When the stain says ‘hot’… but the label says ‘not’.

Just as all the on-camera, national news level noise is about whole scale relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, schools in Sheffield have been instructed to move in the opposite direction. We were advised in the strongest terms to stop all face-to-face pupil transition visits between schools.

Infections in Sheffield, and nationally, are rising rapidly. Hospitalisations are also rising. Vaccination numbers are rising, too, of course, but the worrying data is still worrying. The rising numbers appear to be due to one variant and more than before amongst the younger generations.

So we in schools have been told, without warning, to halt certain activities that would, in their normal form, involve considerable levels of mixing and contacts outside the protected school ‘bubble’ structures.

You probably have to know a little about secondary school intakes to realise why it’s a potential problem. A school with a capacity of 1,200 pupils has 240 in each year group. They might be coming from a huge number of primary feeder schools – it is not uncommon for the cohort to have come out of 12 or more primary schools. Those children inevitably are mixed up as they enter new Form groups, and so on a transition visit they would be mixed together. To get the secondary school experience on a day visit they need to do the labs, the IT facility, a workshop, the gym, the refectory and so on, continually going where other groups have been during the same day.

The potential for one asymptomatic child to pass on the Covid-19 virus is deemed too great. The opportunity for secondary schools to limit risk is deemed too small. The answer is to not proceed with the planned activity as it is not, for the vast majority of the children, essential.

Summer schools, for just Year 7 children, will still take place in August, but transition visits will pause.

In the meantime we do not know what to plan for, for September – restrictions, no restrictions, national schemes, local contexts and directions?

I am not saying any of the advice is wrong - the professional know whatthey are talking about and we must accept this change. The shortness of notice must be accepted, too.

I hope parents and children will understand that such decisions are made from caution and for public safety and well-being.

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