What is the school's policy on face coverings?
[updated 19th April]
The data shows that levels of infection are reduced enough for us to make the wearing of face coverings for staff in their usual classroom or office optional. This reflects our policy of relaxing first those restrictions which have the biggest impact on children, their wellbeing and achievement.
All adults coming onto the school grounds and staff when outside their usual office or classroom are still required to wear a face covering.
All adults on site must wear a face covering. This includes the school grounds. In school adults may remove these for work in their usual classroom or office (within a bubble), eating, drinking and for some specific teaching (e.g. in phonics) if a 2m distance and good ventilation is maintained.
We provide FFP2 face coverings and advise all staff to use a face covering of this standard which offer additional protection.
Tutors working alongside children should wear a face shield in addition to a face covering to reduce risk of infection via droplets through the eyes.
Staff will ensure that children of adults bringing children to school who cannot or choose not to wear a face covering will be taken safely to their classrooms. We will continue to offer disposable masks to those who have forgotten.
There are no plans to have a policy requiring children to wear a face covering although we will support older ones choosing to do so.
When will children be allowed to mix with other classes?
Local CW&C and national infection rates do not give us reason to throw caution to the wind but we are able to make some limited relaxations to restrictions after Easter. First will be those that impact most directly on pupils' wellbeing, learning and achievement. This means that some clubs and extra- curricular activities like school trips can resume in Summer term (subject to no increase in risk in the coming weeks and months). We are not yet able to allow class groups to mix at play time as these are less structured than organised activities but we are aware how important this is to children and so will monitor infection, vaccination and hospital admission rates closely, permitting phases to play together as soon as it is safe enough to do so.
When might we expect some in school restrictions to be relaxed?
In making any decision that could increase risk, we look at national, Local Authority and local data. We then balance risks against benefits. The maps here show that looking at data is not simple; so we use different data sets to make an evidence-informed judgement.
The first easing of restrictions will be around things that directly impact on learning, teaching and children's wellbeing. Adults wearing face coverings in their class group, children mixing with friends in other classes, teachers planning together and some cross class group activities such as sport and language clubs. We are cautiously optimistic this might be possible after the Easter break.
Later measures in school will include eating together in the hall; probably the younger ones in years 1 and 2 first. We will consider phase assemblies, together in the hall and PE indoors.
Things that do not impact directly on children's learning and welfare will be the last restrictions to be lifted. A one-way system, face coverings on crowded playgrounds and one adult per family will remain in place until rates in the community have reduced further and more of the population have been vaccinated. This is so we can be confident that when we do lift these restrictions, we can be more confident that we won't need to back- track later.
Schools are back March 8th - can we go to the park, can our children meet up and have play dates?
Schools are open but the risk remains high. Parents of children without access to outdoor space (a garden) are allowed to use parks but must not mix with other families. If you have a garden, your children should not use local parks. Childcare bubbles are permitted for working parents while they are at work and should not be used for playdates at other times.
Childcare bubbles, children meeting up with friends and going to the park increase risk of transmission. They should be used only when absolutely necessary, in line with the letter and spirit of the guidance and should not be used more widely, increasing risk to staff and other families as well as increasing the risk of further school closures.
I am nervous about returning on 8th - can my child continue to access learning at home?
No. From 8th March school attendance is mandatory. Home learning will be available for children isolating but not because they are choosing not to attend. While we are mindful of parents' and carers' anxieties and have published our full risk assessment and a family friendly version (March 2021).
We hope the letters sent to children on 3rd March will alleviate some of their anxieties.
What is the revised plan for March 8th?
With infection and hospital admission rates high, restrictions in school will continue as planned for when Cheshire West and Chester went into Tier 4 restrictions. We have produced this shorter document which communicates important information from the most recent risk assessment. It is important that all parents and carers and anyone else bringing children to and from school have read and understood it.
What other symptoms might be coronavirus and when should I book a test?
[updated 22nd February]
Due to the high rates of infection in the community, CW&C Council Public Health team ask residents to book a COVID-19 PCR test if they experience any of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, muscle or body aches, fatigue, sore throat, headache, nasal congestion or runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting.
Staff and pupils with these symptoms should book a PCR test if they have any of the symptoms listed above. There is no requirement that the staff member or pupil must self-isolate unless their symptoms are alongside one of the three main Covid-19 symptoms: raised temperature, persistent cough, loss of taste and/or smell. That said, we ask families and staff to think very carefully about whether attendance at school is essential if they are waiting for a PCR coronavirus test or the result. We would advise a principle of caution.
How will track and trace operate over school holidays?
[updated 22nd February]
We are on call until 3.15pm (or the time your child left Night Owls on Friday) on Sunday 14th February. If your child develops symptoms within this time and then tests positive for coronavirus within 48 hours of being in school you must inform the school by email email@example.com. The email will be checked daily and any close contacts will be tracked, traced, informed and told to self isolate.
If your child or someone in your household tests positive after 48 hours since they were in school you do not need to inform us.
What does the science tell us?
[updated 7th January]
Government, their scientific advisers and the wider scientific community have been clear that we are far from out of the woods with this virus yet. Science tells us that the vaccine alone won't be enough to combat Covid-19; to be effective the vaccine must be implemented in tandem with reducing infection.
SAGE advised government that it is not possible to get the R (reproduction) rate below 1 with schools open and the new more virulent strain of the virus spreading across the country. Independent SAGE have been clear that in their view that the new variant of more virulent (though not more severe) version of Covid-19 means it is unsafe for schools to open without distancing and further measures in place to protect adults and pupils. In response, on 5th January the government took the measure to open schools only to vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers until mid-February at the earliest and introduce a National Lockdown until 31st March.
Addenbrookes Consultant advising headteachers on Covid has explained that a more virulent virus (which infects more people) will cause higher hospital admissions and fatalities than a more deadly virus (which is harder to catch but more serious if you get it). Evidence indicates school staff and children are no more at risk of severe disease than with the old variant but they are more likely to become infected and there is less confidence that children are less likely to be infected. This is why schools are closed, this is a response to the epidemic and an important measure in preventing the NHS being overwhelmed.
We continue to have regard to scientific advice as it emerges and our risk assessment must be flexible and adaptable to change.
How do teaching staff maintain distance?
[updated 7th January]
It is accepted that the youngest children can't distance well enough. Since 4th January 2021 we have impressed on adults the importance of maintaining distance where possible from children. We appreciate that working with younger children makes this less achievable but we will make our best endeavours. For example talking side on or from behind with children when close up rather than face to face and where working one-to-one wearing a face covering and a shield to reduce risk of infection through the eyes.
We are teaching and encouraging games that can be played without physical contact and are keeping children as distanced as possible in class. Older children are more able to understand risk so for them expectations are higher.
There is a teacher only zone at the front of classes and outside the classroom door which parents and carers must not enter.
Staff are maintaining distance from each other in school with separate staff rooms for each class group and those providing online learning working from home unless they require technology in school.
Lockdown specific information
How will staff be deployed during lockdown?
As in any other area of work, school staff work at home when they can. However, to maintain provision for the most vulnerable children and those whose parents are critical workers staff do need to work in school.
The rate of infection and national emergency mean that we must be even more vigilant during any period of national lockdown. We have deployed staff so that those working in school do not cross phase class groups. Mid-day assistants support only one phase class and TAs do not move between groups.
Teaching staff working at home take responsibility for online and remote learning.
Admin staff work at home when they can and office occupancy is limited to one person.
An exception is our Emotional Literacy Support Assistant. To mitigate risk, she works with children while walking in the grounds or 1-1 in a separate room sanitised between use.
The other exception is provision for Early Birds and Night Owls.
Are you still offering before and after school care and how is risk mitigated?
Early Birds and Night Owls may be booked as usual. We haven't the physical space or capacity to split the phase/class groups and so children will be in the same room. Mrs Bodger also works in Key Stage 1.
To mitigate risk:
adults are maintaining distance and avoid close contact with any child;
children are being encouraged and reminded to remain in their phase/class group;
there is more use of the hall and outside space.
We believe these measures can keep risk low enough but cannot guarantee that a child won't become a close contact of a child from another phase/class. This provision is to support working parents who must make their own decision as to whether to use it.
Is school a safe place for children to be in?
updated [22nd February]
Schools closed on 5th January because of the public health risk from the increase in the pandemic and to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed. Not because they were not 'safe'. The highest risk of contracting the virus is from within the home and in peer groups. This is why we are keeping the phase class groups intact.
Ongoing risk assessment, reviewed regularly since March 2020, mean schools are as safe as they can be within the context of their own communities. Schools mirror the rates in the community. Schools are closed to most children in order that the community rate can come down to a manageable level for the NHS. Rates in CW&C are high and people are advised if they have other symptoms to the three main coronavirus symptoms (persistent cough, temperature, loss of taste and/or smell) they should seek a test. Currently the highest rates of coronavirus are in children aged 5-12 and young adults 18-24.
The government have assessed that schools are safe enough for all schools to reopen. In our risk assessment, for Kingsmead to be safe enough, children, families and staff, the whole school community must their part and follow the guidance we have set.
What about class size?
Good ventilation and larger than average classrooms which have flexible walls to become double size mitigate risk considerably. Our building design means we can be confident that phase classes can operate effectively with larger numbers than you might read about in the press. This is balanced with our moral and civic duty to keep numbers as low as possible and the request that critical workers only access a school place when this is their only reasonable option.
How will places be provided for learning in school during lockdown?
[8th January 2021]
The nature of the more virulent virus and rate of infection in the community means we must do all we can to prevent further spread and the NHS being overwhelmed. It is our moral and civic duty to minimise the numbers of pupils and staff in school.
The following children are entitled to a place in school.
Vulnerable (children with a named social worker and any children who are at risk of harm or identified as in need of care) and children with an Education Health and Care Plan for a disability and/or special educational need. This category may include children who the school whose vulnerabilities mean they are high need of face-to-face education in school.
Children of critical workers in order for them to work. The guidance is clear: parents and carers who are key workers should keep their children at home where they can. We ask that critical workers who are able to work from home consider very carefully, whether their child needs to be in school. For example a person 'on call' for face to face work will need a place in school. A person doing admin or meetings from home, may not.
We will do our best to accomodate the needs of some other children and families according to an assessment of their needs.
The guidance from government is available using the link below.
Why do I have to complete a booking form for every day I require education in school?
To enable us to monitor demand and respond promptly in the event of demand outstripping our capacity, we need to filter data in date order. For the spreadsheet to do this without increasing risk of administrative error and to help us evaluate the data quickly we need each day on a separate form. A new form with fewer questions and the emergency contact details being optional, if these have changed, is available on request.
What are the times of the school day and where do I bring my child into school?
The times of day are the same as before lockdown. 8:40am start for all with lunch 12-1pm and children finishing between 3:05 and 3:15 depending on their age.
Entering and leaving school arrangements are unchanged. We require adults to wear face coverings as before and to use the one way system: Reception and Upper Key Stage 2 via the main gate and car park, Key Stage 1 and Lower Key Stage 2 via the side gate. No exceptions please ;-)
If you only require a place for half a day, you should come to the main office at 12 noon to collect or 1pm to drop off.
If you require Early Birds or Night Owls, please book as usual.
What has stayed the same?
Drop off and pick up times are no different and the one-way system remains in place. Please do not cut across the wrong way. If you are late take your child to the main office and remain outside the lobby. We will collect them from there.
Arrangements for before and after school care remain unchanged.
Lunchtime is no different other than there will be enhanced supervision with two mid-day assistants per class group.
What will children be learning?
During the national lockdown we will mirror the learning objectives at home and in school across the four phases.
Key Stage 1 (year 1 and 2)
Lower Key Stage 2 (year 3 and 4)
Upper Key Stage 2 (year 5 and 6)
Some lessons, e.g. phonics and some Mathematics may be taught by year group. There will be a balance of recorded and live lessons as well as making use of visual resources and quality material from other education partners such as Oak National Academy.
The National Curriculum was suspended other than for English and Mathematics until Easter 2021. National tests have also been cancelled this year. This means we can free up staff to provide a broad and balanced curriculum with quality learning across core and foundation subjects in areas that are most suited to learning at home. We are committed as always to a broad and rich curriculum, albeit, working in the restraints of the current circumstances.
Children may continue to need to access online learning if isolating at home once school has reopened for all.
We have reconfigured some devices that can be loaned to children. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs.
Are there things that have additional risk?
Yes. Our risk assessment and recovery plan identifies some areas of the curriculum that carry greater risk. The DfE guidance states the importance of returning to a broad and balanced curriculum but some activities won't be possible until it is safe to do so, this is why we won't be singing indoors until we know it will be safe enough. We have risk assessed how music lessons can proceed including a plan for recorder lessons in groups of 15 with distancing and no sharing or instruments. The risk is lower for some instruments and this will be taken into account when planning provision.
Any activity with equipment that is shared increases risk and our Risk Assessment includes details on our curriculum areas of Art and Culture, Communication, Language and Literacy, Health and Wellbeing and STEM.
Due to risks from hard surfaces and that we need computers to loan to folk at home, there will not be usual computing lessons or lessons requiring devices other than for accessing learning from home.
IDL, a dyslexia programme used by some can be accessed from home devices.
My child is having to isolate - what remote or online learning will be provided?
With mirroring learning at home with that in school this won't be a problem for vulnerable children or those whose parents are critical workers if having to self isolate.
Once lockdown ends, teaching staff will prioritise education for all in school. That said, we will make our best endeavours to provide learning at home for children self isolating. Five daily routines and other learning will continue to be available on the website and some learning from the day in class will be shared through the child's Google Classroom.
What's the catch-up plan at Kingsmead?
We have a recovery plan for learning and teaching that runs alongside our risk assessment / recovery plan. Elements of this may have to be suspended through a national lockdown.
The notion of catch up is problematic for a number of reasons. With all children other than childcare for children of key workers or who were vulnerable, learning at home from March 2020, the question of catching up with who comes to mind. The idea that six months of learning at home can be ameliorated quickly within a curriculum already overcrowded with content in English and Mathematics is flawed. When the curriculum and its assessment changed in 2016, expectations and content for each year raised considerably. Age-related expectations replaced levels and brought in key content by year.
What about singing and Music?
Singing carries the same risk as speaking and laughing. The risk is aerosol on the breath and it increases indoors and with raised volume. Fixed class 'bubbles' can sing in classrooms for short periods (around 10 minutes). When children hum or sing quietly risk is lowered. Windows must be open in singing (particularly the high level windows which will take aerosols in breath quickly up and out of the room). Children may sing half the class at a time or for shorter periods as a whole class. Our risk assessment details how singing can take place safely enough in school.
Some instruments have a lower risk due to not being blown: strings for example.
During the whole school lockdown we will not sing indoors at all and all ensemble playing including recorders has been suspended. Instrument teachers of children in year 4-6 are offering families the opportunity to continue learning online. We recommend this.
Every Tuesday, as one of our five weekly routines, Ms Stewart will share a tune and some music for children to enjoy and reflect on.
General health, safety and infection control
How would a decision be made to close a class, phase or the school?
[updated 4th January]
In the event of whole school closures, we would expect this to be a decision made by the Government in Westminster or our leaders at Cheshire West and Chester Local Authority. In extraordinary circumstances, should there be insufficient staff in school to staff the school safely for example, the headteacher would take the decision to close all or part of the school. This would be discussed with governors.
The decision would rest with the headteacher as the person responsible for the day to day operation of the school. Should a class or year group have to self-isolate due to a positive case in school we would move within one day to online/remote learning. In making any decision whether to close a class, phase or the school we would seek advice from Public Health England (or whichever body replaces them once they are abolished) and local health protection teams. At the moment these services are somewhat overwhelmed and headteachers are finding it difficult to get the professional advice we need. We are not public health experts and work in partnership with health care services, we would adopt a cautious approach. We will make the best judgement we can at the time with the information and guidance we have and prioritise children's welfare in all our decision making.
When would my child be a contact trace and told to self isolate?
While we know the virus spreads less outside the rules on close contact are the same indoors and outside. In government guidance, a 'contact' is a person who has been near (within 2 metres) to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and this contact was any time from 2 days before until 10 days after onset of symptoms in the infected person (this is when they are infectious to others). For the purposes of contact tracing and isolation, however, 'close contact' means having face-to-face contact with someone less than a metre away (even if a face-covering or face-mask is worn) or being within 2 metres of an infected person for 15 minutes or more.
This is why we ask that parents and carers to keep their children with them at the beginning of the day, end of day and don't allow them to mix, other than in government guidance of one other person outside. It is why we are telling youngsters to return to their parents when they're running round together before and after school. It is also why we advise strongly that unless you are absolutely confident that your older child can resist temptation, peer pressure or for any other reason might mix outside their class on the way home, that you arrange to bring and collect them. If children mix with children outside of their fixed class group, before or after school there is an increased risk of having to close more than one class for one infected child. We rely on parents' and carers' cooperation for this and can't take responsibility or be answerable for class closures where children or families choose not to follow government guidance and school expectations.
What if several people in a family test positive - how long does a child without symptoms have to remain at home?
This is the good news! Children who do not have symptoms in a household where more than one person has symptoms or has tested positive must remain at home for 10 days from the first person having symptoms and then testing positive. This is because it is likely the infection is spreading in the family from a single source.
What if several people in a class test positive - how long do children without symptoms have to remain at home?
Less good news. Because we wouldn't know if this was a single infection (as in a family), the fourteen day clock would reset with new cases. We will work closely with local public health to ensure that children are out of school not longer than absolutely necessary.
Should my household self-isolate?
If anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID you must self-isolate. If you have visited family and someone you have visited develops symptoms within 48 hours of your visit you must self-isolate.
Self isolation means you MUST NOT send children back to school. Children may return to school when one of the following criteria are met:
They have self-isolated for 14 days AND have no symptoms;
The person with symptoms has had a negative test result.
What are childcare bubbles? Who can bring and collect children from school?
In tier 2 there are greater restrictions on mixing. Children should not be having playdates or visiting other houses. Parents can designate a childcare bubble which may be another family or grandparent for example. Only families in agreed childcare bubbles should bring and collect other children, this should only be one other household. We rely on the cooperation and families taking responsibility for this; school is not responsible for policing covid restrictions in the community.
When should I request a test?
Only access testing for their child if the child is experiencing any of the three coronavirus symptoms:
a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
If your symptoms are not one of the above you should not seek a test. This will reduce pressure on the NHS for unnecessary tests and enable those with symptoms to get one quickly.
When should I keep my child off school?
Below you can read more about keeping children off school or see the CWAC Quick Guide
If a child has one of the main symptom of coronavirus they must not attend school:
a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature) - this is the main symptom in children;
a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual) - children with for example an asthma related cough do not need to be absent from school;
a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal - this is far less reported by children than adults. .
Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.
People with symptoms AND THEIR HOUSEHOLD must self isolate and arrange for a test for the symptomatic person/people only. There is no need to test other members of the household. Everyone in the household must self-isolate for 14 days or until a negative test is returned. If other people in the household subsequently develop symptoms, that is when they should be tested. People with symptoms should isolate for ten days and not return to school / work until they have been symptom free for 48 hours. The isolation period is longer for people in a household without symptoms because of the time it can take for symptoms of coronavirus to appear.
If the test is negative AND the symptoms have gone, children can return to school. If symptoms persist you may need to arrange a re-test.
Vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains are increasingly recognised as other symptoms of COVID-19 (as well as norovirus, the winter vomiting bug). Although you should not seek a test for children with these symptoms, respecting the 48 hour rule (not returning to school until 48 hours AFTER the last bout of either being sick or loose stools) is more important than ever.
Why are children eating outside and what happens in poor weather?
Children are eating outside because it is better for their health and wellbeing. We know the virus spreads more readily indoors and therefore we have had to restrict movement inside the school. This means we must make the most of opportunities to be outside. In poor weather children eat indoors although if light drizzle starts while they are already out, we will make a judgement as whether to have the disruption of moving indoors for what might be just a few minutes or remaining out, just as families would do on a picnic.
An on site cleaner may come in and clean the classroom while the class is out, to protect your children and our staff from risk. Children will not be sent out in wet weather in order for the classroom to be cleaned although, as has been the case since we opened in 2004, we do play out in all but the worst of weather. Please make sure your child has warm enough shower proof coat for the season.
Can school require someone to have a test?
No one can be forced to undertake a medical procedure. We can insist they observe the full isolation period if there are symptoms (10 or 14 days) and do not come onto the premises. If a test is negative and symptoms have gone, pupils and staff may return to school before the isolation period.
We have a limited number of tests available in school but these are for extreme circumstances only and, in line with government guidance, are will be reserved firstly for vulnerable people in school who would not otherwise get a test and for staff unable to access a test through a drive-in, walk-in centre or by post in order to prioritise the sustainability of school remaining open.
How will you know if someone has tested positive?
We cannot insist on knowing medical results after someone has been tested. That said, it is helpful to the school if this could be shared and we appreciate it. The local health protection team will liaise with the school so we can work with them to undertake a rapid risk assessment to keep everyone safe.
Will you be testing children for COVID-19?
Currently there are no plans for testing children in primary schools. Schools (other than boarding schools) cannot test for COVID or any other medical condition.
We have some home testing kits from the Department of Health and Social Care and Department of Education. These are for exceptional use only. They can be provided to a member of staff, parent or carer when a child or adult develops symptoms while they are here in school AND they are unable to access a test any other way.
A drive-in or walk-in testing centre (which gives the fastest results) are the first and best option.
People can arrange for a home testing kit to be sent to them.
Only if neither of the above options is possible, are we permitted to provide a kit from school.
Someone in our household has symptoms. Can children without symptoms still come to school?
No. The guidance states that we should "Minimise contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school."
If someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19, members of the same household who do not have symptoms must self isolate for 14 days. People without symptoms do not need to be tested.
People with symptoms should self-isolate for at least 10 days and should arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus (COVID-19).
My child is a bit under the weather but I don't think it's COVID and think they are well enough to be in school - what do I do?
If a child has one of the main symptom of coronavirus they must not attend school.
If your child has a cold (runny nose) they can be in school and you should make sure they bring and can use tissues to catch it, kill it, bin it. Please note though, we are not administering any over the counter medication for children who are unwell.
The 48 hour rule for vomiting and diarrhea must be respected by all - no exceptions.
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. 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.
Will you be taking children's temperatures?
As one of the main symptoms of COVID is a raised temperature we strongly advise parents and carers to monitor their child's temperature daily before bringing them to school and if they have symptoms of covid-19 to keep them at home, arrange for a test. If the results of the test are negative AND the child no longer has symptoms, they can return to school.
As for taking temperatures in school, we have not been instructed to do so. If children appear hot and are flushed we will treat this as a symptom of COVID, isolate the child and contact parents or carers to collect. If guidance and expectations from health professionals or the government change, we will review our practice in the light of evidence.
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 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.
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 2020 tells you more about this.
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 class groups of around 30 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.
Staff will be taking precautions to maintain a sensible and appropriate distance from children in class where possible. We appreciate this can't be all the time.
The principle in school will be similar to what you have been doing already at 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. Physical contact with adults will be reduced but we know it can't be eliminated completely. Staff have been 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 wherever possible. 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 the children :-(
We are avoiding the term 'bubble' which can give both a false sense of security and danger. We are using fixed class groups and making our best endeavours to minimise cross over. We need to balance risk to health with risk to quality of education. With the whole school back we can't eliminate all incidence of staff working in more than one class but have taken measures to reduce risk to a minimum.
What should 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 - catch it, kill it, bin it
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
Not put fingers in their nose or mouth
Avoid (we know this is hard) touching their face and (much less hard) other people's faces
Some things carry far greater risk in a pandemic where the virus is spread on droplets from breath. This is why singing indoors has been risk assessed. Shouting carries at least as great a risk as singing (probably more) and therefore it is no longer reasonable to make adjustments for children who have lost their temper and are shouting at other people. Adults will be mindful of de-escalation strategies to reduce risk and anxiety; children too have a big part to play in understanding that there is no safe alternative to them regulating their own behaviour and not shouting at their peers or staff.
How will you maintain a safe and clean environment?
Children will have their own sets of basic equipment: rulers, pencils and scissors etc. which will reduce contamination and need for cleaning small items. We have employed an onsite cleaner who will work in school during the day, ensuring toilets and frequently touched areas are cleaned more often. Doors will be kept open to avoid touching handles and where they can't be kept open (e.g. fire doors and toilets) more regular cleaning will take place. An enhanced cleaning regime will include children: cleaning their own tables for lunch and at the end of the day too to be useful and kind to the cleaners and reduce risk to them; children may be asked to take responsibility for sanitising light switches where these are not automatic and other things that are age appropriate for them. By including children safely as partners, we can embed a new, cleaner culture where we share responsibility and care for one another.
By keeping children in fixed class groups, that don't mix, we will reduce risk of cross contamination. Shared equipment in subjects like Art, IT and Science will be cleaned before being returned to central storage. Classes will have their own play equipment for their class only. 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.
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.
We are being more flexible with uniform to reduce getting changed and enable more frequent changes of clothes.
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 or sanitise their hands on entering the building.
No pencil cases or other belongings from home can come to school.
Fewer books e.g. a reading diary, Learning Journey (for most subjects) , Maths book and jotter. Teachers will be mindful of minimising touch (children opening their own reading diaries and considering when oral feedback on work and marking in class might be as effective as marking books after school.
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 discarded will be picked up safely and disposed of.
other questions you may have
Is before and after school care available for all families?
Will there be clubs before or after school in the Spring term?
We are continuing to provide sports coaching for classes in school as part of the curriculum. All other clubs and enrichment will be online or suspended.
What if I need to speak to the teacher?
All physical meetings will be suspended during lockdown.
Parents and teachers will be making increased use of telephone conversations and video conferencing which are safer than face to face meetings. As per our communication policy we do not enter into long email communication as this is less effective in achieving swift and happy solutions than talking on the phone or meeting virtually.
Teachers will communicate through Google classroom to the class and individuals. Parents and carers can use their child’s log on to see this and any communication from teachers home. At primary age, it is reasonable that children share their online activity with their folks.
Please be mindful that when not live teaching teachers are recording lessons, planning learning and responding to children and their learning.
Please do not try to work out teachers' school email addresses and contact them directly. School policy requires emails to teachers to come via email@example.com, just as for other public sector services such as health and the police. Put FAO and the name of the teacher in the subject line and office staff will forward your email on. Teachers will respond to you in line with our policy.
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 have relaxed some aspects of the dress code while strengthening others in order to reduce risk to adults and children. From September children are expected to wear uniform every day - https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/uniform-appearance and dress appropriately for the weather including well ventilated (and hence colder) classrooms.
In school we expect full uniform every day, no exceptions. At home we recommend children wear uniform to help parents manage expectations of learning time and down time but this is of course families' choices. We do expect dress in live lessons to be appropriate.
What should my child bring to school?
Children attending school while their parents are out at work should bring their school books which need to be at home for home learning and in school when children are with us. They also need:
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. Children should carry their tissues in their pocket or up a sleeve.
A small, thin book bag for reading books and homework.
Weather appropriate outdoor wear: e.g. sun hat, showerproof jacket, warm coat, gloves, hat.
Some children with attachment difficulties or who have experienced trauma may want a little something to remind them of home. Anything coming into contact with surfaces at home or in school increases risk so a spray of your perfume or aftershave would be perfect as they can wear this safely. If their needs are significantly greater than their peers', children may bring in ONE SMALL item for comfort if this is essential for them to settle happily e.g. a small toy (must fit in pocket and not be shared or left lying about).
Some children may bring a packed lunch if not having one provided by Edsential.
Some older children (upper key stage 2) may want to use a face covering for part of their time in school (going to the toilet for example). This is at their parents' and carers' discretion and the child must show their teacher they can put it on, remove it safely and store it safely. Any face coverings must be taken home and changed daily.
THE FOLLOWING CAN BE BROUGHT IN AND KEPT IN THE CHILD'S TRAY IN SCHOOL
Hand cream or moisturiser (children will be washing their hands frequently).
A small bottle of their own hand sanitiser.
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.
Rucksacks or large bags - we just don't have the storage space for these to be stored without increasing risk to others.
Cuddly toys, books or games from home.
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.
Mobile phones - the risk from fomites is too high for these to be permitted in school. You can read more about phones at https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/e-safety.
What about lunches and food in school?
Edsential will be providing a hot lunch bag for all children who want one.
No snacks will be provided in school. This is to reduce mixing and also supports the National Obesity Strategy. Children in EYFS and Key Stage 1 (Reception - Year 2) will continue to receive free fruit from the government. For children in Key Stage 2 we have a healthy eating policy and so please stick to fruit (best of all), breadsticks or cereal bar (no nuts, sweets, crisps or chocolate). We allow crisps on a Friday only.
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.
What if I don’t want to send my child back in March?
[updated 22nd February]
From 8th March 2021 it is a legal requirement that children are in school or elective home education (this where a child does not have a place in a school). Please see https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/attendance-times-of-day for more information.