Following the recent government announcement regarding a phased return to school for some pupils, we have continued to work closely with Durham County Council to establish what is right for our school. The council is supporting all schools in the county, to establish a pattern and timeframe that works for them. They have provided a risk assessment, which is designed to put the health and safety of children first and ensure each school mitigates, to the best of their ability, risks associated with a phased return. School can’t guarantee parents/carers that children will not catch COVID19 or become carriers of the virus and so infect others outside school. The Government have instructed schools to put a plan into place under their guidance which we are doing based on the mitigation of risk for everyone’s safety. The information sent out on 19th May (on the school website )still applies.
I am sure you will know we have a very thorough risk assessment in place , which includes stringent cleaning guidelines from the LA Health and Safety team. As well as substantial additional cleaning and hygiene procedures there will be strict regulations followed in school by all children and staff. This will include :
Pupils and staff remaining in their “bubble” with no interaction or sharing with other groups. Each group will be looked after by 2-3 teaching staff and 1 -2 lunchtime supervisors. All adults will remain consistently the same as far as possible.
Socially distancing regimes in place in classrooms for older pupils and as far as possible with the younger children.
Increased daily cleaning by all school staff. Toilets , some equipment and touch points will be cleaned during the day as well as afterwards. School may need to close for half a day per week ( for N, Reception ,Year 1, Year 6 ) to allow for deep cleaning of those classrooms and equipment, as well as additional cleaning both inside and outside the building. Children of key workers and vulnerable children will remain in school however.
Home learning resources and guidance will still be provided for children in N, R , Y1 and Y6 who don’t attend however the nature of this may change a little for these year groups as teachers take on the task of teaching both in school and remotely. Home learning will continue to be online based.
The teaching experience for children who return will be initially a “Recovery” based nurturing curriculum designed to support the children in this transition and allay their anxieties and concerns. They will be supported mentally and emotionally as they re-socialise and settle back into school and gradually the teacher will begin a “recap and consolidation” style curriculum. Brand new concepts will not be taught as children who do not attend will miss out on this.
The school day will run from 9am to 3.15 ( apart from one half day for N,R Y1 Y6) although drop off and collection times will be slightly staggered to make them safer.
The guidance and current situation ( as you will know from the media) changes on an almost daily basis. We have been told to expect further key information on May 28th from the government. In the meantime we are continuing with our preparations.
To enable a safe as possible return, the children will not all return at the same time. Our oldest Y6 children will start first at some point during the week beginning June 1st. The younger children will then return either for the end of that week or in the week beginning June 8th. This is because the preparation needed to make the classroom environments as safe as possible for the younger pupils is more extensive. We have to be fully organised and equipped with all cleaning/PPE resources needed and all staff including non-teaching staff, fully prepared.
Our full return to school plan will be discussed by governors next week who will check all the safety plans in place. In order to complete our planning we do need definitive numbers of pupils returning– if everything goes ahead from the government and Local Authority position. We are therefore asking for a decision from parents by 12 noon on Tuesday 26th May as to whether they wish to send their child/children back to school following June 1st.
I fully recognise that this is a difficult decision for some of you. If you choose not to send your child back at this point we totally understand this decision and will do everything we can to continue to support you and your child/children at home. If the return goes ahead, there will not be the possibility of you changing your decision in the short term because of the planning and regulations newly in place. Each school is fashioning their opening plans and timescales based upon their space, staff availability and government guidance related to health and safety. It may be possible to welcome some more pupils back from the eligible year groups at a later date but this can not be guaranteed initially. As time progresses however, the government may relax the guidance allowing more pupils to return.
Thank you to the majority of parents who have already responded to our link. For any parent who has not completed the “Return to School” response form—please click on this link. Response
The closing time for responses is 12 noon Tuesday 26th May.
If parents do not respond , we will assume they do not wish to send their children back at this point. If you have changed your mind in any way regarding your response, please contact school by email or telephone no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 26th May.
Finally , I hope that you are all staying safe and well. We are so looking forward to having all our children back in school safely. This is such a difficult situation for everyone and most of all we want our children to be happy, safe and settled back into school with their friends and teachers. We will have a big celebration when that time comes !
In the meantime, make sure your children have watched the “Be our Guest” video the staff prepared for them last week. It was a way to remind the children how much we care for them and miss them…and hopefully make them smile !