Important Information for Parents
4th June 2020
I hope you are all well and safe and had a wonderful time celebrating Eid - even though it had to be a very different one this year.
As you know the Government indicated that they would like schools to begin to open more widely for some children now. For Pentland, this means that we are able to now offer places for children within Nursery, Reception and Year One, as well as continuing to offer provision for the children of Key/Critical Workers.
There has been an awful lot of work to do to make the school as safe as possible for everyone under the current circumstances. This has been slightly hampered this week by having to have electricians in school to carry out emergency checks. Therefore, school will begin to welcome the first set of children back in on Tuesday 9th June 2020. We will be bringing children into school, a group at a time, starting with Year One. Those parents who have indicated that they wish to have their child return to school, will receive a phone call to inform you of your child’s start date.
I wanted to write to you to give information about how school will run and be organised. Our sole aim in all these changes is to follow the government guidelines and make our school as safe as it can possibly be. We have thoroughly risk assessed (and continue to do so) all working practices, which has informed our decision making process. I can assure you that the staff team and I have done everything we can to adhere to guidelines, however, it is impossible to guarantee that children and staff are 100% safe, as this relies on many factors out of our control.
The following aims to set out what school will look like for your child should you choose to send them back from the 8th June. Parents are encouraged to send their children to school, but the government have currently removed the attendance duty on schools and there will be no fines for parents who choose not to send their child back at this time.
The school day will look very different. The following changes will be in operation and it is critical that everyone follows by the new ‘rules’.
As our children are young, there is the recognition that they will find it difficult to social distance ie. keep a distance of 2 metres from other people. Therefore, the children will be placed into small ‘bubbles’. These are groups of children who will stay together all day, every day that they are in school. They will work with 2 adults (as consistent as possible over the days they are in).
There will be a maximum of 8 children in any one ‘bubble’. We are trying to keep to below this number as far as possible.
Due to staffing levels and availability, there is no guarantee that children will be with their normal teacher and/or teaching assistant. There is also no guarantee that children will be with their friends.
Classrooms and Playgrounds
Each bubble has been allocated a classroom, playground area and toilets within school. They will remain within these areas at all times and there will be no cross over between bubbles. Children will only be able to learn and play alongside children in their own bubble.
Classrooms will look very different. Much of the furniture has been removed. There will be no soft furnishings. Children will have allocated seats at tables within the classrooms. There will also be the opportunity for some free play, but much more limited resources available.
Resources and Equipment
There will be limited resources in the classrooms, e.g. books, toys etc. Children will be given a basket of individual equipment, such as pencils, colouring pens etc. and will be discouraged from sharing. Resources such as sand and water trays will be removed. Activities will be set that allow children to work, as far as possible, individually rather than in any paired or group manner.
We will be encouraging as many activities as possible outside, as this is the healthiest option. Again children will have access to play equipment, but will not be playing any contact games or sharing equipment.
Playground equipment will be out of bounds as we cannot ensure it can be cleaned between each use, during the day.
2 Metre Social Distance
A 2 metre social distance is in operation throughout school for ALL staff and pupils as far as possible. Where possible, walk ways have been created, so there is no cross over of people walking through the building. People entering the school grounds, including children and parents, are expected to follow the 2 metre social distancing rule.
Length of School Day/Week:
We have worked hard to plan with our available staffing resource and space, so that all year groups from Nursery to Year One can be offered provision. However, this will differ from year group to year group.
Nursery Provision: Children in nursery will be offered places on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday every week from 9.15am to 12 noon.
Reception Class Provision: Children in Reception Class are able to attend on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9.35am to 1.45pm every week.
Year One Class Provision: Children in Year One are going to be split into two bubbles (Bubble A and Bubble B). Each bubble will be able to attend on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9.25am to 2.15pm, on a fortnightly basis. (ie. week 1: Bubble A, week 2: Bubble B, week 3: Bubble A, week 4: Bubble B).
Children of Key Workers: Children of parents identified as Key or Critical Workers (according to the government’s list) will be offered provision from 9.05am to 2.50pm every week.
Children with Education Healthcare Plans (EHCPs): These children will be allocated places Monday to Thursday every week, from 9.45am to 1.00pm.
School will be closed to all groups on a Friday to allow for a deep clean of the building and for teachers to plan and resource the coming week.
Drop-Off and Collection of Children:
As you can see from the above, we have staggered start times. Each bubble has its own start and finish time. This is to prevent too many people entering the school at one time and therefore reducing the risk of virus transmission.
We must ask that only one parent comes to school to drop off/collect their child and that if at all possible, brothers and sisters do not come with them. Parents must not use any taxi/childminding services to bring their child to school, as this would raise the risks of transmission further.
Parents and children must stand on one of the yellow lines on the school drive, which are 2 metres apart. They must refrain from mixing with other people. Parents MUST keep their child(ren) with them on the line and not allow them to move to talk/mix with their friends.
There will be a one-way system around the school drive walk way. Entry is through the right hand gate and up the right hand pathway; exit is down the left hand pathway and gate.
It is ESSENTIAL THAT CHILDREN ARRIVE and ARE COLLECTED AT THEIR ALLOCATED TIMES. The only exception to this will be where there are siblings in school. In this case, both children can be brought/collected at the earlier of the two allocated times.
School staff will come out of the building to collect the children and bring them into school. (Each bubble will have an allocated entry/exit door). Parents must walk in order up the drive, give their child to the adult’s care and continue walking. There will, unfortunately, not be the opportunity for any discussion or conversation with school staff at these points.
Parents must not congregate to talk on the school premises or outside the school gates.
Liaising with School Staff
All visitors to school are being strictly controlled and restricted. Unfortunately, this has to include parents too. Parents will not be allowed into the school. Should you wish to discuss something urgent, you are asked to please phone the school. Parents will be provided with email addresses to send in enquiries or share information with teachers.
If it is essential that a meeting is held in school, this will be by appointment only and only one parent will be allowed to attend. Strict social distancing of 2 metres will be applied.
The school kitchen will be preparing lunches, but there will be a reduced choice. There will always be a vegetarian/halal choice. Children will eat with the children and adults in their bubble and 2 metre distance will be maintained in the seating arrangement. Tables will be set with their own lunch choice, any cutlery needed and their water cup already filled.
Health and Hygiene
Children will be taught to wash their hands and the reasons why (in a child friendly manner). They will have to wash their hands on entry to school, regularly throughout the day and again at home time. Staff will be overseeing this.
There will also be hand sanitiser stations around school.
All children are asked not to wear school uniform and where at all possible should return in clean clothes the next day to reduce infection risks. It would be helpful if children could wear comfortable clothes suitable for PE, as there will be no changing before sports sessions.
Children must bring their own water bottle from home; they can refill their bottle in school, but they must take it home again at night, where it must be washed and returned the next day.
Toys and Resources Between Home and School
No toys or resources other than water bottles must be brought into school from home. Reading bags should not be brought into school; books will not be sent home with children.
In the Event of Illness
In the event of a child becoming ill in school, they will be isolated in a separate room and parents will be asked to collect them as soon as possible. If staff have to perform first aid, they will wear full disposable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to safely help your child until your arrival. If any child or adult in a bubble is displaying symptoms of Covid 19, the whole group will be asked to isolate at home. All children and staff are now eligible for a Coronavirus test. If the test came back as negative, the bubble would start up again. If the test was positive, the whole bubble would have to remain isolated for 14 days.
It is vital that if a child or member of their household displays symptoms of Covid 19: a high temperature, new and continuous cough, loss of smell and/or taste, then again it is vital that the child remains at home and school is informed as a matter of urgency and the child remains at home and the whole family self isolates. Again, testing is available.
Please can parents ensure that school has their up-to-date emergency contact details.
Planning for this new system is immense. Children are expected to attend school every day, if you have committed to them having a place. They cannot attend one day and then not the next. If you have chosen to send your child to school and for any reason change your mind, then it is essential that you inform school as soon as possible.
If you have chosen to keep your child at home and not take up a school place and later change your mind, please contact school to discuss. Bringing further children into school will mean creating a further ‘bubble’ and therefore may take a few days to organise in terms of staffing and classroom provision.
For those children not attending school:
We will be continuing to set work online for those children not attending school. This will be overseen by the teachers who are not teaching in classes, so the feedback given to your child may not be from their usual class teacher. We will also continue to send home paper work packs on a fortnightly basis.
You and your child will also receive a phone call from a staff member on a continuing fortnightly cycle. Again, this may not now be their usual class teacher.
At present, we are not allowed to invite Year Two children back into school. We have to wait for further guidance from the government. My hope, however, remains that we can have Year Two children in school for at least a couple of sessions before the end of the school year.
As with safeguarding, it is everybody’s responsibility to help every child, parent and staff member to stay safe. Please continue to follow the social distancing rules in the community, as well as in school, to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
I appreciate there is an awful lot to take in and you may still have questions and queries. Please get in touch with school via the normal channels if you want to discuss anything further. The final decision now rests with you as parents.
Finally, I give you my very best wishes and look forward to seeing the children who will be returning very soon.