Update Coronavirus or COVID-19 Tuesday 12th May 2020
Dear Mums, Dads and Carers,
Another update!!! I am sure you were all expecting this one. The guidance from the Government and DfE was released early yesterday evening. In summary the guidance states that primary schools should open from Monday 1st June if the 5 key tests by the Government are met for:
- Nursery children
- Reception children
- Year 1 children
- Year 6 children
- Children of our critical workers
- Children who are considered vulnerable
- Children with an EHCP
The guidance also states that the aim is for other year groups to return for at least a month before the summer break, again this is subject to the government criteria being met and the science says it is safe to do so.
The rest of the guidance states that class sizes should be halved, no more than 15 children with a teacher and/or a Learning Assistant where applicable. Also that drop off time, break time, lunchtime and home time should be staggered so that interaction between these small classes is minimised. Ministers do acknowledge that enforcing the social distancing of 2 metres apart will be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain in the primary setting. Any child/ren returning to school does so with the parent/carer knowing that we cannot guarantee that 2 metres social distancing can be maintained at all times. The guidance prior to school lockdown will remain in place in that if any child or adult displays any symptoms they must be sent home immediately. However, now this child or adult will be able to be tested in order to determine whether they are suffering/carrying the COVID-19 virus. The guidance also states that the adults and children in school do not need to wear PPE whilst in school and that any child classed as clinically vulnerable does not need to attend. The link to the guidance is at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june if you want to read it in full.
Throughout this challenging time we have specified the need for everyone’s health and well-being as a priority, and I do not intend to change this stance now. At the end of the day it is up to me, as Headteacher, with support from the Governors, to make the decision on how and when to open or close our school, and which precautions to put in place for the children and staff and it is up to you to decide if you think it is safe enough to send your child to school; you are their ultimate guardians.
What we aim to do at Wilthorpe
At some point the children will need to return to school, therefore we will open for those children specified in the list above on June 1st as instructed. However, and this is the question that many of you have asked, you and your child/ren will not be penalised or fined for lack of attendance if you chose to keep them at home between now and September 1st.
What I do ask is that in order for us to carry out the relevant risk assessments and to ensure we can create as safe an environment as possible we really need your help in knowing the number of children that will be coming to school. If you have a child/ren that is one of the year groups listed above, or meets one of the additional criteria, please could you let us know by email, before 10:00 am Monday 18th May if you will or will not be sending your child/ren to school. This information is critical in enabling us to create the best and safest environment we can for all children and adults that will be returning.
If your intention is to send your child/ren to school on Monday 1st June, we will contact you with regards to a starting and finishing time for the school day (this will be as close to the usual times as possible depending on numbers attending the school.) Also, if your child/ren will be attending, could you let us know if you will require breakfast and after school club, again this will allow us to make appropriate preparations. As a school we aim to be able to meet all of the guidance set out be the Government as best as we possibly can, and once we know specific numbers we will prepare the school and share this plan with you.
If your child is in one of the categories listed above, and you chose to keep them at home, teachers will continue to provide the weekly learning on the school website, as we have done to this point. As the situation moves forward, feelings about returning may change for the better and some of you may begin to feel more comfortable with the prospect of sending your child/ren to school. If this is the case, can we please request that you give us as much notice as possible of your intention to send your child/ren, as one child extra may require us making significant alterations to the groups working in school. We will not allow a child to return without at least 48 hours notice in order for us to make any relevant alterations to the environment and risk assessments.
The government guidance does indicate that there is no need for children and staff to wear PPE within the school setting, unless they already have a need to when supporting children. However, I will support, and attempt to provide, PPE for any member of staff who feels that it would support them in returning to work, and I will also not stop any child from wearing it if it supports that child and parent/carer in feeling more comfortable coming to school. The advice also states that there is no evidence to support the suggestion that wearing a mask prevents someone from catching COVID-19 but it can help to prevent the spread. So if people want to just wear those that’s OK as long as the children wearing them are comfortable with and can manage them.
Another frequently asked question that has been emailed to me is what will the children be doing if they come to school. At present the school has been running what is effectively a daycare facility for those children whose parents are critical workers, with non-uniform and a flexible start/finish time. From June 1st this will become more formal, the children will be expected to wear uniform and will need to do a full school day (although I acknowledge that the start and finish times may need to be staggered). Where possible the usual class teacher will have the children, however if the numbers go above 15 in the class, then an additional teacher will need to take on one of the groups. Learning will be taking place, though the intention is not work specifically on the usually planned topic, but a whole school theme based on our school values. Also the children will be preparing for transition ready for September, particularly in Year 1 for the move down to Star site.
Finally the other question that has been asked is about free school meals and if you will still receive the vouchers if your child is attending school, or what would happen if your child is in one of the year groups expected to return to school and you decide to keep them off. At present I do not have an answer regarding this matter. I am waiting for catering services to contact schools with what they intend to provide as a service, and we will inform you when we get that information.
I do appreciate there is a significant amount of information in this letter for you to absorb and think about, so hopefully to sum up, if your child is in Nursery, Reception, Year 1, Year 6, has an EHCP or you are a critical worker, please can you tell us yes or no if you intend for your child/ren to come to school on June 1st, this choice is entirely yours and we respect and will support your decision whichever it is. Please let us know, by email, by 10:00am Monday 18th May to firstname.lastname@example.org If your child is not in the list above then school remains closed for them and learning will continue as it has on the school website.
All of the above information will obviously become null and void if the R rating increases and the Government’s five steps are not met, thus probably delaying the current plans. As always I will attempt to keep you informed as soon as I can.
Can I also take the opportunity to thank you for the support you have shown school over this difficult time, the emails and tweets with the work the children are doing really does cheer us up and the positive feedback we have received from many of you is greatly appreciated.
As always if you require any support or have any questions do not hesitate to contact us through the school parent email and we will endeavour to do our best to answer.
Please continue to stay safe and we will hopefully see you all soon. Take care.