As you will probably appreciate given the volume of media attention, the majority of schools have brought forward their May Day holidays and School Development Days to allow teachers to prepare teaching resources for the anticipated school closures. I have discussed this with the Chairperson of the Board of Governors and we agree that it is appropriate to move 2 School Development Days to facilitate a school closure for the remainder of this week.
We apologise for the very short notice and for the inconvenience, but to allow our staff to prepare for learning during and beyond the DE directive of 4 weeks’ home learning, to test links for digital resources and set up laptops and iPads for the teachers to use at home to maintain contact with you through SeeSaw (Nursery – P3) and the school website (P4-P7) during the period of home learning, we intend closing the school to pupils on Thursday 19 March and Friday 20 March. The initial 4-week home learning packs will be available from the end of this week. Each pack contains class specific instructions as to how to approach home learning with your child. Further information will be sent as to how these can be accessed when they are ready.
Thank-you for your many kind and supportive messages, as you will appreciate it is a stressful time of uncertainty for us all. Our teachers have prepared work and guidance initially for 4 weeks to start on the first day of official closure. Work will not be sent for periods of normal school closure or holidays. Whilst we regret the decision to close this week it is in the best interests of the pupils and indeed will ensure you are well supported during the period of home learning. You will not be left without support during this time, to promote your sanity!
Children are in school for 5 or 6 hours each day but obviously not all of that time is spent engaged in uninterrupted work activities. We would advise working for a period of 2-3 hours daily using a common sense approach based on your knowledge of your child and their age; some days you may be able to work for a longer period and some days less. In the Foundation Stage, for example, work may be in 15/20 minute spells some of which may include playing a game with your child, reading stories together etc. It is always a useful exercise, with any age group, when marking your child’s work, to explain where mistakes have happened so these can be avoided in the future.
I would emphasise at this stage that the schools have not been instructed to close yet, but we currently have less than 39% attendance.
Our pupils’ education is very important, but everyone remaining healthy is much more important. We will update you as soon as we have any more information in relation to the date when schools will close, or if the situation with our own school changes. Unless we receive further instruction from the Department of Education or the Public Health Agency, school will re-open for pupils on Monday 23 March. We do however appreciate that many of you are opting to self-isolate at this stage, and we hope you continue to stay healthy. We fully understand and support the decision of parents wishing to keep their children at home.
Mrs H Hamilton
Chairperson of the Board of Governors