Update regarding school reopening

Dear parents and carers,

This letter follows on from the one I sent to you on 15th May.

As the government has issued guidance to schools I can update you further on our planning for Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be able to come into school.

I do feel that it is only fair to be honest and tell you that it will be very difficult for us to ensure the safety for children and staff. We have been working hard to plan what we can do to reduce the risks of coronavirus to our whole school community.

After careful consideration and planning, the following decisions have been made :

  • Children who come into school will be in groups of no more than 15 and these groups are being called ‘bubble groups’. Children will be assigned their bubble group and will not be able to cross groups.
  • There will be 1 teacher with each bubble and possibly an LSA. They will stay with the bubble and not work with other bubbles.
  • Your child may not have their same class teacher when they come back. This is because children will be in smaller groups than usual so teachers from other year groups will be used to cover.
  • Being at school will be more restrictive for children. We will be encouraging them to distance, however we know this is not always going to be possible given their ages.
  • Classes will be set up where possible to enable a 1 meter distance between children when in the class.
  • Children in Early Years will inevitably play closer together.  We will aim to have activities and the room set up to promote some distance, along with increasing handwashing and enhanced cleaning.
  • We will be providing specific details on how children will be brought to school and collected nearer to when we welcome the children back. Drop off and collection times will be staggered, using different entrances where we can.
  • To minimise the risk of transmission, parents are not going to be able to come into school with their children and only 1 parent can bring a child to school. We know some children may be upset at leaving parents, so we will have staff that they know at the gates. Staff will do all they can to support children to come in.
  • There will be a system in place to ensure social distancing between parents and children while waiting to drop off or collect children. This includes not arriving before the allocated time.
  • Where children stay for lunch, we are looking at lunch time cover to minimise the number of SMSA staff having contact. However with staggered lunches it is likely the SMSA will supervise more than one group during the lunch period.
  • We are still working through plans for providing meals.
  • We do have staff who are not able to work in the school for health reasons and this is in line with the government guidance.
  • Because we have fewer staff in school than usual, as well as the larger number of separate groups that are needed to keep children safe, it will not be possible to have children in school full-time.
  • Whilst further planning is needed, it is looking likely we can offer two full days of school per week for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Siblings will be offered the same days.
  • For nursery children the school can offer two morning or two afternoon sessions per week.
  • For children of key workers or who are in the vulnerable group there are two choices for parents. We know mixing across bubbles would increase the risk of the virus spreading and we will not be able to offer this as an option. Therefore we will be asking these parents to decide if they want their child/children to join their year group bubble and come to school two days per week, or remain in the bubble for keyworker/vulnerable children and be able to attend five days per week.
  • There is an enhanced regime of cleaning in school, with key areas being cleaned 3 times a day.
  • The school office will remain closed to visitors, unless there is an agreed appointment. Please contact the school via email or phone to arrange this.
  • We are drafting detailed risk assessments and will be consulting with our staff and Unions on these in the near future.
  • We have reviewed the government guidance on PPE (gloves, masks/visors, aprons).The guidance is saying PPE is not recommended in schools apart from a very small number of cases identified as those children who need personal care or if a child becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus. We remain worried children and adults may have the virus without knowing. Therefore are proposing that all staff are given face visors to wear in school, and are talking to staff and unions about this. As standard, hand sanitiser will be in all rooms, and gloves and aprons would also be available.

There is a lot more work to do to ensure the safety and wellbeing for us all. I understand parents need to plan as well, and in being open with you I do need to let you know we are aiming to be ready to invite children from Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from 8th June.  As soon as I can update you on when we are ready, I will.

There isn’t any guidance from the government  about other year groups coming back into school, other than the government aim is for this to happen a month before the end of term.

The government has issued guidance for parents and a link to the information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june

We understand that you may have questions. Please send these by email to the school office rather than phoning so we can ensure that your questions are forwarded to the correct person.

We recognise that all families are facing challenges at the moment, particularly with balancing work and childcare, and ask for your patience and understanding whilst we plan how to re-open St Matthew’s. All of the decisions that are being made are done so with the safety of our whole school community in mind.

Warm regards,

Miss Barr