I am writing to outline some of the facts and what school will be like, when school reopens to children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, from June 1st, at the earliest. It is important to stress that the phased return applies ONLY to these year groups in the first instance. Here are the arrangements we are provisionally putting in place ahead of the return of those year groups. You will not be fined if your child does not come to school.
Government advice requires us to split children up into small teaching groups (referred to as a ‘bubble’). This means that many of the children will be with a member of staff who is not their usual teacher, and may be taught in a different classroom. We would decide on the bubbles - children would be with other children in their year group and they have to try to remain at least 2 metres from others at all times, including their teacher. There will be no mixing between the bubbles at all. This is necessary so that any outbreak of the virus can be tracked and traced. Furthermore, if any member of the bubble, staff included, were to display symptoms of the virus, the entire group would be required to self-isolate for the next two weeks.
As I am sure you can appreciate, social distancing - maintaining a space of at least 2 metres between people - is extremely difficult in a school. We will try our best, which is why the bubble groups will be so small, but it cannot be guaranteed. The bubbles will also apply at playtimes. Different year groups will be allocated different parts of the playground and playtimes will be staggered.
Opening will require staggered starts to the day and staggered finish times to avoid congestion at the school gates and one adult only dropping off and collecting. School will close at lunchtimes on Fridays to allow for a deep clean of the premises on Friday afternoons. Lunch will be slightly earlier than usual on Fridays.
Lunch times will also be staggered so different year groups and different bubbles eat at different times. Where possible, lunches will be eaten outside. Otherwise, lunches will be eaten in class. School dinners will be packed lunch. Children who are usually entitled to free school meals will of course maintain this entitlement, however you will lose your right to their daily food voucher for any children in school, as provided by the government (though not for children in other year groups who will still be at home).
Lots of furniture will have to be removed from classes, a one way system installed and systems for use of toilets and cleaning all worked out. Children will be seated 2 metres apart and a walkway will be included children will have to remain at their desks and keep to their own equipment.
The youngest children will find this all very difficult. They won’t have access to all the practical resources they would normally have because they all have to be kept clean to avoid infection - in fact, all soft play items such as cuddly toys will have to be removed. Only plastic toys, which can be easily wiped clean, will remain in Reception classes. Children in Reception will find the day very different as well - rather than the freeflow environment they are used to, they will be required to stay within their bubble at all times, whether in class or outside. Also, any child who soils him or herself during the day will have to be collected and taken home for the remainder of that day.
The office will be closed to in-person meetings - any queries will have to be dealt with over the phone. We will insist that staff wear PPE to administer First Aid.
Children will still be expected to wear uniform - just as staff will adhere to the staff dress code.
Children of Key Workers in other years
Children of key workers in Years 2-5 will still be allowed to attend school. They will form a separate bubble group in the hut classrooms at the top of the playground (currently year 4)
I thank you for your time in reading this letter. Now that you have as much information as we are able to provide at this stage, I would kindly ask you to fill in the survey (please use the link below), to indicate whether your child will return to school on June 1st.
Thank you and best wishes.
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Dear Parents and Carers,
This evening you, like us, heard for the first time from the Prime Minister about their possible next steps to move the country forward from ‘Lockdown’.
The Prime Minister shared a ‘conditional plan’ that children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 may be the first to return to school in some way, from early June.
As yet, we have no more information than you do about this plan. We expect to receive some guidance from the Department for Education at some point in the next day or so, and at that point we will begin to make plans in accordance with that guidance.
In the meantime, our status is as it has been since the 23rd March – our schools are only open for ‘those children of Critical Workers who need to be cared for while their parents are at work and for those children deemed ‘vulnerable’.
Please be assured that as soon as we have had the relevant guidance and new plans in place, we will make contact to share the relevant information with you.
On behalf of all the staff and Governors at Tweeddale Primary School, I would like to end by extending our thoughts and best wishes to everyone in, and connected to, our school and community during this challenging time.