26th February 2021
THE RE-OPENING OF OUR SCHOOL TO ALL CHILDREN
MONDAY 8TH MARCH
Dear Parents and Families
Following the government’s announcement on Monday regarding the reopening of schools to all children on Monday 8th March, we are all looking forward to welcoming the children back to school and I wanted to give you as much information as possible about how this will happen at Newlands and how we will ensure that returning to school will be as safe as possible, taking into account the latest guidance from the Department for Education.
We are currently updating our risk assessment to make sure that we continue to minimise the risk of infection. We are also reviewing our contingency plans, in case of any local outbreak or of any changes in restrictions.
Much of the content of the latest guidance replicates what served our school so well during the autumn term. I have a legal duty to protect people from harm, which includes taking reasonable steps to protect our staff, children and members of our community from coronavirus in our school. This means implementing sensible and proportionate control measures to reduce the risk to the lowest practicable level.
The system of controls in school is the set of actions we take to reduce risk and create a safer environment. We continue to work in partnership with Public Health England, as well as with officers of Southampton City Council, including Debbie Chase, our local Director of Public Health and staff from the city’s Education team, to control the spread of the virus while ensuring we can welcome our children back to school as safely as possible.
To prevent the spread of the virus at school, we will:
In response to any infection, we will:
Children, staff and all other adults must not come to school if they or any member of their household, support bubble or childcare bubble have any symptoms of coronavirus, or are required for any reason to quarantine or if they have had a positive test. They must not attend school for at least 10 days from the day after the start of their symptoms or the positive test date if they had no symptoms (whatever type of test showed as positive).
If anyone at our school develops a new and continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in their normal sense of taste or smell, we will:
Other members of their household (including siblings and members of their support or childcare bubble) should also self isolate and must not come onto the school site.
Members of staff and pupils who have been in close contact with someone with symptoms of coronavirus does not need to go home and self isolate unless:
Face coverings for children in primary schools are not recommended and we will not expect our children to wear one onsite.
Parents must wear a face covering at all times onsite unless exempt. Our staff will wear face coverings when greeting visitors to the site (eg at the school gates) or when working in situations with other staff or children where safe distancing is not possible and where this does not impede on teaching and learning.
Good Hygiene and Cleanliness
All children and staff will be expected to wash their hands regularly with soap and water or with hand sanitiser, including:
This is regular practice in school and we have hand sanitiser stations as well as plentiful supplies of soap and disposable paper towels for everyone in school.
We will continue to ensure there is a plentiful supply of tissues and lidded bins in each room to support children to follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ routine at all times.
We will continue to maintain an enhanced cleaning schedule, including:
We know that consistent groups reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the number of pupils and staff in contact with each other. We will be keeping our class (or year group bubbles for specialist teaching and outdoor play) separate at all times and seating the children carefully in their classroom and the lunch hall so we limit face to face contact within 1 metre. These actions make it quicker and easier in the event of a positive case to identify those who may need to self isolate and to keep that number as small as possible. Our staff will keep seating plans for each room to help that further.
Maintaining bubbles during the autumn term meant that we were able to assure the quality of teaching and breadth of the curriculum, while ensuring there were very few occasions we had to ask children to self isolate and this will continue once all children return to school.
Classrooms based resources, such as books and games, can be used and shared within a bubble but will be cleaned regularly. Sports and science equipment which may be used across bubbles is cleaned thoroughly after each use or allowed to be left untouched for at least 48 hours (72 hours for plastics). Each bubble has their own set of outdoor play equipment which is cleaned daily.
Teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year groups to facilitate the smooth operation of the school. However, where staff need to move between groups, they will try to keep their distance from the children and other staff as much as they can and we will always minimise the number of interactions or changes wherever possible.
We also realise that positive relationships are part of what makes good schools work well and there are times when staff need to work more closely with children when, for example, looking at work together, supporting their learning or emotional support. This will continue.
We will continue to hold assemblies online so that groups and the entire school can come together virtually to celebrate achievement and share information efficiently whilst we cannot all meet in the same space.
Arriving and Leaving School
The latest guidance is very clear, that schools should consider staggered starts and adjusting start and finish times to keep groups apart as they arrive and leave. Like before, we would like families with more than one child in school to arrive in Group 1 and those with just one child in school to arrive in Group 2.
Drop off Time
Pick up Time between
You can arrive at any time during your 10 minute entry slot and do not have to arrive before this time! We are hoping a 10 minute window will support with less queuing. Following feedback from parents, you can use whichever gate is closest to home in order to drop off and pick up your child(ren). We will be opening the bottom gate (Ullswater/Mansel Road East) as well in the mornings as an extra drop off point. We are hoping that 3 drop off gates will also ease the queues. Ullswater and Windermere Gates will be open for pick ups and we will run the same one way systems as before to pick up and exit the site safely. Please be patient and again use the pick up slot wisely, so there is less queuing!
Where children are accompanied to school, only one adult should come onto the site. That adult must wear a face covering, unless exempt – if exempt, you must have a way of proving this to staff please. Parents must not gather around the school gates or come into the building without an appointment. We encourage all children and families to walk, cycle or scoot to and from school wherever it is possible and safe to do so. HOWEVER PLEASE NOTE BIKES AND SCOOTERS CANNOT CURRENTLY BE BROUGHT ONTO SITE SO WOULD NEED TO GO HOME WITH PARENTS.
Where you need to use public transport, please follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.
Now that the lighter evenings are here, we ask that, where it is safe to do so, Year 5 & 6 children arrive at school and go home by themselves in Group 2. (A permission form will need completing if you have not already done so). Their school day will end at 3.15pm. This will ease pressures on gates and allow them the independence they would usually have at this time in their school career.
School Uniform & PE Kits
Children need to be back to school in uniform please. We ask that on PE days, they continue to wear suitable PE kits for the whole of those days. This worked very well in the autumn term. For some year groups, additional PE has been added to their timetable so they may need to wear PE kits on more than one day. Teachers will communicate days to you.
What to bring:
The updated guidance says children should bring as little to school as possible!
Children will need:
hats and coats (dependent on the weather)
book bags for reading books and home work
In order to reduce the concentration of the virus in the air, we will maintain good ventilation and a comfortable teaching environment through natural ventilation as well as effective heating throughout the building. In the event of cold weather, we advise an extra under layer as windows will be open. We will keep the inside temperature under constant review as cold children and staff do not work well! All rooms have doors and windows open when rooms are empty during break and lunch to enable good circulation of air.
Limited spaces are available in Breakfast Club but only for parents/carers who need to use this facility to enable them to go to work. Places must be booked and paid for in advance. Children will be kept in their bubble groups during this time. We will review places again after Easter and hope to open more widely then.
After School Clubs
After School Clubs will not begin until after Easter but we are hoping to offer a wide range of exciting outdoor clubs during the summer term. Further details will follow before Easter.
If a child or bubble is forced to self-isolate remote learning will be put in place. Again there is the expectation that children will continue to access education remotely in this situation. School is expected to monitor engagement in remote learning unless your child is actually unwell.
Chromebooks & Laptops
For those children who have had laptop or Chromebook loans during the school closure period, we ask that all devices are returned to school by Friday 12th March. These devices will then be signed back in, checked and thoroughly sanitised, before returning to classrooms to support learning in school. We have a set of Chromebooks to lend out, should a bubble or individual be asked to self-isolate and we are sure this will help to support remote learning if required in the future.
The full school lunch offer will be back in place from 8th March. All children in Years R, 1 and 2 are entitled to a free school meal under the Universal FSM scheme. In addition, children who are entitled to benefits-related FSM will be offered a free school meal. Meals can also be purchased for any other children. The FSM voucher scheme and food parcel offer stops on the return to school.
Staff Asymptomatic Testing
For a number of weeks now our staff have engaged with twice weekly asymptomatic testing and this will continue as part of our plan to suppress the virus. Children in primary schools are not part of the regular school testing programme (unlike those in secondary schools).
Finally, I hope my very full letter gives you all the information you need to be reassured that we are certainly going above and beyond to keep every member of our school community as safe as possible. We realise that children have been out of school for long enough over the past year and as adults we have missed the normal routines and just seeing all the children every day. The guidance is clear that school attendance is compulsory for all pupils from Monday 8th March and we are really looking forward to welcoming everybody back.
If you have any questions about any aspect of our plans, please do contact us. Once again I would like to thank you for your ongoing support and understanding.