This bulletin summarises government guidance and gives you a flavour of what to expect and the logistical challenges we face as a school community in September 2020.
Thankfully, we have a brilliant team of staff who want to make that happen despite the restrictions we will need to operate under.
From September, school will be a very different experience for our children, parents and staff and this is something we will all have to adapt to and get used to.
Current restrictions on group sizes will be lifted and Covid-19 secure measures will remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus. We will be adopting class sized social bubbles as recommended from September.
Social bubbles are groups of children that stay together throughout the day. They learn together, eat together and share the same playground space. As far as it is reasonably possible, they do not mix or make contact with children from other bubbles.
Social bubbles are designed to prevent the spread of infection across the entire school and limit the number of children who could potentially be affected should an outbreak occur. This sits alongside other protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission within the bubble such as frequent hand washing and good respiratory hygiene based on the ‘Catch it, Bin it Kill- it’ approach.
We are also taking steps to limit the sharing of rooms and social spaces between groups as much as possible as well as maintaining enhanced cleaning schedules and frequent hand washing sessions.
Large gatherings are not allowed at the school gate. To avoid this, the school day will begin and end at different times for different classes. School will start at 8.15am and drop off times and pick up times will be staggered at 15 minute intervals for different classes. This will reduce children, parents and staff mixing and making contact at the school gate. Therefore, we are asking parents to adjust their travel arrangements so that children arrive and depart at their allocated times.
We will shortly let you know what time you will need to arrive and pick up your child.
Lunchtimes and break times will be shortened and staggered to reduce the chances of class bubbles mixing or coming into contact with each other. We are aware this is going to put significant strain on the system and our staff who will be with a group of children throughout the day, and in most cases, only one other member of staff to cover for comfort breaks and lunch.
Parents and visitors are not allowed into the school without an appointment. Contact can be made via email or telephone.
We believe this sounds rather unfriendly and unwelcoming as schools are inherently social places but we are following guidance to protect our school community– the children, parents and staff who will be working in close contact with individuals on a day to day basis.
Staff are expected to socially distance with one another and with parents, where possible, but young children in primary schools are not. The Department of Education recognises this is not possible with young children and says that the risk can be reduced by keeping children in small consistent groups, regular hand washing and enhanced cleaning schedules.
Contact sports are not allowed but carefully selected physical activities are allowed.
Guidance on after school clubs recognises running extra-curricular activities will be logistically challenging given that mixing of groups should be avoided.
Breakfast Clubs are allowed to support parents going back to work but as this may involve children from the different bubbles and would require us to put in additional protective measures. Our Breakfast Club takes place in the school hall with no more than a dozen pupils at most. This means socially distancing will be feasible so children do not come into contact with children from other bubbles. There is a charge for Breakfast Club but we would advise any parent wishing to use this facility to allow children to settle into school first.
It has been recommended that we seat children facing the front of the class wherever possible and side by side so that children are not facing each other. Group gatherings are not allowed which means there will be no traditional whole school assemblies.
Face coverings and temperature testing
Public Health England does not currently recommend the use of face coverings in schools and say they are not required as pupils are mixing in consistent groups, and because misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission. There are some circumstances where staff will be wearing face masks and other protective equipment.
Schools have been asked to have a process for removing face coverings should any pupil arrive with a face mask.
Routine temperature testing of children is not recommended.
The guidance expects schools to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum and recognises that some mixing between groups is acceptable for specialist teaching or wrap around care so long as additional protective measures are put in place.
Teachers and staff can operate across different classes or groups to facilitate the delivery of the school timetable but only where this is necessary. The guidance recognises that schools still need to function and every little measure will help, even if partially implemented, as the overarching principle is to minimise contacts and interaction as much as is reasonably practicable.
It would not be reasonably practicable to put siblings in the same Class Bubble for example nor does the guidance expect us to.
Public Health Protection Team
Should there be a positive case of coronavirus in our school community, our local Public Health protection team will advise on appropriate action, which could include small groups of children and staff being asked to self-isolate for up to 14 days. Where there are two or more confirmed cases in a two-week period, health protection teams may ask a larger number of other children or young people to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure.
We appreciate that this could cause significant disruption so we are urging everyone in our school community to play their part and keep coronavirus at bay and out of our school and by adhering to our protocols. These will be published shortly.
We will continue to implement the hierarchy of essential control measures that all schools must adhere to. These measures are largely the same as we have in place now, but with the addition that parents and staff are expected to fully engage and cooperate with NHS Test Track and Trace process.
Here is a brief summary of the protective measures that we have in place now and we will continue with next year :
No child or member of staff who has symptoms of Covid-19, tests positive for Covid-19 or lives with someone with Covid-19 or has symptoms of Covid-19 will be allowed to entry onto the school premises.
We are urging our school community to take this seriously as it relies on each one of us taking personal responsibility.
Children or staff displaying symptoms during the school day will be sent home and asked to take a test for Covid-19 and only return when it is safe to do so.
Parents and staff have responsibility to our school community to engage and cooperate with test, track and trace and self-isolate when asked to.
There will be robust hand and respiratory hygiene protocols throughout the day. We will ensure children follow the protocols, build in routine hand washing times into the school day and provide sufficient facilities.
We are asking and expecting all parents to use their best endeavours to instil good habits and ensure their child(ren) routinely sneeze, cough and blow their nose into a tissue before putting the tissue into a bin.
We expect all children to be routinely washing their hands for at least 20 seconds and know why this is important.
We have enhanced cleaning and disinfecting arrangements especially frequently for touched surfaces and resources.
Reducing contacts and interaction
We currently have systems in place to maximise distance between people and to reduce contacts (people meeting and mixing). Some of the details we have explained above.
Our next steps are to finalise the logistical details of how we can keep 4 classes apart during the week and update our Risk Assessment and protocols.
We will let you know the finer details and arrangements before the end of term and provide a handy guide for parents.