Information Letter 02.06.20
I hope this finds you and your families well, and coping with the challenges of lockdown. I know this has been, and continues to be, a difficult time for many.
As you are aware, schools have been directed to make plans to accommodate pupils in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, from June 1st. The school’s staff and governing body have been working diligently to be able to do so as safely as possible, as soon as possible. It has been a long and thorough process, but it is nearly complete. Children in Reception and Year 1 will therefore be able to return to our school from Thursday 4th June.
Therefore, in the enclosed document, I set out the approach that School will take to reopening. It is then up to you as parents to determine whether you feel it is safe for your child to return to school. Know that whatever your decision, we will understand, only you know your family’s own personal circumstances and we will respect your decision. Our plans have been made in consultation with and agreed with our Governing Body and Local Authority.
Our whole staff team are eager to see the children back at school, engrossed in learning and having fun. We are also determined that this should be done in as safe a manner as possible, but it would be dishonest to tell you that school being open to more pupils is risk-free.
I also want to acknowledge the fantastic work you as parents have been doing at home whilst your children have not been able to come to school. We know the huge challenges many of you will have faced, juggling work commitments whilst getting to grips with home schooling, dealing with your children’s emotions whilst trying to manage your own, trying to find a way through each day as a family and the challenges and hopefully moments of joy that it brings. Whether you have been rigorously home schooling or have adopted a more low-key approach, we are grateful for all the work you have done – thank you!
The following document sets out how school plans to operate whilst it is open for pupils in Reception & Year 1 from Thursday 4th June. We will of course update you with any changing plans as soon as we can. These are the arrangements for now but they will undoubtedly evolve as the time progresses and if the government indicates that they consider it safe for more children to return to school. All of us dearly hope that it becomes safe enough sooner, rather than later.
Thank you for your continued patience and support,
When will school reopen?
Cropthorne with Charlton CE First School has been working towards reopening for pupils in Reception and Year 1 as soon as possible from 1st June. The government has set the ambition that all primary aged pupils will be able to return before we break for the summer holiday on Friday 17th July. The wider opening of school will only happen if the government and our own risk assessments confirm that it is safe to do so. Children in Reception and Year 1 will therefore be able to return to our school from Thursday 4th June.
Do I have to send my child to school if they are in Reception, Year 1 or Year 6?
No but the government is actively encouraging you to do so. The government has confirmed that no parents will be fined for failing to send their child to school during the summer term. It is though still a requirement that you inform us if your child will not be attending school. Please email Mrs Evans in the usual manner. No one with symptoms should attend for any reason.
Will the school day start and end times be as usual?
No. To support social distancing, and in line with government guidance, we are introducing staggered start and end times, to reduce volumes at the school entrance. Therefore, the drop off and collection times are changed, as follows:
Keyworkers and vulnerable children: 8.40 – 3.00
Year 1: 9.00 – 2.00
Reception: 9.30 – 2.30
If you have children in more than one ‘bubble’ group (see definition later), please drop them off at the latest time and collect at the earliest time.
What do I do if my child is unwell or displaying the symptoms of coronavirus?
Children and staff must not attend school if they are unwell. If any child or staff member, or someone in their household is displaying symptoms of coronavirus, they should remain at home and self-isolate. If it is the child who has symptoms, they should self-isolate for 7 days from when the symptoms start. If they live with someone who has symptoms, they should self-isolate for 14 days, as it can take this long for symptoms to appear. If they then show symptoms, they should self-isolate for a further seven days. Please inform Mrs Evans via email if your child is not attending school because they are unwell or are self-isolating.
I am worried that my child is vulnerable or that a family member is. Should I send them back to school?
Children and young people who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should continue to shield and should not be expected to attend.
Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.
Children and young people who live in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should only attend if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and the child or young person is able to understand and follow those instructions. As we will not be able to socially distance children within their class group, it would be advisable for these children to remain at home.
Children and young people who live with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable) as defined in the social distancing guidance and including those who are pregnant, can attend. DFE May 2020
Why aren't all the children coming back?
The DfE have based this on the need to reduce the rate of transmission of the virus, so have taken account of the need to reduce numbers returning as a gradual process and to ensure smaller groupings in classes can be maintained.
If one of my children is eligible to return can’t their sibling come back too?
Sadly, the answer to this is ‘no’. Siblings cannot attend unless they are in another of the selected year groups or you are a key worker. This would raise the number of pupils attending the school too quickly.
We are keen to continue to provide home learning to pupils not in school. As the entire teaching team will be involved in teaching pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Key Worker children, as they are to be taught in groups of no greater than 15, school will need to close to Reception & Year 1 each Wednesday to allow Miss Hughes and Mrs Hunt to maintain contact with the children from their classes who are not in school, and so they can prepare home learning for the following week. This will also enable us to ensure a thorough deep clean of these classrooms each Wednesday.
What are the arrangements for dropping off, and collecting children, and will social distancing be observed?
Children should be brought to school by one parent only. If siblings can stay at home they should do so, but we understand this will be impossible for some families. Please arrive at school at, and not before, the designated time for your child’s year group. Children should wait with their parent outside the front of school. Social distancing rules should be observed. Stay 2 metres away from others. Follow the one-way system up to the path to the side gate. Leave via the carpark. Class teachers will arrive to collect the children from the front side gate. Parents should leave as soon as children have been passed to the teachers. Please do not congregate around the school either before or after drop off to enable the next group of parents and children to arrive safely. It is vital that children arrive at their appointed time, not before or after it. The back gate will not be open for either drop off or collection.
Similarly, when collecting your child, please arrive in the same area at the designated collection time and stay 2 metres away from others. Children will be brought out to you by their class teacher. When your child returns to you, please leave the school premises as swiftly as possible, following the one-way system. If teachers have anything to communicate with you about your child’s day at school, they will telephone you. You must not approach school staff in person.
What happens if I have a message or information for the teacher?
There will be drop off and collection point at the front side gate, staffed by one of our team. Essential messages and information for teachers, that have a bearing on your child’s day, can be passed on here. Other more general messages should be communicated by email, in the usual way. When interacting with staff please observe the 2 metre social distance rule.
Communication from school will be via telephone or email. We will avoid sending hard copies of letters home.
Will you guarantee that social distancing takes place e.g. keeping children 2m apart?
We will of course do our best to support distancing, especially with any adults in the school. DfE guidance states 'We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account.’
Teachers will remind children to stay apart whilst they are in school but cannot guarantee that children will not come into closer contact with one another. We all know that children gravitate towards one another, and for our youngest children, maintaining social distancing will be impossible. Reception and Year 1 will continue to be able to select from a more limited than usual range of activities and to work 1:1 or in small groups with an adult. They will have their workstations for when they being addressed by the class teacher but will not be expected to remain at them at other times.
Therefore, we are not going to be implementing social distancing within each group but will encourage children to maintain a distance between themselves where possible. We will be ensuring that each group 'bubble' does not come into contact with other group bubbles. Children will only be able to socialise with children in their group, even at playtime. Parents need to know that in returning to school there is a very real likelihood that children will touch adults and one another and come into close contact. The nature of the school site and the age of our children is such that this is unavoidable and we cannot be expected to respond to complaints around this when it inevitably happens. We cannot alleviate every risk and parents must understand what we are able to do and use this to inform their decision making.
A home school agreement will be issued to parents to ensure everyone is clear with the steps that have taken place.
How will equipment be kept clean?
The amount of equipment available to children will be reduced to a minimum. Equipment that can be disinfected will be at the end of each day. Soft toys and furnishings will be removed, insofar as this is possible. We will remove any hard to clean equipment too.
What equipment will my child need?
Children should bring a minimum amount of items into school with them. This will be limited to a lunchbox, for those that need it, a drinks bottle and snack. Children must not bring in pencil cases, book-bags, reading books, reading journals or school bags. Neither should they bring in work completed at home at this time.
Will my child be expected to share resources, such as pens and pencils?
Where possible, children will be given their own equipment, which they must not share with anyone else.
Will my child need to wear their usual uniform?
No. Children should wear clothing (including footwear) suitable for sports activity and spending lots of time outdoors. We recognise that many children will have grown out of their school uniform, particularly their shoes, and we do not wish parents to incur expense to buy uniform for just seven weeks. All we ask is that a freshly washed set of clothes are worn each day. We hope that this will lessen the chance of the wrong jumper being brought home and limit the need for children to change their clothes school; PE kits are NOT required. Children should bring a cap or hat to school each day as they will be outdoors more frequently. If you do not have a cap for your child, please let Mrs Evans know via email. We will send an initialed cap home with your child for them to use as their own. Children will no longer be able to share caps & hats. Suncream should be applied prior to school and sent in with children if they are able to apply their own. Staff are unable to do so.
How big will the classes be?
The DfE is recommending class group size should not exceed 15 pupils per small group and one teacher plus a classroom support professional where required. Desks should be as far apart as the room allows.
Will children be confined to the same classroom environment most of the day?
Government advice on the scientific evidence shows that the outdoor environment is much more manageable in terms of virus transmission. With the Summer weather here we will be moving towards more of an outdoor learning approach, where possible. However, outside of this, we will keep children within their own classroom during the day.
What are the plans for the children of key workers, and children who are vulnerable, who are not in Reception & Year 1?
We will continue to welcome the children of keyworkers (please note, the government’s definition of this category has not altered) into school. If the amount of children in this category exceeds our capacity, we will need to review our provision arrangements for other year groups.
Please note the start and end time for this group of children will no longer be flexible. They need to be dropped off at 8.40am and collected at 3.00pm to enable our other year groups to arrive safely at their staggered time.
What are the arrangements for the children of keyworkers and vulnerable children in Reception & Year 1 who have been using the childcare provision?
They will now attend with their classmates.
What are the lunchtime arrangements?
Children in Reception and Year 1 who receive a free school meal, can be provided with a packed lunch, which will be eaten in their designated classroom or outside. Parents should notify Mrs Evans directly if children need a packed lunch. Children can also be provided with a packed lunch by their parents. This should be provided, as usual, in a named lunchbox. Children should also bring appropriate drinks and snack boxes for the day. These will remain in a separate area in the classroom until they are needed.
What are the arrangements for break time?
Children will be given a minimum of two 15-minute outdoor breaks on the playground. Access to the playground will be staggered so that children from different groups do not mix. The children will also have other lessons outside where possible. Groups will be kept separate at all times. Children in Reception will have access to an outdoor area.
Why can't children from Reception & Year 1 play with each other at break time?
To enable us to maintain distance from others for each group bubble, it is important that children only play with children in their bubble. This helps us to limit the number of people each bubble comes into contact with, which will aid in preventing transmission.
What are the arrangements for pupils using the toilets?
Classes will each be assigned a unisex cubicle, they will be monitored on their way to the cubicle, on exiting they will be escorted back to class to wash their hands thoroughly on entry.
To avoid children using door handles, the toilets will only be accessible from the outside door which will remain open.
My child is feeling anxious about coming back to school, how can I prepare him/her?
You will need to prepare your child by talking about what school was like and what it will be like now. It will be different. It will however still be friendly and welcoming and not a ‘scary’ place to be.
It will be important to encourage your child to talk about their experiences in ‘lockdown’ and that this period is now ending.
You may find these videos helpful:
How to Explain Social Distancing to Kids
Miss Hughes and Mrs Hunt are currently working together on how to support transition back into school for both Reception & Year 1, we hope to share this information with you as soon as possible.
How will you support my child’s emotional well-being?
There will be plenty of opportunities for children to discuss their feelings, play and rebuild friendships.
There is a wealth of information available for parents on our school website.
How will class groupings be organised?
Each class in Reception & Year 1 will be split into two groups. They will be assigned a teacher and teaching assistant, and this group will work as an isolated bubble. This does mean that half of the children will not be taught by their regular class teacher or in their usual classroom. This is in line with government guidance, “Classes should normally be split in half, with no more than 15 pupils per small group and one teacher (and, if needed, a teaching assistant). Vulnerable children and children of critical workers in other year groups should also be split into small groups of no more than 15.” Mrs Hunt & Mrs Denney will teach Reception. Miss Hughes & Mrs Freeman will teach Year 1. You will appreciate, this has been an agonising and difficult decision to make.
What other safety measures are in place?
Children will be directed to wash their hands on arrival at school, before eating, after breaks and before leaving school each day. Soap and hot water is available in every toilet and classroom.
Tissues will be available in all classrooms.
All frequently touched surfaces, equipment, door handles and toilets used during the day will be cleaned thoroughly each day.
All staff and any visitors to school, should wash their hands upon arrival, although visitors to school will be kept to a minimum.
There are lidded bins in all classrooms.
We will maintain a plentiful supply of all cleaning materials.
Children and adults will be encouraged to follow social distancing measures, keeping 2 metres apart, but as stated previously, primary age children will find this challenging to maintain.
Follow the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance
Ensure that sufficient handwashing facilities are available. All classrooms have their own sinks.
Clean surfaces that children and young people are touching, such as toys, books, desks, chairs, doors, sinks, toilets and light switches more regularly than normal
Ensure that lidded bins for tissues are emptied throughout the day
Where possible, ensure spaces are well ventilated.
Prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation
We will ensure that all adults and children:
Frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly.
Clean their hands on arrival at the setting, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing
are encouraged not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose.
Use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and use bins for tissue waste (‘catch it, bin it, kill it’)
ensure that help is available for children and young people who have trouble cleaning their hands independently.
We will consider how to encourage young children to learn and practise these habits through games, songs and repetition.
Our staff will clean areas in use throughout each day, dependent upon intensity of use. A thorough clean will take place at the end of each day, and a deeper clean each Wednesday.
In the event that we reach our minimum threshold of stock for cleaning and PPE, despite attempts to replenish our stock, the school will close until we are sufficiently able to operate safely.
Movement around school will be kept to a minimum. Children will largely stay in their own class base in their own group, with the same adults throughout the day. Contact between groups will be avoided. Children will only leave their class base to go to the toilet or go outside.
What measures will school be employing to help prevent transmission?
In addition to what has already been mentioned
We will: give children a designated classroom and group (which we are referring to as their bubble) for lessons and play, to minimise the opportunity for mixing.
Regularly clean the setting.
Use PPE such as gloves, aprons, masks, hand sanitiser and anti-bac wipes as identified in our Risk assessments, when it is necessary to do so.
Confine resources to rooms to minimise sharing and when sharing is essential (eg laptops and ipads), clean resources before transference.
Organise lunchtimes and playtimes differently, keeping children in their bubbles.
Be vigilant in identifying children with symptoms, isolate them and ask parents to collect them.
Removal and/or restricting access to unnecessary items in classrooms.
Removal and/or restricting access to some soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean.
Will staff be wearing PPE?
No, the government has advised that, beyond the normal use of PPE in school, it is unnecessary for staff to wear PPE in schools. When staff are supporting children with intimate care needs they will wear PPE in the usual manner.
If a child becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus whilst in school and needs direct personal care until they can return home, staff will wear PPE. This will include a fluid resistant facemask, disposable gloves and a disposable apron. If there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting or vomiting, then the attending member of staff will wear eye protection in the form of a face shield. School has stock of these items.
Can my child wear PPE?
No. Government guidance states that the use of PPE by children, notably masks, are not recommended nor required. Young children are unlikely to be able to manage the safe use and disposal of these items. We are unable to police children wearing them. Children should not attend school wearing PPE.
Will the school take my child’s temperature every day?
No, but we may use a non-invasive thermometer which points to the forehead if we suspect a child of having symptoms.
Will there be a daily assembly?
A daily assembly will take place in the classroom, delivered by the class teacher to avoid any gatherings of more than 15 children.
What will my child be doing in school?
There will be a focus on maths, reading and writing, including phonics for our younger children. There will also be a strong an emphasis on our personal, social and health curriculum. We will apply the breadth of the rest national curriculum insofar as this is possible but we have been advised to reduce the volume of equipment being used and the use of some equipment is essential to children’s learning.
Will behaviour be managed in the same way?
We are unable to implement our regular behavior policy due to staffing and site restrictions. Class teachers will use strategies with which children are familiar to promote positive behaviour. An updated annex to our behavior policy has been produced in line with DFE guidance. Children whose behaviour poses a safety risk may not be permitted to attend the provision until a risk assessment has been completed in consultation with the child’s parents. The school will use its best endeavours to support individuals attending school as long as it does not impact upon the government’s aim to see as many pupils return to school as safely possible.
Will I be able to meet with staff if necessary?
External visitors to school will be kept to a minimum. Discussions with parents will be done over the telephone.
Will the usual Summer Term events take place?
No. Sadly, this year, we will not be hosting events like sports days, end of year shows or a leavers’ party and leavers’ assembly. There will be no achievement assemblies for the remainder of the academic year although we will still reward children for good work.
We will find a way to mark our Year 5 leaving our school, but we have yet to finalise our plans for this.
Will we allow visitors and volunteers into school?
No. Until the situation improves, we would prefer to minimise additional adults coming in and out of school.
Will extra-curricular clubs run (football club, dance club etc)?
No. These bring too many children into contact and mix the school groupings.
Will you continue to provide online home learning activities for children who do not return to school?
We will continue to set home learning activities during term-time, so that all children have access to provision to support their learning. You may find these look different to what has been provided since school closure and will utilise available online learning resources as recommended by the DfE.
Staff will maintain communication with parents via email, however please be mindful that all teaching staff are in the classroom daily with pupils attending school even if their year group is not yet returning.
These arrangements may change dependant on the number of pupils in school and our ability to staff the provision of home learning.
Will there be any trips once school opens on June 1st?
No. There are no plans to take the children out of the school grounds until further notice.
Will children and young people be eligible for testing for the virus?
The government advice is:
When settings open to the wider cohort of children and young people, all those children and young people eligible to attend, and members of their households, will have access to testing if they display symptoms of coronavirus. This will enable them to get back into childcare or education, and their parents or carers to get back to work, if the test proves to be negative. To access testing parents will be able to use the 111 online coronavirus service if their child is 5 or over. Parents will be able to call 111 if their child is aged under 5.
Will teachers and other staff be able to get tested if they have symptoms?
Access to testing is available to all essential workers. This includes anyone involved in education, childcare or social work – including both public and voluntary sector workers, as well as foster carers.
What will happen if a child in the class shows symptoms?
We will follow the Government guidelines set out below.
If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in an education or childcare setting, they must be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance.
If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age of the child and with appropriate adult supervision if required. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.
If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else. PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
If a member of staff has helped someone who was unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home (although this will be offered to any member of staff if the case arises) unless they develop symptoms themselves (and in which case, a test is available) or the child subsequently tests positive (see ‘What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?’ below). They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.
What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in school?
We will follow the Government guidance set out below.
When a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display 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 their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.
Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.
As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the cohort or in the wider setting, Public Health England’s local health protection teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases a larger number of other children, young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.
Where can I find more information about returning to school?
The Government information is provided here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june