We hope that your school communities are safe and enjoying the return of your students. As we approach the Easter holidays we wanted to write and provide an update on the centre and our own ‘Ordnance Survey’ map to recovery. We think the roadmap analogy has been a little overused elsewhere and the OS map is more in keeping with our service!
- Our Team: Most of our team remain furloughed and well. The four of us that remain at work are looking after the house and estate as well as our bookings and finances. Our Health and Safety policies will be the envy of North Tyneside! As we head closer to receiving visitors, we are starting to prioritise key tasks in preparation. Things now feel like they are moving forwards rather than merely treading water.
- Government Permissions: We are still awaiting guidance on educational visits restarting dates from the DfE. This includes both day courses and residentials. An announcement is hopefully expected this week beginning the 22nd of March. Any developments here will be aligned with the Government’s plans that lead us out of the pandemic.
- Uncertain about returning at this time? We feel the need to acknowledge that schools may need time before visiting us again. There will be financial pressures and confidence issues to address for many. Once we can resume our operations, we will do all that we can to assist in getting your children here again when it is right for you.
- Council Standards: North Tyneside Council has its own recovery plan to allow their services to resume safely. We are awaiting approval from the Recovery Covid Group before commencing day courses and residentials. This can only be progressed once the Government permission is granted. Although these checks may seem like hurdles, the ultimate reason behind them is to ensure that we open safely and look after our staff and customers.
- Cumbrian Vaccinations and Testing: As in Tyneside the vaccination scheme here in Cumbria is making good progress. Several of our team have now had their first jabs, with others to follow. We have also been taking voluntary regular lateral flow testing to help protect those staff currently working in the centre. We are looking at the possibilities of in -house testing which should support our staff and eventually customers.
- Bookings: The great financial support from North Tyneside has allowed us to ensure that no school, or family has been financially penalised through a Pandemic related cancellation or postponement. We aim to be in contact with schools after the Easter holidays to make bookings for the 21/22 school year. Priority will be given to North Tyneside Schools and our Partnership Schools that have established traditional bookings slots. At this stage we simply don’t know about this summer term’s residentials, but with each delay they do unfortunately seem more unlikely. For those schools who have been able to remain interested we will be in contact as soon as we know anything.
- Onwards and upwards: Recent developments have included new office carpets: it’s important to keep Debbie in the manner to which she is accustomed! We are looking to appoint a new housekeeper / cook within the next few months, hopefully in time for us re opening. Our long-awaited sit on top kayaks have been delivered. It is very exciting to be able to offer a new activity for our customers. Staff training, licence updates and new racking for them are all in hand.
- We still have our proposed North Tyneside Activity Days in the pipeline. Some schools have expressed an interest in these for the children that have missed out on their residentials. We will look to resume these as soon as we are able in the summer term for Coastal Adventures at Druridge Bay, Climbing Wall Days, Canoeing and Orienteering at Killingworth Lake or a ‘Now get out of that’ challenge in your school grounds. A flyer for this is attached. We will set dates for these once we have clearance to start.
Please feel free to get in touch, even if you just fancy a chat! We will not actively chase bookings until we have some more guidance and certainty, however it’s always helpful to know your intentions so we can support you where possible.
James Bumby, Rob Smith, and the High Borrans Team