7th April 2021

posted 7 Apr 2021, 01:44 by Liz Pattinson

Dear Parent/Carer,                                                                                                                                         


As always I hope this letter finds you well, having had a peaceful and relaxing Easter weekend.


As promised, we have conducted a complete review of our Covid-19 precautions in the light of the most up-to-date guidance from the Department of Education and medical experts. Our overriding intention is to reopen the school as much as possible to maximise the quality of teaching and learning whilst minimising the risk of infection. To this effect our focus remains firmly on:

1.       Hands

2.       Face

3.       Space

4.       Fresh air


One of the most contentious precautions that schools have put into place during the pandemic is the requirement for students and staff to wear face coverings in classrooms and communal areas. The government has today, Tuesday 6 April, confirmed that face coverings should continue to be worn in secondary school and college classrooms as a precautionary measure when students return after the Easter break. This cautious approach will help limit the risk of transmission and enable continued monitoring of the effect of school and college returns, as twice weekly testing is established and embedded in student routines. It is expected that face coverings will no longer be required to be worn in classrooms, or by students in other communal areas, at Step 3 of the road map, which will be no earlier than Monday 17 May.


With the latest guidance in mind we have decided to make the following key changes:

1.   Students will move around the school to attend lessons in subject specific classrooms as opposed to remaining in their ‘pod’ areas. This will be under strict supervision of staff which is explained later in this letter.

2.    Students will attend school in full school uniform every day and will change for PE following a strict movement and sanitising protocol.

3.   School uniform rules will return to normal with sweatshirts under blazers and coats no longer being permissible in the school buildings. We will be strictly enforcing the school uniform policy including rules around school shoes, piercings and hair colour. We appreciate your anticipated support with this as always.


Key details about how the new system will work will be explained to all students during registration on Monday 12 April. We have tried to keep many of the arrangements as they have been since September and our philosophy is still to maintain social distancing between students in different pods as much as possible.

·      All students enter the school site and register in the same rooms as they have since September.

·      Students and staff will adhere to a one-way system where the doors near the Hall are used to enter the building and the PE doors are used  to exit the building.

·      Year 7 students (top floor), will finish registration early and will be escorted to their pod communal area (see below). Other year groups will follow at 9.00am and assemble in their pod area as no other year groups need to share a staircase or corridor at this time.

·    Staff will collect their teaching group and will escort the students through the corridors, avoiding busy areas (by using alternative entrances), ensuring that the one-way system is adhered to.

·      This process will be repeated at the end of every lesson with the top floor classes moving first, followed by the middle floor classes and then the rest of the school. This will also be repeated at the end of the day. Please be aware that some students will be dismissed from school at 2.50pm. If you would like your son/daughter to be supervised until 3.00pm please let us know.  


All staff will reiterate the need for students to sanitise their hands and working areas on a regular basis. We have a huge number of sanitising stations across the whole school site. We expect students to use the sanitisers on a regular basis throughout the day. Work spaces (including equipment) will be sanitised by students before and after they use the area. For practical subjects like PE, Art, Science and Design, teachers will build time into their lesson plan to ensure students have time to sanitise their area and equipment effectively.


Year group ‘pod’ social areas will be maintained both inside and outside the school buildings. In these spaces students will be able to remove face coverings in order to eat and drink but we continue to encourage all students to spend as much time outdoors, in the fresh air, as possible.

·         Year 7 – Hall

·         Year 8 – Gym

·         Year 9 – Main playground

·         Year 10 – Covered Quad area

·         Year 11 – Dining room

Food will be available from our catering company for students eligible for free school meals and all other students in their pod areas. This system will operate, as it has since September, with a trolley service.


As mentioned earlier, it is expected that at Step 3 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than Monday 17 May, many restrictions will be reviewed by the government. At that point the next stage of easements, including increased social contact indoors, will be confirmed following a review of the latest data on infection and vaccination rates. All changes will be carefully considered and all of our safety measures, including regular asymptomatic testing, smaller group bubbles, increased hygiene, ventilation and social distancing where possible, will be reviewed.


We are entering an extremely busy time in the school calendar preparing for Teacher Assessed Grades for Year 11 students, preparing to welcome a record breaking number of Year 7 students in September, recruiting new staff and preparing to expand the school building due to increased student numbers.

Our priority remains on maintaining a high quality education in a supportive and safe environment. If you require any further details on our plans or have any queries at all, please do not hesitate to contact me using the following email address: d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk.


Thank you very much for your ongoing support. Wishing you all the very best; stay safe.


Yours faithfully,

Dan Mayhew