Returning to school in September
Please read below or download as a pdf here –
We are now able to let everyone know our current plans for the opening of the school in September (we open on Wednesday 2nd September).
In March when the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was increasing, we made clear no parent would be penalised or sanctioned for their child’s non-attendance at school. Now the circumstances have changed and it is vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the pandemic on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development. Attendance at school is therefore required for all children.
What we have done
Our priority throughout these unprecedented times has been the health, safety and wellbeing of pupils and staff. We also recognise that for some families this has been, and continues to be, a period of heightened anxiety. We hope that the detail included within this letter is helpful. There is a lot to read – but you do need to read each section carefully as there is important information you need to act on.
There is a short film here that you must play to your child/children as it explains to them what things will be like in September – https://youtu.be/DzVzEqi1pmw
Based on the government guidance, we have completed a detailed risk assessment, which has been approved by the Governors of the school and submitted to the County Council.
This letter explains how we plan to try to keep our school COVID-safe. It contains information on:
- Essential measures
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Hygiene and cleaning
- Your role in keeping everyone safe
- What will happen if we have a suspected infection in a Pod
- What school will be like?
- What to do at drop off and pick up times
- Using the school office/contacting us.
1. Essential measures
These are the overriding principles for the safe opening of our school:
- a requirement that people who are ill stay at home
- robust hand and respiratory hygiene
- enhanced cleaning arrangements
- active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
- reduced contacts and maximised distancing between those in school wherever possible and minimise potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable
As far as we can, we will keep children in class or year group ‘pods’. This means:
- staggered and segregated break and lunch times
- no whole school events or assemblies
- children will use the same toilet and handwashing facilities for the whole day. Some pods will have their own designated toilets. Some pods will have to share facilities with one other pod.
We also have to ensure that:
- classrooms are arranged with forward facing desks
- staff maintain a 2 metre distance from pupils and other staff as much as possible
2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Staff working in the school may wear face protection, but this is not mandatory unless they are not able to maintain social distancing measures.
- Pupils are not required to wear face protection.
- For any intimate care, staff will wear a face mask, visor and apron (for example, for first aid and nappy changing).
Pupils do not need to wear face protection at school. If they wear this on the way to school, it needs to be put into a bag (labelled) on entry to school and left there until the end of the day.
3. Hygiene and cleaning
Social distancing needs to be combined with good personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing with running water and soap or hand gel for at least twenty seconds and dried thoroughly.
All children will be required to wash their hands on entering the school, at regular intervals during the day, and before they go home. Pupils will be encouraged to adopt good respiratory hygiene practices, including the disposal of used tissues.
Our cleaning staff, supported by all staff, will work to high standards of cleaning, including disposing of used tissues twice daily, and the cleaning of high-traffic surfaces and door handles during the day.
Resources that children need to use in the pods, such as PE equipment, library books, D&T tools etc, will be cleaned after use and left in quarantine for 72 hours before another pod can use it.
4. Your role in keeping everyone safe
The latest government advice can be obtained from https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Maintaining the integrity of the pods is essential. At the start of each day we would like you to do the following:
- Check your child for symptoms of COVID-19 (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/)
- Seek medical advice if they have them and contact firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
- Ensure that your children wash their hands for 20 seconds using water and soap before and after school;
- Talk to them about any worries they might have.
- If you are going abroad this summer then you may have to self isolate when you return. You must allow for this two week period, as your child has to be able to come to school on 2nd September. More details from the govt here.
5. What happens if we have a suspected infection in a pod?
If we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school population, I will inform all parents.
Currently, if there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a pod, we intend that the pod group will need to be suspended. That Pod will close temporarily while all members of the pod and family take part in the ‘Test and Trace’ system. This may result in a 14-day period of isolation. During this time, learning will be provided remotely.
If a local area sees a spike in infection rates that is resulting in localised community spread, appropriate authorities will decide which measures to implement to help contain the spread. This may result in the closure of the school.
6. What will school be like?
We will try and make school as normal as possible – with some adaptations to allow for the uniqueness of the situation.
Here is a special film introducing the new measures that pupils can expect to find when they come back to school – https://youtu.be/DzVzEqi1pmw . You can play this to them so they know a bit more about what to expect. This will be reiterated in the first assembly when we get back to school.
You may wish to read/listen to one of the following books:
- ‘I don’t want to wash my hands’ by Tony Ross
- ‘Coronavirus: A Book for children’ illustrated by Axel Scheffler
We understand that children will probably be feeling unsettled and we will therefore be making their social and emotional needs our first priority on their return. We have been working as a staff to ensure that we have the skills and plans in place to meet these needs.
First two weeks
The first two weeks of school will focus on two whole school projects: one for art and one for D&T. This should provide an opportunity for the new classes to get to know each other, build relationships, and have some space in the curriculum to meet the needs of the children. We are asking our staff to take more time to meet the social and emotional needs of the children.
Although the full curriculum will not be fully implemented until next Summer, the government still plans to carry out all the normal school testing arrangements such as SATs, phonics check, and times table checks. Pupils in year 2 that missed the year 1 phonics check this Summer will be tested this Autumn instead.
Equipment every child needs
Pupils will need to bring:
- their own stationery (pen, pencil, pencil crayons, eraser, pencil sharpener, glue stick) in a named pencil case (wipe clean and labelled with their name). The pencil case needs to be plain (nothing fancy) that is very easy to wipe clean. Once brought in, these items will stay in school until the end of the term.
- a water bottle, sun cream and a sun hat, plus any other normal medication. Please put names on everything.
- do not bring anything else. If you can avoid bringing in a school bag, please do so.
- bikes and scooters will not be allowed on site.
Pupils will need to wear normal school uniform. There is no requirement this is washed each day. Sensible plain black shoes are still essential.
To save space in the classrooms, and reduce contact, your child is allowed to wear their PE kit to school on the days they have PE.
- We will have to do a lot more PE outside, so a tracksuit will be essential for the Autumn and Spring terms.
Many children have issues tying their own laces. If your child can not tie a lace, please buy velcro shoes. We have to reduce the amount of contact between adults and children.
Have a school dinner!
The school kitchen will be open for business as usual.
The risk of cross contamination by children bringing packed lunches into school means we would prefer pupils to have a school dinner.
- Reception and Key Stage 1 children will be eating their free school lunch in the hall (in their pods).
- All other children will collect their lunch from the hall and eat in their classrooms.
Because we have to reduce the amount of contact between adults and children, please ensure your child can use a knife and fork correctly. This is a good skill to learn over the Summer.
If your child has to have a packed lunch, this will be stored in their classroom.
Before and After School Club is allowed to operate as normal. You can book this on School Comms. Other clubs may open, but we anticipate a drastically reduced provision.
The play equipment is completely out of bounds before and after school.
7. What to do at Drop off and Pick up times
Please do not arrive before or after these times
- Nursery – 8:45am (at the Nursery gates, exiting through the main playground).
- 08:45 – Cedar, Sycamore and Cherry classes.
- 08:55 – Willow, Rowan and Chestnut classes.
- 09:05 – Beech, Ash and Oak classes.
If you have more than one child, the pick up and drop off time will always be the earlier one.
DROP OFF points in the morning
- Large Green gate (parents who arrive from Barn Lane/Greenway Lane direction);
- Small Green gate (parents who arrive from Bedlands Lane/Knowle direction);
- Moor Lane gate (parents who arrive from Moormead and town centre direction).
- I am asking you all to avoid driving if at all possible. This is extremely important to avoid crowding on the pavements around the school.
- Only one adult is allowed at drop off per family. Adults must wear face coverings.
- Please do not congregate around the school premises after drop-off.
- Maintain social distancing at all times.
- There will be markings on pathways to encourage this.
- Please do not stand directly outside the gate – the markings will start a couple of metres from the gates.
- Pupils will enter the site without their adult.
- For Reception pupils, or those with more need, one parent will be allowed onto the school site. Please maintain social distancing at all times.
- If your child is in year 5 or 6, and they are suitably mature and trained, please encourage them to walk to school on their own.
On entering school, your child will be directed to line up outside their classroom. A member of staff will supervise their handwashing and direct them to their seats.
Pick up – end of day
Please do not arrive before or after these times
- 15:00 – Nursery children (enter Nursery gate and exit via the playground).
- 15:15 – Cedar, Sycamore and Cherry
- 15:25 – Willow, Rowan and Chestnut
- 15:35 – Beech, Oak and Ash
- We are encouraging Year 5 and 6 children, where appropriate and with parents agreement, to walk home by themselves, or meet parents at a predetermined place nearby.
Entry Points for parents to PICK UP
- There is only one entry point, which will be the Moor Lane gate (next to the library, opposite the Burial Ground).
- Only one parent will be allowed. Adults must wear face coverings.
- Please do not congregate on or around the school premises.
- There will be markings on pathways to encourage social distancing.
- You will follow the one way system and wait on a blue dot on the playground.
- Your child will be sent to meet you.
- You will then leave via the one way system, via the green gates.
Please do not come to the office to collect your child.
If your child is in Reception and doing a half day, please wait at the Big Green Gate at 1:15pm.
8. School office or contacting us
Please do not come to the School Office unless a member of staff has asked you to come in.
- The glass screen to the office will remain closed but there will be a box for dropping off items.
- Please make all payments via Schoolcomms.
If you need to contact the school office please do so by telephone (01395 443167) or email email@example.com
Thank you for your understanding during these tricky times. We are all looking forward to a time when school can return to normal. We are missing your children as much as you miss sending them to school. If you have any thoughts, concerns or worries, then please do get in contact.
Steve and the team