Dear Parents and Carers,
During the past week we have been receiving a great deal of government guidance about the reopening of schools to more children. We are working through these documents to make sure that when a decision is taken to reopen schools we have policies, procedures and the physical environment ready to welcome the children back whilst keeping them and all staff as safe as possible.
We are looking forward to seeing your children again and getting back to teaching in a classroom. We have missed all of you and want to get back to a ‘new normal’. I know the past weeks have been difficult and had ups and downs but we are now in the process of planning the next phases.
We will, to use the Government phrase, ensure we use a phased, gradual and cautious approach so we can build confidence with parents, children and staff.
We have taken the decision to have our first potential date for reopening in the week beginning 8th June. This will happen once the five tests, as set out by the Government, have been met. We will use this time to ensure that parents and staff are confident with the arrangements and that sufficient support and training has been offered and taken place.
In order to test our procedures and arrangements we will have a limited offer to begin this process so we can ensure that the provision is safe for children, staff and the community.
The Infant School has 6 classrooms, each of these is small and can only take a maximum of 6 children to each room due to social distancing guidelines.
The school hall will be used to store all of the spare furniture, soft furnishings, spare resources and some toys. We need to make sure that we reduce the chance of transmission through handling resources and toys.
We will begin our offer in the main Infant School building by admitting 2 small groups of Year 1 children. We are selecting Year 1 as this first group as they are more able to follow instructions and understand what we are trying to do.
As our Nursery building is separate to the main site we will also welcome a small group of Nursery children back into school.
Once we have children in the building we will be able to monitor the use of shared areas such as toilets and corridors and review our plans so that when we are confident that our systems are working we can possibly increase the number of groups attending in the main building.
Two small groups of Reception children will be welcome to join us. Again we will monitor the use of shared areas such as toilets and corridors and review our plans so that when we admit the next groups we are confident that our systems are working.
In this phase we will possibly consider increasing the size of the group attending Nursery.
We will admit further children in Reception and Year 1 who will use the Year 2 classrooms. Depending on the numbers of parents who want to send in their children, these classes may be mixed Reception and Year 1 groups. Once we have the details of who will be joining us we will confirm these arrangements.
If social distancing rules are relaxed and the Government guidance for schools changes, we may begin to merge groups and so free up the Year 2 classrooms. At this stage we may see the gradual return of Year 2.
The timings of these phases are not set, they will be determined by how well the systems are working and the wellbeing of children and staff. For some year groups, for example the older children, we may be able to get through the phases more quickly.
In the first instance we will offer 3 days per week Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings 9.00-12.00. When children and staff are ready we will increase this to full days between 9.00 and 3.00 When we move to full days we will be offering universal free school meals. This will be in the form of a packed lunch provided by our current school meal providers.
Nursery will remain at 9.00-11.30 throughout this time.
There will be staggered starts and ends to each day to avoid too many people being at school at one time. The final details of these will be shared with parents before we reopen.
When staff and children are ready we will increase this offer to 4 days a week and we will be open to these year groups Tuesday to Friday. The school will not be open on Mondays so that staff can prepare work for those children still at home, respond to work that is sent in and make contact with families who are still learning at home.
Our curriculum offer will focus on:
·Pupils’ mental health and wellbeing and identifying any pupils who may need additional support so they are ready to learn.
·Using the outside space as much as possible as outdoor learning has a positive impact on mental health and it is easier to socially distance.
·Using the learning at home packs as a basis for the classroom work that children will complete when at school.
The following information is honest and hopefully allows parents to understand the limitations we are working under. It is not intended to be negative about the next phases but to give you the information you need to make an informed decision about sending your child into school.
School Arrangements as suggested by Government guidance to try to reduce the risks of transmission of the virus:
·Children will be placed in small groups with an adult. We are unable to guarantee that your child will be with their class teacher.
·Each group will be allocated a room. This may not be your child’s usual classroom.
·A good deal of toys, equipment and furniture will be removed from classrooms. What is in the classroom will be cleaned as regularly as possible but we are unable to guarantee that your child will not pick up the virus in the setting.
·We will try to limit sharing of resources and toys so transmission is reduced.
·Where possible the groups will not meet in the day and we will ensure that they are kept at a distance from each other so that transmission is reduced.
·Where possible children will be at desks/on the carpet 2 metres apart. We will encourage children to maintain these social distancing rules.
·Break times will be staggered so that the children do not come into contact with other groups in the school.
·There will be strict guidance regarding drop off and pick up so that adult to adult contact is kept to a complete minimum.
Those children who are keyworker children and in year 2 can continue to attend the Junior School. These sessions will run 9.00-3.00. Parents may continue using the main entrance to drop their children. We will send an email to ascertain what cover you require for the next half term and we will email back to confirm our arrangements.
If your child is in the key worker group and they are in Nursery, Reception or Year 1 you can either continue attending the key worker group or you can request that your child joins their year group as they come into school. This will mean that there will be changes to the timings of the sessions as we settle the different groups in. This may not suit your work pattern.
Children cannot move from one group to another during next term unless the social distancing rules are relaxed.
Learning at home
We will continue with our remote learning offer so children who are not attending, choose not to attend or can’t attend can continue to learn at home. The learning packs will continue to be sent home each Friday and parents are welcome to send two pieces of work in each week for feedback via the class email. Teachers will also continue making contact by phone.
As more groups of children begin to return this will mean that more teachers are in the classroom. The current level of responsiveness to emails and the regular phone calls may be interrupted but staff will do their best given the ever changing circumstances.
If your child is in school, you will not receive phone calls and there will be no need to send work in as staff will be seeing your child regularly.
If there are to be changes to this offer, we will let you know.
The Governors and staff have reviewed how we are handling the learning at home provision. Staff have taken feedback from parents, have talked to colleagues in other schools and researched a variety of platforms. Having done all of this we have decided that we will continue with our current arrangements.
Our simple email system is working and the vast majority of parents are very happy with the offer. Staff are able to offer support and prioritise work when children and parents are feeling that the work is getting too much. We are also offering ideas and challenges for the children who want more.
We have received lots of interesting feedback and points to consider and we will be adding a document to our website to share this with you.
Even after all of this planning and thinking no final decision about extending the number of children in schools can be made until Government Guidance makes it clear that the 5 key tests have been met as they have said there can be no changes to the current circumstances until this happens.
What shall I do next?
If your child is in Nursery, Reception and Year 1
Consider the information in this letter and then please send an email to your class teacher via the class email address telling us if:
A) You would like a place at school for your child as early as possible.
Please give reasons for your choice so that we have full information about your circumstances in case we are oversubscribed.
B) You do not want a place at school for your child for the moment.
Please do this as soon as possible and by the end of the day on Wednesday 20th May at the latest.
Once we have this detail we will look at our staffing and finalise our plans. We will confirm arrangements with you as soon as we can. I promise you that we are working as hard and as quickly as possible whilst ensuring that our plans are safe and secure.
If your child is in Year 2 please be reassured that we are planning transition activities as we know this is an important time in their lives. We will be in touch to share these with you next half term.
With kind regards
Elen Peal - Head Teacher
Donna Westall - Chair of Governors