Update for returning in September
Dear Parent, Carer
I hope that you have had a good summer and I am sure that, like me, you will be thinking about the reopening of school in September.
The past five months have a been very different for all of us, but we now know more about COVID-19 than we did in March. For example, the prevalence of COVID-19 has decreased since March and the NHS Test and Trace system has been able to identify and control local outbreaks.
Information from Public Health England shows that children are less affected by COVID-19 than adults and are less likely to pass it on. However, there will still be risks while COVID-19 remains in the community, and it is up to every member of staff, every parent/carer and every pupil to ensure that they are following the measures both inside and outside of school to prevent transmission.
We will be opening our school to all children on Thursday 3rd September, as planned, and we would like to share the following information so that you know what measures we are taking to keep everyone safe.
Parents and carers can help us manage the start and end of the school day by keeping to the times suggested below and by not parking outside the school. The gates to the drive will be closed and this means that taxis bringing children will not be on site. Instead they will be parking outside the school and escorting the children onto the premises. It will make the entrance safer for all if parents and children walked, or if you do need to drive that you park in the streets away from the school and walk from there.
1. Entry to School
We have made some adjustments to the entry arrangements in order to eliminate congestion at ‘pinch points’ such as the gates into the Early Years garden. This includes 2m markings and timings for entry and exit. If possible, please leave your child at the school gate, or follow the one-way system to help reduce congestion and contact. We also ask that, where possible, only one parent/carer per family brings children in, to help enable social distancing.
Two Year Olds, Nursery and Reception
If you have a child in our 2 year old provision, nursery or Mrs Bancroft’s class, please arrive at the following times:
· If your surname starts A to D, arrive at 8:45
· If your surname starts E to N, arrive at 8:50
· If your surname starts O to Z, arrive at 8:55
Wait with your child on the social distance lines leading to EYFS. Staff will let the children (or, if necessary, children and parent) enter. Children will then take their coats off. To reduce the number of adults in the building and in areas where they may be in close contact, it will be great if your child can take off and put on their coat without parental help. However, we do know that some very young children might need a bit of parental help or reassurance when they enter. There will be a one-way system in EYFS for parents to leave without congestion.
Years 1 to 6
The school gates onto the yard will be open from 8:45 and we will be operating a one-way system through the yard and around the rear of the school, to exit across the carpark. To this effect, the gates to the drive will be closed to traffic.
We are asking that pupils come to school at the following times:
· If your surname starts A to D, arrive at 8:45
· If your surname starts E to N, arrive at 8:50
· If your surname starts O to Z, arrive at 8:55
Your child should walk onto the yard, where staff will direct them into school via a designated entrance. If you have accompanied them, you will then follow the one-way system around the rear of the school to exit via the pedestrian gate.
2. Lunch Break
Mrs. Bancroft’s class will eat their lunch in the school hall, but to start with, all other classes will eat in their rooms.
Cooked school meals are resuming with the menu that was in place in March. We will be consulting on a new menu within the first few weeks of term. Children can still bring a packed lunch but please make sure it is contained in an easily wiped container, such as a plastic Tupperware box or vinyl lunch bag , and that it contains food that children can open independently.
We will be also be looking to start a rota for other classes to have lunch in the hall, once the new reception children are settled in.
All children will have time to play outside during breaks. (section 4 explains how this will be organised)
3. End of the School Day
Two Year Olds, Nursery and Reception
Children in 2’s provision and nursery will leave at 11:50.
Parents of children in our two year old provision should wait outside the blue EYFS doors; collection will be as normal.
For parents of nursery children, we will open the gate onto the EYFS garden and parents can wait there, where there is more space to socially distance. Staff will hand children over via the covered area, and you will be able to leave via the gate.
Reception-aged children have a phased start to school and will be leaving Mrs. Bancroft’s class earlier than normal for the first two full weeks (see times below). Parents can wait and collect from the blue EYFS doors.
3rd September to 11th September 1:00pm collection
14th September to 18th September 2:00 pm collection
21st September onwards 3:20 collection
Years 1 to Six
Children in Years 1 to 6 will line up on the yard. Children who walk home alone will do so immediately via the one-way system, and then we will let family groups leave.
For the end of the school day to work without congestion or the risk of increased contact, we are respectfully asking that parents do the following:
· Only come onto the yard if you have to do so
· If on the yard, maintain social distancing and wait beyond the zoned area
· If on the yard, please be patient while we call out family groups, and then leave immediately via the one-way system, whilst maintaining social distancing.
Please work with us around these timings and the measures that we have put in place. This way of working is new to us all and it will take longer for children to go to the toilet and hand wash, etc. Thus the timings and measures across the day may change slightly as the children and staff get used to the systems or if the measures are not working as planned.
4. The Measures We Have Taken and Our Expectations for School Staff and Parents to Prevent Transmission of COVID-19
To Keep Everyone in School Safe we will:-
· Use class bubbles 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)
· Make sure that each bubble has their own space in school and that they will also have named adults who work with them and a timetable in school for breaks and lunch. This will reduce the number of contacts whilst in the building. When outside, where transmission rates are lower, two ‘bubbles’ will be able to have their break outside at the same time. Children will be able to play socially distanced games which we will teach. Playground resources will be regularly cleaned to prevent transmission.
· Make sure that children in Key Stages 1 and 2 (Years 1 to 6) will have their own seat and desk, and their own individual essential resources (pencils, rulers, etc.) that only they use. Desks are laid out in rows or horseshoe arrangements to limit ‘face to face’ between children.
· Treat children in EYFS as one ‘bubble’, and they will share resources, which will be cleaned regularly.
· Ensure that there is additional and regular hand hygiene, which will be a mixture of handwashing and hand sanitisers.
· Make tissues available to children and staff to ‘Catch it, Bin It and Kill it’, and separate lidded bins for tissue waste will be in each room.
· Have strict 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.
· Have a designated room to segregate any child who is presenting with symptoms and some test kits have been made available to school so we can give these to parents to use if their child is symptomatic if parents are unable to arrange a local test. (For further information, please see Section 5, ‘What will happen if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in school?’)
To Keep Everyone in School Safe We Expect Parents to:-
· Return their child/ren at the start of term. The compulsory school age attendance laws apply once again from the start of term.
· 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 should do everything they can to ensure that children are maintaining a social distance with people from other households, and observing the same social distancing principles as adults, as far as possible.
· Accompany their child onto the yard only if necessary.
· Provide a clean water bottle for their child, which must be taken home each day, cleaned and returned. Children should not take a backpack to school; those who are on packed lunch can bring their lunch in a plastic box or bag. Hats and gloves should be removed before entering the school building and placed in coat pockets.
· 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; for other illnesses, follow the usual school procedures for sickness absence.
Do not send your child to their nursery, childminder, school or college if: · they are showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
· someone in their household is showing symptoms Arrange a test if you or your child develops symptoms. Inform your nursery, childminder, school or college of the results. If the test is positive, follow guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, and engage with the NHS Test and Trace process.
5. What will happen if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in school?
If we have a confirmed case of COVID-19, either for a pupil or staff member, we will be in contact with the Local Health Protection Team. (This team will also contact us directly if they become aware that someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) attended the school – as identified by NHS Test and Trace.)
The Health Protection Team will carry out a rapid risk assessment to confirm who has been in close contact with the person during the period that they were infectious. Based on the advice from the Health Protection Team, we must send home those people who have been in close contact with the person who has tested positive, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days since they were last in close contact with the infectious person. Close contact means:
· direct close contacts – face to face contact with an infected individual for any length of time, within 1 metre, including being coughed on, a face to face conversation, or unprotected physical contact (skin-to-skin)
· proximity contacts – extended close contact (within 1 to 2 metres for more than 15 minutes) with an infected individual
· travelling in a small vehicle, like a car, with an infected person
This means that if we have positive cases of COVID-19 in school, some class bubbles or staff may be asked to self-isolate at home if they have been in close contact with the infectious person. We would only envisage whole school closure in the case of multiple positive cases of COVID-19 in multiple bubbles or if there is a local lockdown following a local spike in COVID-19 cases.
During any partial or full school closure, we have developed our systems for home learning. We will continue to use Purple Mash and other online resources to ensure that children can access education in any future closure. During September we will be making sure that all children know how to log onto and use these resources so that they are ready if we need to use them.
6. What about face masks?
The current government guidance is that there is no need for children in primary schools to wear a face mask in the school building. If your child wears a face mask to walk to school they will need to remove it as they enter school and keep it in a safe place such as a zip lock freezer bag.
7. What about uniform and what will happen on PE days?
There is no longer a requirement for children to wear a clean change of clothes each day. This means that our uniform policy is back in place and your child can wear their school uniform as normal, to fit in with your routine cycle of clothes washing.
We are aware that children will have grown and that it was not possible for all of you to order new uniform before the end of term. If your child’s uniform no longer fits you can order new uniform directly from School trends at the following website: https://www.schooltrends.co.uk/uniform/DurhamGilesgatePrimarySchool. The website shows the range of uniform and PE kit; there is a good size guide on the website to help you choose the right sizes and orders are being dealt with quickly. Using the website helps reduce the number of parents calling into school and the need to handle cash. Alternatively, parents might want to consider buying a non-badged sweatshirt or polo shirt from Tesco or Asda. On PE days we will be asking your child to come to school wearing their PE kit. They can wear a tracksuit or jogging bottoms and sweat shirt over the top for warmth. They will go home in their PE kit so you can wash it. On PE days, staff teaching PE lessons will do the same. (A timetable of PE days will be made available on the school website to help you prepare for this)
8. Coats and Bags?
It is fine for your child to come to school wearing a coat, and this is important as we move further into autumn and winter. They will not need backpacks; they will just need an easily cleaned vinyl or plastic bag to put their packed lunch in, if necessary; there is no need for a large bag to be brought into school, and they will not need to bring their reading bags for the first few days either. As we move through the first week or so, we may ask you to use the school reading bags for home readers, etc but we will inform you if this becomes necessary.
9. Where can I get more information?
The school makes its decisions based on the current guidance provided by the Government with that guidance applied to our school building, staffing structure and organisation of pupils. Each school will have slightly different ways of doing things that are relevant to their circumstances.
The latest guidance is
Guidance for the Full Opening of Schools (7th Aug 2020) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools
What Parents and Carers need to know about Early Years Providers, Schools and Colleges in the Autumn Term (21st Aug 2020) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-in-the-autumn-term
Guidance is updated on a regular basis, and we will let you know of any major developments that we have to take account of.
Dear parent / carer
During the school closure we were able to keep our school kitchen open and offer a packed lunch for those children on FSM who lived in the local area.
You will be aware that the Government has extended the free school meal offer to cover the summer holiday period. We need to give our kitchen staff a break and we need to start setting up for the reopening of school to all year groups from September. As a consequence we will not be making packed lunches and instead we will be issuing a voucher for each child eligible for free school meals. You will receive one voucher per child to the value of £90 (6 weeks x £15)
To do this we have to have an up to date email address for you. Many of you have already sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the names of your children. We have a few gaps on the list and Susan Hern (office admin) and Lily Morris (Positives Futures Advisor) are trying to get these gaps filled so that we can issue the vouchers to all eligible families.
If you have not emailed your details please do so.
If you do not have an email address then please phone the school on 01913847284 and we can arrange for a paper voucher that you can collect from the office.
We are timing this so that paper vouchers can be collected in the last week of term and so that electronic vouchers, sent via email, are delivered in the first week of the holiday.
On a different note there are two further pieces of information I would like to share with you.
We are finishing the school reports for each child. Attendance will be recorded up to 20th March 2020 and we are reporting on your child’s attainment and progress to that date too. The reports will be printed and enveloped from the end of next week and we will advise parents of those dates in due course.
Despite the leaks to the press, schools are still waiting for the definitive guidance from the Government about the reopening of schools in September for all year groups. As soon as we have received and have had time to read that guidance and draw up our plans we will let you know.
Further reopening of the school from 29th June 2020
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.