I hope you are all keeping safe and well.
Since March 20th, school has felt a very different place, quiet and empty. No bustle of children in corridors, no sounds of voices from classrooms, just the occasional sound of Joe Wicks coming from the hall and teachers huffing and puffing through the latest workout.
But our work didn’t stop on the 20th March. Our aim from the start of the school closure was that we shouldn’t let this situation make us lose the momentum for improvement we’d built up over recent years. Maintaining the momentum was always going to be a challenge, particularly when observing social distancing rules, but very quickly as a staff we focused on what we could do to prepare, not just for re-opening, but for September.
Since we have been closed, we have reviewed our approach towards teaching and learning of foundation subjects – History, Geography, Art, etc., the knowledge and skills we want the children to gain and the experiences we wanted them to enjoy. Leaders of foundation subjects have been developing new plans, accessing new resources, etc., so that increasingly we can provide an exciting, engaging, truly broad and balanced curriculum.
Over the past two weeks, we have been reviewing our approach to the teaching of reading and writing. Teachers may not have been able to teach children since March, but they have still worked extremely hard developing plans for individual subjects and year groups, which makes us excited and very positive about September.
Back to the here and now. In her recent letter, Mrs Hay made you aware of the rough outline of our plan and was honest about our worries, so here is the detail she promised.
As you will be aware, the Government has recommended that schools re-open on June 1st for children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. I know that you will want details about the plans we are putting in place for a possible re-opening of school on June 1st. I say ‘possible’ because this hasn’t yet been finally decided, but I am keen that you have as much information as possible, as soon as possible, so that you can consider the decisions you have to make.
In developing our plans for children’s return to school, we have used the very detailed County Risk Assessment template, and we have also discussed our plans with our Health and Safety advisor. The Risk Assessment runs to 10 pages, so I can’t hope to cover everything here, but I do hope I can cover most of the key concerns you will have. At the moment these plans just cover the return of Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on June 1st. The return of other year groups will present a whole range of other challenges.
The beginning of the day
From June 1st, there will be staggered arrival and collection times for individual year groups and it is crucial that parents stick to these times:
– Year 1 – 8.30am
– Nursery & Reception – 8.45am
– Year 6 & Key worker children – 9.00am
Only one parent should bring or collect a child, and siblings who are not attending school should not come onto the school site.
The end of the day
Leaving school at the end of the day will also be staggered:
– Year 1 – 2.45pm
– Nursery & Reception – 3.00pm
– Year 6 & Key worker children – 3.15pm
We will aim to keep the waiting time for parents to an absolute minimum at the end of the day, but, if waiting is necessary, we would ask that parents do not come through the school gates onto the playground, but queue at a distance of 2 metres from each other on the other side of the gate.
Engaging with school
We want to avoid any parents coming into the school building, and would ask that no children are accompanied into school. We would ask that communication with school is done by phone or e-mail. A drop box will be in place outside the office at the front of school where envelopes can be put. Please ensure that they are clearly marked with your name and also, if money is inside, the amount.
School organisation and routines
Class R, Class 1 and Year 6 will be divided in half so they can be in classes of no more than 15. Half of the children will be in their usual class with their current teacher, the other half will be in a separate class with a teacher from another year group. They will stay in this class group and will not mix with children from the other half of their year group or any other year groups.
The curriculum will be limited by the need to avoid movement around the classroom and the school in general. Equipment will not be shared unless it can be wiped clean easily and quickly.
There will be no assemblies and no PE, but children will be encouraged to stay active during designated outdoor periods.
The children will wash their hands on entry to school and then at regular intervals throughout the day. The children will not use the cloakrooms, but will keep their coats on their chair in the classroom. No more than 2 children at a time will go into the toilet.
Movement around school will be kept to an absolute minimum.
At playtime, the children will remain in their group of 15 and they will not mix with the other half of their year group.
Lunchtimes for children will be staggered, as will time on the playground. No more than 30 children will be allowed in the hall at any one time.
Children should not bring any items from home to school, apart from a packed lunch box. This includes reading books and PE kits. No reading books will be sent home.
Illness and injury
If a child has a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, please do not send them to school. If they become unwell in school, we will ask you to take them home. You should then follow Government guidance when considering a return to school.
All the classrooms in school will have been deep cleaned before the children return to school.
During half term, the hall, corridor and toilets will be thoroughly cleaned and not used for at least 4 days before school opens.
Handles, keypads, tables, etc., will be wiped regularly throughout the day.
Staff and children will be asked to wash their hands regularly throughout the day.
Clearly this is not a complete list of all the measures that have been taken in school, but it covers some of the main arrangements.
Can we ensure social distancing for 100% of the school day? No, and let’s not pretend we can, but we will do our very best to keep your child as safe as we possibly can following Government and County guidelines.
I do understand that, for many of you, this will not be good enough and you will not want your child to come back into school yet. I completely understand that and, to be clear, if you choose to keep your child at home you will not be fined, and no action will be taken against you or school. All I would ask is that you let school know. Registers will still need to be kept, and children accounted for, so please could you let us know each Friday if you do not intend to send your child to school the following week and the reason why. This will help us with arrangements for the following week.
We should be excited at the prospect of children returning to school, and we are, but we are also anxious too about the safety of both children and staff. Government assures us that if we follow the guidelines they will be safe, but they can’t guarantee it. The measures we have had to put in place do not sit comfortably with us, they are contrary to everything we aim for in primary school – children working together, playing together, learning from each other, but we fully understand that the measures are needed to keep the children as safe as possible.
Whether we see you on or after June 1st, please stay safe and well. We’ll be here when your child returns to East Ayton, with a renewed desire to make up for lost time and to provide your child with the very best education possible.
Mr. D. Johnson