Welcome to the start of a new academic year where we not only welcome returning pupils and families but our new Foundation Stage children and new pupils and their families. Unfortunately we are unable to provide our usual welcome but look forward to seeing you all tomorrow. However, I have no doubt that the majority of pupils will relish the return to school (as will parents!; seeing some of their friends for the first time in six months; engaging in new learning; working alongside new or familiar staff; and enjoying the return of routines.
Firstly, I must apologise for the length of this first Blog! Early in this term we usually provide you with a ‘Meet & Greet’, which we are unable to organise in the familiar way. We will be providing a presentation and PowerPoint for each year group, within the next couple of weeks, the purpose of these is to:
Further to this, and documentation already sent or signposted on the website, information regarding the start to school can be found below and links included.
Guide to Returning to School in September 2020 (Please also refer to documentation HERE - the 'distancing measures for parents' has been revised 1.9.2020 to include information regarding pupils using school bus, transport and an adjustment to Y5 & 6, as Year 6 will be located in the external KS2 hut. A generic risk assessment has also been added, so that you are aware of the processes that have taken place for a safe opening.)
Whilst we are all very excited for all of our children to return to school, safety remains our ultimate priority. We have taken time to review all of the government, DFE and Public Health England guidance and are confident that our procedures and operational structure will minimise risk and provide everyone in our school with as safe an environment as possible. We are focused upon ensuring that all children return in September to continue with their learning in a safe and welcoming environment, where we have put in place a number of control measures when the school reopens on the 7th September.
Hygiene & Cleaning
It is essential that we keep the school environment as clean as possible. We will be introducing and maintaining a range of measures to help keep our school clean:
• Clean hands thoroughly more often than usual. We will continue to ensure that staff and pupils clean their hands regularly, including when they arrive at school, when they return from breaks, when they change rooms and before and after eating. We will ensure that help is available for children who have trouble cleaning their hands independently
• Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach. We will ensure younger children and those with complex needs are helped to get this right, and all pupils understand that this is now part of how school operates
• Ensure that bins for tissues are emptied throughout the day.
• Propping doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), and opening windows, to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation.
• Sanitisers will continue to be made readily available within class bases and around the building.
• Cleaning materials will be available in each classroom so that staff can maintain standards of hygiene throughout the day. We will be increasing our cleaning routines to ensure that further cleaning occurs school during the day to clean toilets, corridors and high contact points such as hand railings and door handles.
Social Distancing Bubbles
The main and most pressing logistical consideration for us was to determine how to group our children thereby minimising the number of contacts between different people across the school. Our emphasis will be upon separating year groups within the school into their own ‘bubbles’, enabling us to continue to deliver our full curriculum. However, there will be times when the ‘bubble’ increases in size i.e. KS1 bubble (Y1 & 2),Y3 & 4 bubble and Y5 & 6 bubble.
To support this, we will be operating a number of key control measures:
• Each year group bubble will be isolated from all other bubbles as much as possible.
• The bubble will be taught and cared for by the same staff every day where possible and will contain the same children every day.
• Staggered break and lunchtimes will enable us to socially distance year group bubbles across playground areas, and time for cleaning surfaces in the dining hall between groups.
• There will be no large gatherings of pupils in September, such as whole school and key stage assemblies, only for the larger sized bubble at interim periods.
In the classroom
• When working in their bases, children will be discouraged from having any physical contact with each other.
• Tables will be organised to avoid any close contact as much as possible, given the constraints of our space.
• Children will be allocated their own set of equipment to use, such as pencils, ruler, pens. However, other classroom equipment such as scissors, glue, reading books, can be shared amongst the children in the bubble.
• Specialist resources, such as science equipment, will be thoroughly cleaned after use before being used by another Year group bubble.
• Children cannot bring in anything from home except a water bottle, lunch box and coat. (Lockers will not be in use.)
• Children cannot access books from the school library – we will be providing sets of books for each classroom.
• Staff will be limited in their ability to have physical contact with children. All staff are expected to wear masks in communal areas, but not whilst teaching in their class bubble.
• Each bubble will have separate playtimes and lunchtimes and be allocated a play zone, on a rota basis. (Where possible the field will be used.)
• Children will be allowed to use their allocated, year group toilet as required during the day. Staff will be monitoring the flow of children to the toilet to ensure no crossing of bubbles.
• 2m floor markings will be in place outside toilet areas to separate children queuing.
• The children will eat their lunch in their year group bubble. (Children will remain in the hall for a minimum of 20 minutes and will be instructed when to leave.)
• We would ask parents/carers not to approach staff on the playground and there will be no access into the school building, including reception areas. (Staff greeting children and parents at entrance points will be wearing masks.)
• All contact will be via email or telephone, and any messages for specific staff must be telephoned through to the school office to be passed on.
Children will need to return to school in their normal school uniform. Uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often than usual, nor do they need to be cleaned using methods which are different from normal. PE kits are not currently required to limit changing and the need to bring in bags from home, Therefore we are requesting that all pupils wear trainers to school.
Start & End of school day
• We request that only 1 adult member of the household accompanies your child/children to and from school.
• We would ask parents/carers to ensure that they leave the site as soon as your child enters their classroom/entrance point and avoid any waiting. Please adhere to any one way systems.
• If you would like your child to walk to school or home on their own, we will require confirmation of this from you, even if your child walked home alone in their previous school year. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org stating your child’s name and class.
• For parents using the Breakfast Club, or Activity Club, please use the doorbell, sited on the Main Entrance front door and wait until a member of staff attends. (Please do not leave your child unattended in the morning and we ask that you do not enter the main building. Staff will attend ASAP.)
We have established a detailed curriculum recovery plan to support the welcoming back of pupils in September. Our number one priority will be to support the children’s’ emotional well-being as they return to school and to rebuild relationships. We recognise for many of our children who have been based at home for so long, this will be a big step. You can view the documentation using the links below:
The key focus will be on addressing key skills in reading, writing and mathematics as well as supporting their resilience and well-being, alongside building up their good learning skills.
We will be implementing a wider programme of in school interventions. These will be additional to those we would be running during a ‘normal academic year’. We have created capacity within our current staff who will focus on providing 1:1 and small group support, as required.
In March when the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was increasing, it was made clear that no parent would be penalised or sanctioned for their child’s non-attendance at school. Now the circumstances have changed, it is vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the pandemic on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development. School attendance will therefore be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term. This means from that point, the usual rules on school attendance will apply, including:
• Parents’ duty to ensure that their child attends regularly, and in a timely manner, at school where the child is a registered pupil at school, and they are of compulsory school age;
• Schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence
• The availability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct.
We are very aware that some children and their families may have some anxieties with regards to returning to school after such a long period of absence. At Wembury we pride ourselves in the wealth of support, nurture and care that we provide not only for our children, but for our community too. An experienced team can help with any anxieties or worries you or your child may have upon returning. If you would like to raise any concerns or worries, please email either your child’s class email or email@example.com
I hope that this Blog provides you with the information for a smooth return. We are very much looking forward to welcoming all our children back to school and bringing the school community together again.
Thank you for taking the time to read a lengthy, early, first Blog and we look forward to keeping you up to date with school news and working with you this year.
I very much look forward to seeing you all next week.