Update from Mr Solly 28/08/20
Please take some time to read the latest update from Mr Solly regarding the return to school:
Dear UCC students, parents and carers
Firstly, thank you all for the supportive messages that have been sent in over the past few days, we have been overwhelmed with the kindness demonstrated by our school community. I am sorry I have not been able to reply individually; I am sure you will all appreciate this has been a testing week for our school. I would also like to thank the individuals who have set up and contributed to a number of community fund raising efforts online. We will be able to replace the equipment and resources lost to the fire through our insurance claim, however the funds raised through these community campaigns will go to our student council who will decide on how we should invest the money.
I write to you at the end of the most challenging week in my teaching career, in a year that we all thought could not get any worse. The fire at UCC earlier this week has been deeply upsetting for everyone connected to the school and has tested the resolve of Team UCC. However, we will emerge stronger and more determined once we overcome the challenges that lie ahead of us.
I would love to be writing with some positive news, but unfortunately it is quite the opposite. Following the fire on Wednesday morning, I sent out a provisional timeline for our phased return and the full re-start; I am very disappointed to inform you that these dates are going to be pushed back further into September now.
I met with the Building Surveyor and Loss Adjustor today to receive their initial judgements on the implications for securing the safety of the site and our re-start plans. Due to the structural damage to the building and associated fire damage contamination, the safety issues caused by the fire are more significant than we initially feared. We have to complete a number of key steps before we are able to bring anyone back onto the school site.
Firstly, the building needs to be 'wrapped up' in a bespoke 'Tin Hat' which has to be specifically designed - the design, the scaffolding and the installation is being expediated but it will take until the end of next week to complete at the very earliest. There needs to be air quality testing and an extensive clean up operation following this process, meaning that the very earliest we can look to bring staff back into school is the week beginning the 14th September. We have looked at using spaces in the school that are further away from the affected areas, but the health and safety advisors have ruled this out until the building is safe, secure and signed off by them. We have also explored the possibility of creating 'outside classrooms' using heavy duty tents and marquees as a short term solution - these options have also been ruled out by the health and safety advisors.
Our solution is to install 8 temporary classrooms and 2 temporary changing facilities, along with offices/work spaces for staff, during the week beginning 14th September. This is a huge task to complete, requiring heavy duty machinery and cranes, therefore making the site unsafe for students to return until all of this is installed. Once these buildings are in place and functional, we are planning to bring staff back into school to get these new teaching spaces ready and receive training on a revised set of plans to re-start the school with Covid-safe adaptations.
Disappointingly, we think this means we will be teaching students remotely until at least Monday 21st September, which is when we currently believe we can begin the phased re-start for students. Given that our site will have changed dramatically since students were last in school, this phased re-start is even more important. If everything slots into place as we hope it will, I anticipate all students returning on Monday 28th September. I have asked form tutors to call their students at some point between Tuesday and Friday next week to check in and see how they are. All of the work from teachers will be on Show My Homework, apart from Year 7, which will be posted on the website.
I understand how upsetting and frustrating this must be for students and parents; the staff at UCC feel exactly the same. I will spend next week working with the school leadership team and the health and safety consultants to get us back on our feet as quickly as we can. I will send out updates next week as more information emerges. The dates I have identified in this email are of course all provisional and subject to change, but we are doing everything we can to get UCC up and running safely.
Thank you for your continued patience, understanding and support.
Mr B Solly.