Dear Parents and Carers,
We hope that this email finds you and your family well, and that you are managing to cope with the current situation as best as you are able. The Summerfield family is missing everyone terribly and it has been a very hard few weeks trying to manage the challenges we have faced.
We believe it is important to be open and transparent with you all about where we currently are at the moment, and it is for this reason that I want to share with you our initial thoughts following the recent Government announcements regarding the planned phased return to school should the rate of infection continue to decline.
Our priority has to be the safety of children, families and staff and as I am sure you will appreciate this is made more difficult by the many unknowns and uncertainties that still exist around the Covid-19 virus. We are in the initial stages of processing this latest government guidance and applying it to Summerfield, considering the physical space we have for this increased number of pupils and the staffing that we have available.
At this current time, from our initial risk assessments, we cannot safely cater for ALL pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 along with key worker children on a full-time basis from June 1st. This is mainly due to the space we have available in the rooms that we have. We have tested this out today, and our classrooms will only cope with between 8-10 children in them, whilst maintaining the recommended 2 metres of social distance between children and staff.
As I’m sure you are aware, Summerfield has recently re-opened everyday (including bank holidays) for key worker children and others in specific groups where attendance at school has been recommended. We have informed this group that Summerfield will be closed to everyone during half term week so that we can begin to plan our way forward. We have asked the staff to take a break from providing online learning during that week, as we will likely require them all to be back in school to facilitate a wider opening in June. The children who are currently attending and only those children will resume on June 1st.
Although not determined as yet, provision for the remainder of the Summer Term would certainly not be on a normal basis; children in nursery, reception, Y1 and Y6 will need to be split into smaller groups, separated from the rest of their year group, and taught by a teacher who may not be their usual member of staff. The curriculum will also be very different to avoid where possible the sharing of resources and mixing of children and the timetable of the school day will need to be adapted as well, including drop-off and collection arrangements - there is a lot to consider.
I am over the next few days talking with other Headteachers, seeking advice from the Local Authority and planning with the school leadership team to create a plan for a potential wider opening of Summerfield from 8th June for children in nursery, reception, Y1 and Y6. I will share with you the reality and the provision that we can actually offer. It will then be respectfully left to you as parents to consider this and make appropriate decisions for your child and your family. There will be no consequences for families who choose for their children to remain at home during the remainder of the Summer Term, and I will of course respect the decision that you decide to make. Although the Government has shared its ‘ambition’ that ALL primary pupils are expected to return before the summer holidays at this current point in time, we do not believe this to be safe.
Your thoughts as parents and carers are crucial at this time, and will help us with the planning process. The initial phone calls made last week indicate that currently, many of you intend to keep your children safely at home. We would support you in doing this and await the government publication of the scientific evidence that supports their decision in asking schools to return.
I have created a FAQ on the website (also below) and will keep this updated once any answers become clear. If you have any urgent questions please do get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, I will keep you updated on any decisions or changes to what is planned, and we look forward to welcoming you back into school as soon as it safe to do so.
Please note that this FAQ is correct on 20/05/20. The situation, guidance and information is rapidly changing and we will update the FAQ as often as we can.
When will the final decision about re-opening schools be made?
We understand the decision whether to re-open schools will be taken on May 28th.
What is Summerfield’s timeline for re-opening?
What is happening?
18th May 2020
School open for key worker and vulnerable children
25th May 2020
School CLOSED to all pupils for half term
School open for key worker and vulnerable children
Proposed wider opening for key worker, vulnerable, nursery, reception, Y1, Y6
How can children aged 4-6 be expected to socially distance?
The government documents imply that all risks have been assessed without the need for social distancing. It is very unlikely that the children will remain 2m away from each other, but it will be encouraged by the staff.
The main risk control for the children is that they will put into smaller self-contained groups, known as ‘bubbles’. They will remain in these smaller groups throughout the day and will not mix with children from other bubbles. We estimate that the maximum bubble size at Summerfield is likely to be approximately 6 children and 1 member of staff. The staff will also stay the same for each bubble and therefore the children may not have their usual teachers. Bubbles will have separate play space, and initially will use a specific set of toilets to avoid any cross contamination. We would not have more than 12 children in each classroom in nursery, reception and year 1 comprising of 2 ‘bubbles’ of 6 children each with 1 member of staff.
The government say you will have groups of 15 children. How will you fit these in?
We can’t. Having measured the distances in all of our classroom types, the average number of children permissible would be 8 children and 2 members of staff in each classroom if we are to maintain social distancing for everyone within the class. As stated above the children in nursery, reception and year 1 will be in ‘bubbles’ which will enable us to have more children in those classrooms.
What will happen once you reach the maximum number of children in a bubble?
If possible, we will open up another bubble using a separate space if its available. If the demand for places is high, we may have to prioritise certain children so that safety is maintained.
How will you organise the bubbles and which children will be in them?
We will be contacting parents in nursery, reception, Y1 and Y6 during the week beginning 1st June in preparation for more children returning on 8th June. You will need to commit to a place for the remainder of the term because we will need to organise suitable staffing cover. We will not be able to cater for children attending on some days and not others. Once you have committed then we will expect your child to attend every week provided that they are well enough to do so. We will endeavour to provide places for everyone who wants or needs one. Once we know how many children will be attending, we will put them into groups, if possible, with their friends.
I have an extremely vulnerable or vulnerable child or adult at home. How can you ensure his/her sibling/relative attending school will not put them both at risk?
We will not be able to guarantee that and would suggest that your child does not return to school at this time.
How can I safely get my child to and from school with other siblings needing to come?
You would need to bring any other siblings with you to drop your child off at school and remain socially distanced from other children and parents at the school gates on Cuthbert Road.
Would the children have to wear mask and gloves?
No, the use of gloves and masks has not been recommended by the government.
How is social distancing be ensured between parents during school pickup and drop?
We are planning a staggered start and end of the day and will contact you again nearer the time to tell you when you should drop your child off and when you should pick them up. All children will be dropped off at either the Cuthbert Road pedestrian gate onto the key stage 1 playground (Nursery and Reception children), or the main pedestrian gate on Cuthbert Road in front of the school office (Year 6 and Key Worker / Vulnerable children).
Is there going to be sanitisation/deep cleaning periodically of surfaces?
What about hand washing/hand sanitisation for staff and children? Will there be enough hand sanitiser?
All classrooms have cold water and soap. All toilets have hot water and soap. We have plenty of disposable towels for drying of hands. We have introduced a hand sanitiser station in the main entrance. The guidance is clear that the best method is to wash hands with soap and water.
A study has shown that BAME population is more at risk of having a severe disease. Will there be special consideration for BAME children?
We are awaiting additional guidance on this question.
Will you re-start breakfast and after school clubs?
No, to avoid cross contamination of the children in separate bubbles, it will not be possible to re-start either breakfast or after school clubs at this current time.
Will we lose our school place there if we disagree with government advice and choose to home-school a little longer?
No, attendance at school is currently voluntary. No fines will be issued for non-attendance.
Are teachers/children going to be tested?
No, there are no plans to test unless a person becomes symptomatic.
What's the reasoning behind reception children being allowed back in?
The government believe that reception children are the highest priority in schools because it’s a ‘transition year’ e.g. they are moving from the early years curriculum to the national curriculum.
Is it going to be compulsory to send your child to school?
Is it going to be 5 days a week/normal school time?
We are being asked to open in June for all nursery, reception, Y1 and Y6 children, full time. The timings will be slightly different due to the staggered start/ends of the school day.
In the event of my child returning in June what reassurances can the school provide around the children’s safety?
We will be carrying out a range of risk assessments over the coming days and will share as much information as we can with you on our school website or via e-mail.
How confident is the school that they can implement social distancing across the school, without leaving my child exposed?
We cannot eliminate the risk completely but will follow all of the government advice provided.
How confident is the school that they can ensure all the children wash their hands regularly and sanitise?
Relatively confident. Children got into a good habit before the lockdown began. With reduced numbers in school this should be possible to re-start and maintain.
Will the school have regular cleaning and disinfecting of desks, door handles etc?
What procedures will the school have in place should a child show symptoms for Covid 19?
The child will be placed into isolation with a member of staff using PPE. They will then be sent home and recommended for testing. They will remain at home for the following 14 days. Likewise, all of the children and staff in that bubble will be sent home until the results of the test are available. If the test is negative, the whole bubble and staff will be able to return to school. If test is positive then the whole bubble and its staff and the families of those children will have to self-isolate for 14 days from the day the child was sent home. If no result is available then all will be able to return to school after 14 days provided that they are not symptomatic.
What will the dinner arrangement be?
Children will eat their dinners in their bubble classroom or preferably outside. They can bring their own packed lunch or have one provided by the school. Children in nursery will not receive a lunch as they are not in school at that time. Reception and Year 1 children automatically receive a free school meal. Year 6 children will either have to pay for lunch if they are not entitled to a free school meal or they can bring their own packed lunch.
Will outdoor play be cancelled?
No, outdoor play and learning will be encouraged.
How will children be kept apart at break times?
Children will be reminded of the rules- they can only play with people from within their bubble.
How will teachers comfort our children if needed?
There is a recognition that children may need to be comforted at some point within the day. Staff will only be able to do this if we are able to source sufficient PPE which has been on order for several weeks and we are still awaiting delivery. We are continually trying to source PPE but without success at this time.
How will teaching continue?
Teaching will pick up from where the children left off in March, but will also be supported by the home learning materials being provided for the children not in school. The main focus within nursery, reception and year 1 will be phonics, Maths and English. Likewise, the main focus in year 6 will be Maths and English.
Reception children spend a lot of time playing will they be told to play alone?
We don’t think it’s going to be possible to prevent children playing with others.
Will children get into trouble for breaking the rules e.g. if they get too close to another child?
No not in nursery, reception and year 1. However, year 6 are expected to be old enough to take responsibility for social distancing and any deliberate breach will be viewed very seriously and could result in your child being sent home if they prove to be a threat to the safety of others.
If a child in the class shows symptoms does the whole class (bubble) then self-isolate for 2 weeks?
Yes, if they test positive.
How many teachers will be in a classroom?
A minimum of 2.
Have you had any Covid-19 cases since the lockdown?
Not as far as we know.
Will you receive any hand sanitisers from the local authority?Probably not.