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Letter from Headteacher - Planned Reopening of Schools

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.

 

 

  • Children with conditions which render them clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend school.  Children who live with someone with conditions which render them clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend school.  A list of these conditions is included as an appendix

 

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:

 

  • Avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms
  • Frequent hand cleaning and good food hygiene practices
  • Regular cleaning of settings
  • Minimising contact and mixing

 

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.

 

  •  Nursery will form one group and Reception one group. Pupils in Year 1 and Year 6 will work in groups of no more that 15 as recommended. Group sizes will be determined by taking into account the needs of the children and the size of the room in which they will work. Wherever possible children will consistently be taught by the same staff member in order to reduce ‘contact points’. This may mean that your child may not be placed with their current teacher or based in their current classroom. The groups of 15 will not mix with other groups ie they will socially distance from other groups.
  • Groups of children (and adults) must be kept separate from each other at all times including in lessons, breaks and mealtimes wherever possible.
  • In order to reduce ‘contact points’ the school timetable is likely to be staggered including:  break times and meal times.
  • Classrooms will be redesigned in order to promote safe practice. With older children this will mean an allocated table and the removal of additional furniture from classrooms. We recognise that younger children cannot be expected to remain at a desk for lengthy periods of time and so this may be managed by reducing group sizes further.
  • Reduction in the number and nature of resources – particularly play-based resources for younger children – to enable regular cleaning; and the removal of other furniture and resources from classrooms.
  • Whilst most lessons will follow exactly the same format as per our daily home learning lessons ie the children will continue to use tapestry or class do jo so that there is continuity and staff are only preparing one set of lessons. The school will place an emphasis on well-being and mental health. We will spend a lot of time outdoors as the risk of transmission is reduced when in the open air.
  • Staff ratios in the Early Years will remain in place
  • All previously planned gatherings (Y6 Leavers’ Assembly, Sports Days, summer fair, walk day etc) will not take place pending further guidance
  • As part of our risk assessment, it is possible that staff might follow the advice of their professional bodies and choose to wear PPE in order to manage the risk of transmissions – particularly when administering first aid or supporting intimate care
  • Stringent additional handwashing and cleaning will need to take place throughout the day to help manage the risk of infection. 
  • Nursery children will not be permitted to attend an additional setting during this period.
  • Children and staff who present with COVID-19 symptoms will be isolated prior to being sent home. All children and staff will be eligible for a test for COVID-19 if displaying symptoms.

 

 

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.

 

 

Nicola Smallwood

 

 

 

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