Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - 19th May 2020
I am writing to update you on the current situation regarding school reopening and our planning. As you are aware, the Government has announced that schools are to open for children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from June 1st, as long as Coronavirus infection rates continue to decline. The Government has released to schools a large amount of guidance to help us plan and manage this as safely and effectively as possible. Strict social distancing, which means maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, is not possible with children, especially the younger children.
While we are still planning many of the details, you might like to know some of the ways the guidance will affect the school day:
- Children will be divided into groups of no more than 15 and have one or two staff members assigned to their group
- Children will be in these groups for the whole school day and the different groups of children in school will not be able to mix with other groups
- Children will have play time and lunch time with their own group, separate from other groups. Children will not be able to play the team games they are used to eg, football and basketball
- Classrooms will look different; we will remove a lot of furniture and equipment so that we can spread the children out as far as possible and clean the surfaces regularly
- Children in Years 1 and 6 will sit at individual desks
- Children will eat lunch in the classroom; the hall will not be used
- We will ask parents to drop off and pick up children in different groups at slightly different times, so that we do not have large groups of people gathering at any one time
- School will close at lunch time on Fridays to allow time for the school to be deep cleaned
- The usual summer term events such as sports days and leavers’ parties will be cancelled. We are considering alternative ways of marking the end of the school year.
There will be many other details which we will need to share with you, but I feel it is important you begin to understand how school will look when it is time to reopen. We will share further information about this, including photos, for you to share with your children before they return to school.
Should the Government decide it is safe for us to reopen, we will start to do so from Wednesday 3rd June. Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd June will be INSET days to allow for staff training and the implementation of enhanced health and safety measures.
We understand that parents and carers will reflect on what is right for their children and families; the Government has made it clear that the usual attendance protocols will not apply in the summer term and there will be no penalty for children not attending school.
Please address any questions you may have via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see below for further information, including a response to the questions that have been raised by parents so far...
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are certain year groups going back in the first phase?
The rate of infection remains too high to allow the full opening of schools for all pupils yet. There are three key reasons why the government believes that Nurseries, Reception, Year 1, Year 6 are being prioritised.
- The value that face to face interaction with teachers and education staff provides for young people:
- Children in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 are at the very beginning of their school career and are mastering the essential basics, including counting and the fundamentals of reading and writing, and learning to socialise with their peers.
- Year 6 children are finishing Key Stage 2 and are preparing for the transition to secondary school, and will benefit immensely from time with their friends and teachers to ensure they are ready.
- There is high scientific confidence that children of all ages have less severe symptoms than adults if they contract coronavirus and there is moderately high scientific confidence that younger children are less likely to become unwell if infected with coronavirus.
- Older children are better able to continue learning at home. We know it’s hard for parents and children, but everyone is playing their part in the national effort to combat this virus. There are many innovative ways to learn outside the formal school or college setting, and those who aren’t being asked to return to school or college immediately will continue to be educated remotely.
Although the children of Nursery, Reception, Y1 and Y6 are invited to return from the 1st June we understand that for many reasons parents may not wish for their child to return. We will not penalise people for keeping children at home. Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.
Structure of return to school
The current advice states that schools may start to open for pupils of Nursery, Reception, Y1 and Y6 from the 1st June. This will only happen if the rate of infection is decreasing and the tests set out by the PM are met. The children of each year group will have a staggered start on consecutive days in order to allow for the strict behaviours and routines to be explained and modelled to each group as they return. The children of Key Workers who have already been attending school during the length of the school closure will continue to come daily. However, as there will be significant changes to their experience, new routines and behaviours will also be shared with this group. If your child is currently attending as the child of a Key Worker and they are in EYFS, Y1 or Y6 they will join their year group. They will then need to follow the staggered start and finish times as well as entrances for their year group. We cannot at this stage confirm which sessions we will be able to offer children in the nursery.
Teachers, Teaching and Learning
Children will be allocated to a group of no more than 15 children. These groups will be staffed by the year group teachers and TAs. We aim for the children not to be taught by teachers or teaching assistants they are not already familiar with. The smaller groups will not mix and they will have the same adult for the whole week. We aim to have a rotational plan so that TAs and teachers swap groups after a week. This will allow the teacher to more accurately assess their children and prepare appropriate learning.
The children who are in years 2,3,4 and 5 will continue to receive the home learning provision that they are currently getting via seesaw. At present, it is the Government's ambition for all year groups to return before the end of term.
Children who do not attend school from Nursery, Reception, Y1 and Y6 will be signposted towards home learning available online but teachers will not be able to provide the current level of interaction via Seesaw as they will be in school.
Parent drop off and pick up
Drop off and pick up will need to be done whilst maintaining social distancing rules of 2m. This will include staggered start and finish times as well. You will be given a time and an entrance that you will need to use. Parents will have to follow a strict queuing system maintaining distance from people outside of their household. Parents should note that it may take longer than normal drop off. We will all appreciate your patience and cooperation to make this possible. Only one parent from each household can come to the school to do this and they will not be able to enter the school site. Please do not bring siblings who are not attending school if possible, however if you have siblings who will be attending school they can be dropped off at the same time. The logistics of this will be shared in due course.
It is accepted that it is not possible to ensure children maintain a 2m distance from each other or their class teacher, therefore other measures are being proposed. The government has said that children will be taught in smaller groups of no more than 15 children - a 'bubble'. These groups will be consistent (will not change) as will the adult. This will mean that the children will stay in a group of no more than 15 with the same adult everyday. This will mean that year group TAs will also be used to teach class groups. They will not mix with the other children in their year group or other classes in the school. The children will have lunch in their classroom and will have break times in these small groups too.
Toilet breaks will be managed as a group to ensure that children do not mix with children from another 'bubble' in the toilets.
The following measures will also be used:
-avoid contact with anyone with symptoms
-regular cleaning of class and shared use areas
We understand the importance of transition for all children and specifically those with SEND. Children will be returning to their class teachers and teaching assistants when school restarts in June. As we are not yet in a position to know when the children of years 2,3,4 and 5 will return, it is unlikely that we will be able to manage transitions in the way we traditionally would. Therefore we will find a way to manage this when all children do return. Allocated SENTAs will be with children who require additional support.
Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended by the government. Therefore no children or adults will be asked to wear PPE. The only exception to this is if a child, young person or other learner becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus and needs supervision until they can return home.
Underlying health risk of children and families
If a child lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out here, it is advised they only attend an education setting if stringent social distancing can be adhered to. This will not be possible and therefore we advise children who live with extremely clinically vulnerable adults not to attend. Children who have been advised to shield are not to attend school. Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A small minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.
School lunches/Free School Meals
The current plan is for Parkes to provide cold packed lunches for all children in Reception and Y1 and FSM children in Nursery and Y6. If a child in Nursery or Y6 would like to order and pay for a packed lunch they will be able to.
Currently families who are in receipt of FSM funding are receiving supermarket vouchers. If there are changes to this provision we will inform you once they have been made clear.
Children or staff displaying symptoms of COVID-19
If anyone becomes unwell with a new continuous cough or a high temperature in school, they will be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19 guidance for households. Whilst a child is awaiting collection they will be put into isolation away from other pupils. The child or adult will need to access a test. Where a child or member of staff tests positive, the rest of their class group will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that group and members of staff do not need to self isolate unless the child or staff member they live with subsequently develops symptoms.
The government advises against the routine checking of children’s temperatures as it is not regarded to be a reliable method for identifying COVID-19. However, parents must follow the standard national advice on the kind of symptoms to look out for that might be due to coronavirus. You must not send your child into school if they are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19
Will teachers, children and young people have access to testing?
Yes. Staff, children and young people in all settings will be eligible for testing if they begin to display coronavirus symptoms, as will symptomatic members of their households. To access testing parents will be able to use the 111 online coronavirus service if their child is 5 or over. Parents will be able to call 111 if their child is aged under 5.
A negative test will enable children to get back to childcare or education, and their parents to get back to work. Where a setting has a positive case, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected Public Health England will work with settings to advise on the appropriate course of action.
This could include a larger number of other children and young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.
We will review and revise procedures and processes for cleaning during the day with a particular focus on touch points, furniture, door handles, toilets, play equipment and apparatus. The frequency of cleaning will increase significantly and will include play and playground equipment. Also, teachers and teaching assistants will be regularly cleaning classroom resources, as and when they are used. Soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean (such as those with intricate parts) will be removed from classrooms. Soap, handwashing facilities and hand sanitiser will be available to all groups of children. Additional signage will be used to promote and support regular and routine hand washing and these routines will be embedded into each day. Children will be supported and observed whilst washing their hands and using the toilet.