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14 Jan 2022

Alex Hems: Letter from the Head 14 January 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians

Alex Hems web bio4A somewhat belated Happy New Year to you all and a warm welcome to those families who are joining us this term for the first time. I hope that your daughters have enjoyed their first week at St George’s, and that you quickly come to feel part of our community. This term we also welcome three new members of the teaching staff: Ms Irene Oksen is our new Head of Business and Enterprise; Mrs Kirsty McColm returns to St George’s as a part time teacher of History and Modern Studies; Miss Lauren Montgomery joins us in the Mathematics department.

We are delighted to have the school back and to feel the term in full swing. I am pleased to report that at the moment Covid cases across the school are relatively low. Thank you all for your support in making use of the lateral flow devices available through school prior to the start of term, and for keeping your daughters at home if they are unwell, for any reason. A key point to note about the current guidance, is that if anyone aged under 18 years and 4 months has tested positive for COVID-19 they may be able to end isolation early if they have recorded two negative Lateral Flow tests in a row from Day 6 onwards, taken 24 hours apart. If both results are negative and your child has not had a high temperature/fever within the last 48 hours, they may then return to school before the full 10-day isolation is complete. If this is the case it is important that you follow the guidance on staying-safe which can be found on the NHS inform website. I have attached some FAQs about the latest self-isolation guidance, which you may find helpful.

Mock examinations are underway for the Upper and Lower 6, and we have been pleased to read this week confirmation that the SQA are still working on the assumption of examinations taking place this summer, with revision support provided for candidates should there be further disruption to teaching and learning. We have seen similar commitments to the running of GCSE examinations from Westminster. The guidelines for schools’ operations still require us to limit footfall inside the buildings from parents unfortunately, and mean that we cannot hold school assemblies or invite audiences into school at the moment. It is good to see, however, a clear recognition of the importance of maintaining the full breadth of our educational offering, and from this I am drawing a degree of cautious optimism. While outdoor sport has been available to us since the start of the year, Music, as an indoor activity, has experienced longer-standing restrictions, but ensembles are now rehearsing together, with sensible mitigations in place. The CO2 monitoring that we have undertaken over recent months has reassured us that air quality and ventilation in our classrooms is very good, but we continue to focus on this as a key means of maintaining a safe working environment at school.  This does of course mean that windows are open in classrooms more than might usually be the case in January! We are happy that students wear some additional layers to keep them comfortable while they are in lessons, but could I ask that these are base layers please, rather than additional, non-uniform sweatshirts etc on top of their school jumpers. All students should be in school uniform when they are in school, and PE kit should only be school kit please.

I look forward to seeing some of you at the pitch side for hockey tomorrow morning.

With best wishes to you all

Mrs Alex Hems MA Oxon
Head, St George's School, Edinburgh                               

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