Following the government’s announcement of a change to the guidance for tackling the coronavirus, I would like to inform you about the steps we are taking as a school to welcome back some and eventually all of our pupils.
On Sunday, and with some clarification on Monday, the government announced that if the key tests set by government continue to be met, including that the rate of infection is decreasing, schools could consider opening to pupils in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 from the 1st of June.
The three year groups within school have been prioritised because they are key transition years – children in 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. Attending early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development. 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.
At present the leadership group in school are actively considering the following options:
- In the coming weeks welcoming back pupils in nursery (excluding Blossom Tree Nursery, reception, Y1 and Y6.
- Arranging for classes to be kept to a maximum of 15 pupils, with an expectation that a number in classes could be less than this.
- Establishing clear one way systems around school, for pupils during the school day, as well as a one way system around school for parents for the drop off and pick up of pupils
- Ensuring that pupils in school work with a limited number of staff, with limited contact with other pupils.
- Ensuring that regular and thorough hand washing takes place through the day.
- Staggering playtimes and dinner times to reduce the risk of increased interaction between groups.
- Ensuring increased cleaning of work areas and resources used within classes and around school.
As a school we recognise that there is a lot of planning and preparation that will need to take place to ensure that school is safe enough for our pupils and staff, but we are confident that this can happen.
As part of our first assessment of how many pupils could return to school in the first phase, parents in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 will shortly be sent a survey to ask if they do intend to send their children to school. The government have indicated that if your child is well and is in one of the selected year groups they should attend, however any non attendance will not face any legal action.
Any indication made by parents is not binding and after an initial assessment of numbers, a more detailed letter will be sent to parents in the selected years with more information about the steps that will be taken by school to welcome their children back and how we plan to keep them safe.
Free School Meal Vouchers
With the potential opening of school for limited year groups in the near future, this will also mean that our school kitchens will be open to provide meals for pupils in school. Our initial thoughts are that any pupil who receives a Free School Meal, including Universal Free School Meals in reception and Year 1, will be provided with food in school and therefore vouchers would stop for the parents in these year groups who receive them. All pupils in year 6 returning to school, as well as the children of key workers will have to bring in a packed lunch, unless on Free School Meals. This will be because there will be a limited provision in school. As far as we are aware, any family who are not in any of the selected year groups who receive FSM vouchers will continue to do so until their child’s year groups have been selected to come into school. If your child is in a selected year group, but you do not send them into school, a FSM voucher will not be provided, as provision has been made for them at school. The DfE have also indicated that payment of FSM voucher will not take place over the summer half term holiday from the 25th – 29th May.
School will be open for children of key workers and vulnerable pupils over the half term break from the 25th -29th of May. This week will also be a half term for the majority of school with no home learning activities taking place during this week. This means that there will be no tasks set by teachers: no Zoom lessons or Showbie activities. As school will return from the 1st of June and all teachers will be engaged in supporting learning for selected groups, there will be a reduction in the home learning activities for Y2, Y3, Y4 and Y5. Home learning activities will be set for pupils in these year groups and teachers with teachers establishing different routines to engage with pupils.
Access to school for keyworkers
On Sunday the government announced that from Wednesday the 13th of May, people who cannot work from home should return to work if they can. With this in mind, we recognise that there could be parents who need childcare as they are having to return to work. Even though the guidance has changed for going to work for some people, the guidance in school is that until further notice, school is only open to the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. The list of key workers can be found in the following document. If you are a key worker and would like your child to access school, please contact school on 01642 486392.
As a school we are pleased that there is the possibility that some of our year groups can come back and restart their learning. We recognise that the task of getting our pupils into school safely is not an easy undertaking and we are working extremely hard to make sure that their safety, and the safety of our staff, is our key priority. This will means that there will be changes to routines and systems in school, which will seem strange to some of our pupils. Pupils might not be working with their usual teacher and will not be able to play as they did their some of their friends. For parents there will be new ways of entering and exiting school and some changes to school timetables. All of this will be done with one clear intention; to keep our pupils safe.
As we find out more about the school return, I will continue to keep you informed about how this will happen safely. If you do have any questions about the return, or about any issues you have regarding school, p[lease do not hesitate to contact me on the school telephone number of 01642 486392.