IMPORTANT MESSAGE School reopening measures

Dear Parents/Carers

At Plantation Primary School the safety and well-being of our children, community and staff is our top priority.

As a parent, I naturally share all of your safety concerns and as a Headteacher I am also concerned about our children's wider well-being. Clearly this is a very difficult balance as the issue of covid-19 has not gone away and we need clarity in planning to minimise the risks.

The Prime Minister announced on Sunday, 10 May his intention that schools could re-open “from” 1 June, initially for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils.

As stated in this article https://www.knowsleynews.co.uk/reopening-schools-in-knowsley/ from Knowsley News“Knowsley Council and all schools in the borough have now had guidance from the Government about how they think this might happen. Everyone involved in education in this borough is clear: The decision to reopen schools will be taken ONLY when it is safe to do so – and not just to meet a particular date, or to do so ‘quickly’.”

I am currently looking in depth at the implications and risk assessments of how to implement the recommendations. This planning also includes consultation with school staff and the governing body, in addition to our consultation through the Knowsley survey (this is still available by following this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LVHLTGT) PLEASE NOTE THIS SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED AND WE ARE NOT COLLECTING FURTHER RESULTS FROM IT AT THIS TIME.  Any plan will continue to be reviewed and updated and layers of detail added as we get closer to any possible reopening.

During the school’s scheduled half term and INSET days, school will continue to remain open for our vulnerable children and key worker families only.  Holiday Club staff will provide care during this time (Friday 22 May, 26-29 May and Monday 1 June – please note school will be closed during the Bank Holiday Monday, 25 May).

At this time, our teaching staff team will not be providing updates to Home Learning activities, however, this will resume from 2nd June onwards.

From the 2nd June we will continue with our offer of school places for vulnerable children and key worker families only.

If you are a key worker, as identified by the GOV.UK document “Critical workers who can access schools or educational settings” (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision), and not already accessing a place at school for your child, then please contact the School Office before noon Friday 29th May if you wish your child to attend school. 

Key worker families and vulnerable children will remain our first priority and I want to ensure we can operate at a safe capacity for any further children in these groups.  Please note that children with a medical vulnerability should not attend school, or only once their medical conditions have been discussed with their GP.

Following further assessment of capacity, and when it is deemed safe to do so, we will then move to open up to specific year groups.  Any decision made in this respect will be continually reviewed in light of ongoing guidance.

In order to re-open school safely, we will need to introduce year groups in a phased manner starting with some year groups in addition to our key worker/vulnerable children attending first, and then adding other year groups in order to effectively manage the increase in numbers.

To be clear, there is no obligation to attend school this term and fines will not be issued.

A child must not attend if unwell.

 

Provisional plan for reopening

The school week:

  • The school day will be a staggered start with different starting and finishing times for the groups of children.
  • We plan to maintain the 8.45am – 3.15pm daily routine for vulnerable and key worker children and will have later start times and earlier finish times for other groups.  This is to support social distancing in and around the school site.
  • It may be that we introduce a reduced day on Friday (e.g.g a morning session only) for all groups. This is for a whole school clean and to provide staff with planning, preparation, assessment time and for us to check on staff wellbeing.
  • The school will not be able to offer Breakfast Club/After School provision for the children, as they are not allowed to mix groups. 
  • Brothers and sisters in other year groups WILL NOT be eligible to return to school unless their particular year group is allowed to return.

The curriculum and the school day:

  • Our initial focus when children return is keeping safe, routines and hygiene, alongside their mental health and wellbeing.
  • Start times and finish times will vary from the normal school day, as will break and lunch times.
  • Groups will be given a specific entrance to use. Parents will be asked to drop their child off at their designated area and not linger around the gate, they will be expected to follow and respect social distancing guidelines.  It is also requested that parents do not arrive too early for school to avoid waiting in large groups.
  • If a parent needs to speak with a teacher this will need to be done via e-mail or phone call.
  • The children will work in their self-contained groups - ‘bubbles’.
  • These groups of children will not mix at any time.  This reduces the number of children and staff that they will come into contact with during the school day.  There will be no flexibility in the groupings and children cannot change groups at any times, this will ensure the safety of the children and adults.
  • Children will have a consistent staff team each day and will not mix with other staff members.  This means that not all children will have their usual class teacher or teaching assistant and maybe taught by another member of staff.  They may also be taught in a different classroom than they are usually taught in.
  • Children will be spread around the school and each ‘bubble’ will have its own area and allocated times for playtime and lunchtimes. 
  • As children get used to their setting and new routines, they will start to access more structured learning with a focus on Maths and English. The provision in school will mirror the online Home Learning that will also be available to children not attending school. 
  • Where applicable, the children will work in one book throughout the day or use worksheets.  Whilst teachers will not be allowed to take books home for marking, they will give children verbal feedback about their work.
  • We will not be teaching the children using our normal teaching techniques. Modelling and instruction will be at a distance (rather than at table tops) and children will not be able to work with others.
  • Children will sit at their own desk and have their own resources.
  • Children will eat school dinners in the classroom that they are being taught in: this is to prevent the mixing of ‘bubbles’ in the Hall.  They will be allowed to go to an allocated toilet one at a time.
  • School dinners may be in the form of a Pack Lunch Bag. This is due to the difficulties of serving hot food in the classroom and the risk of contaminating groups.  If your child is entitled to Free School Meals, they will still receive this.
  • If you send your child in with a packed lunch, it will need to be sent in disposable packaging, as we will not allow lunch boxes to come into school and go home. 
  • The GOV.UK guidance recognises that for young children it will be difficult to apply the 2m social distancing rule. However, we will be directing the children regarding their physical contact with each other in order to keep them safe. “We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2m apart from each other and staff.” (GOV.UK)
  • We will seat the children as far away as we can from each other and remind children at all times that they have to socially distance from each other.  This is, however, difficult with small children and there will be times that children naturally gravitate towards each other.  The current guidance states, “Desks should be spaced as far apart as possible”.  We will try our best with the space within the classrooms that we have.
  • We will not be allowing visitors into school unless they are absolutely necessary and they will be kept away from the children.  All other meetings can be conducted virtually.
  • Surfaces within the classroom will be cleaned throughout the day in addition to our usual daily school cleaning service.
  • Fresh clean clothing needs to be put on each day as the virus can be transmitted via fabric. We are aware that many families will not have sufficient uniform for this and so we have agreed to relax our uniform rules so that children can attend wearing trainers and either uniform, own clothing or a mixture of both. 
  • Children will be encouraged to wash their hands throughout the day and will have access to hand sanitizing gel in an emergency where they cannot immediately wash their hands.
  • All unnecessary furniture will be removed from the classrooms, alongside soft furnishings and toys: this is because they are difficult to clean as stated in the Government guidance.
  • Children will not be allowed to bring in their school bags or any items from home, with the exception of a labelled water bottle and coat. Water bottles should be washed thoroughly on a daily basis.
  • School will carry on delivering and providing emergency First Aid for the children as we do now, but it will be necessary for staff members to wear PPE while completing First Aid to protect the children and themselves. This also applies to any intimate care.
  • If a child is unwell and is showing any symptoms of the virus they will be immediately isolated away from the other children and taken to an allocated room, (this room has been cleared for this purpose) and a phone call home will be made asking you to immediately collect your child.  The child will then wait in isolation for their parent/carer to collect them; we would ask for you to collect your child promptly.   An adult will stay with them and will wear PPE to reduce the risk of the virus spreading to the adult.
  • All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display any symptoms of coronavirus, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario. Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to school. Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their ‘bubble’ will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • We will try to encourage the children to use good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ approach.  This will be a daily reminder in our learning activities.
  • We will not be sending any reading books home and children should NOT bring their school bag into school.
  • Children must continue to follow school rules and our Golden Values.  In addition, they must follow staff instructions in relation to social distancing and hygiene measures.   If a child deliberately decides not to follow instructions of any staff member and puts others at risk, a separate risk assessment will be conducted on the child, which will determine if the school can support their needs on site. 
  • For SEND children an individual risk assessment will be carried out for them before they return with their group. 
  • We would request that parents/carers and families adhere to all of the Government’s guidelines regarding social distancing, this will reduce the risk coming into school.
  • We will continue to evaluate our risk assessment and it may be appropriate to shut parts of the school depending upon different circumstances - this may relate to the number of cases, staff absences, staff shortages and any other factors that may make it unsafe or unmanageable for all parts of the school to remain open. In some cases, it may be necessary to shut the school entirely.
  • In bringing your children to school, it will be essential that social distancing is still observed for adults and we insist that you DO NOT GATHER outside school but drop off/pick up quickly and return home to minimise risk. Only one parent per child should attend.

Provision for Key worker children:

Identified families and children of key workers - We will continue to provide a place for these children right through until the end of the academic year on Friday 17th July (subject to the safe running of the school). Parents who have not used this service up until now will be required to provide evidence of key worker status from their employer and request spaces by contacting the School Office.

If you have any questions or queries of an URGENT nature, please contact the School Office.

I apologise for the length of my message.  I am sure, however, that you will see the time and care that has gone into the planning of a phased reopening of our school in these extraordinary times.  Please help us by following our guidance above at all times.

Kind regards,

Mr Hanley

Headteacher