I am writing to update you further as we move towards the revised school arrangements that are due to start to operate from 1st June, at the earliest, subject to progress against the government’s five key tests and our ability to operate our school safely for both children and staff. As you know, the government guidance is changing regularly. Although you may hear in the media that schools have been given three weeks’ notice to prepare for the wider opening, the reality is that the latest government guidance was issued as recently as last Friday evening and we expect more changed guidance this week.
Schools across the country are working hard to read and interpret emerging government advice and to work with our professional associations to shape the form of any further school opening, given our paramount responsibility for health and safety. As you will appreciate, there are considerable concerns and unanswered questions at present in relation to extending the opening of our school. In light of the above, any plans for reopening will be governed by the following considerations:
· how many children we can safely teach within each classroom to create new ‘bubbles’, with desks 2m apart, with their own toileting and handwashing facilities (and should we be expecting Nursery, Reception and Year 1 children to do this?)
· the number of classrooms available to house the multiple smaller ‘bubbles’
· staffing levels available for direct contact with children, taking into account those staff members shielding at home and the need to maintain social distancing
· restrictions on access to key communal areas of the school in order to maintain as much social distancing as we can
· the need to conduct regular deep cleaning within the school
· the increase in the number of children from key workers and vulnerable groups attending school currently
· the continuing need to provide quality home learning materials for those children not in school (Seesaw and Tapestry)
In light of the above, it is highly likely that we may only be able to offer part-time opening for designated year groups, if at all. This may involve children attending either part of the normal school day or for specific days of the week. It may also mean that, linked to pupil and staff numbers and further emerging guidance, not all year groups indicated by the government may in fact resume school on 1st June, even if the government endorses reopening at this point. Given the need to prepare our school site, install new signage and specialist equipment and to induct our staff in new safe ways of working, it is also possible that school may not open until after 1st June.
If we are able to open school to further children, other than the critical workers and vulnerable children, it is important to note that things will look very different to what school looked like previously. Given the need for smaller group sizes, the non-availability of certain staff and the need to create groups of students that stay together with allocated staff, it is very likely, that in many instances, children will be taught in different classrooms with different staff than those they have been used to. They would only be supported with the Seesaw activities set by their teacher so that those children at home and school have an equal education entitlement. There will also be a very different structure to the school day and different ways of operation within the school. This will even extend to staggering drop-off and collection times. Children will not be able to play with their friends in the usual way; they will stay within their ‘bubble’ throughout the day - play equipment outside will be out of bounds, due to the risk of cross-contamination.
Please be reassured that there is immense work going on at present, in consultation with our school governors, to decide the logistics behind opening and risk assessing our actions to ensure that we operate as safely as we can. You may find that local schools may respond differently; I appreciate your pressing need for clarity and I hope that we will be able to provide this as soon as we are able to.
In the meantime, please may we ask all Nursery, Reception and Year 6 parents to email Mrs Marwood at [email protected] by tomorrow, Tuesday 19th May, at 2.00pm
and state whether they intend to send their child back, if we were to open at the beginning of June, or whether you would intend to continue with care at home. Please note – the decision to return your child to school is your choice – it is not compulsory and you will not be fined if you choose to keep your child at home. We look forward to your prompt response to help us greatly with our planning.
Suzanne MacDonald Executive Headteacher