14th May 2020
We hope that you are all keeping well and staying safe.
I’m sorry that this is such a lengthy correspondence.
I would like to thank you for completing our online survey regarding the government’s plans to re-open school. Your comments and preferences have helped with our planning so far.
We, the senior leadership team and the governors have been working constantly since the announcement to find a way to make this re-opening work safely in our school and I feel that I need to recap some of the guidance from government and the way in which we see our school being able to accommodate this guidance.
I feel that we need to clarify a few facts and make you as parents understand what school will be like for your child should you decide to send them back at this time.
Remember it is YOUR choice and there will be NO penalties for non- attendance. School will not be school as you know it. I just feel I need to be totally open and honest with you.
Guidance to schools was published late on Monday night and has some clear messages within it.
*Schools should begin to look at a partial re-opening for Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 (unless the Government see an increase in COVID 19 cases again or that we don't start to emerge into Stage 2).
*Parents DO NOT have to send their children to school until September if they feel they are safer at home or if there is a clinically vulnerable family member within the household. Parents will not be fined if they keep their children at home. Government advice is still to STAY HOME IF YOU CAN
*Schools will not be offering the same provision/education that was provided before 20th March 2020. We will still provide online work and support for those at home and the work in school will follow a similar line to ensure nobody misses out.
*Children will be in 'bubble' groups of no more than 15 (room size allowing) and will not be able to mix between bubbles. Children will be allocated to groups which cannot change and this may mean that they are not with their friendship groups. This will mean staggered start and end times for all classes, eg. Some class may have a later start time and others an earlier finish time. All classes will have a reduced number of days in school each week, different playtimes and lunchtimes. Bubbles in school will need to be kept separate at all times including playtimes. We envisage at this time that it is likely for children to attend school for 2 days per week. All year groups will need to be placed on a part time basis. We are in the process of working out a timetable and appropriate staffing.
*Children who attend school will be required to bring their own packed lunch, unless they are Free School Meals or Universal Free School Meals (R, Y1 or Y2) then a packed lunch will be provided). Children will eat their lunch in their classroom within their social bubble of 15 with their teacher who will not leave their bubble.
*The key worker provision will not change, however, children will need to stay in their 'key worker' bubble and won't be allowed into their 'year group' bubble.
*There will be strict guidance around how parents drop off and collect pupils which we will send out. For example, only one parent will be allowed on site to collect each child. We need to keep parents visiting school to an absolute minimum. All children, including Year 6, must be accompanied by an adult on drop off and collection.
*Some staff may not be in school for varying reasons. This will mean that staffing within year groups will look very different. Your child most probably won't have their usual class teacher.
*Although guidance is stating that school staff do not generally require PPE our staff can choose to wear PPE for their own protection. This may include, gloves, apron, face masks etc., particularly when dealing with first aid and close contact. Children will not be allowed to wear face masks in school.
*Pupils will need to maintain 2m distances where possible however it is clear that with younger pupils may be difficult and we cannot guarantee that this will be able to enforce this.
*Breakfast and After school clubs will not be able to be offered due to the guidance stating that 'bubble' groups cannot be mixed.
*All children will sit at socially distanced desks in classrooms. Resources used will be minimal to reduce the spread of infection. Nursery and Reception children will only have access to a limited number of items on a desk due to the risk of infection due to government guidance of removing soft toys.
*There will be risk assessments and recovery plans produced over the coming weeks to ensure all staff and pupils have the best protection we can physically offer with the resources we have.
*School will only begin to partially re-open to certain year groups when it is deemed by Governors and School Leaders that it is safe to do so.
*Children will not be required to wear uniform but must come into school in clean clothes each day.
*Parents must ensure that at the start and end of the day they maintain social distancing on the playground.
We have tried to plan for the eventuality of all children returning, but as a school this is not possible. Therefore, we need to know the numbers who want to return are before we can plan further.
The keyworker/vulnerable group will remain as it is although I do understand that this may expand. Therefore, this may look different to what we have been able to offer as we will now have less space in school as other children re-join. This provision will become classroom based. If you would like to send your child back in this group, you must make this clear. We will try to accommodate all requests, however this will be at the school’s discretion and critical covid key-worker children will be prioritised.
I also need to be clear that it is ONLY year Nursery Reception, Y1 and Y6 being considered for 1st June – if you have children in other years they CANNOT return at this stage. The date of their return is yet to be determined.
I am sorry to be so blunt in what I have described, but as a parent myself, I would want to know exactly what it will look like. Should you decide that you wish for your child to stay at home, that is absolutely fine and I assure you I will totally understand and respect that. What I do ask though is that you decide one way or the other – it will take a lot of organising and I can’t have people dropping in and out. If you do have a change of circumstances after you have made your decision, we will of course consider but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate your needs.
Thank you for the time you have given to reading this – I appreciate that it is a difficult decision to decide what to do with your most precious of gifts – your children.
Please be assured that the safety of our children, staff, parents and wider community will be at the heart of everything that we do. Some decisions will be difficult, but we need to ensure we are all kept safe at this difficult time.
A response from all parents is needed for us to be able to develop these plans further, therefore, could I please request that everyone emails to firstname.lastname@example.org before 10am on Monday 18th May with the name and year group of their child/children if they will or will not be returning before September.
Please do not use any other email address.
Mrs Chell - Headteacher & Mrs Wilcox – Chair of Governors
Oh my goodness, having watched the Prime Minister’s address last night my head is still spinning.
We have been told if the government’s 5 criteria are met the government are expecting schools to open for our youngest children, those in EYFS and Y1 and our oldest children, those in Y6 from the start of Term 6, 1st June. We have no further details at this point than those shared. We have been anticipating a phased return and as such have some plans underway to work towards a phased return. The announcement does raise as many questions as it answers:
• are schools implementing 2m social distancing (note the guidance now says where possible)
• are children and staff to use masks or PPE
• how can play and lunchtimes be offered safely
The average classroom measures 7m by 8m: with social distancing each classroom can accommodate 8 pupils as a maximum. This means each class will require 3 classrooms. In total we have 8 classrooms (we would need 9) and this does not include key worker children!!
With the number of small groups, we will need to offer, not all children will be taught by their own teacher. We know this will increase anxiety for pupils, parents and teachers alike.
The overriding concern of the government is for schools to open to support the economy, nothing to do with supporting our children or indeed to do with providing a return to education. I am sure you, like us, are all struggling to understand how a safe return can be facilitated. I anticipate there will be more details released over the next few days and I understand that the Department for Education guidance will be released at 2pm today.
As far as we are aware at this moment, we can still only offer childcare to critical worker families, even if you now have the go ahead to work at work. I will update more on this when we receive further guidance.
Bearing in mind the above situation we remain committed to supporting our children and families to feel safe and secure as we move forward and we will communicate all plans with you prior to any firm decisions being made.
We know that this time is extremely worrying and as such, I will aim to write again as soon as we have more details. We are missing your children, take care of them and yourselves. We hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.
Mrs L Chell
Dear Parents and Carers,
Firstly, may I warmly welcome you to the ‘family’ of The Richard Heathcote Community Primary School. I am very proud to be the Headteacher of this fabulous school and we are very lucky to have a highly experienced, dedicated team of staff as well as a supportive governing body who care deeply, encouraging your children to achieve their very best. This is a happy, vibrant school with a wonderful energy to it. Every child deserves to be successful, and our role is to help them blossom and grow to believe that everything is possible.
We are a school which prides itself on providing an interesting, friendly, supportive learning environment which nurtures each individual child to reach their full potential by embracing our mission statement of ‘learning together’. We offer our children the opportunities to succeed academically, grow emotionally and physically, develop creatively and thrive socially in all they do. We are also extremely proud to be a Forest School offering regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in our own woodland setting.
High standards of attainment are demanded by the world we live in and the future world of our children, here at The Richard Heathcote Community Primary School we strive to achieve this in all that we do. We believe we provide the foundations for a love of learning, for enquiring minds, for confidence and independence, for creativity and kindness, in essence - learners for life and citizens for the future.
We all look forward to meeting you and your children. Team work is extremely important and home and school provide the base that supports your child in their early years. We hope that you will join us in successfully educating, nurturing and guiding our children in their learning journeys towards becoming the citizens of tomorrow.
Mrs Lisa Chell
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