These pages on our website are designed to let you know how we will be organising our school so that we can welcome you back safely. We are really looking forward to seeing you all again and want you to know how we will be caring for you when you are with us. We hope you find the information in these pages useful, and if you have any other questions, please just ask us.
On Monday 29th June we will be bringing in a Nursery Pod. Nursery is the last statutory group that we are bringing into school as part of our reopening plans.
Our plan was always to reopen gradually, in order to ensure that our systems were robust enough to deal with any cases of COVID-19 in school and to keep children and the wider community safe from potential transmission.
In line with Government regulations regarding the size of rooms and which children take priority; we have had to limit nursery to one Pod with a maximum of 10 spaces, aimed at those children who will join a reception class in September 2020. We have been unable to make a wider nursery offer because of appropriate space and available staff.
We look forward to a wider opening of schools and the return of more pupils in September and will keep you all informed of the plans to do this after Government advice is published.
Reopening of School from 15th June 2020
Following the recent government announcement regarding a phased return to school for some pupils, we have been working 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. Working with the Council, we have decided that the following approach best suits the needs of children and families in our school.
What We Are Doing and Why
The Governing Body and teachers are making the following preparations in a pragmatic and measured way in order to ensure the health and safety of all people in our school community. Children will be phased back over a number of weeks and the timings of this will depend on a number of things such as;
- How well our systems maintain social distancing and how well they keep everyone free from Covid-19.
- The availability of staff and space in school to manage smaller class sizes
- The national and regional reproductive number (R number)
In the first instance we are planning on the following timescale (subject to a weekly Health and Safety review)
15th June Year 1 and Reception returning
22nd June Year 6 (and potentially nursery children dependant on the factors outlined above)
We have phoned and/or emailed all parents with children in the returning classes to find out their feelings towards our return plans. Some of you have told us ‘yes’, other ‘no’ and some families have ‘not yet decided’. It is only natural that some parents or carers will have anxiety over the safety of schools, and we hope that our planned phased return will reassure all our families and encourage more children to return over time.
On 15th June 2020 we will bring back the first groups of children from Reception and Year 1. Each returning group will be known as a Pod and most pods will have up to 9 children in them; this will help us maintain social distancing in school and reduce the number of contacts that children have with other people.
The Pods that will return on 15th June are:-
Reception Pod (Ra) with Mrs. Bancroft in the Reception classroom
Reception Pod (Rb) with Mrs Hall and Mrs Perry in the nursery room
Year 1 Pod (1a) with Mrs Stringer in the Year 2 classroom (please note this is a change from Mr Wallis who was going to be the teacher for that Pod)
During the week beginning 15th June parents of children in Reception and Year 1, who have not returned, will have the opportunity to tell us if they have changed their minds about returning from 22nd onwards. We will then use that information to finalise our decisions around the organisation and staff for the Year 6 and hopefully nursey pods.
Our Expectations for School Staff and Parents to Prevent Transmission of COVID-19
To Keep Everyone in School Safe we will:-
- Use smaller class sizes (pods) so that we can reduce the number of contacts between children and staff across the school day and so that we can endeavour to maintain social distancing. (Although I am sure you will acknowledge that younger children will find this harder to maintain which is why the organisation of Reception is different to Year1)
- Make sure that each pod has a staggered start time or separate entrance. Each pod will also have named adults who work with them and a unique timetable in school for breaks and lunch. This will reduce the number of contacts whilst in the building.
- Ensure that your child has access to an individual tray with their own resources that only they use. In Key Stages 1 and 2 they will have their own seat and desk. (In reception children might be sharing resources within their pod and resources will be cleaned each day)
- Ensure that there is additional and regular hand hygiene which will be a mixture of handwashing and hand sanitisers.
- Have strict, one in one out systems for use of the school toilets.
- Ensure additional cleaning during the day.
- Make sure that staff wear a clean change of clothes each day to reduce the risk of viral transmission.
To Keep Everyone in School Safe We Expect Parents to:-
- Abide by the social distancing measures that will be in place outside of school. Observe and use the 2m markings and adhere to the timings for entry and exit. Punctuality will be important to keep the risk of contacts to a minimum.
- Ensure that their children and families do not mix socially outside of school. The Government guidance states that ”Parents must do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially outside of school. They must observe the same social distancing principles as adults, as far as possible.”
- Wash the clothes that your child has worn for school. Each day, just like the staff, your child must come to school in a clean change of clothes. This might mean that you do not have enough school uniform. Don’t worry, we will relax the uniform rules so that your child can wear non-uniform and have a different set of clean clothes each day. (However, relaxing rules does not mean that school becomes a fashion parade; no jewellery or make up please, sensible shoes, and clothing that is suitable for the weather and which you don’t mind getting dirty is best. (We will be teaching and children do slip with felt tip pens, spill glue and slop paint.)
- Accompany your child to school each morning (but you will not be allowed into the classroom or cloakroom area with them) Only one parent per child should attend to keep contact points to a minimum.
- Provide a clean, filled water bottle for their child which must be taken home each day, cleaned and returned.
- Support the practice of regular handwashing with their children, to teach them to cough or sneeze into their elbow and follow the practice of ‘catch it, bin it, it kill it’.
- Ensure that we have an up to date mobile number and that parents are always contactable during the school day.
- Report any symptoms of COVID 19 that their household may have to the school and follow isolation guidance if any member of the household has any symptoms or suspected symptoms, otherwise follow the usual school procedures for sickness absence.
The Covid Symptom Study
Over time a better understanding of COVID-19 is emerging. We strongly recommend the COVID Symptom Study (https://covid.joinzoe.com/) and the associated mobile phone app that is available from the App Store and Google Play. It is free to download and allows you to say if you or any family members are feeling well or unwell each day. If unwell you are able to indicate any symptoms you have.
The COVID Symptom Study recognised the prominence in relation to loss of smell and taste as symptoms and their work lead to the Government recognising and adding these to the list of main symptoms alongside a high temperature and persistent cough.
The study is now able to say that the symptoms for children can be different to those in adults; for example, children may not have a high temperature or if they do it is brief. Loss of taste and sense of smell are important symptoms for children alongside others such as Covid Toe and swelling of the face.
If you do not want to download and use the app we have attached a document with the checklist of symptoms currently being monitored by the app.
We would encourage you use the app or refer to the list of symptoms on a daily basis so that you can make an informed decision about whether you send you child to school or keep them at home for monitoring to see if other symptoms develop. By doing this we can all play our part in making sure that Covid-19 is not brought into school or transmitted within the local community.
Preparing to Return
We have made two short return to school videos which are available on the school website. One is for Reception Pods and the other for Year1. (Please note the Year 1 video was made for the original opening date and has Mr Wallis as the Pod teacher. That is now Mrs Stringer)
If you have told us that you are returning on 15th June and your child is one of the first Pods please watch the video with your child so that you know what to do on the first day.
If you are unsure about your child returning or if your child is in a year group that will return at a later date please watch it as it will help reassure you of the actions we are taking.
An updated video will be made and posted for each returning year group.
If you told us ‘no’ or were undecided and would like your child to return after their planned start date this is fine, but we will need at least 48 hours’ notice so that we can be prepared. We need to make final decisions about the staffing and organisation of Year 6 and nursey by Thursday 18th June. If your child has not returned to reception or Year 1 and you have changed your mind and wish them to do so you must let us know by Wednesday 17th)
For Those Children Not Returning
We have not forgotten about the families and children who are not returning until September and your ongoing learning is important to us. We will continue to provide online learning for you, and we know that many of you have tried hard with the tasks and activities set by teachers in the past few weeks. However, as teachers return to work with the Pods the online learning may well be supervised by a member of teaching support staff or a member of staff who is not your child’s usual teacher.
May I thank you all, parents, carers and children alike, for your continued support over the past two months; it has been a difficult time for families across the whole country and as we gradually come out of lock-down there will be changes and new ways of working that we will all have to get used to. I think that with our planned phased return and your support we can work together to gain confidence in the system and get children back into school.