18th May 2020
COVID-19 Update : Possible reopening of school to more pupils in June
We know you have seen in the news that schools may reopen on 1 June to reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils if the government thinks it is safe then.
Since Monday, I have received considerable advice and documentation from the Government, designed to support Headteachers in making the best decisions for the school community. Whilst the Government advice is there to guide schools, I will, together with the Governing body, make decisions based on what we know is right for the entire Wodensfield community. This will be based on a detailed COVID-19 risk assessment and consultation with the local authority.
It is a very unsettling time for us all, but rest assured that we will do everything we can to make sure we are ready to receive these year groups if it is safe for schools to reopen in the coming weeks. My first job as a Headteacher is to ensure the safety of everyone in school and that is going to be a challenge. We all know that our youngest children will find social distancing impossible. The anxiety created by returning to school after eight weeks, especially in the current circumstances will be a considerable factor to take into account. We will not be able to reassure children in the way that we would normally.
The classrooms at Wodensfield are of varying sizes; even in our largest rooms we can only fit 8 -10 children, whilst adhering to the Government guidelines of social distancing. As more children return, we will not have the rooms or staff to do this. It may be that we open on limited days for different groups. Children may not be in their usual classroom, or taught by their normal teacher. They may be in a small class group without seeing the friends they were hoping to see. We know how hard this will be for children and families and can only promise that we will do our best to minimise the emotional upset this may cause.
At this point, for all of the reasons that are mentioned below, I am not in a position to open for nursery children. This will be reviewed and, as soon as it is safe to do so, nursery children attending Reception in 2020-2021, will be invited into school to spend time with their teachers.
We have been working on a detailed action plan that I will share with you as soon as possible so you know what the school’s reopening will look like in practice. Meanwhile we are looking at the practical steps we need to put in place:
Limiting class sizes- children will be in fixed groups of no more than 10. They will be based in classrooms, and with staff that they know well. Children will attend for two days per week, with Wednesdays being an intensive cleaning day before the changeover of children. Each group will remain with the same teacher or teaching assistant in order to reduce wider contact.
Stringent drop off and collection protocols that MUST be followed by everyone on site.
Rigorous handwashing routines will be in place, as well as hand sanitiser and tissues available in classes. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
Children will not need to wear school uniform. This may help to reduce anxiety and means they will be able to wear different clothes on the days that they are in school,as the virus can be carried on clothing.
Classrooms will be very different for the children, especially in Reception and Year 1. All equipment that cannot be cleaned easily will be removed, as will additional chairs and desks. We ask that children do not bring items from home. This includes pencil cases, reading bags, rucksacks and fabric lunch boxes. If your child is bringing a lunch from home, please place it in either a plastic box or carrier bag.
Lunch for children entitled to either free school meals or universal infant free school meals, will be a packed lunch prepared on site by the school cook. This will be eaten in classrooms.
Increased cleaning- both at the end of each session, at the end of the school day, and during any change over of classes.
Keeping pupils and staff with coronavirus symptoms at home
The wearing of PPE by staff, where appropriate
If a child or member of staff shows signs of COVID-19 they will be isolated until they are able to leave the site.
If a child or member of staff in a small group tests positive, the others in that group must also self-isolate.
In order to put all of the above measures into place, school will be closed during ½ term to all pupils. I apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause for critical workers, however the main priority at this time is the safety of everyone potentially returning to school on June 1st.
If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable, or living with someone who is in this group, they should not come back to school and should continue home learning. If your child is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), you should follow medical advice to decide if they should come back to school. Please refer to government guidance for further details of these groups. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-on-protecting-people-most-likely-to-get-unwell-from-coronavirus-shielding-young-peoples-version
I want to reassure you that we are not going to be pressuring anyone to send their children to school. We will keep you updated with all our preparations for making sure the school is as safe as possible, so you can make an informed decision.
In the meantime, the school is still open only for vulnerable pupils and the children of critical workers. We know some employers will be encouraging you to return to work, but we are not in a position right now to extend places to other children until we receive further government guidance.
We would like to thank you for your continuous support in helping your child learn from home. We will keep you updated once we know more about when schools will be able to reopen for other year groups.
If your child will remain at home beyond 1st June, we will continue to support you and them with home learning, and meal support for those eligible. Please do continue to stay in touch with us about how your child is getting on.
All of this rests upon decisions from the Government over the next two weeks. However, I hope this letter helps you to plan and answer some of the many questions and anxieties you must have. I can only say that Wodensfield holds at its heart the belief that we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. Your children, families and the staff are part of our Wodensfield family. When children return, we will do our utmost to support them. We will have to adapt and be resilient; the classrooms may not be the child friendly, welcoming environments we would like them to be but we hope you will feel and see the care and support that the outstanding Wodensfield community offers every day. We really appreciate the support you have given the school during lockdown. We know how challenging it has been and we are here to help and support in any way we can.
A letter, together with a text message, will be sent on 22nd May to parents of Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to inform you of the days school will be open for your child, times to drop off and pick up, and which members of staff will be working with your children.
If you have any questions, please contact the school office either via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01902 556350
S. Walker (Mrs)