18 May 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
Planned Reopening of Schools
I am writing to you following the Government’s recent announcement that signals the start of a phased return of children to schools.
At the moment, the government’s intention is to open primary schools initially in reduced numbers to children from Nursery, Reception, Year 1, Year 6, children with an EHCP and children of key workers from possibly the 1st June, with the ambition of bringing in all primary year groups before the summer holidays. It is important to state from the outset that this plan is conditional and depends upon whether the five key tests set by government justif the changes at the time. However, schools are being asked to plan on this basis, ahead of confirmation that these tests are met.
I would like to emphasise again that the safety of children, families and staff remains of paramount concern. We are currently in a RISK ASSESSMENT PHASE as directed by the Department for Education. We would like to stress our plans to prepare for a phased return will be based upon thorough planning to determine our capacity to implement the protective measures outlined by the Government for schools. This process is being carried out by all schools both locally and nationally at this time. And, whilst the plans in individual schools may eventually differ slightly based upon local circumstances, we are working closely with other local schools.
The government’s decision to begin with these groups of children is stated as “because there is moderately high scientific confidence in evidence suggesting younger children are less likely to become unwell if infected with coronavirus (COVID-19)” although the extent to which they act as carriers is not universally understood.
It is important to stress that we recognise that the decision whether or not you send your child back to school as part of the phased return is an extremely difficult one. I would like to stress that at All Saints’ School there is no expectation that parents should choose to send their children to school as part of this phased return should they not wish to. You should give careful consideration to the question before making a decision. During this period attendance at school will not be monitored in the usual way. Parents will not face consequences for non-attendance and schools will not be held to account for attendance levels.
I will write to you again once the risk assessment period is satisfactorily completed by school leaders and governors and this is currently subject to change as further guidance is provided by the DFE, Local Authority and unions. However, preparations have begun based upon how we will implement the protective measures outlined by the government and what school may look like
Preparations to implement protective measures outlined by the Government.
The government recognises that, “unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2m apart from each other and staff”. Therefore, protective measures recommended by the government will not include social distancing as we have come to understand it. Instead schools should take into account the following hierarchy of measures:
At All Saints’ CE School we are working hard to put into place rigorous control measures to best meet these requirements. Parents should be advised that the safety of children, families and staff remain our highest priority. We will always strive to reduce risk by adhering to the latest guidance and stringent safety practices however, we are unable to guarantee the complete removal of risk.
Implications for school organisation as part of a phased return.
I recognise the difficult decision placed on all of our families. I hope that you understand that the information provided in this letter is not aimed at causing any additional fear or anxiety. However, we feel that it is important that we provide some additional information on how we will implement protective measures in order to keep children, families and staff as safe as we are able and how these will impact on the day to day running of the school. It should be remembered that risk cannot be entirely removed and so it is for parents to come their own decision based upon the information that we have provided.
I will then advise you of finalised plans as soon as we are able.
I would like to thank all parents for their cooperation and support of the school during this challenging time. Whilst, we know that home schooling in itself presents problems we are so impressed with how this has been handled. I have loved seeing all the work, parachutes, dances, baking etc.
I will write again when we are nearer finalising our plans.
Take care and stay safe.