A full recovery plan and risk assessment is being drawn up so more detail will follow.
General health and safety and infection control
What happens if a child becomes unwell in school?
This is even more important during the pandemic. We cannot keep children safe without the cooperation and partnership of their families. It would be really helpful if families got accustomed to taking their child's temperature in the morning; a raised temperature is a symptom of coronavirus.
Families must not send in children who are unwell. The rule of thumb must be very different with the current crisis: if in any doubt, keep your child at home. This includes the 48 hour rule for any sickness and diarrhoea and it is for this reason we are no longer offering to administer or give Calpol or any other medication in school other than for known medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, ADHD medicine or for allergies).
We expect fewer children presenting as unwell as have asked parents and carers to be vigilant and keep their children off school if they have any symptoms of coronavirus.
The NHS advice states: If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:
- Stay at home (self-isolate) – do not leave your home or have visitors. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also self-isolate.
- Get a test – get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, should also get a test if they have symptoms.
If children present with, or complain of symptoms of coronavirus (persistent cough, sore throat, lack of taste or smell) we will isolate them in the medical room. Staff supervising the child will remain outside the medical room door which will be left open for ventilation and stay at least 2m from the child where possible. Staff will wear a mask to supervise the child and an apron and gloves if needing to be closer than 2m.
Children in their group will be moved outside or to a place inside if possible while the area they have worked in is cleaned.
Parents or carers will be expected to collect their child without delay. They will be expected to arrange for a test for their child. When the child leaves school the medical room will be cleaned before it is used again.
What's the procedure if my child has a test?
If the test is positive the child must remain off school for seven days and then return when free of symptoms.
If the test is negative the child may return to school once they are free of symptoms.
The school will liaise with Public Health England when any case is confirmed, coronavirus is a notifiable disease and we would contact our health care partners and act in accordance with their guidance.
What is the school's policy on face coverings?
The DfE guidance states that the wearing of face coverings may interfere with children's learning and is not an expectation for staff or pupils.
That said, face coverings are an expectation when visiting the opticians, hair-dressers, in some shops and on public transport. Children will be seeing far more people with their faces covered in the community. In school, we could have an important role to play in normalising their use as they are in countries in the far East and countries like Italy where most people now routinely wear face coverings in public.
Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan commented on the wearing of masks on 7th July and The World Health Organisation gives advice on how to wear one safely. The WHO say 'Studies of influenza, influenza-like illness, and human coronaviruses (not including COVID-19) provide evidence that the use of a medical mask can prevent the spread of infectious droplets from a symptomatic infected person (source control) to someone else and potential contamination of the environment by these droplets.'
However, as Dr Matt BUtler, consultant who has been working on COVID-19 at Addenbrokokes hospital told us in a coronacast meeting shared with families, it could be time to lead on the cultural change our society needs to function during this crisis. We must learn to live with and alongside COVID-19. We can't lock down until a cure or vaccine arrives as this is probably a long time off. While our youngest children are probably young for face coverings in school, older ones might want to use a face covering. And we will all need them when on public transport. In countries like Japan many people, young and old, wear face coverings when out and anyone out without one who has a cold would be very much frowned upon. It is likely that faces covered in crowded spaces will become a common sight and there's no reason to say children can't wear them.
Therefore, while we are not requiring the use of face coverings, we see their benefit.
- Our risk assessment is clear that staff must be instructed as to their safe use for removal (not touching the outer surface), hygiene and storage. Staff going between groups or working more closely with a child for a period of time (e.g. the headteacher, admin staff or SEN support/tutors) are encouraged to consider wearing a mask.
- Some staff, particularly those working in closer proximity with children for prolonged periods (tutors) and those clinically or extremely clinically vulnerable may be wearing face coverings or shields more routinely. This will be part of individual's risk assessments.
- We welcome adults bringing their children to school who chose to wear face coverings to reduce the risk to others and themselves. If an adult has a cold, the sneezes or a cough (where COVID has been ruled out - no one should come onto the grounds with symptoms that may be coronavirus) we would say, as has been common in Japan for years, that the polite thing to do is cover you face.
- Any children wearing face coverings would be expected to be able to remove and put them on safely before they are permitted in school. We anticipate this would only be the oldest children in upper key stage 2 in the first instance. If your child wants to wear a face covering in the first instance, please contact Ms Stewart or Mrs Rutter-Brown.
What about children not distancing and playing together out of school?
This is not within the power of the school to prevent children and families mixing beyond the school gate. Schools cannot accept full responsibility for managing risk in a community. To make communities and our school safe enough families need to act responsibly.
How will you maintain site safety with parents bringing and collecting children?
There is a one-way system in operation in school. All adults visiting the site must cooperate with the measures we have put in place. Staggered start and finish times and different year groups using specific gates reduce numbers on site in one place at any one time and must be respected.
What does the science tell us about it being safe to bring more children into school?
The government scientific advisers and the wider scientific community have been clear that we are not out of the woods with this virus yet. There is relatively little data on children yet, as children have not been tested as much as adults and testing was relatively late to get underway in the UK. That said, it looks like the virus is far less serious in young children and they are very unlikely to become more seriously unwell.
Scientific advice is that risk cannot be eliminated and should be balanced. Risk to children from the disease is comparatively small: few become seriously unwell and many have no symptoms. This risk must be balanced with the risk to our children's mental health, well-being and intellectual development from missing education and the much greater risk to staff (especially older and clinically vulnerable employees) should they contract the virus.
We have read both the SAGE (this stands for Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies and is a panel of scientific experts set up to advise the government) and Independent SAGE (this is the previous chief scientific adviser to government and scientists who are experts in virus' and public health who have sat without the government special advise Dominic Cummings in attendance).
It is unlikely that a vaccine or effective treatment will be available any time soon. Therefore children will need to return to school while the virus presents a risk. Our job is to minimise that risk and consider not only the question of when we reopen (using some of the models you will find in the reports above) but also how we reopen. This latter question will be much more important in the medium and long term.
How will you guarantee my child's safety?
We can't guarantee 100% safety any more than we ever could. Ms Stewart's blog of 11th May tells you more about this.
We in school are responding to the direction of government and the Department of Education. It is for the Chief Medical Officer and government ministers to make the case as to why it is safe enough for children in some year groups in England to return to school.
We do assure you that keeping your children safe and well will be our priority, as it was before lockdown. Staff, children and families will need to work together to minimise any risk to a level that is acceptable and reasonable.
How will you manage social distancing?
We won't because we can't. The DfE, teaching unions and politicians seem agreed about one thing: enforcing the adult notions of social distancing of 2m would be unkind and impossible to enforce. It would cause children distress and they can't do it anyway. We will be keeping children in small groups of around 15 and they will remain with these groups at learning time, for lunch and playtimes. Within these groups we'll discourage overly touchy play but children can be together as they were before. Play and lunch will be staggered to support distancing between groups and children will line up and go into class rather than enjoy free play as previously.
The principle in school will be similar to what you have been doing already at home. You families have been close together and relaxed while not mixing with people outside of your home. While we will be thinking about reducing physical contact and distance, especially between adults and children, we know we can't rule it out. This makes us returning to school fundamentally very different to other businesses opening as social distancing is neither possible or desirable. Physical contact with adults will be reduced but we know it can't be eliminated completely. Staff will be briefed on how a reassuring hand to a shoulder from behind or the side, will be safer than face to face. Standing above children will also reduce the virus having opportunities to spread between people.
Adults will be expected to be as distant as possible so if conversing with another adult outside their group they should follow guidance of 2m apart. Risks of crossing in a corridor are minimal but risk is increased dramatically when people are in face to face conversations over fifteen minutes.
We will teach games where children can be distanced and sadly, this means much loved playtime activities like football just won’t be appropriate at the moment. I’ll explain this as usefully and kindly as I can to Year 6 :-(
The emphasis will be on safe enough distancing for adults in school. We will be need to provide training and guidance for all staff on this before we can assess the school as safe to open. This is in line with what Addenbrookes hospital Cambridge consultant Dr Matt Butler shared with members of my union, the NAHT. It has been reassuring to staff to hear his well informed voice of reason. If you have watched it, you will have learned that while there is not a lot of data yet about COVID-19 on children, what there is suggests they are less affected than older people. As a father of two young children, Dr Butler is aware that it is not possible to keep young children 2m apart and this is where I first heard about ‘bubbles’, where children in smaller groups with the same adults learn and play together but don’t mix outside their ‘bubble’. Therefore we are having to plan, at pretty short notice, to put in place systems and possibly organise classes to reduce cross infection between groups and to protect staff as well as children.
What must every child be able to do to be ready for school?
Physical handling must be limited to the absolute minimum. We think the following are reasonable expectations for school age children from Reception - Year 6:
- Be able to dress and undress themselves (although we will reduce any need for this) and fasten their own shoes
- Eat independently and over a table, not getting food all over the floor
- Sneezing into a tissue and dispose of the tissue safely
- Use the toilet independently and leave it clean and with no urine or faeces on the floor, walls or other surfaces
- Not put school equipment in their mouths (unless it is a specialist piece of sensory kit for their sole use)
- Not hit, pinch, bite or lick other people
How will you maintain a clean environment once children are back in?
Given Dr Butler’s talk to us, we are prioritising hand hygiene and the cleaning of surfaces, reducing to an absolute minimum shared equipment like rules, pencils and scissors. An enhanced cleaning regime may include children: Dr Butler talked of monitors for high use areas like light switches and they are already used to wiping their own lunch tables. By including children safely as partners, we can embed a new, cleaner culture which, as this is likely to be a long term problem in the UK, will be necessary for the coming months, possibly even years. We will have open doors to reduce contamination on handles and will teach children the elbow/bum method of opening other doors that have to be closed. An enhanced cleaning regime will include more cleaning hours and Mrs Cocker is looking into this.
By keeping children in small fixed groups, that don't mix, we will reduce risk of cross contamination. I am sure you will understand that while cleaning regimes will be much enhanced significantly, we can't guarantee every piece of lego can be cleaned between children touching them. We live in the world!
How will you prevent the virus coming from school to home with my child?
While we can't give any 100% guarantees, we are making plans to reduce risk to an acceptable level.
- We will expect every child to wash their hands thoroughly before coming out to you.
- Reading books and other things won't be coming to and from school.
- We will be more flexible with uniform to reduce getting changed.
- We will reduce need for PE kit, other than pumps so children are bringing less to and from school.
We are also thinking how we can reduce your child bringing the virus in to us in school!
- Children will wash hands on entering the building.
- No pencil cases or other belongings from home can come to school.
- Children will have a cardboard box under their seat for their own things like water bottles and school equipment.
- Hair being tied back will be even more important; it is now not about looking smart but about protecting others from harm.
- Relaxing uniform policy to allow for clothes to be changed and washed daily for all children.
- No lost property - anything disguarded will be picked up safely and disposed of.
teaching and learning
What will children in school be learning?
The Department of Education [DfE] expects that in the final half term of the academic year we move from a focus on childcare to priority on learning. This is why we are expecting all key workers' and vulnerable children to be in full time in their class, so teachers and support staff can focus on learning and progression in the final weeks of the year.
There is an acceptance from DfE that their priority of high academic standards will have to be balanced with what children need on returning from school in the middle of a pandemic. Children having been at home in highly unusual circumstances; circumstances that were totally new for their parents and carers as well as the children themselves. Therefore we will be supporting children's social and emotional development and the inevitable changes in what we must expect from them, first and foremost. While not socially distancing within groups (which is neither possible or desirable), they will need to learn quickly the importance of remaining in their group and not mixing with other groups. We have three groups per year group and this will mean for some, not interacting with people who are their friends.
The principle for returning to school must be to regard children as people first, learners second. To make this real in practice teaching staff must be thinking in terms of relationships first, curriculum second. With relationships rebuilt and children feeling safe and secure and able to be alongside each other in new ways, they will have good, solid foundations on which to build their learning across the curriculum.
Children will have many different needs: some will have few worries and just want to crack on (in Denmark teachers were surprised at how children didn't actually need all the PHSE and trauma based learning they had planned); others will have had a lovely time at home and won't want to be back in school; others may be bereaved or anxious about their own or their family's health. And everything in between. In the first days and weeks teachers need to be highly responsive to the fifteen individuals in their group while building a sense to togetherness, working together, sharing (ideas if not pencils) and expectations of conformity within that group.
We also recognise that learning itself is therapeutic, fulfilling a deep human need in us all. Therefore the curriculum should and must continue with opportunities for children not only to begin to catch up some gaps in the core subjects of English and Mathematics, but to continue to learn about our world and in particular, this term, with a focus on the natural world and caring for the environment.
What about the online learning for other year groups?
Given that to open for three year groups and key workers’ and vulnerable children we need all ten classes and all teaching staff, to provide exactly the same as we have been since lockdown would be in effect two schools and would be impossible to do well. With half the classes (three year groups plus key workers' and vulnerable children) in half size classes, the fact is that we need all available teachers and support staff in school.
Staff have met and discussed what is reasonable and achievable and we are planing that no year group will be left to fend for themselves. A small number of staff have are clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable and will be working from home. We have agreed their main focus will be on children at home, particularly years 2, 3, 4 and 5.
We will keep the Remote Learning area of the website updated and make sure this is a good offer for folks at home. We will also try to keep the five weekly routines including online assembly going as well as we can. There is also great online learning at BBC Bitesize, White Rose Maths and the Oak National Academy, and much more, all of which is easy to find via the Remote Learning homepage (don’t ignore the ten subpages either!).
Our children in years 2, 3, 4 and 5 are just as dear to us as Reception, Year 1 and 6 but the fact is that the government have told us to prioritise only these three year groups and therefore this is where our attention and planning must be directed if we are to open safely at some point from 1st June. We do have a small number of teachers who won't be in school as they are deemed extremely critically vulnerable or critically vulnerable should they catch coronavirus. We will be planning with these staff how we can keep high quality online learning and contact going through Google Classroom.
other questions you may have
I am a key worker or my child is vulnerable but my child is not in Reception, year 1 or 6. Can they still come to school?
Yes, we are planning a different classroom for key-worker's children in other year groups. You will still need to book in for each session as you do now, using the online booking form. This is really important so we know numbers. We will need to ensure that this class doesn't become too big and will cap numbers at 15. Should there be more demand than we can provide, priority will be given to key-workers' children and those with a named social worker and EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan).
I'm a keyworker for a child in Recpetion, year 1 or 6. Can I access before or after school care?
We must do everything we can to reduce crossing over between groups. We can't be impregnable but we have a duty to make best endeavours to separate groups. Therefore if anyone who is a key worker needs before or after school care and this can't be provided elsewhere, they can choose to put their child in the Key Worker Class. But their child then won't have the option for moving. All advice is that once fixed, the groups remain as they are. This is why we won't reduce the number of groups if lots of parents choose not to send children back; we must plan for full take-up to reduce mixing.
What if I don’t want to send my child back straight away?
This is a matter for parents and carers to decide; you know your children and home circumstances best. We will not be issuing attendance letters or requiring children to attend. There will be no fixed penalty notices if parents choose for their children to remain at home. We work in partnership and respect one another, there will be no judgement or expectation from us.
That said, we think it reasonable however that having taken a place in school that families value the education we provide. Teachers will be planning for progression over the weeks. A place in school for key year groups is not respite for families and we would expect your child to attend punctually and regularly unless they are unwell.
What if I need to speak to the teacher?
I have told all staff and the office that any meeting face to face must be strictly by appointment and the 2m rule will apply. I will relax this as soon as we are able but the measure is as much to protect you and your families from us as us from you. Teachers will communicate through Google classroom to the class and individuals. Parents and carers can use their child’s log on to see this. At primary age, it is reasonable that children share their online activity with their folks. Parents and teachers will be making increased use of telephone conversations which are safer than face to face meetings.
What if I want to keep my child at home and then change my mind later?
Absolutely fine, you know your business best. Having taken a place we would expect you to value it and attend unless your child is unwell. Just let us know.
Will you be providing care or clubs before or after school in the Summer term?
With Superkids closed, we are only able to provide before and after school care for the children of Key Workers. From June 1st there will be a charge for this. To maintain separate bubbles of children it is not appropriate at this time to broaden the before or after school offer as this will increase risk through children mixing. We have accepted that to support key services in the locality we must accept limited mixing of groups for key workers' children but this must remain as little and for as few children as possible.
It is our full intention to resume a full before and after school offer as soon as it is practical to do so.
Which group will my child be in?
In Reception and Year 1 children are in groups of 15 by age. Some exceptions may be made to separate children who will struggle to be appropriate with each other (this is far more serious in the current pandemic) and to keep adults in school and their children in the same bubble. Children in Year 6 are already in groups of 15 across three classes.
We will let parents know which staff are in which group as soon as this is firmed up. However, just as the doctor or nurse you see at a clinic will be largely who is available, we will be deploying teaching staff without prior consultation with parents and carers. And of course, if staff are unwell, the people teaching the group will change.
Can my child be in a group with their friends?
We are mixing by age for younger children and Year 6 are already in three groups. We are not able to reorganise for friendships. Some children may have friends in other groups and they won't be able to mix with those children at all in school. We ask that you respect the way in which we have chosen to group children. It would be impossible to accommodate everyone's friendship requests but parents and carers can help their child not be disappointed by encouraging them to consider the new friendships they can make. This will be the theme of Monday's assembly on 8th!
Uniform and dress codes are to be 'relaxed'. What does this mean?
The one and only reason for relaxing on uniform is for health and safety and not for reasons of fashion! We will be relaxing some aspects of the dress code while strengthening others in order reduce risk to adults and children. Our preference is for children to be in uniform when they have clean clothes available. If a child has 5 polo shirts, they should wear them daily. However few will have five pairs of shorts or trousers so we are relaxing some things.
- Children and adults must come in clean clothes every day and not wear anything from the day before to school.
- We advise people to think about washing clothes when back at home and especially if living with someone critically vulnerable.
- Full school uniform should be worn on Mondays as we'd expect everyone to have a clean one.
- On following days, if children have clean uniform this should be worn. If not, they may wear unbranded leggings, joggers or shorts and a plain T shirt and jumper/sweatshirt.
- Skirts and dresses are not advised as we will not be asking children to change for PE.
- Boys and girls with hair that is long enough to be tied back, should have their hair securely tied. This is no longer a matter of being smart, it is to protect the health of other people. This will also apply to adults in school.
- We would like children to wear pumps or trainers on PE days. PE will always be outside.
What can my child bring to school?
- Water bottle - washed and with clean water from home daily;
- Tissues - before returning to school please teach your child how to blow their nose into a tissue and dispose of the tissue safely;
- Hand cream or moisturiser (children will be washing their hands frequently);
- A small bar of soap in a plastic bag. We will provide soap but this is belt and braces for if we run out in a classroom during the day). Children with eczema may be better with a jar of aqueous cream that they can use instead of soap to wash (consultant on Addenbrookes COVID team, Dr Matt Butler says it's just as good);
- Sun hat (we will be learning outdoors far more than usual - hooray!);
- A showerproof coat (to go on the back of their chair);
Some children may want a little something to remind them of home in the early days. Remember that anything coming into contact with surfaces at home or in school increases risk to you at home and us in school. A spray of your perfume or aftershave would be perfect as they can wear this safely. Children may bring or wear ONE SMALL item for comfort if this is essential for them to settle happily e.g. a small toy (must fit in pocket), a small single piece of jewellery or hair bobble.
Some children may bring a packed lunch if not having one provided by Edsential. If so, this must be wrapped in a paper or plastic bag and not in a lunch box.
- Rucksacks or bags other than paper or plastic bags for a packed lunch;
- Large or more than one cuddly toy;
- Pencil cases - we will ask year 6 to return with the pencil case and contents they took home washed thoroughly before coming into school;
- Books or games from home.
What about lunches and food in school?
Edsential will be providing a free packed lunch for every child in receipt of free school meals and universal free school meals for those in Reception, Year 1 and 2. You can still buy a packed lunch from Edsential for your children in Key Stage 2. We are relaxing the policy for packed lunches as we know children can be fussy. Children may bring one pack of crisps for lunch on all days, not just Friday (every cloud...).
Snacks need to be provided at home, no snacks will be provided in school. We continue a healthy eating policy and so please stick to fruit, breadsticks or cereal bar (no nuts, sweets, crisps or chocolate).
Children bringing a packed lunch from home should preferably be in paper (or plastic) bags which can be disposed of in school rather than lunchboxes. This reduces risk of the lunchbox coming home to you.