First things first. I have had a fantastic letter from Rory telling me all about his lockdown. Well, Rory, here’s my response:
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to tell me all about your time in lockdown.
It seems, Rory, that we have much in common. You enjoy riding bikes – and so do I! Sometimes, I like to ride on my special indoor bike trainer, and early in the morning, so I have to sneak about and try not to wake anyone else up! I usually find the time to ride outside at the weekend. I am also thrilled to hear that you have been playing out in your garden. You are lucky to have one and I am glad you are making the most of the sunshine!
I am a bit of Stars War fan, too. I have recently been watching the newest Star Wars movies but when I was about your age I used to watch the original movies over-and-over – much to the annoyance of my older brother! It’s also lovely to hear that you have made the most of the extra time you have to be with your Daddy – and I’m sure the rest of your family. I have enjoyed spending extra time with my family, too.
I am glad to hear you have been practising your phonics. Although, that’s where the similarity ends. See, when I used to teach in classes, I spent most of my time teaching Year 6 children and I never got to practise my phonics! I’m sure you could now teach me a thing or two about your sounds. Hopefully, we can do that soon.
Keep well and stay safe,
I have also seen that Mariella has been very busy researching all about her Grandad in the war. A very important topic to learn about, especially as we celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day last Friday.
In the photo, you can see some of the things she found and she was very proud of her hair styled in victory rolls as part of her research. Mariella has enjoyed finding out about her family history during WW2.
Well done Mariella!
On that note, well done to all the parents and carers who were able to join the PTA quiz that was held in conjunction with VE Day. Thank you for your contributions – and special well done to the winners: the Warner family!
Information about Rownhams School re-opening (1st June at the earliest)
We are in the process of drawing plans together for the proposed phased re-opening of our school on the 1st June, at the earliest. Whilst, I am sure you will have many, many questions about how this will affect your children, unfortunately, I do not have all of the answers at this point. Our aim is to ensure that our plans are thorough and provide the safest possible return strategy for your children. We intend to share our finalised plans with you next week.
In the following section, I will seek to answer many of the possible questions using the latest government guidelines and then relate this to how it is likely to look at Rownhams. If at any point you still have questions then please contact the school, directly, using our usual means of communication. You can find the full and detailed government guidance (for schools and for parents and carers) on the links below:
What measures will we have in place to reduce the risk of transmission?
Listed below are some of the measures that we are planning to have in place should schools re-open on 1st June. This is not exhaustive or conclusive list, as further planning is required:
How will the school ensure social distancing is maintained?
- The government accepts that early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 meters apart from each other and staff. However, it is still important to reduce contact between people as much as possible, and we can achieve that and reduce transmission risk by ensuring children, young people and staff where possible, only mix in a small, consistent group and that small group stays away from other people and groups.
So, how will the children and the school day be organised?
- We will have reduced class sizes with a maximum of 15 children per group. This means that children may not have their usual teacher and we cannot always guarantee they will be with their close friends – but we will do our best based on what we know.
- We will be using all of the classrooms across the school to ensure groups have increased space between children and adults. Some of our Year 1 children are likely to be placed in our current Year 3/4 classes.
- Each group will be have little or no contact with other class groups (although, for example, passing in corridors is considered ‘low-risk’). This includes the adults, who as much as possible, will work with their group only.
- Break and lunchtimes will be staggered to minimise the possibility of groups mixing. Lunch will most likely take place in their designated classroom.
- In line with other local schools, we will consider the possibility of closing early on one day per week to remove the need for additional teachers to cover teachers ‘Planning, Preparation and Assessment’ time (PPA), and therefore reduce the number of adults that come into contact with children and reduce risk of transmission of the virus. This will also enable ‘deep-cleaning’ of classrooms. This may need to be different for key worker children based on the needs of those families.
- Some groups may be led by a Learning Support Assistant where we have insufficient numbers of teachers available.
What will the start and end of the day look like for drop-off and collection times?
- We will introduce staggered drop-off and collection times (by 15 minutes). Where possible we will align siblings to the same times. An example of this, could be 8.30am, 8.45am and 9.00am (and similar at the end of the day).
- There will be specific drop-off and collection zones for class groups / year groups. These will be clearly marked and you will receive aerial views in advance of the school start date.
- We also ask families to adhere to strict rules to prevent early arrival on-site to minimise parental contact with other groups. For example, we would expect no families to arrive more than 5 minutes before start-time.
- There will be controlled school entrance and exit plans, where possible, for example, specified gates for you to enter and leave when dropping and collecting children. This might mean you will have to walk a little further.
How will we control the spread of the virus within the school day?
- We will be implementing rigorous health and hygiene routines, for example, ensuring regular hand-washing at key points during the day, including, on arrival or after a sneeze or cough, before eating etc. Staff will have ready access to the hygiene and cleaning materials they need, including hand sanitizers and access to sinks to wash hands. Use of toilets will be managed to avoid rushes of children at any one time.
- We will be cleaning all toys and equipment after every use with appropriate cleaning materials. All soft furnishings and toys that are difficult to clean will be removed from the classrooms.
- Our large outdoor play equipment will not be in use nor will PE apparatus in the hall. We will not be able to send home reading books.
- As much as possible, children will have access to their own resources to reduce sharing. Children will have their own stationary and where equipment is shared it will be kept within their group and cleaned between uses.
- According to the government – PPE – wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended. The Government guidelines has this to say on PPE:
Is it compulsory for my child to attend school?
- [From the DfE] “We strongly encourage children and young people in the eligible year groups and priority groups (such as children of critical workers) to attend, as requested by their school or college, unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as shielding due to health conditions).”
You should notify our office team as normal if your child is unable to attend so that staff are aware and can discuss with you. Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.
We are asking parents to complete a survey to help us plan effectively. All children in eligible year groups have every right to attend school, regardless of the survey. You do not need to be invited. The purpose of the survey is to make our provision as effective as can be. Please complete the survey by Monday at midday (as per our recent ParentMail). The more information we have the safer we can make our school.
What if my child is eligible but has siblings who are not?
- [From the DfE] “We are asking that only these year groups return to childcare providers, schools and colleges from 1 June. This does not include siblings in different year groups unless those siblings are in a priority group, for example, the children of critical workers.”
What if a child or member of your household shows symptoms of Covid-19?
- No-one with symptoms should attend school and should follow government guidelines, in terms of isolation periods. If your child is due to attend school, you should let us know in the usual way of reporting absence. We will resume normal register procedures.
- If a member of your household presents with symptoms, then, once again, follow government guidance and stay home.
- If a child does present with symptoms during the school day he or she will be moved to a room away from others and await pick-up from a parent or carer. In this instance, staff will be required to wear PPE.
What if my child is shielded or clinically vulnerable?
- [From the DfE] “For the vast majority of children and young people, coronavirus is a mild illness. Children and young people (0 to 18 years of age) who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions have been advised to shield. We do not expect these children to be attending school or college, and they should continue to be supported at home as much as possible. Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A small minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.”
What if someone in my house is in the ‘critically extremely vulnerable’ having had a letter about this?
- Unfortunately, we are unable to have children in school if they live with someone who is considered ‘critically extremely vulnerable’ (i.e. will have received a letter from the government) as we cannot guarantee social distancing at all times. These children will be supported as much as possible to continue learning at home.
What if my child lives with a ‘critically vulnerable’ person, such as, someone over the age of 70 or someone who is pregnant woman?
- If a child, young person or a member of staff lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting.
Will we be continuing to provide support for children of key workers?
- We will continue to provide support for our key worker children in the same way we do now (with the exception of Breakfast Club – see below). A survey will be sent out via ParentMail so that we can revise numbers of key worker attendance and the provision that we will provide.
- School will be closed to all children, including key workers, during the half term in order for the school to make preparations for the re-opening of 1st June. An additional letter with information on this has been sent out earlier today via ParentMail.
- We will cease to offer breakfast club to minimise cross-contamination of class groups – as per government guidelines.
What about home learning for the children not attending? Will this continue?
- Home-learning for those children not on site we will be reduced as most (if not all) teachers will be on-site. We will do our best to maintain some provision but we will be directing parents to resources, such as, BBC Bitesize and the Oak National Academy that provide excellent resources to support learning at home.
Will the school still provide Free School Meals? Will the school still offer a lunch menu?
- We will continue to provide Free School Meals for all children. That means (depending on capacity) that we will continue to deliver lunches to children not attending. Lunches provided to children in school will be cold, packed lunches rather cooked dinners. More information will follow on this.
What will my child be learning in school?
- We make every endeavour to provide a high quality education but this undoubtedly will be different to our normal provision. It is understood from the government that no school will be penalised for not offering a broad curriculum during this time.
- We will aim to continue to deliver our excellent Rownhams Curriculum, with exciting topics, hooks and outcomes, albeit in safer more controlled manner.
- There will be a high priority placed on the mental health and wellbeing of our children and informal assessment of where our children are in their learning so we can provide the best provision going into the next academic year.
- There are no current plans to undertake any formal ‘testing’ at any point during the summer term – for any year group. Official EYFS, phonics screening, KS1 and KS2 national assessments have been cancelled this year.
- Your child will receive and end of year report as he or she would in previous years. However, it should be understood that these will have been written with much less information and coverage of the curriculum.
How will you support my child’s transition to the next phase in their education?
- We will make every endeavour to provide effective transition for children moving Key Stage, especially, Year R to Year 1 and Year 6 to Year 7. Currently, we do not have concrete plans in place for this as our first priority is getting children back into school safely. However, we will work closely with our feeder secondary schools in order to make transition as effective as it can be in these unusual circumstances.