant information about how we are managing the Covid-19 pandemic is readily accessible.
Hygiene measures while at school
The most important things we are all doing while at school are to do with hygiene. A common way infection is transmitted is by people getting it on their hands and then touching their face. In order to deal with this risk, we are asking everyone at school, students and adults alike, to wash or sanitise their hands at frequent points during the school day. This includes immediately on arrival, in case any infection has been picked up on the way in to school, and then frequently throughout the day. We are aware that students do need reminding to maintain this hand hygiene and so it is a routine feature of the school day.
Secondly, we are taking additional steps to ensure that all hard surfaces, especially those touched by different people, such as door handles and toilet facilities, are kept clean during the school day. This entails our team of daytime cleaning staff moving throughout all of our buildings cleaning surfaces throughout each day. As a result, some lessons are interrupted for necessary cleaning to take place.
Thirdly, we all need to be very careful about any coughing or sneezing, as germs can easily be spread in this way. As we explain below, students with a cough should not be sent to school. However, if a student coughs or sneezes during the day we need them to use a clean tissue and to dispose of it in the bins provided immediately afterwards. It would be very helpful if parents and carers can reinforce this message. Please ensure your child has tissues in their pockets when coming to school.
New NHS COVID19 app
The app is available to download for anyone aged 16 and over, if they choose to do so. We strongly recommend that parents decide whether or not the use of the app is appropriate for their child to download and use. Following the guidance from the NHS, we do not recommend that the app is downloaded by students who are younger than aged 16. Use of the app does not replace the requirement of individuals to maintain a social distance or to report positive cases to the school. More information about the app and its use can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/nhs-covid-19/
At Bennett we make it clear that students are not to make use of their mobile devices at any point in the school day. However, in this instance of public health safeguarding, we take the view that it would be a positive step to enable students who are in years 11-13 and who are aged 16+ to check the app at fixed points in the school day. This means that students who have downloaded the app will only be in a position to check notifications from the app (once at break time, again at lunchtime and then finally) at the end of the school day. Our risk assessment, undertaken in the context of our extensive COVID19 protection measures, is that this is a proportionate response. Where a student does receive a contact tracing notification they should of course let the school know of that fact and we will then support them to follow the guidance about self-isolation.
If at any time a student who has downloaded the app would need to leave their mobile device away from their person, for example for the duration of a PE lesson, then they should ensure that they pause the contact tracing feature of the app.
In school we are taking a number of measures to ensure that if we did get a case of COVID-19 we are able to contain it without it impacting on a large number of people.
For students in year 7 and 8 we are teaching the curriculum in such a way as to keep them in their tutor groups for almost all of their subjects. This means that they are not moving around the school buildings for lessons, but instead their teachers are coming to them for most lessons. They have their lessons in our brand-new Rochester building.
For students in years 9 to 13 we are enabling them to follow a normal timetable which necessitates movement around school in order to access teaching in specialist rooms. All such movement is very carefully managed so as to minimise mixing between different year groups. Students are expected to follow a one-way system around the school buildings. The new Rochester building is out of bounds for students in years 9 to 13.
At break time and lunch time we have put in place arrangements so that students are only allowed to socialise with others from their own year group.
There are indoor and outdoor zones for all year groups, however students will be encouraged to be in the fresh air, so your child must have a suitable warm weatherproof coat with them each day. As we enter the winter season it is imperative that students come prepared to be outdoors for break and lunchtime.
For the time being we are not having our usual assemblies and collective worship in the school halls. Instead, we will be having assemblies and collective worship in tutor rooms using remote technology to ensure that students all get access to the same high-quality experiences.
In order to be able to track close contacts within year groups we hold detailed up to date seating plans for all lessons and study periods.
Wearing face coverings
Following the guidance from Government we now require both adults and students to wear face coverings when they are outside of classrooms, for example in the school corridors, in communal spaces and when on the route to their break and lunchtime bases where social distancing measures are hard to maintain. We ask that all students come to school with a suitable mask or face covering which should wherever possible be of a plain colour.
In the specific circumstances where a student is exempt from wearing a face covering as identified by the relevant Government guidance we ask that you write to identify that to your child’s year manager setting out the reasons https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own#exemptions?utm_source=4%20November%202020%20C19&utm_medium=Daily%20Email%20C19&utm_campaign=DfE%20C19 .
Travel to school
Wherever possible, students should be encouraged to walk or cycle to school. For those who live close enough to do so, this represents the best way of travelling into school.
When travelling on public transport students are obliged to wear face coverings unless they are exempt.
On arrival at school by bus students should go straight into school and must not linger or wait for friends as this would undermine efforts to keep groups separated.
Because more families are still using private cars to transport children to school, we do urge you to identify a safe drop off point that is away from the close vicinity of the school and wherever possible not on Culverden Down itself. In this way we can help to avoid congestion on that busy and difficult approach road to the school.
Arrival and departure times
We have made some adjustments to arrival and departure times at present to ensure that we do not have too many people around the school entrance or walking down the drive at the same time. However, we are mindful that many families have more than one child so we have kept the times relatively close together so you are not kept waiting unnecessarily if you are dropping off or picking up.
We would ask that wherever possible you arrange for your child to come to school as close to the given time as possible. Thank you for your support in this. The school day will begin for all students at 8:45.
Not coming to school if symptomatic
We are asking parents to be very vigilant for any signs of infection in their children, and should they occur, not to send the child to school. The symptoms to look out for are a new continuous cough, a temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell. Should any of these occur, you must keep your child at home and inform the school that they have these symptoms on [email protected], just as you would for any normal absence. Testing will be available for any children or family members who develop these symptoms, and we can tell you how to access the test if you contact us.
If children develop any of these symptoms while in school, we will need to send them home immediately. We will need your support as parents or carers to manage this. A student who develops symptoms which could be COVID-19 will immediately be taken away from other children and supervised safely until they can be collected. At that point we will tell you how you can quickly get your child tested for COVID-19.
You may find it helpful to use the parent decision-making flowchart.
What will happen if someone tests positive
In the event that someone, either student or teacher, tests positive for COVID-19, we will immediately contact the DfE information line and if necessary our local Public Health Team. We will give them, and the Test and Trace service, the information they need to identify the risks that others may have become infected, and we will follow their instructions immediately about containing that risk. In most cases, this means asking students or adults with whom the person has come into contact to self-isolate for 14 days to make sure the infection does not spread any further.
We will ensure that all close contacts are identified and informed of the need to self-isolate.
Readiness for colder weather
One of the key measures that we have in place to optimise safety is that students are spending break and lunchtimes outside whenever this is possible. We know that the risks of transmission of COVID-19 are substantially reduced in well-ventilated spaces, particularly in the outdoor environment. It is also observable that our students have benefitted from being outdoors in terms of recreation and indeed focus in afternoon lessons.
We do intend to maintain this approach to managing break and lunchtimes outdoors whenever possible. This does mean that students will be outside in cold weather and so they will need to be well dressed for this eventuality. We do recommend that parents ensure that their child has a plain, black, warm and waterproof school coat. We also recommend that they have a school uniform jumper for when a suitable further layer is needed.
We continue to offer comprehensive support for students through our welfare team in school. In order to prevent mixing of bubbles, students can make appointments to see the welfare officers, school nurse or chaplain. Students can do this by conversations with their teacher. Students in sixth form can also directly email Mrs Chibhaga. If a student needs support urgently during a lesson they should inform their teacher, who will contact the welfare team. Some students will have a formal care plan which sets out any action in an emergency and should follow this.
Parents should e-mail any questions or concerns to the relevant year manager and member of the welfare team.
Student welfare manager(Y10,11)/ Deputy DSL – Mrs Woosey – [email protected]
Student welfare officer (Y7,8,9) – Mrs Aguiriano – [email protected]
Sixth Form Support Assistant/ Deputy DSL – Mrs Chibhaga – [email protected]
School Nurse – Nurse Becki – [email protected]
School Chaplain – Rev. Rachael – [email protected]
We offer a variety of support in school, which can be discussed with a member of the welfare team but parents may also want to look at the support available outside of school using the Safeguarding and welfare resources for parents and students document. This resource includes support for both students and their families.
More information about the role of the school nurse is available in the Nurse letter.