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South Dartmoor
Community College

Head Teacher's Message 15th December 2020

I wrote in a previous message to parents/carers that I would be absolutely delighted if we could make it to the Christmas holidays without having to send any students home to self isolate and, the closer it got, the more hopeful I became that we might achieve this. The converse of that is equally as true and I am so disappointed that our last week of term saw our first confirmed case of Covid-19. We must remember however, that we have done extremely well by having almost a full term’s worth of uninterrupted learning. This bucks the national trend and our children will doubtless have benefited enormously from this in all manner of respects, from supporting academic progress to helping their mental health and emotional well-being.  

Nevertheless, it is such a shame that this week began by requiring a year group, and a further small number of students from across the schools, to be at home for 10 days from the date of potential contact with one of our two student cases. Our third case was identified in a member of the canteen staff and, while this presented no risk to students, it did mean that we were unable to open the canteen and provide any food. However, local businesses and staff rallied round to provide a ‘grab bag’ for students requiring a meal while provision for subsequent days, and the final three days of term, could be made.

As always, I am struck by how supportive and understanding the community is. Students and parents have been patient and kind, and I am really grateful for that during what has been a particularly challenging 24 hours. I would hope that we will get no further cases in school this side of Christmas and I remain ever the optimist. However, I am also keenly aware of the reality of the transmission rate of the virus, especially in a rural community. Our priority in school will always be the safety of students and staff. We continue to maintain our coronavirus management systems, which include maintaining student Pods, wiping down tables in between lessons, wearing masks. For more information, please see our risk assessment on our website.

I am aware that a number of parents are using social media to enquire why we are staying open. To provide clarity; the Department for Education has stated that schools and trusts cannot make a local decision regarding whether or not to close. Only the government can determine this and they have made it clear their priority is to keep schools open. I share a link to an article on this morning’s BBC website about schools in London for your interest. 

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-55311573

I will write again on the last day of term, sharing a staffing update and arrangements for the New Year.

Thank you for your continued support.

Mrs J Veal