The prime minister has just made yet another announcement which schools heard of when you did. We had no prior warning in what he was about to say.
He said that if all the indicators are as they need to be they ‘may’ consider Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returning after May half term. That was not definite, it was a may. But those words will understandably raise both expectations and anxieties amongst parents/carers, families and children.
We know you will have many questions about this, but we, like you, have only just seen the announcement so we cannot answer all of your questions. We are waiting to receive more information from the government about what this means for our children and families.
If we had to have all of the children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, that makes 270 children. Social distancing rules are still in place currently. The most children we can fit in with social distancing is 8-10 in each classroom. There are many other additional complications to consider. All children in Reception and Year 1 are brought to school by an adult, who will also often have with them other brothers and sisters. That would make possibly around 450 plus people coming to the schools at the beginning and end of the day. How would you socially distance those people on their journey to and from school. Those are just some initial thoughts to consider, there are many more.
If your child is in one of those year groups, please don’t automatically assume they will be returning on that date. The prime minister said ‘may’ and not ‘will’. Even if he still thinks this is the way forward, we cannot do it if we do not have the resources, the staffing, the space and the ability to maintain the safety of everyone in our school community. So it will be a difficult time trying to work through the expectations, but leave that to us. We will be carrying out risk assessments in line with the official guidance, once it is shared.
Whilst we have only been open to key worker children, staff have been in school working on a rota, planning work for the children, undertaking training, cleaning all classrooms, ringing parents and carers, checking on work submitted and supporting with other areas such as domestic abuse, food poverty, family breakdowns as well as a whole host of other work to support children and families. This continues for now, nothing has changed immediately.
All I can say is, please don’t worry about it now. We will look into it, see what other information comes out and do the very best we can, as we always try to do. It is a huge challenge, but we will look at everything we need to and use common sense and focused risk assessments. The first priority has to be the safety of everyone in the school community.
The Government may not have heard views from parents/carers, so do take that opportunity to contact them if you feel it may be helpful. You can find the details for your local MP and for the Director of Children’s Services on line. Contact them if you feel you would like to.
We will keep you informed throughout, so please do not ring in to ask questions. Please give us the time and space to do what we need to, to ask the questions, to make the plans and to think how we can look after our children as they remain the most important focus for us in all of this.
In the short term, nothing has changed. Schools remain currently closed. We will provide any further information in the coming days and weeks once we are able to do so.
We await further guidance from the Department for Education, the Local Authority, the unions and other advisory bodies. And the Government. We will ask the questions, we will work on the ‘how’, we will do all we can to look after our school community. In the meantime, carry on as you are currently, nothing is changing until at least the 1st of June, and maybe not even then. You are all doing an incredible job keeping your children safe, loved, supported and cared for, especially in such difficult circumstances. Keep on doing this. Leave the rest to us.
With best wishes to you all