15 May 2020

Dear Parents, Carers and Students,

This has been another week of speculation, disagreement and a national desire for detailed information that will allow more effective planning. We have certainly felt that in school, and I would assume that such a feeling is universal. As changes have been made to Government messages, restrictions lifted and guidance published we have been trying to stay on top of the information being released, so that we can plan effectively and think through the next steps for Durham Johnston. At present, there is ongoing speculation about what the Prime Minister’s reference to ‘face to face’ contact for Year 10 and Year 12 students actually means. Secondary schools have been given some general information about what we might need to do when (or if) we re-open in June or July, but nothing substantive enough to suggest that a clear decision has been made. That isn’t intended as a criticism of the Government, just a reflection of our experience this week.

A constant refrain in my recent messages has been that we are waiting for additional clarity. That has been particularly true since Sunday’s announcement. Re-opening schools was always going to necessitate a very close examination of the associated risk to all members of the school community and will also require very careful planning. Whilst we have been preparing since early April, all secondary schools are waiting for national guidance to be published next week so that we have a better understanding of what is required. In simple terms, we have been planning and intend to intensify our planning next week, but we still aren’t quite sure exactly what we are planning for. As soon as things become clearer, I will communicate our approach at the earliest possible opportunity so that you are fully informed.

Rather than offer a detailed update today, I have chosen to write a letter to all parents, carers and students, which will be posted out next week. I’m aware that many of you regularly check the school website for updates, but I am keen to offer an overview of our actions since March 2020 and to make sure that we bring together guidance for all families in one single letter home. The letter will also be published on the school website on Wednesday 20th May 2020.

Thank you again for your ongoing support and best wishes.

A J O’Sullivan