Educational advice is available on our website, there are lots of links to free educational resources.
We understand that this is a time of uncertainty. We will be updating our website often so please check back regularly on this page or visit the Parents all you need to know section on our website
Update: Wednesday 7th December 2022 – Strep A
Dear Parent and Carers,
I’m sure you have seen in the news the reported increase in Scarlet Fever and invasive Group A strep infections. I hope the information below is helpful.
The latest data from UKHSA shows that scarlet fever cases continue to remain higher than we would typically see at this time of year. Currently, there is no evidence that a new strain is circulating. The increase is most likely related to high amounts of circulating bacteria and social mixing. It is therefore advisable for to be alert for symptoms and seek medical advice accordingly.
Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious. Look out for symptoms in children, which include a sore throat, headache, and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel. On darker skin the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have a sandpapery feel.
Contact NHS 111 or your GP if you suspect a child has scarlet fever. (See advice for parents below).
Early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection.
If a child has scarlet fever, they should stay home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.
Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria called group A streptococci. These bacteria also cause other respiratory and skin infections such as Strep throat and impetigo.
In very rare occasions, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive Group A strep. Whilst still uncommon, there has been an increase in invasive Group A strep cases this year, particularly in children under 10.
Our advice to parents: There are lots of viruses that cause sore throats, colds and coughs circulating. These should resolve without medical intervention. However, children can on occasion develop a bacterial infection on top of a virus and that can make them more unwell.
As a parent or carer, if you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement. Contact NHS 111 if or your GP if:
- your child is getting worse
- your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
- your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
- your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39C or higher
- your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
- your child is very tired or irritable
Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
- there are pauses when your child breathes
- your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
- your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake
Good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread of many bugs. By teaching your child how to wash their hands properly with soap for 20 seconds, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and keeping away from others when feeling unwell, they will be able to reduce the risk of picking up, or spreading, infections.
We have reminded children of handwashing and respiratory hygiene in school assemblies and will continue to do so across the remainder of the term. We still have a mid-day clean in place for frequently touched surfaces and toilet areas.
Update: Tuesday 5th April 2022
Dear Parent, Carer
Changes to measures and guidance for managing COVID-19 in education and childcare settings from Friday 1 April 2022.
On Tuesday 29 March, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, set out the next steps for living with COVID-19 in England. The Department for Education have shared the following guidance for education and childcare settings from Friday 1 April:
- Adults with the symptoms of a respiratory infection, and who have a high temperature or feel unwell, should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature.
- Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.
- Adults with a positive COVID-19 test result should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days, which is when they are most infectious. For children and young people aged 18 and under, the advice will be 3 days.
- Regular asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended in any education or childcare setting, including in SEND, alternative provision and children’s social care settings. Therefore, settings will no longer be able to order test kits.
- The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will publish new guidance. Most of the specific COVID-19 guidance for education and childcare settings will be withdrawn from GOV. UK on Friday 1 April. The operational guidance on the testing in education settings document sharing platform will also be removed on the same day.
I have highlighted the key points that parents and carers need to be aware of and would reinforce the point that children with a high temperature and who are ill should not attend school. However, if your child is well, the only reason not to be in school is if they have tested positive for Covid-19. As noted above, the guidance states that they should then isolate for 3 days.
I’m aware that parents and carers will have a variety of perspectives on this change. Our school will dedicate its energy and resources to do all that we can to educate our children, and to prioritise full attendance whether possible. If children are well and in school, then they are also safe and learning.
Dear Parent /Carer
We would like to update you on the current COVID situation in school.
In the past week, 9 adults have tested positive with COVID; mainly those staff working with our youngest children in nursery and reception. We have only had two definite cases of children testing positive in EYFS so it is likely that children may be asymptomatic.
In addition to EYFS staff, we have adults who have tested positive in Key Stages 1 and 2 and we also have children who have tested positive in each Key Stage. As we begin this second full week of term more parents have informed us of COVID absences, these cases are mainly in Years 1, 2 and the Year 3/4 class.
We are able to remain open at the moment but any further staff absences may mean that we have to re-organise how we teach.
The Zoe Covid Study has reported that there are now more cases of COVID with cold-like symptoms than there are other ‘colds’. Currently, 52.5% of new cold-like symptoms are symptomatic COVID. This is consistent with the symptoms we are seeing in school and which parents are telling us about.
We recommend that if your child has cold like symptoms then test for COVID. We also know that some children who have had symptoms, tested negative on the day when they started with symptoms but positive the following day or day after that. Thus, we would ask that if your child has cold like symptoms, which might be Omicron, that you test for three days in a row not just on day one.
The top 5 Omicrom symptoms to look out for are:
runny nose, headache, sneezing, sore throat, and persistent cough. Some children testing positive in school are also reporting a tummy ache.
Advice to All Parents – advise and inform
Dear Parents / Carers,
We have now had positive Covid cases in school. Whilst we remain open, please help us by booking a PCR test if your child has Covid symptoms. Do not send your child/ren to school if your child has Covid symptoms.
The following guidance is from the Public Health team:
We have been advised that there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the school. NHS test and trace have been in contact with individuals who have been identified as a close contact to let them know if they are legally required to self-isolate, and to provide further advice.
The school remains open and your child should continue to attend as normal if they remain well. Please be reassured that for most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.
How to stop coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading
There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with coronavirus (COVID-19):
- get vaccinated – everyone aged 16 and over can book COVID-19 vaccination appointments now
- wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- meet people outside and avoid crowded areas
- open doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside
- wear a face covering when it’s hard to stay away from other people – particularly indoors or in crowded places
- participate in twice weekly LFD testing following national guidelines (recommended for 11 years and over). We encourage you to log your results here: https://www.gov.uk/log-test-site-covid19-results
Further information is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus
What to do if your child develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or tests positive for COVID-19
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of:
- new continuous cough and/or
- high temperature and/or
- a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
If your child does develop symptoms, they should get a PCR test and remain at home at least until the result is known. Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). if positive, the child should isolate until at least 10 days after their symptoms appeared.
If you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, you can seek advice from NHS 111 at https://111.nhs.uk/ or by phoning 111.
If your child has a positive test result but does not have symptoms they should stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from the date the positive test was taken. This isolation period will be extended if they go on to develop symptoms by counting 10 full days from the day following their symptom onset
Instructions for people who live in the same household as someone with COVID-19
From 16 August, you will not be required to self-isolate if you are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and any of the following apply:
- you are fully vaccinated (with an MHRA approved COVID-19 vaccine in the UK, and at least 14 days have passed since you received the vaccine.
- you are below the age of 18 years 6 months
- you have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
NHS Test and Trace will contact you to let you know that you have been identified as a contact and check whether you are legally required to self-isolate. Even if you do not have symptoms, you will be advised to have a PCR test as soon as possible.
Even if you are vaccinated, you can still be infected with COVID-19 and pass it on to others. If you are identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 but you are not required to self-isolate, you can help protect others by
- limiting close contact with other people outside your household, especially in enclosed spaces
- wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and where you are unable to maintain social distancing
- limiting contact with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable
- taking part in regular LFD testing
You should follow this advice while the person in your household with COVID-19 is self-isolating. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should be supported to minimise their contact with other people in the household during this period, regardless of whether others have symptoms or not.
You may be eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment, for more information please see: www.gov.uk/test-and-trace-support-payment
Help, support, and further information.
To help you comply with the requirement to self-isolate, the County Durham Together Community Hub can provide access to essential supplies, financial support and emotional support as well as other services. Please visit durham.gov.uk/covid19help or call the Community Hub on 03000 260260 for further details.
There is also support available the coronavirus section via durhamlocate.org.uk
Dear Parents and Carers,
In order to prepare parents and children for the return to school in September, we have put together some plans for the children’s return on Thursday 2nd September.
These plans are provisional and are based on the current guidance from the Department for Education. They are subject to change should the government make any additional changes during the summer holidays. However, I think we will all be thankful that the plans resemble school life in the Pre-Covid days!
No More Bubbles
From September, it is no longer recommended that it is necessary to keep children in their class bubbles. This means that the normal school playtimes will resume and all children shall be able to mix together on the playground and the yard.
Once again, we shall be able to hold assemblies together as a school community in the hall. Children will not need to avoid mixing with other bubbles at lunchtime or during any extracurricular group sessions.
Morning Drop Offs
From September, we would like to maintain the routine for the start of school where children arrive by surname.
- 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
The children are to be dropped off at the school gates anytime between 8:45am and 8:55am to walk around and onto the yard. Rather than come straight in, the doors to the school will open at 8:50 children must be in class for the 9:00 register.
End of The School Day
Two Year Olds, Nursery and Reception
Children in 2’s provision and nursery will leave at 11:50. We are keeping the collection arrangements as they have worked well and reduced congestion at the doors.
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.
2rd September to 10th September 1:00pm collection
13th September to 17th September 2:00 pm collection
20st September onwards 3:20 collection
Key Stages 1 and 2
All children shall be picked up at 3:20pm from the school playground. Older children with parental permission will be able to walk home alone. If parents are collecting their children, they must walk onto the playground to collect them.
The one way system is being removed, there will be no requirement to walk around the school, either in the morning or at the end of the school day. Please take care and be respectful if crossing parents and children on the path through the EYFS garden.
After-school clubs shall resume in the autumn term. Further information about all clubs shall be circulated to parents in September. If parents are collecting children after an after-school club, please wait outside the school gates and staff shall bring the children out to you.
PE Kits and School Uniform
Children shall come to school wearing their full school uniform every day.
When your child has PE, they must bring their PE Kit to school with them and they shall get changed in school. Children are no longer to come to school wearing their PE Kit from September.
We recommend that children bring their PE kit into school on a Monday to put on their cloakroom peg, then it goes home on a Friday to be washed, then brought back to school on a Monday. This way, your child will not forget their PE Kit!
Remember some PE will be outdoors and that it is still possible to wear tracksuit bottoms to keep warm for outdoor PE.
Frequent and regular hand cleaning is now regular practice in school, therefore this shall continue into the new academic year.
Managing Covid-19 in Schools
As Covid-19 becomes a virus that we learn to live with, it is imperative to reduce the disruption to children’s education and ensure that schools remain open. The school will keep an up to date risk assessment and an outbreak management plan shall also be devised in the event of an outbreak of positive cases within the school community.
Tracing Close Contacts and Isolation
The government has said that from 16th August 2021, children under the age of 18 years old will no longer be required to isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace or identified as a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case. Instead, children shall be contacted to say they have been in close contact with a positive case and advised to take a PCR test.
Positive Cases of Covid-19 or Where a Child Develops Symptoms
Children and staff must stay at home if they have any Covid-19 symptoms or if they have had a positive test result. If any child develops Covid-19 symptoms (however mild), we will call parents to come and collect them and the child should follow the public health advice. If a child develops symptoms in school, they shall be asked to sit in the isolation area, until collected
Asymptomatic Testing with Lateral Flow Tests
The government are stressing that testing remains important in reducing the risk of transmission within schools. It is likely that the government will continue to promote the twice weekly testing with lateral flow tests from September and kits can be collected from your local pharmacy or ordered online. If any child tests positive on a lateral flow device, they must book a PCR test immediately.
Cleaning and Well-Ventilated Spaces
As part of our risk assessment, regular cleaning of areas and of equipment shall continue next year to ensure that our school are doing all that we can to prevent a spread of the virus in our community. Teaching environments will be well ventilated.
Visitors to the School Site
As the Autumn term progresses, we hope to welcome parents back onto the school site for events. If parents need to contact the school regarding an issue or to speak to a member of staff, we would still encourage you to telephone the school first. If you have to pick your child up from school during the school day, please come to the main entrance where a staff member shall bring your child to the door.
The past sixteen months have been unprecedented and a challenge to all communities. In Cases of the Delta variant continue to rise across the UK and in other countries, as restrictions are eased. The UK vaccination programme has provided a degree of protection for us, however COVID remain a real and present threat to health and we must all take responsible actions to prevent its spread.
May I thank you all, for everything that you have done to help us keep our school a safe place. Please stay safe across the summer break and take sensible precautions to make sure that you and your family remain healthy.
I am sure that you will be aware by now that there has been an increase in positive COVID cases in the central Durham area. This has resulted in some schools having to send bubbles home to learn and, in some cases, whole schools closing for remote learning.
In our school we do have some children self-isolating because older siblings (from other schools) have tested positive but at this point we have not had any positive cases in school. This is great! Thank you all for helping us keep our school COVID free.
However, in past couple of days we have asked some parents to collect their children from school because they have presented with a new cough or other symptoms that are related to the emerging Delta variant.
The COVID symptom study has identified that “It’s more like a bad cold for the younger population.”
In light of this we are being precautious and asking that if your child has cold like symptoms to monitor them and the use lateral flow testing or a PCR if the symptoms persist or are severe. You can book a lateral flow test or collect lateral flow tests by following this link. https://www.durham.gov.uk/CovidLFT That will give us all some assurance that we are not spreading the Delta variant by thinking it is a common cold.
We have done so well as a school and as a community in ensuring that our school has been COVID free; there are only three weeks and 2 days of the summer term left and we would all be disappointed if we had to return to home learning.
Please help us and our local community by doing the following:-
If your child has a high temperature, a new continuous cough, a loss of smell or taste or if they have cold like symptoms please do not send them to school. Instead book a PCR if they have any of three main symptoms or use a lateral flow test (LFT) if they have the cold like symptoms. Any child that tests positive using a LFT will then have to have a PCR. If your child has a PCR result over the weekend (positive or negative) please email the result to school firstname.lastname@example.org
School closed for Polling Day Thursday 6.5.2021
Dear Parent / Carer
On Thursday 6th May there will be local elections. Our school hosts two Polling Stations, one in the community room and one in the staffroom. Under normal circumstances the school is able to remain open for all children on Polling Days and we only close if there is a high risk identified through a Health and Safety risk assessment. We have worked with Durham County Council and would have preferred alternative venues to be used for polling but none are available locally.
In the current COVID circumstances we are closing the school gates to stop traffic from entering the car park because each morning parents need to cross the car park on their way out of school and similarly each afternoon parents and children need to cross the car park.
We must allow voters vehicle access to the site at all times and thus I must leave the gates open for them. This means that there is a real risk from potential traffic accidents to parents and children when you drop off or pick up your children.
The DfE, the Local Authority and school leaders recognise that children have missed out on their education during the past and most recent lockdowns and we have done all that we can to try and remain open. In line with DfE advice we must keep the school open for those children with an Education Health and Care Plan, those who are vulnerable and the children of critical workers. We have used our existing list from the last lockdown to contact families who have children in these categories. If your circumstances have changed and you are now a critical worker (as defined by the Government list) and you need your child to attend school next Thursday please let us know.
The reduced numbers of children attending will mean that we can bring them in safely through the main doors, remain COVID secure and make sure that there is no risk of contact with traffic or the public.
Work will be set for all children in school and those who will be at home next Thursday, staff will be working on site or from home; this is not an additional holiday.
Easter Holiday Guidance
Staff, students, parents and carers only need to inform the school or further education provider of a positive case where they developed symptoms within 48 hours of being in their education setting. You are asked to assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation, as the individual may have been infectious whilst in their education setting.
Where pupils, students or staff test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) during the holidays, having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in an education setting, you are not required to take any action. Staff, students, parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.
School is reopening to all pupils on Monday 8th March.
Please see the document below regarding reopening guidance.
Please see our Providing remote education information (Jan 2021)
** Message from Lily (positive futures advisor)**
“Winter Family Support fund”
We are just wanting to remind all our families…
That we can help and support you during this difficult time.
We have access to food items, toiletries, clothing, coats and larger white goods if you are struggling.
We really don’t want any of our families worrying or struggling at this time. All support is provided in a completely confidential manner and we will do our best to support you in any way we can.
There is no set criteria in relation to benefits etc., you just need to discuss your needs with Lily Morris – Positive futures Advisor and she will take it from there!
Please contact Lily Morris by phoning 07796288696 to discuss further. You can also email: email@example.com Please note that some of the funding has deadlines set by the provider, so please get in touch as soon as you can. Thank you.
Dear Parents, Carers and Grandparents,
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas break.
Here we are again in another lockdown. If you find yourself in a situation where you are in need of food please do not hesitate to contact me on 07796288696 and I will contact the food bank and get you an e-voucher number so you can go and get some food.
If you are unfortunately in the position of being diagnosed with Covid 19 and are having to isolate with no one to buy and deliver food for you, you can contact Durham Covid Hub on 03000260260 press option 1.
I am around during lockdown so if you have any worries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me on 07796288696 and I will see if I can help, if not I will do my best to find out who can.
Other Phone numbers which may be of use:
Universal Credit helpline: 08003285644
Working Families Advice Line: 03000120312
Tax Credit Helpline: 03453003900
Pension Service Helpline: 08007310469
Winter fuel Payment: 08007310160
Drug and Alcohol Services County Durham: 03000266666
Citizens Advice Durham Debt Team: 0300323 2000 Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm
Citizen’s Advice County Durham: 0300 330 9027
Harbour – Working for safe communities – Abuse/Violence: 03000202525
Go gently and stay well.
Positive futures Advisor
From Tuesday 5th January to Friday 8th January the school will be open only for the children of Key Workers and Vulnerable Children. All other children will be provided with remote learning to enable them to work from home.
This link provides information about Key Worker groups and Vulnerable children.
If you are a Key Worker and you meet the criteria for a childcare place; please email the school at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know which day or days that you require childcare. Kind Regards
Financial information from Durham County Council can be found here.
Free school meals vouchers over the Christmas Holidays
The government has made funds available through its Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support families whose children are eligible for free school meals this winter, by offering additional help towards household costs in the run up to Christmas.
In County Durham this support is being made available as vouchers which you can choose to spend at ASDA, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. As an eligible family, you will receive £20 per child per week to help you keep the children in your household fed and warm over the coming weeks.
If you are eligible you will receive an email with further information on how to access these vouchers at the beginning of next week so please make sure the email contact information we hold for you is up to date.
If you have not received an email by Wednesday 16th December and you believe that your family is entitled to free school meals please contact the school office.
Positive COVID cases over the Christmas Holidays
The Department for Education has asked that all schools have a contact for parents and staff in the first six days of the Christmas break in case any pupils or staff develop positive COVID symptoms.
For the first 6 days after teaching ends, if a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms within 48 hours of being in school, the school is asked to assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation, as the individual may have been infectious whilst in school.
Where a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in school, the school should not be contacted. Parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.
In our school this means that if your child develops COVID symptoms on Saturday 19th or Sunday the 20th and has a test that is positive then you should contact us. We will then work with test and trace to ensure that we pass on information about the child’s bubble and contacts in school.
If your child develops symptoms after the on Monday 21st or after, resulting in a positive test you do not need to tell us.
You can contact us using the main school email address email@example.com and this will be checked each morning at 9:00am, up and including 24th December. The email should contain your child’s full name, the date they developed symptoms and the date of their positive test.
If there is a positive case reported and we need to inform parents, we will do so using the school text message system so please make sure that we have you most up to date mobile number
We have some exciting news to share.
Durham Gilesgate Primary School has partnered with the COVID Symptom Study to help make sure our students are as safe as possible as we work through the pandemic; in the process we will also be doing our part in creating the world’s largest scientific dataset of COVID-19 symptoms in children.
We are asking you to join the COVID Symptom Study, by downloading the free app and taking less than 1min a day to report how your child/children are feeling each day. We have been promoting the use of the app since June and you may already be registered. With all parents reporting daily via the app, it will provide a powerful tool for helping the school and parents understand COVID in the community and help keep our children safe. Importantly, the information you report will be invaluable to critical scientific research into COVID in children and for public health purposes – the Study will be sure to share any findings from their research with you.
So we are asking all parents to download this app as soon as possible. It is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Simply create a profile for yourself and for your child/children. To join our school network in the app and receive personalised COVID insights about our school, go to Edit Profile for your child’s profile > School Network > enter our school’s Unique School Network Code (see below) > select the Bubble that your child belongs to.
The bubbles are named after the class your child is in:-
Bubble Name Staff in charge
2’s & Nursery (Miss Bentham and Mrs Stubbs)
Reception / Year 1 (Mrs Bancroft)
Year 1/ 2 (Mrs Stringer)
Year 3 / 4 (Miss Smithson)
Year 4 / 5 (Mrs Fowler)
Year 6 (Mrs Matthews)
Our Unique School Network Code is BXSKB43 To avoid outsiders joining, please do not share this code with anyone who is not a parent of our school.
For more information including full instructions on how to join and use the COVID Symptom Study app please head to: https://covid.joinzoe.com/schools
What is the COVID Symptom Study app and why should you use it?
The COVID Symptom Study app is a not-for-profit initiative that was launched at the end of March 2020 to support vital COVID-19 research. The app was launched by health science company ZOE with scientific analysis provided by King’s College London. Now, with over 4 million contributors globally, the Study is the world’s largest ongoing study of COVID-19.
The app also provides unique insight on asymptomatic and symptomatic information across the UK which builds into a larger picture for the government and captures information not covered by other means. The Government has been so impressed with the data and research being produced it is now funding ZOE to continue the great work.
All data collected in the app is used anonymously for informing other parents in our school and ourselves. It is also used anonymously for research and for public health purposes only. ZOE takes data security and privacy very seriously and enforces best practices to ensure all data is protected. ZOE is required to protect all data by law. As the work that ZOE does takes place in the UK, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation applie.
If your child would normally receive a free school meal, you are eligible to apply for a £15 contribution (per child) to support you this half term week from Durham County Council. You can access their webpage here.
Firstly can I thank everyone, children, parents and school staff alike for their efforts during this first term back to school. Although it’s been a challenge for many we have started to see a steady rhythm within schools living under COVID-19 measures. Thank you.
It is in this respect that I write to you today. With the high rates of COVID-19 in County Durham currently, I am asking parents to let the school know if their child tests positive for COVID-19 during the half term break. If your son or daughter receives a positive COVID-19 test after Friday 23rd October 2020 please contact the school immediately on firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the following information:
Name of child
Date of the COVID-19 test
Does the child have symptoms? Yes or No
What date did the symptoms start?
What date did the child last attend school?
It is very important that you provide this information so that the school can identify any close contacts that your son or daughter may have had in school during their infectious period. The school will then follow up close contacts and request that they isolate for 14 days to prevent further transmission of COVID-19. Please note that you should also report any close contacts that your child has had outside the school setting through NHS Test and Trace. If you are unable to speak to your school please make sure you have provided information of all close contacts within the school to NHS Test and Trace.
In addition I know our children and young people will still want to see their friends during the holidays, but please can I remind all parents that children and young people must not meet up in groups larger than six people (of any age) and that young people should not be gathering indoors with friends. Please also remember where they do meet up in groups of six or less they should still observe social distancing and good hand hygiene. Helping our children and young people to understand the importance of this will help to keep us all safe and healthy.
Thank you again for your help in this matter and I wish you a safe and well half term break.
Dear Parent / Carer
I would like to thank you for helping to make the start of term a very positive one. On the whole social distancing is good as children come into school each morning and it is great to see children and parents acting in a responsible manner.
I know that the school playground can become busy at the end of the day and ask that you help staff by keeping behind the orange line, by socially distancing from others outside of your home and by keeping that distance as you walk around the one-way system.
Can you also please help us maintain safety at the school gates by parking in the streets around the school and walking into school. We are trying to keep the area outside the gates and the road to School View clear for children who arrive in a taxi.
I am pleased to report that our school attendance is higher than both the national and local attendance rate; there has been a cold going around and a little bit of sickness but if we are all washing hands regularly and using sanitiser then transmission of these types of illness should be low. It also means that there is less likelihood of COVID-19 being transmitted too. So the message is to keep on doing what we are doing; keep washing hands and keep to social distancing. These measures will help to keep our children and community safe and the school open.
The current school systems and information are;
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 is updated on a regular basis, and we will let you know of any major developments that we have to take account of.
Archived Summer term information is below
Further reopening of the school from 29th June 2020
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.
Free School Meals
Taylor Shaw have confirmed that they will be providing a free packed lunch to all children who are entitled to free school meals. Packed lunches will be available to collect from school on a lunchtime. If you are self isolating because you or anyone in your household has symptoms of Coronovirus then please do not leave your house- please ask someone who is not self isolating (family member or friend) to collect on your behalf and leave it outside your door. Any families who do not live within walking distance from the school are encouraged to email the school to receive free school meals vouchers if they are eligible.
Financial advice is available here.
Advice for families from our positive futures adviser is available here
The best way to communicate with teachers is via the school email address email@example.com. This email address is monitored and emails are forwarded to the relevant staff who will get back in touch with you.
We are also using our text message service to keep in touch with you so it is vital that we have an up to date mobile phone number.
Our aim that the school is a community focal point during this period of time and we are still offering childcare to key worker’s children. Please note that this is for when childcare cannot be arranged by yourself within your family and should only be used as a last resort.
We are working with the school meal contractor to provide a packed lunch for all families eligible for free school meals during the closure period.
Similarly, Lily Morris will be in school and around the local area to keep in touch with families who might be self isolating and to offer advice and help where needed. Other school staff will support Lily in this role.
Please see The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health information on what to do if your child is unwell or injured.
We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:
- stay at home as much as possible
- work from home if you can
- limit contact with other people
- keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
- wash your hands regularly
- Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
The NHS website is useful if you are unsure of symptoms or have any health concerns linked to Coronavirus.
For the latest up to date response from the government visit the Government Response webpage
If you are practicing social distancing you can find lots of advice here
Stay at Home Guidance is a must read if you are staying at home.
View the Durham County Council Coronavirus section for latest news, updates and guidance.
Make a plan for your household or family
The best thing you can do now is plan for how you can adapt your daily routine, and that of others in your household, to be able to follow this advice. Some of the ways in which you could prepare include:
- talk to your neighbours and family and exchange phone numbers of household contacts
- consider and plan for those in your home who are considered vulnerable
- create a contact list with phone numbers of neighbours, schools, employer, chemist, NHS 111
- set up online shopping accounts if possible
Stay at home
You and all household members should remain at home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.
If possible, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials, other than exercise, and in that case at a safe distance from others. The 14-day period starts from the day the first person in your house became ill.
If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you will need to ask friends or relatives. Alternatively, you can order medication by phone or online. You can also order your shopping online. Make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online. The delivery driver should not come into your home.
If you are an employee and unable to work due to coronavirus, please refer to this guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions to find out about the support that is available to you.
The list of key workers can be found here.
The Government advice is very clear that :-
“The government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open for those children that absolutely need to attend…every child who can be cared for safely at home, should be. If it is at all possible that a child can be at home, then they should be.”
Guidelines also state that “Children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers by the government can send their children to school if required.”
Therefore, if a parent is in the key worker group but can arrange safe childcare other than school they should do this. This is to ensure that we protect those workers who are in critical roles from infection as far as possible.
If you are a Key Worker and cannot arrange your own safe childcare please let us know. However we must be clear that if one parent is a Key Worker and other is not then you will not necessarily be eligible.
Thank you for your help and understanding.