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St Thomas More Catholic Secondary School

St Thomas More
Catholic Secondary School

COVID guide for Parents, Carers and Students

All schools nationally were issued with advice and guidance from The Department of Education detailing the parameters for how schools should welcome all students back to school in September.  Below are some of the key items to inform you of the approach that we will be taking.

Staggered end to the school day 

The end of the day will be staggered, students will be dismissed as follows:

  • Year 7 – 3.15pm
  • Year 8 – 3.20pm
  • Year 9 – 3.25pm
  • Year 10 – 3.30pm
  • Year 11 – 3.35pm

Travelling by bus to and from school

It is recommended that students who travel by bus to and from school should wear a face mask.

The Number 6 bus will run from the school site as per usual, students will need face masks to travel.

Please note that the school car park is closed to all parental vehicles until further notice.  Parents are only permitted on site and will only be allowed entry with a prior appointment.

 Arrival at the school and going to the Year group zones 

There will be signs guiding students to where they need to go at the start of the day and staff will be on hand to ensure students adhere to the one way system, and answering any questions that students may have.


All students are expected to be in full school uniform

Expectations of behaviour  

We have always been incredibly proud of the behaviour of our students and now, more than ever, it is important that students continue to follow the high expectations we have of them. Our behaviour policy has been amended to take account of the danger posed by Covid-19, the policy is on the school website here. As well as the Covid-19 amendments, all elements of our behaviour policy remain the same e.g. rules around the use of mobile phones.

Expectations in the classroom  

We know that our students will recognise the importance of adhering to social distancing requirements at all times and our signage and staff will help to provide them with reminders to support this.  

 Students must: 

  • Arrive at school and depart at the designated time.
  • Wear a facemask whilst moving around the school site and in communal areas.
  • Use a sanitiser to disinfect hands on entering and leaving the school and at all times before entering and leaving your designated classroom space. 
  • Avoid physical contact at all times. 
  • In their classroom, sit in their allocated place at all times.

Health and Safety Expectations 

  • Maintain a safe distance from others at all times. 
  • Not share belongings (stationery, food etc) with others. Students should bring a pen, and may bring a pencil case
  • Follow all advice and instructions from staff upon entering and leaving any area
  • A copy of our full risk assessment is available here.

Actions if a student shows COVID-19 symptoms 

Students will be given guidance about the procedures to follow if they start to experience symptoms related to COVID-19. This will take place on their first day back and they will continue to receive regular reminders. We will also ensure that students are kept informed as new Government guidance is updated.  

If a student begins to feel ill with COVID-19 related symptoms, they must immediately inform their teacher. All other students and staff present will need to continue to maintain a safe social distance. A First Aid trained member of staff, with PPE, will attend to the student in an isolated designated area and parents/carers will be called to collect the student as soon possible. All PPE will be disposed of carefully, following Government guidance. 

If the student needs to cough or sneeze, this should be into a tissue which is then put into a bin. If they do not have tissues, students will be advised to cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

Any areas occupied and equipment used by the student will be identified and then thoroughly cleaned and disinfected following latest guidance.

The affected student should not return to school until a test has been carried out for Covid-19 and has returned a negative result. 

Students within the ‘bubble’ of the affected students, will need to go home and self-isolate for 7 days also. If no symptoms are developed, these students can return to school after 7 days. If your child is affected, a member of staff from the school will contact you about collecting your child.

Actions if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in school 

It is vital that students do not to attend school if they display symptoms of Covid-19.  If they have symptoms, they should stay at home for 14 days and arrange to be tested, they should only leave the house to attend the test or for a medical emergency. 

Anyone developing symptoms whilst at school will be sent home. Students will be required to wait in a designated isolation room, away from other people until they are collected. First aiders attending to the student will wear appropriate PPE equipment. 

The student should then stay at home for 14 days and arrange to be tested; they should only leave the house to attend the test or for a medical emergency. 

The affected student should not return to school until a test has been carried out for COVID-19 and has returned a negative result. 

Parents are encouraged to engage with track and trace at any point.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) including face coverings and face masks  

We are following all the latest Government guidance carefully.  The most recent guidance (published 15 December 2020) indicates that:
The government is not recommending universal use of face coverings in all schools. Schools that teach children in years 7 and above and which are in local restriction tier 1: medium alert will have the discretion to require face coverings for pupils, staff and visitors in indoor areas outside the classroom where social distancing cannot easily be maintained, such as corridors and communal areas and it has been deemed appropriate in those circumstances. 

In particular, schools that teach years 7 and above may decide to recommend the wearing of face coverings for pupils, staff or visitors in communal areas outside the classroom where the layout of the schools makes it difficult to maintain social distancing when staff and pupils are moving around the premises, for example, corridors.

The guidance can be found here:

16 to 19 Additional Funding 

Statement on use of funds

Total made available to St Thomas More School: £8354

We have directed these funds primarily towards supporting students in Years 12 and 13 to achieve a grade 4 or above in maths and English GCSEs. Although the funds can be used to support other subjects, we feel that the achieving of useful grades in English and maths should be a priority as so much depends in terms of future pathways on having these grades.

We would normally offer re-sit classes, but with this extra funding we have been able to offer additional small group classes and keep the numbers to an average of 4.6. The cost of this additional tutoring and the accompanying resources and revision materials is £5600.

We are very conscious of learning being disrupted and the need for high quality remote learning provision. Therefore we have also allocated some of these additional funds towards subscriptions to on-line tutoring packages at a cost of £2500. We have retained a small amount of funding to cover any additional expenses that may be incurred or to provide for any additional tutoring we may consider necessary as the students approach the resit exams in the summer term. 

Remote Education and Screen Safety

Good workstation ergonomics for teachers and pupils

Ergonomics is the study of workspace design and its effects on the worker. One of the most critical factors affecting the health of computer users is the design and layout of the workstation. A badly arranged workstation can lead to the adoption of a bad working posture with consequent back pains, neck pains as well as the risk of serious repetition injuries such as tenosynovitis and carpal tunnel syndrome or visual problems. Ergonomics is about ensuring a good ‘fit’ between people and the equipment they use.  The likelihood of pupils or staff suffering health problems linked to computer use is related to the amount of time spent using them.

The most important factor in workstation design is adjustability. This is particularly important in schools because a wide range of users of different sizes and shapes will be using the equipment. Choosing equipment on the basis of price alone will almost always be a false economy.

As well as the equipment being adjustable, users must know how to make the necessary adjustments. The adjustments should be easy to make and it should be possible to make the most common adjustments from the working position.

Particular problems are likely to arise in infant schools where pupil desk heights and chair sizes will not be adaptable to suit adults. Staff should always ensure that, as a minimum they sit on a chair designed for an adult when working with a very young child. See NEU health and safety briefing Classroom Ergonomics.

Set out below is advice on the features of workstations which require particular attention in schools:


In order to achieve a comfortable keyboard position, users must not be either hunched over the keyboard or having to stretch out to reach it. It may be necessary to push the display screen further back to create more room for the keyboard, hands and wrists. It is important to keep wrists straight when keying, and not overstretch the fingers.


Most devices are best placed right beside the keyboard. Users should be encouraged to relax their arm and keep their wrist straight. Smaller pupils should not have to stretch their arm across the desk to reach the mouse. Very young pupils may need a mouse designed to fit a child’s hand.  Left-handed users are likely to find a left-handed mouse more comfortable to use so these should be made available on request.


It is important that the chair is adjustable to accommodate a wide range of heights. To have forearms in the correct keying position, a short user will have to raise the chair height. The seat back should have a height and tilt adjustment, a seat height adjustment, a swivel mechanism and castors or gliders. Staff and pupils must be made aware of how to carry out the adjustments necessary. The user should have a straight back, supported by the chair with relaxed shoulders. Feet should rest flat on the floor. If they don’t, a foot rest will be needed. Chairs with arms can cause problems since they can prevent the user getting close enough to the equipment comfortably.

Display screens

Users need to be able to swivel and tilt the screen into a comfortable position. Whatever position is chosen by the user, the screen needs to be free from glare and reflections. This can be achieved by moving the screen, or even the desk and/or shielding the screen from the source of reflection through use of blinds.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

One of the major problems arising from ICT work is RSI, which describes a range of conditions characterised by pain, numbness or discomfort in the muscles, tendons, nerves and joints of the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and upper arm, and sometimes the shoulders and neck.

HSE guidance includes a range of advice which seeks to minimise the risk of RSI.  This includes guidance on the layout of workstations (furniture and equipment) and on work processes.

The HSE advises taking breaks from keyboard work of between five and ten minutes every hour, while the RSI Association recommends a break of a few minutes in each half hour.  The HSE also emphasises the importance of being relaxed, since RSI can be caused by tension and working under stress which tenses the muscles and restricts circulation.

Other steps to prevent RSI can include providing adjustable keyboards and wrist rests and ensuring users know how to use them properly, and providing copy/document holders and adequate space around the workstation as well.

RSI due to Mouse Use

Using a mouse may give rise to greater risks than using a keyboard because use of a mouse concentrates activity on one hand and on one or two fingers, which makes aches and pain in the fingers, hands, wrists, arms or shoulders more likely.


Display screen use cannot cause epilepsy and is unlikely to cause problems to sufferers of most forms of epilepsy.  Photosensitive epilepsy, however, is a rare form of epilepsy which puts the sufferer at an increased risk of experiencing an attack through display screen work.  It is unlikely that this form of epilepsy would become apparent for the first time through working with display screens but, as a precaution, enquiries should be made of parents where children are known to be suffering from epilepsy or are in an epilepsy risk category.

Skin Rashes

Skin rashes are sometimes reported amongst display screen workers.  In many cases environmental factors contribute to this problem but static-electric fields building up around screens, low level X-ray emissions and ultraviolet radiation given off by screens may be linked to skin rashes.  Again, further research is needed into this association.


Stress has been identified as a problem amongst ICT workers.  Again, factors contributing to this have included hot and noisy environments, poor workplace design, machine failures and social isolation.  The best means of combating stress is by observing the need for regular breaks from continuous screen work.

Risks due to use of laptops

Many schools offer laptop computers to pupils and staff for use within and outside school.  Their portability is their main advantage.  Some children, or even staff, may, however, still find them too heavy.

Laptops have to be compact enough to be easy to carry, resulting in design compromises like smaller keyboards and screens.  Laptop work is therefore less comfortable than work at standard sized equipment during prolonged use.  Careful consideration needs to be given to where and how laptops are used in schools.  It is worth noting that it is possible to purchase regular-sized keyboards to attach to these computers.  Staff who spend a lot of time at home working on their own laptop computer may wish to consider this.  For staff who do so, see also the checklist below.

Specific training and information should be given for laptop users on minimising risks, including sitting comfortably, angling the screen to minimise reflections and, wherever possible, placing the laptop on a firm surface at the right height for keying.

The HSE has suggested that the following ergonomic factors be taken into account when choosing portable computers:

  • choose a lighter weight model of 3kg or less, with a large and clear screen (14 inch diagonal or more;
  • select one with the longest battery life possible;
  • choose a lightweight carry case with handle and shoulder straps.

Smartphones and tablets

The main hazards inherent in such equipment are:

  • repetitive strain injury (RSI).  The small size of the keyboards fitted on such devices can lead to RSI problems;
  • musculo-skeletal disorders arising from the posture adopted when using tablets and other mobile devices;
  • eye strain and visual fatigue caused by squinting to view the small screen; and
  • stress - arising from the fact that the device is always on, so the user feels that he or she is always at work.

Other hazards stem from the locations in which such portable devices are used.  Back pain and general musculo-skeletal disorders can arise from their use in unsuitable places such as trains and cafes.  Fears of theft of the equipment lead to stress and anxiety about personal safety, whilst for those who literally use such technology ‘on the move’ there is the very real risk of injuries arising as a result of slips, trips and falls.

Small communications devices are of course subject to the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992, if they are in use for prolonged periods as part of someone’s work.  The HSE is aware of anecdotal reports of wrist and thumb pain arising from the heavy use of thumbs in typing words onto such handheld devices, and advises that any such risks should be managed in the normal way, i.e. the employer should carry out a risk assessment as they would for a laptop computer.  The HSE also recommends that smartphone users should avoid heavy usage of the equipment in poor working environments, such as where the conditions are cramped or there is inadequate lighting. 

Where full-sized DSE equipment is available, e.g. back in the office, there is no need to use small palm-top devices, and smartphone users are advised to take more frequent breaks to compensate for the ergonomic disadvantages inherent in the equipment.  - taken from