Wider opening of school to Y6 - important information

Dear parents/carers

I hope everyone is well and keeping safe as the country continues to move forward with the gradual lifting of lockdown measures.

I wanted to update you with the current position we have for reopening to specific year groups at our school.

We have never closed as a school and have remained open to key worker families and vulnerable children since 23rd March and it has been really pleasing to see these children and support them for the past three months.

Due to staffing capacity and managing our school site with expectations around social distancing and keeping us all as safe as possible, the Governors and I have agreed that Year 6 is the specific year group that we can now invite back and Year 6 parents/carers must respond to their text message before bringing their child back.  This is because we cannot welcome every child back in the same way that we ran school previously and we must remain cautious in our management of this next step in opening school.

We have recently sent a text to Year 6 parents/carers to ask if they would wish to send their child back to school before the end of the summer term.

Due to staffing capacity in school the number of places we can offer to Year 6 pupils is limited and will operate on a first to reply by text basis to allocate these places.  Details of how to reply are in the text.  Texts are sent to those mobile numbers we have on our system - Arbor.  Those children already attending from Year 6 in our key worker or vulnerable children DO NOT need to respond and can ignore the message if they receive it.

For those parents/carers of Year 6 children, below is a description of the measures and expectations we will have as school will feel very different.

 

The school week:

The school day will be a staggered start with different starting and finishing times for the groups of children:

  • Vulnerable and key worker children - 8.45am – 3.15pm Monday to Thursday, and 8.45am – 11.45am every Friday
  • Year 6 – 9.15am – 2.30pm Monday to Thursday, and 9.15am – 12.00pm every Friday
  • PARENTS/CARERS MUST FOLLOW THESE TIMES ONLY TO SUPPORT SOCIAL DISTANCING ON SITE
  • Year 6 children attending as key worker/vulnerable children will need to attend at the times set out above for ‘Vulnerable and key worker children’ NOT the ‘Year 6’ times please.
  • Children MUST be dropped off and picked up by a responsible adult, children WILL NOT be allowed to come from and leave school without a responsible adult.

 

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.
  • Lunch and break times will be different to the normal school day to support on site cleaning and children will eat in classrooms not the hall.
  • School meals will be a packed lunch only to support eating in classrooms.
  • 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 plantation@knowsley.gov.uk or phone call 0151 487 5678.
  • 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., with designated outdoor spaces to use for their bubble.
  • 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 be allowed to go to an allocated toilet one at a time only.
  • If you send your child in with a packed lunch they will need to keep this with them at their desk - please ensure foods are sent in using suitable containers and will not deteriorate when stored this way until lunch time, e.g. insulated lunch bags.
  • 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 asked and 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 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 and some vulnerable 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.
  • If you have any questions or queries of an URGENT nature, please contact the School Office.

As discussed in previous news items on this topic, I apologise for the lengthy message but hope the information is as clear and concise as possible.

At this moment, I am not able to give a specific date for when Year 6 pupils can start to attend and this will be communicated in due course to those parents/carers who are allocated a place.  Staff and Governors have worked on, consulted over and agreed our plans and measures for the wider opening of school.  This is now being reviewed by local Trade Unions and from this consultation, plans will then need to go to Knowsley Council to be approved and signed off.  It is only when this is all complete that we can give a date to reopen.

At this time, it is not clear what schools will be operating like in September and we, as you will be, await further guidance and information from the government on this.  I hope that we can get all our children back to a regular School routine as soon and as safely as possible.

Kind regards,

Mr Hanley

Headteacher