Friday, 15th May 2020
Dear parents and carers,
I hope you are all well, keeping safe and managing the best you can under the current situation that we find ourselves in.
Since Friday, 20th March, school has been open for the children of key workers only and closed to all others. I am sure by now you will have heard or read about the Government’s proposal to begin re-opening schools to more children, with the initial plan to bring in pupils from Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 after half-term and other year groups, potentially a month before the end of the school year.
In order to re-open our school to any children under the current circumstances, there needs to be a great deal of planning and risk assessing to reduce the risk of infection from Covid-19 to staff, children and those in their households. Pupil and staff safety is our primary concern in any planning and it may not be possible to welcome back all pupils in the way the prime minister has described.
Our school has received a raft of documents since the announcement on Sunday and we have been working through these. The advice is suggesting that children are split into small teaching groups, referred to as a “bubble” with the same adult and same children at all times. There would be no opportunity for children to play or interact with children in other groups. Children in our key workers group would remain as one “bubble”. As we have a number of staff members who are unable to work in school, this may mean that your child is with an unfamiliar adult and possibly not in their usual classroom. We have also been advised to review the resources we make available to your children, so classrooms will look very different.
This - unfortunately - will be particularly noticeable within our Foundation Stage where the classrooms will have to be rearranged and many of the areas they children are used to, removed and stripped back - for health and safety reasons.
We will also be looking to stagger the beginning and end of the day to avoid unnecessary congestion around the school gates. It will also be the case - to allow small groups with the staff available - that we cannot offer full-time provision for all children either. Put it simply, we don’t have a full complement of staff and we have to allow for time for staff to plan remotely for the children remaining at home and for additional cleaning to take place regularly.
Furthermore, it may be, due to potential staffing shortages (as a result of Covid19), that some year groups do not return at all this academic year.
With regards to social distancing, if you have ever taken the time to observe the children’s interactions with each other, even out in the yard, you will know what a challenge this is going to be! I can honestly say, while we will try to reduce the risks, there really is no such thing as social distancing when it comes to children and the risks will still be there.
As a school, community, our staff are all finding these sudden changes to their role very challenging and would love nothing more than to be back with all their children in the classroom - but only when it is safe to do so. I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t make you aware of the risks we are facing by bringing children back at this time or if I didn’t explain how “coming back” to school next half term is going to look very different to what our children and families are used to.
I thank all of you who have taken the time to complete my questionnaire, it was really useful in helping us to plan and complete our risk assessments and staffing rota. We have also been cheered and encouraged by your feedback, either via Class Dojo and or on the communications and remote learning we have been providing over the last few weeks.
I appreciate that many of you are in a difficult position in that you have to go back to work and have no choice but to send your child back into school. However, can I ask that you all take some time to consider the contents of this letter and then I would be most grateful if you could just drop a short email to the class email account below, stating your name and child’s name and where you currently stand in terms of needing a place in school during the final half term or not.
If you are able to do this by the end of Tuesday, 19th May at the lastest, that would be greatly appreciated.
Key workers: email@example.com
Many thanks and continue to stay safe,