Thank you for your patience whilst we plan for a possible return to school. As you can imagine, there are many factors to consider and much to organise. The guidance provided by the Government is scant to say the least and is not definitive, more of a 'maybe' and a 'could'. We are committed to opening ONLY when it is safe for staff, pupils and parents, however one person’s definition of 'safe' is different to another's, which provides great challenge.
Yesterday we asked parents to say if they would send their child back to school on 1st June, if they felt it was safe, so we could gauge pupil numbers to format a plan. The government have said no more than 15 pupils in a class, and as some of you have pointed out, there are no more than 15 in EYFS and Year 1 combined, therefore why would we alternate year groups. Our aim is to minimise cross over of groups. If we end up with 15 children of mixed EYFS and year 1 including any vulnerable children and key worker children wanting to attend, we will accommodate those children as 1 group with one teacher and 2 teaching assistants. However, if there are more than 15 we will have to alternate year groups. The reason for this is most of our our schools only have 2 classrooms which feed into one another, narrow corridors, limited toilets and small cloakroom areas. In order to spread the children out safely we could not have 2 classes in together totaling more than 15, we need to use the whole building for 15 children. This has been recognised by teaching unions, the Dfe and the government.
The government publication, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings
clearly states that;
We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account. Schools should therefore work through the hierarchy of measures set out above:
It is still important to reduce contact between people as much as possible, and we can achieve that and reduce transmission risk by ensuring children, young people and staff where possible, only mix in a small, consistent group and that small group stays away from other people and groups.
Children will need to stay within their new class/group wherever possible and we will ask settings to implement a range of protective measures including increased cleaning, reducing ‘pinch points’ (such as parents dropping children off at the start and end of the day), and utilising outdoor space. Staff and pupils in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with coronavirus symptoms, as will members of their households. A negative test will enable children to get back to childcare or education, and their parents to get back to work. A positive test will ensure rapid action to protect their classmates and staff in their setting.
To this end we have started the process for a return, in order to do this schools have to;
We have started on 1,2, 3 and 6 and are keeping in regular contact with yourselves (8). Phase 2 will be moving furniture (7) and sort resources (5) after which the buildings will be thoroughly cleaned (4). Only when all these measures are complete can we consider a date for re-opening.
The following are some FAQs that you have forwarded, and the answers that I have to date:
Do you have a plan for how schools will look and feel yet? Not yet, we are collating all guidance and information we need to create this but it will be communicated to you as soon as we have it. Once in place we can upload a video of how the school looks so this can be shared with your children in advance to prepare them.
If a child goes of sick with any symptoms would we be told? Following government guidelines surely we would all have to isolate our children for 14 days? We will follow all government guidelines and any local authority guidelines as they emerge. All staff, pupils and families can be tested if they display any symptoms, please see the links to the official guidance in this email. We will of course keep parents informed as necessary.
What will you do in terms of face coverings? Will the children be expected to wear these? And will staff be wearing them? There is no guidance for staff or pupils to wear face masks, there may be individuals who choose to do so but there will be no expectation for all to do this.
Will a clear plan of what you have put in place be sent out in advance of school opening?Absolutely.
How will you ensure that the children don't all touch the same resources? The children will have their own pencil case with essential resources. Boxes of toys etc will be reduced for easy cleaning. Unnecessary resources will be removed from the classroom. There will be more wiping down of surfaces during the day. Children will need to wash their hands frequently.
Will you take the temperature of the children as they come into school? No, that would be the responsibility of the parent/carer before they come to school. However, if any child is showing signs of illness we would take their temperature, quarantine them in a separate room until they are picked up by the parent/carer. Any relevant information would be shared with other parents.
Will staff wear PPE? No, there is no guidance to say this is necessary.
Can my child come to school if they have a normal cold? No, any signs of any illness your child will have to remain at home until completely well. All pupils and their families are eligible for testing and would be urged to do so at the first sign of any covid 19 symptoms.
Will hot lunches be provided? We have been in contact with the lunch providers and have no definite answer at present. We will inform you as soon as we know.
A member of our household is shielding, can my child attend school? The guidance is ONLY if schools can guarantee 2m distancing at all times. We cannot guarantee this and, see above, the government recognise this.
I have included the links to the government guidelines we have to date. Education unions are fighting for a delay in return to school as they feel it is too soon, and not enough time to prepare. As a federation we are making preparations so they are in place when the time is right to return, whether that is 1st June or later. We will keep you informed regularly.