Which year groups are returning to school?

The Government asked primary schools to welcome back children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 alongside priority groups where possible.

However, it always made clear that this was subject to local factors. Schools were told to carry out a risk assessment to determine how many children they could accommodate whilst maintaining the social distancing and other infection control measures set out in government advice, and an appropriate level of staffing could be provided. The Government also advised primary schools that if the physical layout of buildings, or the availability of staff, meant that they did not have the capacity to bring back everyone in the target year groups, then priority should be given to Nursery, Reception and Year 1, and then Year 6.

The Government’s ambition was to bring all primary school year groups for the last month of the Summer half-term if conditions nationally made it feasible. The Government has since changed their position on this and has advised that the earliest possible time for wider reopening will be September.

How have school staff been supporting my child during the partial school closure?

During the partial school closure teaching staff have continued to undertake their daily roles and have been busy planning and preparing lessons, liaising with parents and pupils as well as providing in school provision for critical worker families and vulnerable children.

 

School support staff have, where possible, continued to undertake their usual, or alternative, work. This has been achieved through a combination of attending school to support the school provision for critical worker families and vulnerable children and working from home in support of the schools ongoing teaching & learning, pastoral and administration functions

If one of my children is eligible to return can’t their sibling come back too?

Sadly, the answer to this is ‘no’.  Siblings cannot attend unless they are in another of the selected year groups. This would raise the number of pupils attending the school

Does my child have to attend?

No one with symptoms of coronavirus should attend for any reason. All children in the selected groups are encouraged to attend unless self-isolating or shielding. Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time, the schools will not be held to account for attendance levels.

Why does my child have to arrive and leave at designated times?

The start and finish times of different bubble groups have been staggered to prevent cross over of bubbles to support our infection control and social distancing measures. It is very important that children arrive and leave punctually.

I am worried that my child is vulnerable or that a family member is, should I send them back to school?

Children and young people who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should continue to shield and should not be expected to attend.

Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.
Children and young people who live in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should only attend if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and the child is able to understand and follow those instructions.

Children and young people who live with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable) as defined in the social distancing guidance and including those who are pregnant, can attend. DFE June 2020

How big will the classes be?

The DfE is recommending class group size should not exceed 15 pupils per small group and one teacher plus a TA where required. Where there are not enough teachers, Teaching Assistants may lead a group. Tables should be 2 metres apart.

How will you guarantee that social distancing takes place e.g. keeping children 2m apart?

We will of course do our best to support distancing, but parents must understand that in returning to school there is a very real likelihood that children will touch adults and one another and come into close contact. The nature of the school site and the age of our children is such that this is unavoidable and we cannot be expected to respond to complaints around this when it inevitably happens. We cannot alleviate every risk and parents must understand what we are able to do and use this to inform their decision making.

What hygiene measures will be in place to keep my child safe?

We will:

  • follow the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance
  • ensure that sufficient handwashing facilities are available. Where a sink is not nearby, provide hand sanitiser in classrooms and other learning environments
  • clean surfaces that children and young people are touching, such as toys, books, desks, chairs, doors, sinks, toilets, light switches etc. more regularly than normal
  • ensure that all adults and children:
    > frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly
    >  clean their hands on arrival at the setting, before and after eating, after toileting and before leaving school to go home as a minimum routine requirement
    >  are encouraged not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose
    >  use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and use lidded pedal bins for tissue waste (‘catch it, bin it, kill it’)
  • ensure that help is available for children and young people who have trouble cleaning their hands independently
  • consider how to encourage young children to learn and practise these habits through games, songs and repetition
  • ensure that bins for tissues are emptied throughout the day
  • where possible, all spaces should be well ventilated using natural ventilation (opening windows) or ventilation units
  • prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit the use of door handles and aid ventilation

Will children have to stay in the same classroom for most of the day?

Government advice on the scientific evidence shows that the outdoor environment is much more manageable in terms of virus transmission. Weather permitting, children will spend time outside every day and when inside, the bubble groups will be based in one location (bubble room).

How will lunch time work to ensure children are safe?

The schools may run a staggered lunchtime to maintain as much spacing as possible and lunches may well be served in your child’s bubble room. Lunches will return as the government has requested “schools are expected to reopen their kitchens and ensure that meals are able to be prepared and served safely”. Free School Meal children will continue to receive meals, vouchers or food parcels if they are not attending school.

How will you make school safe for my child?

In addition to social distancing and hygiene measures mentioned above, we will:

 

  • give children a designated location (bubble room) and group (referred to as a bubble) for lessons and play, to minimise the opportunity for mixing
  • regularly clean the setting and resources will take place
  • provide children with their own resources (pencils etc)
  • Not allow children to bring in their own resources or other items
  • confine resources to rooms to minimise sharing and when sharing is essential we will clean resources
  • organise lunchtimes and playtimes differently to reduce mixing of bubbles
  • be vigilant in identifying children with symptoms, isolate them and ask parents to collect them
  • employ a set of agreed behaviour expectations agreed by all the schools in the Trust
  • make every attempt to maintain social distancing for staff and pupils and limit any potential contact
  • remove of unnecessary items from classrooms
  • remove soft furnishing, soft toys and toys that are difficult to clean

 

 

Will my child be expected to share resources, such as pens and pencils?

Where possible, children will be given their own equipment, which they must not share with anyone else. They must not bring any equipment in from home. Any resources that are shared (e.g. school laptops) will be cleaned after use.

I’m a key worker and only needed my child to access childcare for 2 days a week up to now. Do they now have to attend their year group bubble every day?

The Government is advising schools to strongly encourage eligible children to attend including priority groups. Ultimately this is the parents’ decision.

My child is in the childcare provision currently but isn’t in the year groups above?

Children of critical workers and vulnerable children will continue to come to school. They will be allocated to bubbles.

Will everyone arrive at school at the same time causing an increase in risk?

The schools have organised a staggered drop off and collection time for pupils in order to maintain social distancing. It is important that you stick to these times in order to protect yourself, your child and school staff.

Only one parent or carer should accompany the child to school to minimise risk. Parents will not be invited to enter classrooms but will drop off as per each school’s individual arrangements. Schools have no power under the law to enforce social distancing with parents other than to make that request. However, the school site is private property and so we would have to contact the police if particular issues arose.

Will the school have Collective Worship?

Bubbles groups will have an opportunity for reflection and Collective Worship within their daily session, but there will be no mass gatherings or daily acts of worship as a school.

Will children go straight back into normal lessons following the national curriculum?

The simple answer is no.

The initial focus, for as long as we feel necessary, will be on supporting personal, social, health and emotional aspects of learning to support children’s wellbeing.  They have all gone through an incredible period of change and experienced loss on a number of different levels.  All have had changes in routine, loss of communication and some may have sadly even experienced the loss of a loved one.  This shouldn’t be ignored.  Each School’s Values will be used to support children’s learning.

We will, of course, ensure that skills in English and Maths continue to be developed.  Learning in school will follow the same topic-based approach as home learning has done up to this point.

How will you support my child’s emotional well-being?

School staff will all work to ensure that children’s needs are met. There will be plenty of opportunities for children to discuss their feelings. Each school will continue to use their values to support children’s learning and well-being.

My child is feeling anxious about coming back to school. How can I prepare them?

You can prepare your child by talking about what school was like and what it will be like now.  Social stories are a useful way to help prepare younger children

 

Will staff and children wear masks or PPE?

The Government guidelines state, ‘The majority of staff in education settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain a distance of 2 metres from others. PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases including:

 

  • children, young people and students whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs should continue to receive their care in the same way
  • if a child, young person or other learner becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in their setting and needs direct personal care until they can return home. A surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained. If contact with the child or young person is necessary, then disposable gloves, a disposable apron and a surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult. If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn.’

 

Our thinking is that this is an individual family and staff member’s decision whether they wish to wear PPE.   If parents or staff insist on wearing face masks, we will not prohibit them from doing so, apart from when it becomes a danger to the child. Parents will need to exercise their own judgement around this and MUST understand that we cannot guarantee that your child will keep a mask on or wear it properly and should be able to put it on and off themselves.  If parents wish their child to wear a face mask they must provide this themselves.

Will my child need to wear a school uniform?

No, we do not think it is necessary to send your child back to school in school uniform, unless this is easier to do so. It is essential that your child wears freshly washed clothes each day – this could be a mixture of school uniform and home clothes throughout the week if this is easier to manage.

Will we allow visitors and volunteers into school?

No, not until the situation is deemed to be safe. Thank you to all those who have offered your help.

Will extra-curricular clubs run (football club, badminton etc.)?

No. These bring too many children into contact and mix the school groupings.

Will the school office be open?

All schools will continue to run an administration function, and this may be fulfilled through a combined approach of work undertaken within the school office, and work undertaken from home.  We ask that all inbound communications to school from parents and carers are made via telephone or email. Contact details are available on school websites.  We will not be accepting late arrivals to school via the main school reception office, and ask that parents , carers do not come into the school reception unless this has previously been agreed.  

Will you continue to provide online Home Learning activities for children who do not return to school?

We will continue to set Home Learning activities, during term-time, so that all children have access to provision to support their learning.

With school reopening to more children, parents will need to be mindful that teaching staff will not have as much time to respond to messages during school hours and will not be available outside of school hours.

Will children and young people be eligible for testing for the virus?

The government advice is:

When settings open to the wider cohort of children and young people, all those children and young people eligible to attend, and members of their households, will have access to testing if they display symptoms of coronavirus. This will enable them to get back into childcare or education, and their parents or carers to get back to work, if the test proves to be negative. To access testing, parents will be able to use the 111 online coronavirus service.

Will teachers and other staff be able to get tested if they have symptoms?

Access to testing is already available to all essential workers. This includes anyone involved in education, childcare or social work – including both public and voluntary sector workers, as well as foster carers. See the full list of essential workers. Education settings as employers can book tests through an online digital portal. There is also an option for employees to book tests directly on the portal.

What will happen if a child in the class shows symptoms?

We will follow the Government guidelines set out below.

If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in an education or childcare setting, they must be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance.

If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age of the child and with appropriate adult supervision if required. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.

If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.  PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs).  In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

If a member of staff has helped someone who was unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves (and in which case, a test is available) or the child subsequently tests positive (see ‘What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?’ below). They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.

What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in school?

We will follow the Government guidance set out below.

When a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.

 Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.

As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the cohort or in the wider setting, Public Health England’s local health protection teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases a larger number of other children, young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.

How can I speak to the class teacher if we are socially distancing?

You can contact your child’s class teacher by emailing them. If you are unable to do this, you can email the office who will then pass the message on.

What should my child bring to school each day?

We do not want your child to bring anything into school with them other than a lunch box if they are packed lunches, coat and sunhat.

Please do not bring PE kit, rucksacks, books, toys, book bags or pencil cases.

Why are different schools doing different things to reopen?

Individual school circumstances are different – numbers in year groups, physical space, layout of the school buildings, staff available to work, etc. The Alumnis Multi Academy Trust is following the government guidance on reopening school.

Can I bring in a change of clothes for my nursery aged child?

Some very young children do need a change of clothes in school.  We would ask that you send these in a plastic bag and that we can keep them in school until required.  This is to keep the need for items that come in from home to a minimum.

I have to go back to work, can I send my child in even if they aren’t in the selected year groups?

At this stage schools are only open for the selected year groups plus vulnerable children and children of critical workers who have been able to attend throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

If you have been asked to return to work but do not have childcare, please talk to your employer to make necessary adjustments.

Usually someone else collects my child from school as I have to go into work, can someone from another household collect my child?

Government guidance would only allow someone to pick up a child from another household if a 2m distance is kept between them. This would be very difficult with young children and therefore we would advise only members from your household should collect your child.

Will my child be taught by their usual teacher?

Schools cannot guarantee this as each class needs to be split into bubbles.

Will my child have a school reading book?

No, unfortunately we will not be able to send reading books between home and school due to the risk of cross-contamination. We will be reading regularly with the children in school.

Will my KS1 child get fruit each day?

No, you will need to provide a daily fruit snack as deliveries of fruit have not resumed.

What is happening about assessment / SATS this year?

Nationally, no pupils in Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2 will have undertaken their SATs tests at the end of the key stage. Therefore,  in common with all schools in England, Alumnis Schools will not be reporting end of year outcomes. Progress and attainment will be reported until the point of school closure on 23rd March.