Returning to School : Questions and Answers

We have received a number of questions from parents about children returning to school.
Here are our responses so far … (they are in no particular order)

Can my child wear their own clothes?  They have grown out of their school uniform.

Yes.  We have decided to allow the children to wear their own clothes (non-uniform) for the remainder of the academic year.  However, we ask that these are simple and smart (no football/sportswear/beachwear or party clothes, all areas of the body to be covered, including shoulders) and safe and that these clothes are changed/washed on a daily basis.  Please keep accessories to an absolute minimum. Younger children should wear clothes and shoes that can be managed by themselves.  Accessories (e.g. hair bands) should also be manageable by the children themselves.  Where children have grown out of their shoes, children may wear trainers.  Please – no high boots, shoes with flashing lights, sandals, flip-flops or crocs.  Thank you.

When will I find out which bubble/group the children are in and who their teacher will be?

We can only decide which children are in which group once we know exactly how many children are going to be returning to school in the first instance.  We are hoping to have groups finalised 2-3 days before the children are due to start back in school.  We will create two (broadly) equally-sized groups for each class.  These groups will be chosen by the class teacher with some consideration of the children’s friendships and needs.  Unfortunately, we cannot put all friends together in one group – we have to consider everyone’s needs and the dynamics of the group, any special educational needs that need to be supported by specific staff and any special groupings such as the need to group together any siblings of children who are in another group in school (this is to minimise cross-infection between groups).  Not all children from the class will be taught by their class teacher.  Once two initial groups are established, any additional children who join those groups at a later date will be placed in alternate groups (to maintain equal numbers). 

Staffing for the groups will be as follows:

  • Reception Group A : Mrs Singh and Mrs Allen/Miss Joyce

  • Reception Group B : Mrs Johnston and Mrs Bowpitt

  • Year 1 Group A : Miss Lyons and Mrs Whittle

  • Year 1 Group B : Mr Adams and Mrs Smith

  • Year 6 Group A : Mrs Matthews and Mrs Yates

  • Year 6 Group B : Mr Mallinson and Mrs Boardman

Note that each team includes an adult who has been working with the class during this academic year.  We felt that this arrangement would give some continuity and familiarity for the children.

Can my child be in the same group/bubble as their friends?

Using our knowledge of the children and their friendships, we will try and make sure that children have in their group other children that they know and can play with.  This may not always be possible.

If my child does not attend, will they still have access to home learning?

Yes, we are still going to provide home learning opportunities for all children via our website as we have been doing since April.  For Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 we will do our best to align these to some extent with work being undertaken by those children now attending school.  Most teachers, however, will now have two jobs to do – supporting school-based and home-based learning – and will be taking their planning time on Fridays.  It may be, therefore, that teachers do not have as much time to engage with children (on SEESAW, for example) throughout the week.  Most feedback will be given to the children on Fridays.  Teachers will still be checking their class emails so if you have a specific question to ask, please continue to email the teacher or post a question on SEESAW.

Will the home learning be the same as the work being done by pupils in school?

We will try our best to mirror some of the activities we are doing in school with the home-based learning plans.  However, it will not be possible to match up every activity – some activities in school will be discussion activities or will make use of the additional resources we have in school.  

Will my child be able to return to school at a later date?

Yes.  However, we are now asking all children to return to school by Monday 29th June for the final three weeks of term.  School is as safe as it is going to be and we feel that children will benefit little from returning to school for anything less than the final three weeks.

Will staff comfort my child if they need to comforted?

Staff will be sensitive to the needs of the children and we accept that the change of routines (and playing with fewer and limited resources) will be difficult for some children.  We will attempt to comfort children ‘at a distance’ and avoid hugging and holding their hands.  However, where comforting is required in close-proximity, staff have the option to wear gloves and/or a face mask.  This is for the children’s safety as much as staff safety.  Staff will explain to the children at the very start of their time in school that there may be times when staff will do this to keep everyone safe and will explain again to individual children when additional safety measures might be needed.  We will do this in a supportive and sensitive manner.  We will use all of the strategies we know to support children as best we can.

Will there be a leavers’ assembly and will Year 6 get a chance to say goodbye to one another?

Unfortunately, we will not be able to arrange a leavers’ assembly in the traditional way. However, we have been thinking about how we can create a video/online leavers’ presentation through which children both at school and at home can contribute their memories of school life in different ways.  We might also arrange a ZOOM assembly.  Whether or not Year 6 can all meet as a whole group before the end of July will depending on national social-distancing rules at the time. If we can arrange something (possibly an outdoor socially-distanced assembly), we will.  We are also thinking that if there is enough interest once everyone has gone to high school, that we will arrange a leavers’ party at the Britannia Hotel for some time in the autumn term.  This has been booked provisionally for the end of September but we have the option to move the date to later in the term if we have to.  This will again depend on the social-distancing/gathering rules in place and the operating practices of the hotel.

Will children be allowed or expected to wear masks or other PPE equipment?

No, children should not attend school wearing masks. We may ask a child who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 to wear a mask for the short time they are placed in isolation before being collected to go home.  However, we will find other safe strategies if we can.  Children will need to observe strict hygiene rules when coughing and sneezing – catch it, bin it, kill it.  

Will staff wear masks or other PPE equipment?

Staff will not wear PPE equipment if they do not have to.  Staff may use PPE equipment, including face/eye visors, mask, apron and gloves, when administering first aid.  We have a large supply of PPE equipment in school.  Staff will wear PPE equipment only when we need to to and will explain to the children what we are going to do and the reasons for it.

Given the nice weather, can my child bring sun cream or a sunhat to school?

Yes.  Whilst there is a restriction on some items (toys, personal items, books, games, etc.), a sun hat and sun cream can be brought into school as long as only the child to whom they belong use these items.  These must be kept in sealed plastic bag (e.g. a small freezer/food bag) placed inside the child’s school bag and replaced in the bag when the child has used them.  Alternatively, a supply can be kept in school in the plastic bag.  Rather than bringing sun cream into school, we prefer parents to administer all-day sun cream at the beginning of the day.  Sun cream will not be administered by staff.

Will my child have to wash their hands during the day?  What about hand sores?

Yes, children will have to wash their hands several times each day; this is part of our hierarchy of controls that we have been asked to put in place.  We have sanitiser available in all classrooms but, apart from the initial use of hand sanitiser at the beginning of the day, children will follow the hand-washing procedures recommended by the Government; that is regular hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If children’s hands become sore or cracked, parents can provide hand-cream for use in school.  Once provided, this must remain in school and remain in the child’s bag or sealed in a plastic bag.  Children will need to administer any hand cream by themselves.  Parents can also administer hand creams at home.

Does my child need to take their water bottle home every night?

Yes please.  We are asking parents to fill their children’s water bottles each morning and bring them to school.  Water bottles will be kept on the children’s desks (Year 6) or in a designated area of the corridor or classroom (Reception/Year 1) where bottles can be separated more hygienically than in the usual box or tray.  Children will not be allowed to fill their water bottles at the water fountains as they usually do.  This is to avoid any contact of the bottle with the fountain mechanism.  Instead, staff will replenish jugs of fresh water throughout the school day and refill part of the children’s water bottles for them on an individual basis in the classroom.

Can my child attend if they have a medical condition or illness other than COVID-19?

If a child has an illness or medical condition which places them at greater risk from becoming ill from COVID-19, then they must not attend school.  This includes any child for whom parents have received advice from their GP or the NHS that they should shield.  This includes children with severe asthma (asthma that is well-controlled with inhalers is not severe asthma) or other respiratory disease or any illness which affects their immunity.   Any parent who is not sure if their child is vulnerable, should seek advice from their GP before sending their child back to school.

Can my child attend school is someone in our household is critically vulnerable?

No.  If someone in a child’s household is extremely critically vulnerable and has been shielding, the child must not attend school to avoid any infection risk to those living in the household.

What happens if someone in school has COVID-19 symptoms?

If a child or staff member in school has symptoms of COVID-19, they will not be allowed to attend school.  They should self-isolate for seven days and those in their household should isolate for 14 days as the existing guidance suggests.  Within three days of symptoms, the person should be tested for COVID-19.  If the test is positive, the school may put in place procedures for everyone who has come into contact with that person to isolate.  This means that we may need to close the group in which that child or staff member has been working and ask everyone to stay at home until all individual test results are confirmed.  Anyone who tests negative for COVID-19 may return to school once the result is known and the school has agreed to everyone’s return.

What happens if a pupil’s family member has COVID-19 symptoms?

The same rules as during full lockdown apply.  If a child’s family member (same household) shows COVID-19 symptoms then the family member should isolate and the child should stay at home.  The person with symptoms should order a test.  If the test is positive, the whole family should isolate for 14 days.  Any COVID-19 symptoms or positive case should be reported to the school.  The school will then take steps to keep others safe, including recommended tests for others if necessary.  We will alert other parents that someone in the group has symptoms or has been tested positive.  

What happens if someone from a staff member’s family has symptoms?

If someone in a staff member’s family has COVID-19 symptoms, then the staff member will be required to self-isolate as the guidance suggests.  The staff member and their family will be asked to arrange a COVID-19 tests.  An essential workers, school staff can have a test even if they do not have symptoms.  The staff member will remain away from school until a negative test result for their whole household is confirmed.  If the staff member has been running a group/bubble in school, it may mean that we have to ask the group/bubble to remain at home – this may simply be because we do not the staff available to run the group until the staff member returns.

What will the school do in September to help children catch up on the school they have missed?

All children across the country will, to some extent or other (even if they have been attending keyworker groups or completing home learning activities) be behind the point in their learning that they might have been had they been attending school.  Schools are prepared for this and that some children may have not engaged in their learning at home since March.  In September, we will spend some time assessing the children’s understanding and skills and will focus, at least for the first half-term term, on ‘catch-up’ learning, particularly for reading, writing and mathematics.  This may mean that we have to cover some of the curriculum from the previous year group to ensure that skills are embedded in sequence and that no subject knowledge is missed.  We know that some children will catch up faster than others and will attempt to differentiate the curriculum as best we can to cater for the needs of children at different levels of understanding.  The Government have recently announced that some funding (£650 nationally) will be available to schools to provide additional support to help pupils ‘catch up’ during the next academic year.

Will children receive an annual report at the end of the summer term?

Yes, we will still be writing reports for all children.  The reports will be in the same format as for previous years but some subject reporting may be omitted given that some subject content has not been taught this year.  We will also have fewer extra-curricular activities, sporting and other achievements to report.  The DfE have suggested that schools “should take a proportionate approach in deciding what information to include within their pupils’ reports” for this year.  Also, for this year schools are not required to report pupils’ attendance.  However, we will report a percentage attendance for all pupils up to the end of February 2020 but will not this year include any attendance grades (the percentages on which these are based will be skewed).  We will be aiming to issue children’s reports between Friday 10th and Monday 13th July.  Reports will be issued by email – given that we have to send individual emails to parents, this will take some time to process.  Printed copies will only be available this year on request.

Will there be a parents’ evening at the end of the summer term?

We do not normally hold a parents’ evening in the summer term and have no plans to do so given the current circumstances.    Our usual practice is that once the reports have been issued, parents are invited to attend a drop-in session on the final Wednesday of the school year.  (Very few parents take up this opportunity.)  We will not be able to offer that in school this year but will think about offering an online, e.g. ZOOM, meeting between parents and the class teacher at agreed appointment times on request.  We will not be able to do this for every child and we may not be able to arrange all online appointments in the same week.   The DfE have suggested that “schools need to take account of government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak and the availability of staff. It may be appropriate to delay these discussions at the current time and commit to providing details of how parents can discuss the report at a future date, or offering other options, such as telephone discussions.”  

When will we hear if Nursery children can return to school?

Nursery children were included in the Government’s plan for more children to return to school from the week beginning 1st June.  Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity (staffing or space) to invite our nursery children back to school before September.  Our Reception children (who are now in two smaller groups) are being taught in both the Reception and Nursery classrooms and we have no other suitable or available space for our Nursery children to attend school.  Some parents have asked if nursery children will have some time in September to return to the nursery classroom before moving up to Reception.  At the moment, we have no plans to do this given that our new nursery children will be joining us in the first week in September.

When will we hear if Year 2, Year 3, Year 4 and Year 5 will return to school?

The Government made an announcement on Tuesday 9th June 2020 that primary schools will not now be expected to welcome children in other year groups back to school unless they have the capacity to do so safely.  Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity (staffing or space) to invite any other year groups back to school before September; all of our available classrooms are being used to teach Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, and provide childcare for key-worker families.  (We are aware that some local schools are inviting other year groups to return before July but they are bigger schools with more available classrooms.)  We fully realise (as do the Government) that this means that some children will not have attended school for more than five months (including August) by the time they return in September.

Will school be checking the children’s temperature when they arrive at school?

No, we will not be checking the children’s temperature when they arrive at school.  We are hoping that parents will take responsibility for the health of their children and monitor their temperature and any other symptoms of COVID-19.  If parents are aware that their children have symptoms of COVID-19 (including a high temperature or cough), they must keep their children at home and let us know of their symptoms.  If school thinks that a child is showing signs of COVID-19, we will take their temperature and take action accordingly, including calling parents to ask that the child be collected from school.

If my child attends school from the given start date, can I then change my mind?

Whilst school is encouraging all eligible children to attend school for the four days (Monday-Thursday), the decision to send a child back to school ultimately rests with the parents.  If a child returns to school from the initial return date for their group, we would, of course, prefer that child to remain in school for the rest of the summer term unless circumstances change for the family, e.g. self-isolation.  However, if parents feel they wish to withdraw their child from school, this can be discussed with the class teacher or headteacher.  We cannot have children ‘dipping in and out’ from one week to the next.

Can my child return at a later date than that set by the school?

Yes, parents can decide for their children to return to school at a later date than that set by the school if we have the capacity to enable them to do so.  Some parents are being extra-cautious and waiting for a while longer before sending their children back to school.  This is fine; parents must do for their families what they think is best.  When a parent makes a decision for their child to return, children can only return on a Monday and parents are asked to inform the Headteacher of their decision by the previous Wednesday.  At the moment, we have additional capacity for Year 1 and Year 6 pupils only.  We are asking all those children whose parents want them to return before the end of term to do so by the week beginning Monday 22nd June, that is for the final three weeks of the academic year.

Will the children adhere to social distancing?

This is a difficult question to answer.  It has been accepted by everyone in schools and Government that social distancing between younger children (and some Year 6 pupils who in our experience need to be reminded constantly) is not fully achievable. Young children naturally want to play together, work alongside each other and involve each other in role-play activities or games.  Staff will make provision in the classrooms to maintain some social-distancing between children (at least 1metre) wherever this is possible and will design activities that that can be completed independently or with some discussion with other children ‘at a distance’.  We will not, for example, have all of the children sitting next to each other on the carpet or sitting round a table in a group.  We will sensitively remind the children about social-distancing when they are playing outside, although with limited play resources and some restrictions on contact games and sports, we (and the children) will have to be imaginative about how this can be achieved.  The fact that social distancing in schools cannot be fully achieved is being compensated to some extent by having the small groups/bubbles of nor more than 15 pupils in school and avoiding contact between children and staff across different groups. 

Does my child need to bring a snack to school?

At the moment, yes please.  We have been told that the national fruit scheme (for children in EYFS and Key Stage 1) will not be available until September.  For now, all parents are asked to provide a snack for their children.  This should be a healthy snack, e.g. a piece of fruit, and should be brought into school  in a named sealed plastic bag.  This can then be placed directly into the pupils’ personal storage box.

Can my child (Year 6) still take their mobile phone to school?

Yes, Year 6 can bring their mobile telephones to school.  However, we will manage their storage in a different way.  All children will be provided with a zip bag (or bring one from home) for their mobile telephone and this bag placed in their personal storage box on their desk or in their bag if they have brought one.  Mobile telephones need to in the plastic bags before entering the premises and be switched off during the school day.  They must not be removed from their box/bag until home-time.

How will lunch and breaks be organised?

Each separate small group will have a timetable for break times and lunchtimes.  Break times will be staggered so that each group has a break at a different time.  This is so that each small group has sufficient playground space and so that there is no queues or congestion at the toilets.  It will not be possible for children from one group/bubble to play with children for another group.  At lunchtimes, the situation will be similar.  We are hoping that we will have enough playground space for each group to play out at the same time at lunchtimes but some staggering of lunchtime play may be necessary.  However, children will need to stay in the allocated space with their group (and try and observe social-distancing – we are not going down the route of allocating a square in the playground).  We will have a rota for using the ‘field’ or soft-surface area, although a lot of the SMOOGA blue barriers have been removed to create our one-way system in the main playground.  We will, unfortunately, have to restrict the types of games that children play in the playground, including any sport for which there is some physical or hand contact.  Football games might be a possibility, although children must not pick up the ball with their hands and the small group size may dictate the teams and how the game is played.

What will classrooms look like?

The classrooms will look a little different in that the furniture will be arranged in a different way (single desks facing the front) and that some furniture and resources will have been removed to make way for the children to have more space around them.   Once the classrooms are ready, we will publish photographs of the pictures on this page.   A yellow/striped line is the only floor marking we will be using (we know other schools have marked out strict squares for the children but we think these are unnecessary and a little clinical) and this line aims to separate the teaching space (for the teacher to stand and move about) from the children.

Year 6 Group A (Year 6 classroom)

Year 6 Group B (Year 5 classroom)

Year 1 Group A (Year 1 Classroom)

Year 1 Group B (Year 2 classroom)

Reception Group A (Reception classroom)

Reception Group B (Nursery classroom)

How will the one-way system work?

Parents and children will access the school grounds via the vehicle gate and veer to the left to follow the usual route to the playground.  This will be a one-way system – parents must not return to the gates via this route.  Once in the playground, each group will have a designated place to sanitise their hands, stand and wait.  This waiting area is separated from the one-way path by our blue SMOOGA barriers.  You can see part of the route and the playground in the picture below.  Both parent (one parent only please) and child can wait in the playground by standing next to a ground marker of the colour of their group.  Once the children have been called into school, parents leave the waiting area (observing social-distancing from other parents) and continue to follow the the one-way system round the Key Stage 1 building, through the After-School Club corridor and leave the grounds via the pedestrian.  We are hoping that as the children become more confident (and waiting times are shortened), parents will not need to stand and wait in the playground with Year 1 and Year 6 children.  Reception children will stand and wait in the Key Stage 1 playground.  Children MUST stay with their parents and everyone needs to observe social-distancing of 2m which will be marked out with ground red/orange ground markers around the one-way route.

How will the children know what to do when they come to school for the first time?
This information is no longer applicable

A few days before the class groups are due to return, we will publish some photographs of the classrooms and playground on our website.  In addition, we are also going to give Year 6, Reception and Year 1 pupils the opportunity to come to school the day before their start date so that parents and children know the routines and can ‘practice’ arriving at school before the actual day of their return.  It is also a good opportunity to say “hello” to staff before children officially return to school.  We will send parents some information about this via email.  Two time slots for each class will be offered, usually 11am and 1.00pm.  This opportunity will hopefully reduce parents’ and children’s anxieties before the actual day of return and make any separation a little easier for our younger children.  These sessions will take place on Friday 5th June (Year 6), Tuesday 9th June (Year 1) and Friday 12th June (Reception).  For children returning to school at a later date, we will only be able to offer this

Will children be allowed to walk home?

Children in Year 6 will be allowed to/from school by themselves.  Parents need to take responsibility for this and consider the risks involved in this.  Children should observe social-distancing rules when leaving the premises and walking home on their own or near other children.  At the moment, Year 6 have a later arrival time for the morning session.  We are hoping that if things speed up a little when everyone gets used to the routines, that we can bring this start time forward.

Will home schooling be required on Fridays for those children attending school?

Home school tasks will be set for those children not returning to school and children attending school can complete these if they wish, although some tasks may have been completed in class.  

How can we be sure that parents are following the current lockdown rules?

The short answer is, we cannot.  School can only encourage parents and families to follow the rules that are still in place, e.g. social distancing from relatives, limited gatherings, etc.  We have all had to place a tremendous amount of trust in each other during these past few weeks and will need to continue to do so.  To our knowledge, we have had very few cases of COVID-19 related to families or staff of our school.  We must continue to follow the rules and expect everyone else to do so.  School has the right to withdraw the offer of a ‘return to school’ place if we know that families are purposefully breaking the rules or putting other families at risk.  The school has a responsibility to try and keep everyone safe and if that means asking a family not to attend school because they are purposefully not following the rules, then that is what we may have to do.

How can we be sure that parents are using the NHS test and trace service?

Again, the short answer is, we cannot.  We will have to trust parents to make use of this service so that we can all be better protected.  However, where we know that parents or children have had symptoms of COVID-19, we will ask for confirmation that a test has been carried out and that the result is negative before allowing the child back to school.  The Department of Education are asking us to submit daily records about the numbers of COVID-19 cases for staff and pupils.

Will the school be open to pupils during the summer holidays?

No, we are not opening to any pupils, including those of keyworkers, during the summer holidays.  The school will close to pupils on Friday 17th July.  The DfE have said that they do not expect schools to be open during the summer holidays.  In addition, the school is having planned and much-needed maintenance work to its water and heating systems carried out during the summer holidays.  All of our radiators and pipework are being replaced.  Planning work for this project is already underway and it cannot be postponed until another date given the needed for repair and that funding has been given to the school to carry out the work this summer.  Given that work will have to be carried in every room and corridor in the main building (replacement of pipework) and that the water supply is likely to be affected, access to the school building will be restricted during every week of the summer holidays.  It will not therefore be possible to have children on the school premises during the school holidays.


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