21st October 2020
Reminders for november, small acts of kindness, good news and a halloween offer!
Dear parents and carers,
We are selling delicious Kingsmead apple juice again this year and you can order online through school gateway (£3.50 a bottle or £10 for three). With no pesticides and with fruit picked from our school grounds and gardens in Kingsmead it couldn't have lower food miles or be fresher! We will be selling from the school gate oat a Halloween discount of £3 per bottle tomorrow and Friday after school. Cash only please.
I hope you have had an opportunity to look at the November document below which details new start times for after the break (back to as it was before lockdown with a relaxed opening time to reduce queues from 8.40am).
The weather is getting colder and we want to keep people comfortable as well as safe. This is why the uniform policy has been adapted. We are ventilating classrooms and staff will balance the need for ventilation with preventing rooms getting too cold over winter. I was on a meeting with Dr Matt Butler from Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge again today and he talked about not needing to freeze but to wear warm clothing (children don't need coats on in class) and on the colder days, opening windows for 5 minutes an hour as they're doing in Germany. He also said that the open doors onto larger spaces (corridors) also provide good air circulation. Vests and avoiding bare legs are, I have found, the best way of keeping comfortable at this time of year ;-)
Mrs McHugh has been liaising with Brio leisure for swimming lessons. With Sir John Deane's pool closing for the foreseeable future Mrs McH has been looking into alternatives; she has worked very hard to try and sort accessible lessons in a short time. Kingsmead runs alongside a river which is a joy but also a potential danger for our children. Swimming lessons could be the most important thing any child learns in school. With Brio being further than Sir John Deane's we won't be walking but will arrange for coaches to take the children to and from the leisure centre in town. To avoid asking parents for contributions for transport we will cover both the cost of pool hire AND transport from our school sport premium (a measure of how important we think learning to swim is). As part of their Covid risk assessment Brio require all children to come 'beach ready'. This means costumes should be worn under clothes on swimming days (girls can roll down the top to make using the toilet easier). There are no exceptions to this, it is a requirement from the pool. We do not have changing facilities in school and our own risk assessment requires us to minimise any changing in school. Thank you Mrs McH and Mrs Caine, Debbie's admin support for sport and PE for sorting this out for our children.
We may be working under restrictions and in unprecedented times but thinking of small acts of kindness to make the current situation better is good for all our mental health, children and adults alike. While we can't have a usual harvest celebration we can collect for the Mid-Cheshire Food Bank. Foodbanks up and down the country are really struggling right now, at a time when more people than ever before may be needing them. Please bring donations of non perishable food to the entrance hall. We will quarantine it over the holiday before arranging for it to go up to the food bank. Please do check best before dates before donating. When we think about teaching difficult subjects with children, from climate change to refugees to racism, giving children opportunity to act in small ways reduces their anxiety about challenging subjects and small acts of kindness will help them process and feel they can contribute in the current time.
Finally thank you all for brilliant attendance since coming back to school. We are not having the attendance league table this year (for obvious reasons). I am sure though you will be as impressed as I am by the figures in the first two months back. https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/attendance-times-of-day
Best regards and do take care, Ms S :-)
12th October 2020
updated risk assessment for after half term
We have been thinking about the long winter ahead and reflecting on safety measures put in place since fully opening in September. First and foremost I want to inform you are that none of the changes outlined below been put in place because we have assessed the risk as lower or are less concerned about infection rates. Data tells us infections are rising and we are geographically between areas subject to far greater restrictions on daily life, something we all want to avoid.
However, we have noticed some things that could be improved upon and make life easier for you in the morning. Queuing in the morning, exacerbated by the phase all coming in at one time is one. Speaking to colleague headteachers, many are returning to a phased opening time to reduce pressure at the gates and help out those with children in different year groups. Therefore, after the half term, from 3rd November, we are opening for all classes between 8:40-8:55 with teachers will be at the door to welcome children who can then have a more staggered hand wash which will ease things in class. We are asking adults to continue to respect the 2m markings around entrances and exits, to protect you and folk working in school. End of day times are changing with Key Stage 2 back to 3:15pm as before March with other phases a little earlier. Any permanent changes to times of day should go through governors and include a period of consultation with parents and it seems to be the right time, now we are settled into more of a routine, to return to the phased opening in the morning.
To make information more accessible, all the new things in the November document are marked in blue.
The one way system is working very well, ditto face coverings. The one way policy will remain in place for the foreseeable future and wearing face coverings for all adults other than people with a medical condition exempting them until we are given notice from public health that this is no longer necessary. Please respect this. This is even more important to say with poor weather increasing the temptation to bend the rules and nip out the quickest way. Please resist that temptation.
8th October 2020
three things to communicate this week
1 - SAFETY
Firstly, please can I gently remind you about children playing out unsupervised and ensuring that mixing is a minimum during the current time. There is a rule of six and while government guidance allows people to care for one another’s children so people can work, they have been clear that this isn’t for play dates. It has also been noticed, by the main gate to school, after school had finishing that there is some concerning cycling activity by young children attending Kingsmead. This is a cause for concern as lorries and pizza delivery people use the back entrance to shops and not are always as child-on-cycle-aware as they might be. Coupled with children on bikes who are not as car-and-lorry-aware as they should be is a recipe for a collision.
2 - PARENT CONSULTATIONS
We have been planning how parent consultations might take place this year. We want to avoid risks to yourselves and staff here by avoiding physical meetings and therefore will be arranging appointments by phone. This may be helpful for some families who can take a 10 minute call in work and, if successful, we will consider this as an option for you to choose in future. We are arranging class cover for one day for each class of thirty. This means with thirty ten-minute appointments is pretty much a full day’s work for the teacher. You can help us by having just one parent to be on the call or use speaker-phone who can feed back being as flexible as you can over times.
If a child’s parents are separated, we really appreciate those who make arrangements to keep to one appointment, either by being together or by communicating afterwards. We understand that for a very small minority this isn’t possible and will do our best to arrange separate appointments. Nevertheless, with some classes having ten children whose parents are separated, we really appreciate those who can keep to one appointment per family. Some families will already have received a call regarding children’s individual profiles (for SEN) or pupil premium. These calls should be taken as this term’s parent/carer appointment and if there is something else to discuss, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a call with the teacher, as usual.
It is not always easy to understand exactly what other people do in their jobs. What I do know: as a headteacher here, associate adviser for the Local Authority and trustee for a local Multi Academy Trust, is that teachers and school staff, including office staff who organise appointments and are most families’ first contact with school, are under great pressure and working incredibly hard. Fatigue and anxiety are unusually high for the time of year and we know we are no different from the rest of society in that. The best thing I can do for all your children is to have a cared for and respected workforce who have the stamina and capacity to sustain a high quality adapted education for the children we serve. This is the priority for governors and school leaders and we are hopeful and confident of your understanding, not least with parent/carer meetings coming up.
3 - APPLICATIONS FOR RECEPTION AND YEAR 7 September 2021
I have updated the school calendar https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/communication-letters-home/diary-dates with deadlines for applications for Reception and Year 7 High School places in September 2021. Thank you to the U+K mum who reminded me about this!
After the dates below, any late applications will still be taken but these places are allocated after other places have been filled. This will reduce the likelihood of families getting their preference of school.
The CWAC application procedure is online and you can access the information booklets and find out how to apply via the link below:
31st October is the deadline for High School places.
15th January is the deadline for Reception place applications. We are not able to offer physical tours of the building as we are minimising people mixing. However a virtual tour will be available shortly.
Kind regards, Catriona Stewart [headteacher]
6th October 2020
something to sing about!
The loss of singing from school has been one of the real sadness’ for me personally about where we find ourselves right now. Singing is so much a part of life at Kingsmead and of human culture. Therefore I was particularly delighted to receive this email from Alex Harper at Edsential about a virtual choir he is launching. Edsential is a public interest company which means its profits are put back into the community but it is a business. This is why there is a charge for the choir. However, singing such an important part of children’s lives, we want this opportunity to be truly accessible for all. Therefore, while the singing in school is off limits, we are inviting any family experiencing financial hardship whose child would like to join the Zoom choir, to make an application for a bursary. We will be able to help with some or all of the cost. Please be assured all bursaries are treated as confidential.
You can find out more in our policy for charging and letting and an application form at https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/policies-procedures
The form may be emailed back or printed and sent in. If you need one printing and sending in, please let me or the office know.
Catriona Stewart :-)
1st October 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I have had a range of emails following my sending out the letter from the local Director of Public Health. Most have been supportive but not 100% and I accept this is the nature of schools. From coronavirus to uniform to homework, not everyone agrees and this is absolutely fine, understood, respected and accepted. Sometimes though we do need to comply, despite personal feelings. For children and adults compliance with regulations we don’t like or which irritate us is part of being a human being in a community.
The wearing of face coverings on the grounds is our expectation for all other than those, in our parent, carer and staff community who have a genuine medical reason why they cannot. We respect that a minority just can’t wear one and hope they all feel safer and more at ease as the rest of us are. Medical consensus across the world is overwhelming that face coverings provide a limited benefit to the wearer but offer more protection to those we come close to.
I would like to share below part of an email I have received from a parent, one of quite a few since we returned. This is to show that it really isn’t about school leaders nagging or controlling but us wanting to be prosocial and understanding that without the support of children and folk at home, we cannot keep school as safe as it might be.
I am deeply concerned about a group of parents picking up children at home time. None of which have been wearing masks or even attempting to socially distance themselves. There are also numbers of children with them, who tonight were, in my eyes creating unnecessary risk to others at the School.
Covid is a risk to all of us. If rules are being ignored by groups then I feel that the safeguarding of my children is impaired. The School has done an outstanding amount of work to ensure that the learners are safe and that their education has been affected as little as possible. I hope that the guidance issued on the 24 September will be applied to all parties, ensuring that we are all safer and as uncompromised as possible.
The literature you sent the other day clearly states
All adults to wear a face covering when visiting or entering the school premises including outdoor yard areas.
I understand that certain people will be exempt from wearing a mask but I am not aware about any exemptions for anyone in our society other than those with medical issues.
I would like to thank the School for their efforts during lockdown and hope that this is an issue that can be addressed to improve safety of all parties.
I found on the London Underground where I was surprised to see people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds ignoring the Transport for London rules on masks, people not following guidance are as varied as the rest of the population who we have seen and heard about in the news. This is not about us than them – there are no ‘them’ there really is only ‘us’. We 100% respect that some can’t wear masks and are pleased you will be safer when on site with us. We also respect and accept that some of you sometimes just forget to bring one and have made best efforts with improvised jumpers and scarves or just let us know. I accept that some of you disagree with national, local and our school guidance and respect particularly those of you who comply with it anyway. However, speaking to a parent earlier in the week, who is fully supportive of our policy, was disappointed to hear that it has been suggested to just say they had a medical condition so they don’t have to bother if they don’t want to wear one. That attitude to a global pandemic is neither respectable or acceptable.
I, along with staff, governors and leaders are so very appreciative of the overwhelming support we continue to receive from parents and carers; I am awestruck at how overnight you will turn up supporting another of the many changes we have had to implement. As headteacher in what are very difficult circumstances, the time responding to emails about what is a reasonable and proportionate policy is extraordinarily time consuming and takes me away from my core purpose and passion: ensuring the best possible education for your children and their wellbeing. This is what I need to be focussing on. Therefore, I am not inviting any responses to this email, just hoping for your understanding and that this might be the final discussion of the subject!
I do wish each and every one of you a good weekend.
1st October 2020
Positive case of COVID
Dear Parents and Carers, Teaching and Support staff,
Today we have been informed that a child has tested positive for coronavirus. First and foremost, we wish them a safe and speedy recovery. As with other families, the family was isolating due to a family member having symptoms and that family member testing positive. We also wish them the very best for a speedy recovery.
We have followed our own risk assessment and the DfE guidance which included me telephoning the Department of Education coronavirus helpline. As I had read, they informed me that the critical infectious period is the two days prior to a positive test.
As the child did not have symptoms when they began their isolation there is no need for us to send any class home.
Also, given the family isolating due to another family member, it is reasonable to assume that the virus was not contracted through being in school. I would like to reassure you at this anxious time that we absolutely no evidence or information to suggest that children are at any greater risk today or because of this incidence and hope this is helpful.
When people are unwell it is bad enough, the relief in the parents’ voice when I informed them I was writing this communication to tell you why we are not closing a class group was audible. I am sure we all understand that it is just bad luck if we catch this virus and it would be nobody’s fault if we did have to close a class or indeed if anyone catches it from someone else. Like colds, this virus spreads without anyone intending to pass them on.
I had been hopeful but not optimistic that we might avoid a positive case in school. We have been fortunate that in this case, our first one, we do not have to close any classes as the child had already been isolating for some time. We wish them well. The best outcome will be that our extensive work planning for class, phase or group closing will have turn out to be a complete waste of time. However, the nature of risk assessing for Covid is that we must plan for a class having to self-isolate for up to 14 days. This is why things are different right now: classes cannot mix as they used to, we don’t sing in large groups in the building, only Ladybirds eat in the hall and we have changed uniform policy because it’s a bit colder in classes. We want to ensure that in the event of a class having to close we have done we can to make it just one class.
Children’s education is best served with them being in school; remote learning is far from an equal alternative to them learning school and is a best we can do in unavoidable circumstances. We also have some responsibility for parents who need to work, doing all we can to minimise any additional risks from class groups mixing.
I had intended to write to you today about the updated risk assessment in regard to the colder weather and which was shared with staff last night. We must balance health risks from the virus with it just being too cold. The risk assessment states that classrooms should be well ventilated and adults in the class must balance this with safe temperatures. Therefore doors and some windows will be closed on colder days. We have asked that staff remain mindful of avoiding rooms becoming stuffy and indoor doors will remain open. I hope this reassures people but would also caution that rooms will not be overheated by any stretch of the imagination and a warm vest, tights, leggings and skins will still be beneficial as in our updated policy which you can find at https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/appearance-uniform.
School governors have been informed. Please note that as no class needs to close we are not providing any further information to parents or carers of children in a particular class or year group.
28th September 2020
new information for colder weather
An October risk assessment for families updates you with information on face coverings (page 10) and uniform and wearing warm clothes while we keep the school well ventilated in colder weather. You can read the full risk assessment, reviewed regularly in line with national and local health and school advice and hope this shorter document will be helpful for families in understanding the most important things for you at home to help us in school keep risk to an acceptable level.
Ms S :-)
23rd September 2020
RISE IN INFECTIONS AND NEW MEASURES IN SCHOOL
Please read the attached letter from the Director of Public Health. This means that from Monday we will be expecting adults on site, including in the grounds, to wear a face covering when they are not in the classroom or usual area of work. It also means that we will be asking that only one adult per family comes onto the grounds, that you keep your children with you and under your supervision before and after school.
While Mr Ashworth states quite correctly that Cheshire West and Chester is not subject to further lockdown restrictions yet and the measures he has put in can't be mandatory, I am sure that we all want to avoid the disruption of the more stringent measures in place elsewhere in the North West including Warrington, Halton and Stockport.
If you have a medical reason why you cannot wear a face covering you will of course be exempt. However we can all rest assured that we will all be will be safer on the school grounds as the majority of us will be wearing masks and so offering additional protection to everyone.
23rd September 2020
UPDATED DOCUMENT - being pro-social
We have updated the document on page 4 setting out parents' and carers' responsibilities. The R rate for infections is currently closer to 2 than to 1 which risks an exponential rise in infection putting us all, especially adults of a certain age and with health conditions at higher risk. The Prime Minister, in his address last night, spoke of the potential risk to children's education should a rise lead to further school closures, one thing we are all agreed on (government, families and schools) is that children and families need schools open. However, to keep risks to an acceptable level our risk assessment is not sufficient. We need the cooperation of every family if we are to keep children and staff safe enough while in school.
Thank you to people choosing to wear face coverings while in the school grounds; this protects others and so the more people wearing them the safer we all are. This is even more important with adults are waiting with children to go into class and I strongly encourage you to you use them if standing and waiting in a group of people. Outside is lower risk but the risk is only at its lowest while we are on the move and not interacting with one another. Dr Matt Butler has taken to keeping his on outside as he says the rigmarole of washing hands and storing makes this easier and safer than taking it on and off.
Please remember and respect the 2m rule when interacting with adults, including teaching staff in the morning and afternoons. Staff will instruct you to maintain distance, just as staff in shops do. Teaching staff take on additional risk being indoors with their class and without face coverings. Although risk is lower with children, adult-adult risk is important to remember. As well as limiting staff mixing in school, we must minimise interaction between staff and adults on the school grounds. If something is really important you should use google classroom or an email, if needed asking for a phone call.
Do supervise your children more than you would in non-COVID times, before and after school. Please ensure they are not mixing with children from other classes. They should remain with you and their class group until their teacher collects them; the oldest children are independent in this but younger ones need closer supervision from their parents and carers. Please do take additional care of your children when walking through the car park; they should be with you at all times and not running about on the grass and up and down between staff cars. The additional work, planning and expense of additional staffing at lunch to keep classes apart will not be effective if children are mixing at the end of the day or in the morning. I encourage you to consider children playing out and the use of local parks after school, being mindful of the very high infection rates in the North West.
I apologise that this is a bit of a 'don't do that' 'do this' email but it is written with good intent. We want to keep school operating safely enough and ensure that everyone in our school community: you, your children and our staff can be as safe as we can together possibly make them during the current time.
Kind regards, Ms Stewart
17th September 2020
UPDATE ON COVID SYMPTOMS - by email
Dear Parents, Carers, School Staff and Governors,
Thank you for being so useful and kind, working in partnership with us to make our return to school as successful and happy as possible for us all.
Managing risk is not about removing all risk (that would be impossible) or one single factor but is a process of assessing and balancing all risks. At the moment there is a risk of COVID-19 first and foremost. However, alongside this are other things to think about: the risk to learning and education of time out of school, to children’s risk of social isolation, the risk for parents unable to work because children are at home. While COVID-19 must take priority, it is not the only thing we have to think about and although we are expecting sickness absence to go up and for some children with symptomatic family members to be self-isolating, we still want attendance in school to be as high as it can safely be.
You will know from the news that tests have been increasingly hard to come by and advice has changed from ‘if in doubt get a test’ to only asking for a test if you have one of three symptoms. While there are reports in the media about symptoms in children (abdominal pain and diarrhoea) the guidance from the NHS is clear. Only request a test if you or your child has one of the following symptoms:
1. 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.
2. 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) Therefore, for example, children with an asthma related cough that is no worse than usual can be in school and we will not be sending home children who have a cough once or twice. Anyone hearing Mrs Rutter-Brown’s assemblies will know that not every cough requires you to go home as it is not new or continuous!
3. 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 less common in children, fewer of whom report a loss of taste or smell). Children report this far less.
Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.
This and more information is on https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/communication-letters-home/covid-faqs-september-2020 which is updated regularly. I look forward to the first week where it remains unchanged ;-)
8th September 2020
starmaker, RoBlox / Roadblox? AND TIK-TOK - information about online appS and grooming
Dear parents and carers,
It has come to my attention that there is an APP called StarMaker. The App appears innocuous and about dancing and singing. I have used the NSPCC netaware (also available on our e-safety page - https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/e-safety) and there is no information available about this APP. Please do not assume it is safe for children.
I am aware that the police have been involved in an investigation of child sexual exploitation involving this APP. It is possible for people unknown to you or your child to contact them and groom them. Grooming online is no respecter of children’s background or educational attainment and any child may be vulnerable.
I hope this information is helpful in keeping all your children safe.
After this message went out on email, some parents contacted me with other very worrying things on other Apps like Tik-Tok. As Tik-Tok is a platform for young people over the age of 16, I don't want to send mixed messages by offering any advice other than primary age children are far too young to be on it and there are no circumstances when 11 year olds or younger being on it is OK.
8th September 2020
Clarification of who needs to isolate
Dear parents, carers, staff and governors,
I do apologise for yet another email about COVID. However there are lots of scenarios and only today I read the opposite advice in two places. So thanks to CWAC HR I now have definitive answers on some scenarios.
If someone in your household has symptoms and is waiting for a test the household must self isolate for 14 days. This means siblings cannot be in school.
The individual with symptoms must isolate for ten days or as long as symptoms last (whichever is longer, and a retest would probably be advised).
CWAC HR are going to get to me with latest public health advice on other conditions (e.g. hayfever and colds). I will let you know as soon as we know but for now it’s as I communicated yesterday until you hear otherwise.
Therefore if you have kept a child off school with a couch – thank you, this is very much appreciated. Please also ensure siblings self-isolate for 14 days.
7th September 2020
importance of co-operation
Please note the earlier drop off time for younger children is only for children with older siblings.
We are not doing this to be awkward; the only reason is to limit numbers of adults on site, reduce risk of children and adults mixing to keep everyone safe. Please do not bring your child to school before 8:45am if you do not have another child in school in Key Stage 2.
To stagger starts and fulfil the requirements of our risk assessment we rely on your cooperation; today in Key Stage 1 only four families in one class came at the correct time and many without older siblings arrived early. There are also still a small number of families with two adults bringing the children in; we know it’s a nice start to the day to walk in together but if only one adult comes on site it will reduce the numbers and help us and your fellow families. We really are trying our best to do all we can to plan and communicate in extraordinary times but without your cooperation and consideration we cannot fulfil the requirements of our risk assessment. We all have a part to play in reducing the risk of local lockdowns. Dozens of schools are reporting outbreaks including in Liverpool and Manchester and we should be in no doubt, this virus is far from over.
Thank you to those parents who called in with their child unwell today; as we all acclimatise some of you will err on the side of caution. COVID is extremely contagious and I am sure we will have fewer absences and illness if people are cautious rather than risking sending a child with the virus to school. If your child has a symptom of coronavirus: temperature, persistent cough, loss of taste or smell; they should be kept off and you should arrange a test. Vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains are also recognised as being common symptoms of COVID-19 in children and as a consequence should trigger COVID tests (UK research reported at the weekend on the BBC).
However, children with sniffles and a runny nose can be in and should be taught by you folk at home how to blow their nose into a tissue and throw it away safely. I have updated the FAQs.
As you know, we are hot on attendance and we want the children in as much as you do. The more we cooperate the sooner the situation will improve.
Thank you for your cooperation. Ms S :-)
2nd September 2020
Updated GUidance on face coverings and start times for siblings
Thank you to the parents and carers for sharing their polite, useful and kind feedback about staggered starts and congestion on the playground in the mornings. To help families, from Monday 7th September, teachers in EYFS and Key Stage 1 will open classroom doors for the children with older siblings from 8.35, reducing waiting times for families. Please respect the times and be responsible - if your child doesn't have an older sibling you should arrive for the slightly later time to keep numbers on the grounds to a minimum.
Please find on the back page (11) the guidance promised on use of face coverings. Please also note on Page 5, Parents' and Carers' Responsibilities we request only one adult per household on the grounds for drop-off or pick up. This is to keep numbers as low as we can.
Please respect the 2m markings at classroom doors, there to protect all the adults who work and visit school who are at greater risk of spreading covid and becoming unwell with it.
2nd September 2020
first day back
Firstly, I forgot to mention in the email sent earlier today about bags and clothes. Children should only bring a small reading book bag, a lunchbox or bag and a warm enough coat that keeps them dry. It looks like Summer is definitely over and a number didn't have coats today which made their lunchtime less comfortable.
And here's the email for anyone who didn't read it earlier!
A very warm welcome back to our first day since March with all the children back in school.
We have made plans but until they are in action it is difficult to be 100% certain how they will work. everyone back but even with staggered start times and each class using a different entrance and egress it was clear that a lot of people were all on site together.
To help, we are going to open the gates at 8:25am. This will give people five minutes grace to get to the classroom doors.
Teachers will admit children promptly for handwashing in class.
Older children (in year 5 and 6 who come into school unaccompanied) have all been reminded that they go and line up at their own entrance, and do not mix across classes.
I know just a few families have expressed concern about lack of email communication. We mostly use the website to communicate. Emails can just as easily be not read and lost and we always find a number bouncing back. To help we do make sure that every update and all new information is signposted and linked to on the website home page www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk. This reduces people missing information and having to search different pages. Please read the News regularly and the FAQs which I updated this morning and yesterday.
All news home (and this email too) are in https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/communication-letters-home/news-home
FAQs about COVID are in https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/communication-letters-home/covid-faqs-september-2020
Please note that some information has a little down arrow like a V – click to read more.
It is important more than ever that you read communication from school.
Please ensure you have read the September 2020 document on https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/communication-letters-home/news-home.
We are not opening earlier than 8:25 as we do not want encourage people standing about on the playground. It is really important that you all respect the social distancing rules for adults and aim to keep 2m apart if possible and if not 1m apart. Avoid conversations with people other than your family (a hello and smile is far lower risk than a longer chat). I know the drop off has been a much missed part of socialising and meeting up with other folk. However, Covid-19 is still with us. We know young people (which includes a lot of you) are less likely to become unwell with Covid-19, but some do. We also have some older parents (risk increases over the age of 40), pregnant women and grandparents who bring and collect children and should be mindful and respectful that they are living through these times in different circumstances.
I am providing some updated information on face coverings which will be on the website today with a link from the home page so everyone can find it and read it. Please consider, if you’re an adult coming on the playground and 2m distancing can’t be maintained, using a face covering. This could protect you as well as other people.
We have to operate on a principle of mutual trust and respect. We cannot keep everyone safe enough alongside providing education for all our children without your cooperation and support. We must all rely on people taking their responsibilities seriously.
We must trust that no parent or carer knowingly sends a child who is unwell to school. You must trust that we will isolate any child showing symptoms and arrange for them to be collected urgently.
We must trust that on returning from abroad or having been contacted by track and trace that you self-isolate at home with your children. You must trust that the same will go for staff in school who may have to work from home and we will need to employ a supply teacher.
We won’t get everything right all the time. Like last year, this school year will be like no other. We will reflect, listen and stay informed in these uncertain times; we will follow the advice and guidance of professionals who know more about public health than we do. We respectfully ask that you do the same. There is one thing I am certain of. If we all cooperate, if we all stay informed and take personal responsibility, we will be back to normal a lot quicker and more happily.
Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow.
31st August 2020
30th August 2020
get ready for wednesday
Mrs Rutter-Brown and I are really looking forward to seeing children, families and all our staff in just a few days and welcoming you all back to school. There has been a lot to get our heads around, not least with the latest guidance coming out so late on Friday; this is something we have become very used to. I'm sure you understand this has not been helpful to any of us but at least it was expected!
The most important thing for Wednesday is that children come in with optimism and look forward to reconnecting with classmates and seeing their teachers. If parents' and carers' are prepared and confident, children will pick up on this and be prepared and confident too. A few new habits will be important in keeping school safe enough for all the children to be back.
There must very different standards around children feeling unwell. If children have coughs or colds, headaches or temperatures or upset stomachs (vomiting or diarrhoea) they must not be in school. If a child has COVID symptoms they must be at home and a test arranged. Only if the test is negative AND all symptoms have gone, can the child return to school. We will need to isolate children saying they are unwell and families will be expected to collect them without delay. We also reserve the right to not admit an unwell child in the morning. This is why we will no longer be administering over the counter mediation like Calpol and the only medicines we will administer in school will be for known conditions for children on a health plan or agreement with health professionals.
Water bottles and other things left lying around will be disposed of safely. We are confident that children will benefit from the expectation that they can and will be responsible for their own things.
Please supervise your child washing their hands thoroughly before coming into school - if you are making sure they do it long and well enough, they will develop the habit, if not, their hand washing is unlikely to be effective in keeping us all safe enough.
We will sanitise hands again once children arrive. With all children back and their capacity for distancing from one another limited, hand-washing and other hygiene measures will be our front line attack on the virus spreading in or out of school.
Please look at the uniform information so you are sure of what children can and can't wear to school. The expectation is full uniform every day. Guidance from the DfE (Department of Education) doesn't state it must be washed daily but we would advise that regular washing and changing once children get home, will reduce risk of the virus spreading. We have added leggings and joggers to the approved uniform but note these MUST be unbranded. If children are wearing labelled clothes to school they will lose the rights to the flexible uniform that we have introduced.
All hair that is long enough must be properly tied back in a pony tail, plait or bun. Long hair, in contact with faces, increases risk to cleaning staff and no child will be allowed in school with loose hair.
Mobile phones with children are an absolute no. If you want to understand why please see the coronavirus information at the top of our e-safety page: https://www.kingsmead.cheshire.sch.uk/information/e-safety.
We know indoor environments are less safe than outdoors and ventilation is key to keeping us safe enough. Classroom doors will be open to reduce contamination of frequently touched surfaces and we will be opening windows in classrooms more than ever and throughout the winter. This means we all need to dress for colder indoor temperatures. As the Indian Summer we might have hoped for doesn't seem to be happening, you might want to think about this earlier, before children come home complaining of being cold. A warm vest, tights, long socks and warm trousers or joggers will mean we can all be in airy classrooms while being comfortable enough to learn and achieve.
If you haven't yet read the September plans we urge you to do so before Wednesday, and share with your children too. Things will be different and we don't respect what we don't understand. By providing a shortened, more accessible version of the risk assessment we hope everyone can understand and support what we are doing, whatever people's personal views and opinions. In particular the one-way system for people collecting children from school must be observed by everyone.
Children may still want to cycle and scoot to school. Upper Key Stage 2 must use the cycle racks outside the staff room. Lower KS2 may use the cycle racks in the playground and the person collecting them will need to pick it up on their way in as the one way system means children can't go back for them at the end of the day. Children in EYFS and Key Stage 1 may use the cycle racks on the roundabout. All are left at families' own risk. Please do not allow your children to cycle or scoot within the school grounds; this will keep us all safer.
On the matter of bringing and collecting children, you are welcome to send in grandparents, friends etc. to help out. We are keeping adults at least 2m from children at the door to school so don't see it necessary to request the same person collecting daily. However, please minimise numbers on site by ensuring only one adult from each household brings children through the gates.
Toddlers often accompany older siblings to school and it's lovely to see them. During the pandemic, they must not use any of the climbing or other equipment and must remain with their parent or carer at all times. This is to avoid compromising the play areas which are designated to particular class groups of children.
This is new for us all, we haven't all been under one roof since March 20th and the pandemic is not over yet. We won't have everything we will need in the risk assessment and September plans and some of what we have planned for may not be needed at all. We will keep all planning and provision under review and keep you updated via this page so do check in regularly. I am not envisioning that we can breathe anything like a sigh of relief until Easter at the earliest so these plans are not just a short term measure for a few weeks but something to sustain us and help us maintain a good quality education and safe enough schools for the immediate and medium term future. Their success depends on us all; we must communicate honestly and clearly and ensure that our children and families know what is expected and why. But communication goes two ways: for what we write to be effective in keeping us safe, there must be readers at the other end of it!
Happy Sunday, Ms Stewart :-)
18th August 2020
A Cheshire West and Chester council communication has asked schools and families to be mindful of the impact of COVID on the roads this September. With public transport having limited capacity more cars are anticipated on the roads, especially once schools reopen. This will increase pollution and congestion and therefore for everyone's health, safety and wellbeing we urge every family who lives within a reasonable walking distance to school to walk, cycle or scoot. Families living too far and have no alternative to the car are reminded that the Regency Square car park is where they should park (there will be no fines at school opening and closing times). Please avoid Dukes Way, Monarch Drive and the access road to the back of the shops. Parking away from these areas reduces the risk from collision and pollution to children (and their parents or carers) walking to school and is more useful and kind to our neighbours living close to school.
Looking forward to seeing you all in a fortnight!
Ms S :-)
17th July 2020
Over and Out for a bit and a First Draft of September Plans
With all our good wishes for the summer; we got there in the end. Please see the initial draft of the recovery plan/risk assessment for families. This is a very much edited version of the full School Development and Recovery Plan and the Risk Assessments for September. We hope it be helpful; it will be revised through the holiday as further guidance and information becomes available and we will ensure that the most recent version is always available here, on the website.
Ms S :-)
6th July 2020
Important information for being safe enough - now and in September
Dear Parents and Carers,
I am writing this as we get into the nitty gritty of preparing for September. There will be two – a risk assessment for health and safety and a recovery plan for curriculum, teaching and learning. These are a few things that we really need you to support. We are confident we can minimize the risk of coronavirus and absence caused by this and other illnesses, but we cannot do this without your support and cooperation.
HYGEINE – Every child should have washed their hands really thoroughly before making the journey to school and we will look at what is reasonable and practical on entry: handwashing or hand sanitizer with 30 in a class. However, it would be a good rule of thumb, for those old enough to manage it, for children to bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer for their own use in addition to that we are providing in school.
CATCH IT, KILL IT, BIN IT – all children should bring tissues to school and should be taught to cough or sneeze into a tissue which they then put in the bin and wash their hands. This is really important learning for them all and we would appreciate them all being taught how to blow their nose, cough or sneeze into a tissue. Please get into this habit over Summer so that all are used to carrying tissues in their pockets come September.
ATTENDANCE – The guidance states that the government want all children back in September and we support this. Risks can’t be eliminated and must be balanced. As the situation improves, we must balance the small risk of infection with other risks: children’s mental health and their education. Therefore usual expectations of attendance will resume from the start of the new term. We would ask you to be mindful of this if booking a last minute holiday to a country where quarantine rules apply. From September, the government are withdrawing freedom for parents to decide and school attendance is again a legal requirement for all children unless they are unwell.
SICKNESS – We are expecting a little more sickness absence while Coronavirus is with us. If unwell children must remain at home. We cannot accept children in school with symptoms of coronavirus: a sore throat, cough or lack of taste or smell and will no longer be able to administer over the counter medication or providing Calpol to manage symptomatic children in school. Children presenting as unwell in school will be isolated and their class will have to move outside while a thorough clean takes place, the isolation room (our medical room) will also then require a thorough clean before it can be used by anyone else. If children have symptoms and you are keeping them off school or if they present in school with symptoms and are sent home, we ask that you arrange for a test. If the test is negative they can return to school, if positive they must isolate for seven days after the onset of symptoms when they can return to school if they no longer show any symptoms of being unwell.
UNIFORM – Guidance has changed and it is now recommended that clothes don’t need washing more frequently and schools should return to previous uniform policy. One thing we will keep from the relaxation is allowing children to wear leggings as these are comfortable and practical and popular! They must be unbranded – no sports or designer logos and we will be expecting this; if children and families choose to ignore their responsibility in terms of dress code, we may remove their right to wear to leggings. One thing we will be keeping from enhanced measures is that all children’s hair must be tied back if it is long enough. This is not negotiable as we have a responsibility for the health and safety of cleaning staff and other children; contact with hair increases risk to others and hair tied back reduces the risk of contact with hair. Simple!
ACCIDENTS – Staff will use PPE for first aid as this requires closer contact with children. We do not expect staff to clean up accidents where children have wet themselves and therefore parents may want to send any of the youngest children who still have accidents in pull ups. This is not something we would usually advocate but it seems to be a reasonable compromise to avoid children missing school and reduce the risk of infection. We know COVID is present in and infected person’s urine (and many children don’t have any symptoms) but we don’t know yet whether the particles in urine can be passed on. Until we know it is wise to err on the side of caution to protect other people from unnecessary risk.
I hope this is helpful. Before we start back I will make sure that a new risk assessment to replace June 2020 (which will be called, guess what, September 2020!) will be available on the website.
Kind regards and thanks for reading,