Reopening the school to children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6
You will know that the government wants children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to get back into education at school from Monday 1st June. This instruction to schools is being backed by Dorset Council. It is not necessarily one we agree with but it is our duty to look to see if we can comply with their wishes while keeping children and staff safe.
School is, of course, the best place to learn and we know that it is good for children’s mental wellbeing to have social interactions with other children, carers and teachers. All the staff at Southill want to get back to the work they love – which is teaching your children face-to-face at school.
You will also know that it cannot be as simple as that. As always, our first duty at school is to keep children and staff safe and so we need to balance the government’s directive to get children back into class with the need to keep everyone safe. This will mean we have to change many aspects of school life and learn new ways of doing things. I am writing to you now to describe the changes we will be making.
Once you have read our plans, you will need to decide whether you wish to return your child to school. I must stress that I cannot make guarantees about children’s safety. I feel it would be misleading to do that. I believe it is my responsibility to make the school run as safely as it can but that it is your decision whether you wish your child to attend. I will describe our plans to you as clearly as I can, so that you have all the facts to enable you to make up your mind.
It is worth saying at this point that there will be no penalties or repercussions for not sending your child back to school. Although we are asked to ‘strongly encourage’ your children back, I will offer my complete support if you do not wish to do this yet. I understand what a hard decision this is.
If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable, or living with someone who is in this group, they should not come back to school and should continue home learning. If your child is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), you should follow medical advice to decide if they should come back to school. Please refer to government guidance for further details of these groups.
The plan for your child is described below. The main precautions we will be taking are:
- Limiting class sizes
- Reducing opportunities for children to mix in large numbers
- Increasing the frequency and thoroughness of cleaning routines
- Teaching and reinforcing good hygiene practices
How have we arrived at this plan?
Our plan for school’s reopening to Years R, 1 and 6 is based on government guidance issued last week. We have worked closely with the local authority to make risk assessments on all affected aspects of school life. We have consulted with leaders of other local schools and refined the plans with our staff and governors. We believe our plan for reopening is as thorough as it can be in respect of the given time-frame and scientific advice available. It is the best plan for our school because it considers all the factors specific to our school site, such as the layout of the school building and the numbers of staff available. Other schools will have developed different plans specific to their own circumstances.
What does this mean for your child?
This is general letter. We will be sending an additional information specific to your child directly to you.
Returning to school: the plan
1. Reduced class sizes
Your child will be part of a class group of no more than 15 children. They will be taught every day by the same staff in the same classroom.
The staff may be adults who have not taught your child before. All our staff are working at school so that we can reopen to everybody we need to, and this means they will be teaching classes they would not normally.
It is likely that children will be taught in a different classroom to their usual one. This includes the Reception children.
This new class will stay together all day. They will not be allowed to mix with other children or adults at all.
Break times will be at different times to other classes.
Play areas will be separate too.
Our school meal service from Local Food Links is restarting. The school office will contact you separately about ordering meals.
Children will eat their hot meals in their classrooms so they can stay apart from those in other class groups.
Packed lunches will also be served to children in their classrooms.
3. Breakfast Club
While school is operating under these partial reopening measures, Breakfast Club will not be available because of the difficulties keeping children apart.
4. Dropping off at school
Please bring your child to school at the designated time. It’s important to be punctual because we are staggering start times to reduce numbers around the school at any one time. Please follow instructions for entering school, depending on the year group of your child. These will be sent to you beforehand and staff will be available outside school on the first day to help you learn the new procedures.
You must not bring your child into the building.
We will be establishing one-way systems around the outside of school. Please use these where requested.
Only one parent should bring their child to school.
If you have to bring siblings, please make sure they stay with you at all times. They must not play on the equipment. They must not approach other children or adults.
Please do not organise shared transport to or from school with children from other families.
Dropping off times:
- Reception: 9.00am
- Year 1: 8.45am
- Year 6: 8.30am
- Key Workers: 8.45am
5. Collecting from school
Please arrive at school to collect your child at the designated time, respecting 2m distancing from other parents while you wait.
Only one parent should come to school to collect their child.
If you have to bring siblings, please make sure they stay with you at all times. They must not play on the equipment. They must not approach other children or adults while you wait.
Parents must not gather together anywhere around the school.
- Reception: 2.15pm
- Year 1: 2.30pm
- Year 6: 2.45pm
- Key Workers: 3.15pm (or before)
Please send your child in clean clothes every day. The guidance tells us this is the best way to minimise the risk of infection. School uniform should not be worn. We think it is unreasonable to expect you to clean this every evening.
Clothes should be appropriate to school and should be suitable for activities outside.
We recommend children change out of these clothes as soon as they arrive back home and the clothes are washed as soon as possible.
School pupils will work in their class groups on a normal school curriculum of reading, writing and maths.
To limit movement around the room, children will sit in the same places every day with their own possessions and stationery items to hand.
Where possible, lessons will be taught outdoors.
For now, we will be following BBC lessons so that children not attending school can follow along at home and keep up.
We do not necessarily expect that, with all the restrictions around how schools should operate, learning will be any better at school than it is for children at home. Please bear this in mind. We believe parents are doing a great job with home learning.
8. What to bring every day
- Breaktime snack
- Labelled water bottle
- Packed lunch (if not ordering a hot meal)
- Suncream should be applied before coming to school, if needed
What not to bring
- Rucksack or other school bags
- Book bags
- Personal stationery or pencil cases
- PE Kit
Please ensure all school materials (including reading books and chromebooks) are returned to school on the first day back.
9. Personal protection and hygiene
We will endeavour to keep children apart from each other in their class and will teach specific practices as part of our daily routines. Parents should note, however, that primary school children cannot be expected to remain 2m apart from each other and staff. Children in each class group will not be able to distance themselves from each other or staff.
Children will be told to wash their hands regularly and supervised while doing so. They will wash their hands on arrival at school, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing.
Children will be encouraged not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose.
Children will be encouraged to use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze into and to use bins for tissue waste (‘catch it, bin it kill it’).
Hand sanitiser will be available in all classrooms to supplement handwashing routines.
Children must not wear face masks to school. They are likely to handle them incorrectly and inadvertently increase the risk of transmission.
Other hygiene issues will be taught to the children and we would ask that parents repeat the same messages at home. More information will come out to you about this next week to help children prepare for school.
Children will only use toilets designated for their class group.
There will be an increased importance on cleaning. Staff will be carrying out regular cleaning practices during the time children are in school. Additional after-school cleaning hours have been organised.
Outdoor equipment will be cleaned after use by each class group. Large playground equipment (such as the trim trails) will not be used.
Soft furnishings, soft toys and those that are difficult to clean will be removed from teaching areas.
Unnecessary items will be removed from classrooms so that surfaces are easier to keep clean.
11. Communicating with school
Parents, carers or any visitors are not able to enter the school or access the office, unless in an emergency. Please contact the school by phone or email should you need to discuss or ask anything.
12. What happens if someone becomes unwell?
We will not be taking children’s temperatures every morning. Instead we will monitor the children carefully for symptoms that may be due to coronavirus.
If anyone at school – child or adult – begins to display the symptoms of COVID-19, they will be sent home and advised to follow the guidance for households with a possible infection.
When a child is awaiting collection, they will be moved to an isolated area under supervision and care given to the child according to our guidance.
Tests will be available for staff and children.
If the test returns negative, the child or staff member can return to school.
If the test is positive, the rest of the class group will be sent home.
13. Training Day
You can see that these new arrangements and routines are complex – yet crucial to keeping everyone safe at school. It is important that staff are trained properly to work within these procedures and maintain consistency across the school. Governors have agreed that school will therefore be closed on Monday 1st June for a staff training day. School will be closed to everyone, including key worker children.
14. Phased reopening
To allow us to introduce children back into school and these new routines, and so we can evaluate and refine procedures as we go along, governors have agreed that school will not open to all children at once. We think that a careful and considered start is the best way to keep everyone safe and so will be opening school to different age groups on different days:
Reception: Tuesday 2nd June
Year 1: Thursday 4th June
Year 6: Monday 8th June
I know there’s a lot of details here and that it will take some time for us all to get used to working in these new ways. Please remember that children’s welfare is our first priority and we’ll be doing our utmost to care for them, to help them learn and have fun together, while keeping them as safe as we can. Please also remember that, although we will do all we can to reduce risk to the children, we cannot rule it out entirely.
The decision to send children back is now yours. We will support you whatever you decide.
In the meantime, if there’s anything further you’d like to ask, please get in touch with me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring me on the school number.