Covid 19 Information
Heads Parentmail - 19th June 2020
You will no doubt already be aware by now that the Government's previously announced 'ambition' for all primary aged pupils to return to school before the Summer break has been cancelled. The Government has accepted that such a plan was not feasible or practically possible under their own current social distancing guidance for schools. They have also confirmed that apart from Years 10 and 12, secondary aged pupils (Years 7 and 8 for middle schools) will not return to school until September 'at the earliest'.
After some persistent lobbying of the Department for Education, there has been a recognition, finally, that there needs to be some flexibility for Middle Schools to be able to offer their Year 8 pupils some closure to their time at Middle School prior to transition to High School.
It has taken all of our resources, and efforts, to bring our Year 6 pupils back from 1st June whilst at the same time, continuing to admit children of key workers who have been attending since 23rd March and maintain our remote learning platform. Due to the size and nature of our school buildings and classrooms, it is not possible for other pupils to safely return in ‘bubbles’ of no more than 15 and maintain the social distancing protocols that we have to abide by to keep our staff, pupils and their families safe.
Whilst we cannot, therefore, invite our Year 8 pupils back to school for any extensive time, we are thankful that, with careful planning and preparation, we will be able to at least provide an opportunity for our Year 8 pupils to spend a couple of days with their teachers and peers before they move on the High School. It is important to note that we will be having to use the same social distancing guidance and ‘bubbles’ approach of no more than 15 pupils per class that Year 6 are currently following. To enable us to do this safely we will be undertaking the following steps and changes to our current provision:
- School will be closed to Year 6 pupils for the Summer break from the end of Tuesday 14th July
- School will remain closed on Wednesday 15th July to all children to enable extensive cleaning to take place in preparation for Year 8
- We will open for Year 8 pupils only (plus the children of key workers) on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th July so they can have an opportunity of spending some time with their teachers and peers before they leave middle school
We are sure the parents/carers of our Year 6 pupils will understand the importance of being able to offer our Year 8 pupils the chance of completing their Middle School journey before they leave us. We do not want their final days with us to be those anxious ones in March as we approached lockdown and we have had to work exceptionally hard to make sure they will at least have some time at school to ‘say goodbye’. We will be in touch with Year 8 parents/carers over the next couple of weeks to give further guidance and detail of how we will accomplish this, including a request to let us know if you intend to send your child back for those final two days.
At this stage, we do not know what will happen in September and all we can do is wait for the Government to issue further guidance. We understand this is a very difficult situation for everyone concerned and we thank you for your patience and for everything you are doing to support your child's remote learning or their return to school in Year 6 since 1st June.
Once again, we would like to thank you all for continuing to support us through such challenging and unprecedented times and we whole-heartedly thank all of our brilliant pupils, those in school and those who remain at home, for coping so well without 'normal' school
Heads Parentmail - 15th May 2020
I am writing to you to provide further guidance as to our plans for re-opening on the 1st June 2020.
As you will be aware, the Government has asked schools to prepare for re-opening from 1st June at the earliest for primary aged children beginning with Year 6. At St John’s we have been preparing for this and will welcome Year 6 back on Tuesday 2nd of June. This will allow a day for further cleaning and staff training as I am sure parents will appreciate the way we will be working will be entirely different to the way we were operating before the lock down.
Middle schools have been asked to go along with this even though clearly the national structure is generally two tier. I have enclosed a guide for parents giving the details on how we hope to achieve this. I would also add that the Government has set criteria nationally and will confirm to schools closer to the date, as late as 48 hours before, whether these have been met and therefore that they do want us to open from the 1st June. If this information changes during the half term week we will let parents know via the website and/or parentmail.
The school would be open to Year 6 children initially and to allow social distancing we will separate the year group into A and B and so half the year group will be in at any one time and the children will then work in “bubbles” with staff allocated to their bubble. This is intended to minimise the risk of infection across the school.
We will survey Year 6 parents next week allowing time for parents to read the documentation to gauge how many children will actually be coming in. Parents will then receive details confirming which group, A or B, their child is in and when they will start. Provision for Key Worker and Vulnerable children will continue as normal.
Guidance for Parents/Carers for Children in Year 6 potentially returning to school from 1st June
Guidance for Parents/The Government has set five criteria that if met will mean they deem it safe for limited pupils to potentially begin returning to school from 1st June and have decided that schools should take in year 6 pupils in the first instance. We will be endeavouring to follow their guidelines to ensure that the pupils are as safe as possible and will be putting procedures into place to maximise this and these are spelt out in this guidance. It is up to parents to decide if they feel it is safe for their child to return to school under these circumstances. Whilst you are encouraged to take up the place offered there will be no fines for non-attendance and schools are not being held to account for low attendance. The government is clear in the guidance that we cannot be expected to maintain a social distance of 2m at all times with pupils but we will be working through a hierarchy of measures that include:
· Avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms – any child displaying any symptoms at home must not be sent into school and any child with symptoms in school will be isolated and sent straight home
· Frequent hand cleaning and good respiratory hygiene practice
· Regular cleaning of settings
· Minimising contact and mixing
It is hoped that the following guidance enables you to make up your mind as to whether you deem it safe to send them back. We will be surveying parents next week to elicit your response so we can plan further and to confirm you are happy with the measures that we are able to put in place.
Pupils will be taught in classes no bigger than 15 pupils. To facilitate this the Year group will be split into two halves A and B. So up to half of the year group will be in at any one time. They will be taught in the same classroom throughout the week and will stay with the same group of pupils. Desks will be spaced out and they will have their own space which will remain the same throughout the week. Classrooms will be fully cleaned at the end of each day.
All bags and belongings will be kept in the classroom by their desk, we will not be using cloakroom areas.
Pupils will have contact with no more than 4 teachers in the classroom (including teaching assistants) and they will be instructed to wash and/or sanitise their hands at regular intervals.
We aim to focus on core subject in lessons in the mornings (Maths, English and Science) with a wider variety of subjects by the same teachers in the afternoon, although this may change depending on how we can facilitate the timetable. Pupils will have at least two PE sessions outdoors during the week, as long as the weather allows. On the days they have PE pupils will come to school in their PE kit and will not change in the changing rooms.
Learning will look different. Pupils will have teacher led lessons but will use only one book for all lessons which won’t be marked. Feedback will be as a whole group guided by the teacher from the front of the classroom. There will be no homework set.
Pupils need to bring their own equipment/pencil case which they can store in the tray by their desk.
Break times will be staggered through the morning. Each group will mix outside with a maximum of one other group (i.e. no more than 30 pupils in an outside area). We will assign groups an area in which they will have their break and they must abide by that.
Lunchtimes will be staggered with the same groups as break time. Pupils will eat lunch in their normal group and then be directed to their designated outside area.
School dinners will not be available. Packed lunches will available for children who are normally entitled to Free School Meals and so children will need to bring a packed lunch.
There will be no break time service from the canteen. Pupils will need to bring their own snack which they will store in their classroom.
Pupils will not be expected to wear school uniform. Guidelines encourage people to change clothes as soon as they get in and place them straight in the wash so a change of clothes is necessary each day. Pupils will need to be dressed ready to participate in PE activities, there will be no access to changing rooms.
Entry and Exit
These will both be staggered to allow as low a number of people as possible to be entering and exiting school at the same time. Further information on timings for each group and which entrance Watt Close or Sanders Park is to be used. will be provided as soon as all planning is complete.
No parents will be allowed on site at any time and therefore will be unable to drop off items for their child at the school office . Any communication with school needs to via email or phone calls to the school office. There are no after school clubs this term.
Transport to and from School
Where possible pupils should walk or cycle to school. Parents are encouraged to use their own cars to transport pupils to school where it is not possible for them to walk or cycle. The safest place to park to drop off and pick up children is the car park at Sanders Park.
Movement around School
This will be kept to a minimum. Each corridor and stairwell will be one way to limit the amount of contact and pupils mixing. There will be markers on the floors every 2 metres to help remind children of social distancing.
As prior to closing, there will be continual cleaning of all touch points, i.e. handles, taps, toilets, doors etc. Each classroom used and all communal areas will be thoroughly cleaned each evening.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including face coverings and face masks
Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended. Face coverings may be beneficial for short periods indoors where there is a risk of close social contact with people you do not usually meet and where social distancing and other measures cannot be maintained, for example on public transport or in some shops. This does not apply to schools or other education settings.
Shielded and Clinically Vulnerable Children
For the vast majority of children and young people, coronavirus is a mild illness. Children and young people (0 to 18 years of age) who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions have been advised to shield. We do not expect these children to be attending school or college, and they should continue to be supported at home as much as possible. Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A small minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.
If a child, young person or a member of staff lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting.
If a child, young person or staff member lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out in the COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable guidance, it is advised they only attend an education or childcare setting if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and, in the case of children, they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may not be
possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, we do not expect those individuals to attend. They should be supported to learn or work at home.
There is a set of additional questions with answers such as what happens if someone becomes unwell at an educational or childcare setting? in the guidance on the link below entitled Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education settings: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings
The link to the government guidance for parents/carers is: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june
It is important to note that the plans for school opening may change as close as 48 hours before the 1st June dependent upon government guidance and infection rates.
Reopening FAQ for year 6 parents
Will the school be able to enforce social distancing?
Whilst the school will make every effort to encourage social distancing, we cannot guarantee that children will be 2 metres apart.
What will the consequences be if I choose not to send my child into school?
Whilst we are looking forward to welcoming your child back into school, we completely understand parents' anxieties and concerns regarding sending their children back to school. We can reassure parents that there is no penalty if they choose to keep their child at home and this will not affect your child’s attendance record.
Will all year 6 children be in school at the same time?
No, each year 6 class will be divided in half, one half being called group A and the other half being called group B. Group A will attend 1 week and group B will attend the following week. The children will continue to attend school alternate weeks until the end of the academic year. In addition, there will be several classes of key worker children in school at the same time.
What will class sizes be?
The maximum class size will be 15.
Will my child be with their friends?
Form tutors will divide their class taking several factors into account, one of these being friendship groups. However, we cannot guarantee that they will be with their best friend. If you have siblings in Year 6, they will attend school during the same week.
Will my child be able to play with their friends in other classes during break or lunch?
No, to facilitate some degree of social distancing, each group of 15 children and 4 teachers will become an isolated bubble. Each bubble will be kept separate from other class bubbles at all times. This will mean that the start of the day, break, lunch and home times will all be staggered.
Where will the children eat their lunch?
Children will eat at their desk in their allocated room. All tables will be disinfected prior to the children eating lunch. Weather permitting the children will be able to enjoy a picnic lunch outside but will be at the discretion of the class teacher.
Will break and hot lunches be served?
No, children will need to bring in their own lunch and snack for break time. Those who receive free school meals will be provided with a packed lunch which will be delivered to their classroom.
Will my child be able to access drinking water?
Yes, water fountains will be available to the children which will be sanitised throughout the day and hand gel will be available before use. However, we would encourage pupils to arrive at school with a full water bottle each morning reducing the need to use our water fountains.
What equipment will my child need to bring to school?
Children will not be allowed to share equipment, so we ask that they attend school each day with a pencil case containing the stationery required for their lessons. The minimum would be a pencil, pen, ruler, rubber and colouring pencils.
Will my child have to wear school uniform?
No, in the guidelines that we have been sent by the Department of Education (DFE) advise that clothing worn to school is washed, the wearing of uniform would therefore not be practical. We ask that children attend school in comfortable but appropriate clothing. On the day's children have PE, they will be asked to attend school in their PE kits as changing rooms will not be available due to their limited space.
Will my child have to wear a mask?
No, it is not compulsory to wear a mask, however, if a parent chooses to send their child into school with a mask, this will be acceptable.
Will staff be wearing personal protective equipment? (PPE)
PPE is being purchased for all of our staff and it will be staff choice as to whether they wear it. At present the DFE has not made the wearing of PPE compulsory in schools.
Will children be taught by their usual teachers?
No, four teachers have been allocated to each class; this will include your child’s current form tutor. Throughout the week these 4 teachers will deliver all the timetabled lessons to that class. Please be aware that there may be times when staff are covered due to staff absence.
How many classrooms will my child be taught in?
Each class will be based in 1 classroom throughout the day. We will use outdoor spaces for PE and other curriculum related activities.
How often will rooms be cleaned?
Classrooms will be deep cleaned every evening following the children’s departure.
Will children have access to hand washing facilities?
The school have a limited number of wash basins, only four in key stage 2 and guidelines suggest only one pupil in the toilet at a time. Therefore, we will rely heavily on hand gel for hand sanitation. Hand gel will be available in all classrooms. We are in the process of attempting to source and install extra hand washing facilities, however these will not be ready for the 1st of June.