Return of Reception, Year One and Year Six Pupils
Further to my letter yesterday, I am writing to the parents and carers of children in the Reception year and in Years One and Six. As you are aware, the prime minister has outlined plans for children to return to school in these year groups, from 1st June at the earliest.
Having received advice from the Department for Education (DfE) and taken part in discussions with the Local Authority, I have drawn up a plan for the partial reopening of the school. This plan has been shared with the governing body and all members of staff. However, the plan is dependent on me knowing how many children will be coming back to school when it partially reopens. Therefore, I am asking for your help. In the next few paragraphs I will try to outline some of the aspects of the plan. I will then send a text to all parents in those year groups and ask you to inform me whether you intend to send your children back to school or will choose to keep them at home for the time being. I understand that this is a deeply personal choice and I want to remind you that parents will not be fined if they choose not to send their children back to school.
In order to try and minimise risk, we will stagger the start and end of the school day and ask that parents do not enter the school building; lunch times will also be staggered. If you need to speak to a teacher, we can ensure that you are called by phone. The Department for Education has also set maximum numbers of children in a class. We will educate children by year group rather than by their usual class; this may mean that your child does not have their normal class teacher, in order to keep class sizes as small as possible.
The National Curriculum will be taught to all pupils with a few constraints. In order to minimise the infection risk, certain PE activities such as cricket and rounders will not be taught and cooking will remain off the curriculum for the time being. Access to toilets and shared areas will be managed to reduce the risk of too many people in one space.
As you are no doubt aware, socially distancing children of primary age is virtually impossible and the government guidelines acknowledge this. In line with the guidance, children in the early years will be taught in small groups within a class with the same adult. They will have their own resources for that group and will go to lunch and play with that group. We will endeavour to keep groups of children two metres from other groups but I have to say that obviously, with children, I cannot guarantee that they will be kept two metres from each other at all times.
In Year Six, children will have their own supply of stationery and will be kept a distance apart. Again, I cannot promise you that I can ensure that children will always be two metres or more from another pupil as, from experience, this is a highly challenging endeavour!
In terms of PPE for staff and children, the DfE have issued clear guidelines that PPE is not suitable for staff for most activities in school, unless dealing with first aid incidents and for other occasions which require close contact. The DfE also state that masks are not suitable to be worn either by teachers or pupils. In the case of pupils, they have scientific guidance that states, due to the nature of children touching their face and other surfaces, masks can prove to be more of a risk when worn by children.
Obviously, our cleaning regime will be enhanced. Surfaces, door handles and some equipment will be wiped down regularly and classrooms will be thoroughly cleaned.
This is a broad guide to the plans that are being developed but, in order to plan further, I will need to have an idea of the numbers who will come back once the school is partially reopened. Therefore, please can you respond to the text message as quickly as possible and, ideally, by the end of this Friday (15th May). As I have said earlier in this letter, this is a deeply personal decision and views in families will differ. I respect whatever decision you make and, if you choose not to send your child back just yet, want to reassure you that work will continue to be set on ClassDojo for your child and that the government has stated that parents will not be fined for keeping their children at home at this time.
I look forward to hearing from you and will have more information when I have the numbers of children who wish to return.
Michael WatsonHead Teacher