Letter to parents 15th May 2020
Dear Parents and Carers of our Y6 children,
The government announced on Sunday that as a result of the huge efforts of everyone, to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the transmission rate of Coronavirus has fallen. Consequently, from week commencing 1stJune we will be welcoming back our Y6 children as they have been identified, by the Department for Education, as a priority group. The government have consulted the latest scientific evidence and have taken the decision to return children to schools gradually, in order to reduce the number of children in a classroom as well as asking schools to put protective measures in place to lessen potential risks.
I understand that many of you may feel a little apprehensive and so the purpose of this letter is to outline some of the protective measures we are currently putting in place and to articulate what a school day may look like for those children returning in June.
Firstly, I feel it is important that I emphasise that the current planning process is constantly evolving, and we are required to respond to daily government policy releases as they happen. Therefore, the details contained within this letter are accurate given the information we currently have.
Year Groups in First Phase of Wider Opening
Three year groups, within mainstream primary schools, have been prioritised. Children in YR and Y1 because they are at the beginning of their school career and are beginning to learn essential skills (such as counting, reading, writing and socialising with their peers) which are fundamental to instilling a life-long love of learning and supporting their social and emotional development. In addition, children in Y6 have been selected, as they are in a key transition year; they are finishing Key Stage 2 and before transitioning to secondary school would benefit from time spent with their friends and teachers to ensure they are ready.
All schools are currently in the process of conducting risk assessments which will directly address risks associated with Coronavirus, so that sensible measures can be put in place to ensure our school environment is as safe as possible for children and staff. Our risk assessment will be comprehensive and be specific to our school, I feel it is important that you know, we are currently taking advice from both Derbyshire County Council and the Department for Education.
As our risk assessment will include many protective measures and significant changes in day-to-day school life, it is vital that every member of staff is personally walked through our document and measures are demonstrated. In order to do this, our cluster of schools (Clowne Infants School, Clowne Junior School, Creswell Infants School, Creswell Junior School, Barlborough Primary School and Whitwell Primary School) have consulted and decided to retain our planned Inset Day on Monday 1stJune, to ensure that every member of our teaching team is confident and able to implement these essential changes. Therefore, we will all welcome back our identified children on Tuesday 2ndJune.
School Start and Finish Times
The government has asked all schools to reduce “pinch points” (essentially control the number of people who need to gather in communal areas). All cluster schools have acknowledged that the start and finish of the school day are our main concerns and therefore, each class (group) will be allocated a start and finish time and a specific entrance and exit. All cluster schools will also be restricting access to the main school buildings.
Once I have completed our risk assessment, and spoken to staff, we will communicate your child’s specific class details to you prior to half term.
Class Sizes and Staffing
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, the country has been encouraged to socially distance, in order to prevent the spread of the virus. In order to reduce transmission of the disease in schools when they reopen, the Department for Education has asked us to half class sizes and reduce the contact between children and staff, as far as possible.
This means children will be allocated to a teacher (possibly not their usual class teacher) and taught in groups of ten. They will spend the day with this group and will not mix with other groups or members of staff. At Creswell Junior School, I have assigned a second member of staff in order to cover lunchtimes and again minimise contact with others.
It is our intention to use our outdoor spaces as much as possible and ensure the curriculum, for this final term, continues to be varied and creative.
We have been advised, by the Department for Education to adopt a number of protective measures, in order to keep our children and staff safe. I have detailed the key points below:
- No one should enter the school if they are displaying any symptoms of Coronavirus
- Your child should be accompanied to school (if necessary) by only one parent or carer
- Children will be allocated a time for drop off and collection, please help us to protect everyone by adhering to these times
- Please do not gather at school entrances and exits (social distancing must be respected)
- All children will be taught in the same small groups at all times of the day, different groups will not mix
- All adults and children will be encouraged to: frequently wash their hands, not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose and use a tissue to cough or sneeze and use bins for tissue waste
- Help will be available for children who have difficulty cleaning hands independently
- All spaces will be well ventilated
- Breaks will be staggered to ensure routes throughout the school have a limited number of children using them
- Lunch breaks will also be staggered
- Outside spaces will be used as frequently as possible
- Frequently touched surfaces, equipment, door handles and toilets will be cleaned thoroughly each day
- We will be limiting the number of shared resources that are taken home by staff and children
- The number of external visitors will be restricted. If you need to speak to us please contact our school office and we will call you back as quickly as possible.
- If a child or staff member within a class develops symptoms compatible with Coronavirus, the group will be sent home and advised to be tested. Where a child or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class will self-isolate for 14 days.
Breaktimes and Lunchtimes
Breaktimes will be staggered. Lunchtimes will also be rotated throughout the school and hot lunches will be served in takeaway containers in classrooms.
I would encourage all children to have a hot school lunch (there will still be a choice of meat and vegetarian options, jacket potatoes will also be available) however, if you would like to send your child with a packed lunch please do so in disposable packaging (no lunch boxes please).
In line with government advice, we would encourage our parents and children to walk or cycle to school, where possible, and avoid public transport.
Staff Workload and Wellbeing
Our school has received many messages of support and thanks during this crisis and I’d like you to know that my staff and I are extremely grateful for your assistance and appreciation. There is no doubt in my mind that, throughout this unprecedented time, our school community has remained unified and resolute that we will get through this, together.
I know that you all appreciate, as well as safeguarding the children, I have a responsibility to ensure the teaching team are also protected appropriately and their wellbeing is considered. Once school reopens for our Y6 children, on the 2ndJune, our Y6 teaching team (together with three other members of staff) will return to teaching classes on a full time basis and will no longer be setting weekly tasks online and supporting learning at home, as our Y6 children will be in school.
It is the case that parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time, however if you choose to keep your child at home, rather than return to school, we cannot provide additional tasks or support your child’s learning, as teachers will be teaching their assigned classes. The only exception to this is if your child, or someone they live with, has been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable due to a pre-existing medical condition and has received a shielding letter.
I appreciate this letter contains a substantial amount of information; my intention was to ensure you are in position to make an informed decision, with regard to your child returning to school, and to feel comforted by the level of detailed planning currently taking place in order to ensure everyone’s safety.
As always, should you wish to discuss any aspect of your child’s return to school I am available. If you have requested, via our questionnaire, a telephone call, my team and I will speak to you on Monday.
Thank you for your continued support.
Stay safe and well.