Principal's Update 18th December 2020
Dear Parents and Carers
A quick update following the Government's announcements yesterday.
1.Testing centres in all schools starting with Secondary schools in January
At ECC we love a challenge and particularly one which might, if the tests are accurate and reliable, keep students, staff and the local community safe as well as keeping students connected to their studies.
However, we need your help to get a Test centre in place by the start of January!
As I currently understand it (I have an hour's remote training this afternoon along with every other school in the country) we are expected from the 5th January (when we return) to roll out rapid testing. At the moment, I am expecting that we will have to put this in place ourselves - military support to "local areas" has been mentioned but I don't currently have details on this.
We are looking at potential areas within the school that we could use, however, what we most need are recently retired or part time medical practitioners who have the expertise and training to assist with swabbing young adults. The Government guidance on a Powerpoint states we need a Quality Lead (responsible for risk mitigation), Test assistant (who undertakes assisted swabbing), Processor (prepares the sample for analysis), registration assistant ( to manage arrivals) and cleaner (we should be able to provide this).
If you have expertise or experience in any of these areas and feel like you could help, even during a transition period to train our own staff and help us set up safe and effective systems then please get in touch with us.
Some of these roles we will be able to hire in ourselves, however, unfortunately, the Government have not given us any up-front money for this so we currently can't be sure about pay rates and so on. Obviously, anybody working with us would need a DBS check.
This is a massive undertaking and one which we won't step back from - it would be great to hear from medically experienced, similarly minded optimistic problem solvers to do something amazing!
2. Arrangements for the first week back in January
The Government also advised schools yesterday that we needed to undertake remote learning for this week which we are now able to do. If you have a problem with accessing materials online, please let us know as soon as possible so we can help.
However, please remember that the College will remain open to Key Worker and Vulnerable students during this time. We will also remain open to Year 11 and Year 13 and are assuming that mocks exams will take place as planned. Teaching staff will be delivering lessons from College during normal lesson times throughout the day.
College will absolutely not be closed that week, and staff will continue to work as normal in College throughout this period.
We will shortly be sending an email regarding arrangements for this week to our Key Worker and Priority students. To help us with planning we will need your child to sign up for the week.
I am afraid we will have to ask for proof of key worker status.
Students will be kept within their year group and be supervised and supported by staff in ICT rooms to access the lessons being delivered by teachers elsewhere in the College. Students will follow their normal timetable during the day. Our canteens will be open for food. We are assuming that school transport will run as normal though we haven't had this confirmed yet.
If students who attend on those days could bring their own headphones that would be really helpful and save us having to clean lots of headsets.
To allow us to plan rooming and staffing please can you return the booking form to us by Tuesday 22nd December.
3. If you test positive during the holiday
Please remember that should you test positive we will have staff available to trace any contacts all the way up to (but not including) Christmas Day. Please use the email PositiveCovidCase@exmouthcollege.devon.sch.uk and the team will get back to you as soon as possible. After this point, please contact NHS test and trace and let us know on email@example.com if you will be required to self-isolate from 5th January onwards.
4. Additional support in January
From January we have also invested in additional mental health and well-being and catch-up support for primarily our young people but also for parents and carers. This includes additional online tutoring, more mental health support, more coaching becoming available, extra resources for Year 11 and additional 1:1 support for students in English and Mathematics.
This week saw our first online session for parents, carers and families using "Peas of Mind" to support adults on making sure they have good mental health and well-being during these difficult times. This was our first session, but we have more planned for the new year so please watch this space!
5. £17 million pound campus development
Away from Covid for a moment we are delighted to announce that our £17 million pound campus development programme will start next term and will include new teaching spaces in Maths, RE, History, Geography, ICT, Library, Drama, 450 seat auditorium, Gym, Science and Technology facilities.
This is massively exciting and will ensure the facilities on our campus for students are second to none in the South West!
More details to follow in January.
Unfortunately, at the moment, we are very focussed on planning for the first week back and so I have not, as I normally would, had a chance to respond to all your lovely messages of support for the College on Social Media and by email.
We can't express how much these comments mean to staff who are working flat out in very challenging and worrying circumstances for them and their families (despite what some newspapers might say) to provide education, contact tracing (and soon testing) as well as looking after our young people in an environment that is as safe as possible.
Your support, thoughts and kind words are greatly appreciated.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from students, staff and Governors at ECC.
Exmouth Community College