Returning to school in September
We are expecting to welcome all children, in all classes, back to school on Monday 7th September – except children in Nursery and Reception who are having a transition into school over the first ten days of term, and have been written to more personally a couple of weeks ago.
School will be closer to normal in September, but there will be some changes. Children will no longer be expected to socially distance, but staff are expected to try to, particularly from other adults. We are working through a host of measures relating to Covid security, and I will make these more detailed plans available before the school year starts. We might even stretch to another video…
In the meantime, I am writing to give you, and children, forewarning of a number of the changes that will impact most. Many of these systems and expectations have been already working well with the 50% or so of the school on site this half term.
Staggered start and finish times
We are going to have to continue with variations to our usual school timings. These important changes are detailed below:
Nursery (previously published times)
RPK (Miss Pinnock), 1G, 2Lo 8.45 – 3.05
RPT (Mrs Puddiphatt), 1B, 2La 8.55 – 3.15
3B, 4K, 5L and 6S 8.40 – 3.10
3E, 4C, 5W and 6J 8.55 – 3.25
The timings for Reception classes apply from your child’s second full day as you already have more personalised timings for their first day.
These changes are to reduce congestion on the yards and reduce density of children in corridors and cloakrooms. I apologise for any inconvenience caused. Please try to not to arrive too early, and please do leave promptly. If these times cause particular families unreasonable difficulties, please get in touch and we will try to help. When we can, we will revert to usual timings.
Class RPT (Mrs Puddiphatt) should please use the gate from the car park path and gather outside the double doors into the EYFS play area. This is to reduce congestion on the path outside the main Reception doors. Other than for Stay and Play sessions, parents in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 will now be expected to remain outside the building and not accompany their child into school.
The path between buildings will get busy and there could be more head-to-head ‘traffic’ given the revised timings. Whilst it is reasonably dry, please walk on the grass if you can. Please also make use of the rubber mats at the side of the path to increase flow.
Our ‘bubbles’ will be larger from September. Nursery and Reception will be regarded as one bubble, mixing in their shared outdoor space and, to an extent, passing through each other’s classrooms.
The rest of the school will be organised into year group bubbles: taught in distinct classes of 30, but spending some break time together and perhaps spending some periods together for small, year group assemblies or specialist teaching. Years 1 – 6 will play in distinct and separate zones of the playground and fields. Having wellies is strongly recommended, especially later in the term.
We will not be able to have key stage or whole school assemblies, but may do these via video link to each classroom. We will not be able to have our usual collective Harvest Festival or other large events in the first half term. Years 1 to 6 classrooms will be kitted out with basic video conference facilities which may enable us to share some events with parents remotely, and have future parent meetings via Google Meet.
In the event of a confirmed case of Covid 19, it is likely that the entire bubble will need to stay away from school for two weeks. In this instance, we will follow the advice of Public Health England.
Any child or adult with any symptoms of Covid 19 should not be entering the site.
We have lots of new external handwashing facilities that children will be using on entering and leaving the building. These are supplemented by sanitiser dispensers in each classroom and around the school. Staff will be using antiviral spray during the day on tables, door handles etc, and children from Y2 upwards will continue to be expected to wipe down toilet handles and seats after use.
As it stands, the government does not recommend routine face masks/covering for staff. It does, however, feel that the scientific consensus and public attitude to this is shifting somewhat. I think it is likely that teachers and support staff may begin to wear face coverings when working most closely with children. Support assistants whose work necessarily includes more intimate care are very likely to wearing PPE: both for the child’s wellbeing and their own. I hope that by September, the prevalence of face coverings in public places will mean that children are more prepared and comfortable to sometimes have adults with face coverings in their class. We would like parents visiting for ‘Stay and Play’ to wear a face mask please.
Children are not expected to wear face coverings.
School meals and lunchtimes
Infant meals will be cooked and eaten more or less as usual.
We only have one kitchen and all meals are usually cooked and consumed on the infant site. During lockdown, a limited number of meals have been driven across to the juniors each day, plated up on the corridor and eaten in class. This is not a sustainable or scalable system. The government guidance for reopening states explicitly that we should minimise movement around the school so sending 130 juniors into the infant building each day for their lunch doesn’t seem possible, especially if we are trying to keep ‘bubbles’ separate.
From September, there will be no hot meals available to our junior children. Children that are eligible for ‘Free School Meals’ will be discreetly given a healthy packed lunch each day that has been prepared in our kitchen. We will provide the lunchbox and drinks container. All other children will need to either bring a packed lunch or purchase a packed lunch as they do a normal school meal. I know this is far from ideal and I am not at all happy at this prospect. We will review this by October half term. We will assume that every paying school meal child from Y3-6 will be bringing their own packed lunch unless you email us or otherwise contact us before 1st September to request a school packed lunch at the new price of £2.30.
We are unlikely to offering many extra-curricular clubs in September. Those that do take place, are likely to be in single year groups.
Please do not rely on after-school clubs for childcare. Little People Fun Club does expect to be open. Fun Club are likely to run infant and junior rooms rather than year group bubbles – yes, I know that is inconsistent, but there will be enhanced hygiene arrangements and it is not feasible for them to wholly replicate school’s arrangements. The government does recognise this in its expectations of childcare providers. Families are allowed to use childminders but are expected to try to limit the number of different settings that they use.
Sadly, we are advised not to sing or use woodwind instruments (including recorders) in the autumn term because of the risk from droplets in the vigorous exhalation of air. We may be able to resume peripatetic lessons for instruments such as violin, guitar and keyboard.
Physical Education and competitive sport
We are revising our PE curriculum to reduce close physical contact and the sharing of equipment beyond the children’s own bubble. The children should all get close to their usual PE entitlement. We expect Y4 swimming to begin a few weeks into term, but this is TBC. We expect to be able to use minibuses with ‘bubbles’. We have entered four teams into competitive football leagues, but have no start date for this.
With the exception of some types of music and PE lesson, we expect to be able to deliver our usual broad curriculum from September including farming and cooking.
It is difficult to predict the extent to which academic gaps will have developed during lockdown. Many children have been in school, and many have been able to follow the remote learning opportunities provided. For many reasons, others have not. To a large extent, we will follow our usual curriculum in September whilst being more aware of the need to regularly assess for gaps and address these. In maths, the whole school will be focussing on number, place value and calculation in the autumn term.
Parents and carers in school
We will not be routinely having large groups of parents in school. Please don’t try to enter classrooms or cloakrooms without prior appointment. KS1 children will be supported by school staff to change books. Reading books will be going to and from school, but will go into 72 hour quarantine when returned unless they are easily wiped down. Please wash hands before and after using school books. If you do need to enter school, please use the sanitiser provided as you come in and leave.
We have lent a lot of Chromebooks to families during this partial closure of school. Please could these all be brought back to school on Monday 7th September with your child? Please do not come to the front desk with them – just bring them to class, and then they can be brought down to the office. Please make sure that you bring back the charging lead too.
We will be back in touch at the start of September with a reminder of all this and links to more detailed risk assessments if you need more information.
Thank you for all the positive feedback and support that you have given us over this extended Covid break, and we very much look forward to having our school back from 7th September.
Very best wishes,