After the Prime Minister’s announcement about a wider reopening of schools to some children, we have been working our way through the guidance and trying to see how we can do this safely for everyone. Meetings and discussions have taken place with Senior Leaders, staff and the Governing Board. Our priority is to ensure that our environment is as safe as possible for a wider opening, and that we have adapted our school environment to reduce as far as possible the risk of infection to everyone who comes into our buildings.
The Governing Board have agreed that we need to have a cautious and sensible approach for everyone in the school community, our children, their families, our staff and any others we may come into contact with. The parental survey indicated very few parents would be considering sending their child back on wider opening. We respect this decision and feel you must do the right thing for your child and family.
The guidance from the Government and other bodies has been very slow to arrive and has changed constantly over time. We had guidance from the Government, the unions and the local authority and it does not always give the same message. Therefore, it has taken quite some time to ensure we had the correct information to share with you and had followed a thorough process before sharing.
In short, looking at everything that is expected of us as a Federation, the staff, the children, the parents and all the guidance and legislation issued, along with our specific risk assessment, the Governing Board have made the following decisions.
- No wider opening will take place on the 1st June. We expect key worker requests will continue to increase, and the Government says that we have to prioritise these first. These will be limited, so if after reading the guidance you feel you may need a key worker space, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible so we can see if we can offer this. Please see the attached information specifically for key worker spaces and regulations. Please note that if your child needs key worker provision they cannot be in with their year group as we are not allowed to mix children in different bubbles.
- We will not include Reception as part of our wider opening. Having looked at all of the requirements on us, and the way we would have to work, the decision has been made that it would be inappropriate for Reception children to be in school at this time. If you read through the measures we have to have in place, we hope you will understand why. It cannot be the rich, play based environment they are used to and they would not have their own teacher or classroom.
- We will start our wider opening for Year 6 only.This will be no sooner than the week commencing 8th June, but we will have direct contact with those parents/carers to give a firm date, as it depends if there are changes to guidance, if we have had delivery of PPE, if we have enough staff. If you read further you will see the measures we have to have in place.
- We will then review how the Year 6 process has worked, and we will then consider wider opening to year 1.We cannot give an exact date for this, as it depends on when we invite Year 6 and when we feel confident to extend the opening to Year 1, who are one of the Government priority year groups. Please note that this will only be four days a week to allow a thorough clean to take place. It is most likely it will be Monday to Thursday for Year 6, but we will let you know.
It is unlikely we will be able to open further than this before the summer holidays, but we will keep it under review and keep you informed. We retain our commitment to providing home learning for all other children during this time, in line with available resources, including staffing.
We want to be open and honest with you, our families, as we have been from the beginning. Some have said they could not answer the survey sent to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, as quite rightly, they wanted more information to make an informed decision. Equally, some feel there has been too much information, and view the messages as being negative, which is never our intention. Please be assured that we are trying to ensure we share with you the information we have so you can make the right choice for your family.
The decision to send your child or not remains yours. There will be no action or fines put in place at this time for parents/carers who make the decision for their child to stay at home. We know parents all over the country, including our staff, are having to make this decision. Whatever you decide, that is fine.
If you do decide to send your child, they have to come every day. You cannot say no and expect a place at a later date, as we need to organise the bubbles (see below), the staffing and the available spaces. There may not be a space at a later date. Children need to attend every day the provision is open if they accept a place, unless they are unwell or isolating.
As much as we would love to see all of our children, we know we can’t. But please know we miss them and look forward to when this is possible. The schools are not schools without all of our children being here.
Year 6 parents will be sent a further survey this week asking yes or no to sending their child to school having considered the information shared. We will look at replies on 1st June and contact parents after this. This will give you just over a week to consider your decision. You will not be able to bring or send a child if you have not had a space confirmed.
Further information to help make an informed decision about if your child attends school as part of a wider opening
In order to maintain the social distancing and other requirements, we have to do many things, none of which are how we would normally operate.The following information is shared in response to parents/carers requesting full information before a decision is made. These procedures come from the risk assessment we had to complete and the guidance we have been given to follow.
Arrival and departure from school
- Parents will not be allowed onto the site. They will have to maintain social distancing by queuing outside on the pavement, at 2 metre intervals, and they will need to ensure they keep their child with them.
- Start and finish times will be staggered. We cannot give exact timings yet as we need to know how many pupils will be coming first. You will have to stick to your allocated start and finish time and should not arrive to the site more than five minutes before to maintain social distancing. This is the same for collection. Children must arrive on their given time slot, we cannot have children arriving part way through.
- Parents and carers must make sure their child stays with them for the entire journey to and from school.Children should not run ahead or mix with friends, and parents/carers must observe a social distance from other parents/carers and children on their way to school.
- If Year 6 walk alone, the parents/carers must ensure they know they are not to meet friends and walk together on the way to or from school, and they cannot go to the park etc on their way. They must come straight to school for their allocated start time, and not before.
- Staff will meet the children and they will queue at a social distance on the playground or other muster point before being walked into school, maintaining that 2 metre distance.
- Bikes, scooters etc MUST NOT be brought to school under any circumstances. Children must walk or be brought by parents.We have also been told to inform parents not to use public transport unless necessary, and to wear a face mask if they do.
- On arrival and departure, children will be expected to wash their hands.
- No bags should be brought to school. No pencil cases should be brought to school. Children may only bring a packed lunch in a hard plastic lunch box, which must be washed very night, a water bottle and a bottle of hand sanitiser if required. A packet of tissues and a bottle of hand soap may be useful.Hand sanitiser and soap can be left in school, so send them on the first day, clearly labelled.
- The school day will be shorter to allow for a clean at the end of the day
- Only one adult is allowed to accompany a child to school or collect.You should not bring other children if possible, but if you have no choice you have to keep them with you, the whole family has to walk together.
- If your child is in Year 6 and walks to or from school alone, and usually brings a phone, please note we cannot handle them or look after them as we usually would, so they bring this at their own risk as it would need to remain on a table in the classroom, to minimise the risk of cross contamination between homes and children.
- The guidance says if someone in your house is clinically vulnerable or shielding then they should not bring a child to school.
- If a child arrives at the gates and refuses to come in for any reason, we will not be able to support them to come in as we have to maintain social distancing.You would need to take them home and maybe try the following day.
Groupings in school.This is what guidance says to do to maintain safety as far as possible, and what our context requires.
- Reduce class sizes. The Government say no more than 15 per room, but we cannot fit in 15 and maintain social distancing. We can only fit in between 7 and 10, depending on class size. The classes have been marked out in 2m squares and each child is allocated a space and a table of their own. They will use this table every day. They will keep their lunch boxes, water bottles and sanitiser on the tables.
- Have planned toilet breaks to ensure there is only one child at a time in the toilets and others wait at a social distance. We know this may be difficult for some children and it is equally difficult to ensure when we have a limited number of facilities and children who will be in different class bases.
- Keep children in a ‘bubble’ to reduce the risk of infection. What this means is that we will be allocating each child to a ‘bubble.’ They will stay in this bubble all day. They will not mix with other children from other bubbles at any point, and they will not mix within the bubble. Children will be allocated to a bubble and there is no parental or child choice in this. We will be allocating for a list to ensure we know who has been in contact with who, so if there was a case, we can track the contacts made and put the measures in place that are required.
- Allocate staff to a bubble.This means children will not be taught by their own teacher or be in their own classroom. We aim to keep the staff consistent in each bubble. Children cannot change bubbles.
- The children will eat lunch in their own bubbles. No hot lunches will be available, only a school packed lunch which will only have a set menu. The lunches will be delivered to the door.
- Lunch should be brought in a hard plastic lunch box.Normal school lunch rules apply
- Lunch break will be shortened
Arrangements in class
- Each child will have an allocated table in a 2 metre square, marked with tape.
- Each child will have a wallet of allocated resources, eg stationery.They will be the only person to use this
- Books will not be marked in accordance with current guidance
- There will be planned toilet breaks for each bubble.Only one child can be in each toilet at a time
- There will be a limited curriculum in line with what can be offered.It will most likely mirror the on line learning we share as staff will still need to try to deliver this for those who do not come.
- We are expected to teach the children infection control education in an age appropriate way.The Government says that ‘we are to encourage pupils to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school and in their wider community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread.’
- All soft furnishings and toys that cannot be easily washed or could be put in the mouth have been removed.
- Children are not allowed to share equipment.
- Guidance says we should avoid close contact in the first instance.We should consider minor injuries where we might be able to instruct a child as to what they need to do in line with their age, eg wipe a cut, put on a plaster.
- If closer contact is needed for symptomatic or non symptomatic children, we have to wear the following PPE: disposable gloves, plastic apron, fluid repellent surgical mask, visor.
Other measures for first aid and symptoms
- We will take temperatures throughout the day using an infra red thermometer.If a child has a temperature, they will sit in the isolation room and you will have to collect them immediately.
- If a child has any symptoms they will sit in the isolation room and you will have to collect them immediately.
- Once taken home, even if a parent feels a child is well, they have to isolate for the given time, along with others in the household.
- If there is a confirmed case, we have to follow the instructions in the guidance.If this happens we will let you know what this is as it changes over time. We would let everyone know who had been in the bubble with the child.
Other things to take into consideration
- Social distancing is maintained at all times, including in the corridors and when outside.This means children cannot play collaboratively or interact in the usual way.
- Governors have agreed that if confidence is increased by doing so, staff may wear a mask. Some children may find this unusual, so please prepare your child for this.
- Personal items other than those permitted are not allowed in school.
- Children will most likely not be in their own classroom, or with their own teacher. They may also not be in their own building.
- Children, as staff do, should wear a totally clean and freshly washed set of clothes to school every day.They must not wear clothes from a previous day unless they have been washed. When they get home, clothes should be taken off and put in the washing machine.
- No PE kit or other clothes should be brought to school, but if your child may have a toileting accident, then please supply a spare set to be kept in the office.
- If your child has medication usually in school, they will need to bring it with them to be kept in school.We aim to avoid things transferring between home and school.
- If you need to speak to someone in the office, you must ring the office and not come in person.
- There will be no face to face meetings with staff and no opportunity to discuss things at drop off or collection.
- Spaces may change, eg location of bubbles, if deep cleans are required or there are any issues with that area.
- Children who need key worker provision at any time cannot join the year group provision as we have to keep bubbles separate.
- We will be adding to our behaviour policy as required around specific behaviour procedures during this time.Any child whose behaviour could be detrimental to the safety of others, eg spitting, coughing on someone, scratching etc will not be allowed to attend and will have to be collected. The safety of everyone is vital.
- The Governors have agreed that for the safety of staff and others, any child who has a risk assessment that shows they pose a high risk due to documented previous behaviours that could spread the disease (eg spitting, biting), or would require physical handling or would be unable to practise safe social distancing cannot attend school at this time.
We have enhanced cleaning in place to minimise risk as far as possible.
- Each school has been ‘fogged’ which sanitises the environment
- Staff clean door handles, touch plates etc hourly and all desks are sanitised at the beginning and end of the day.
- Classes and other areas are cleaned at the end of the day
- Hand soap and sanitisers are available in every room
With best wishes
Joanna Pedlow (Headteacher) and Jill Smith (Chair of Governors)