Dear Parents and Carers
Update on Potential Wider Reopening of Schools
Further to our letter last week, we are writing to update you on the progress we are making towards the potential wider reopening of schools.
You may be aware that the Government will announce further advice on the COVID-19 pandemic on May 28th specifically around the 5 tests that need to be met before it is safe to make any further changes to the current restrictions in place.
We feel that it is sensible to review this before making a final decision on any changes in current provision at our school. However, subject to a positive set of indicators, we are proposing that after half term the following arrangements will be put in place starting from Tuesday 2nd June. Should the situation change, we will make every effort to keep you informed.
We have been working on our risk assessments of the site, staffing and classrooms. These risk assessments are provided by Southampton City council and form the basis for our decision making around the safety of any wider reopening decisions. Overall our priority remains the safety of staff and pupils in our school.
Following the Government guidance, it has become clear that the safest way to proceed is to teach the children in small, consistent groups. The only way of implementing this is to proceed with a phased approach to any wider reopening. The impact of each stage will be reviewed before we consider moving on to the next phase of our proposed plan.
Key Worker Children and Those with Specific Vulnerabilities
In line with Government guidance, our ongoing priority is to provide support for key worker children and those who have been identified with specific vulnerabilities. Having reviewed the potential number of key worker children we may be asked to support, we have had to take the difficult decision to prioritise those children who have already accessed key worker provision since 20th March. If we are able to accommodate additional key worker children safely then we will do so in a considered and stepped approach. Key worker children who have previously accessed childcare provision will be able to continue to do so from 1st June.
In order to maintain small, consistent groups of children, we have a limited capacity to safely accommodate them in school. We would ask you to give serious consideration as to whether or not you can continue to care for children outside of years R and 1 at home and continue to do this if you’re able. If you are a key worker but haven’t accessed childcare prior to 22nd May, please contact the school and you will be placed on a waiting list which will be reviewed regularly. As soon as we are safely able to offer your child a place in school we will contact you.
Why Years R, 1 and 6?
The Government have identified that children in Years R, 1 and 6 should be prioritised in the wider reopening of schools. The guidance prioritises children in Year R, then Year 1 and finally Year 6 if schools are not safely able to welcome back all three year groups at once.
On Tuesday 2nd June, we are proposing to welcome back the children from Year R. Thank you to everyone who has responded that they will be sending their child to school. We will be contacting you separately with specific arrangements about your child’s return to school.
It is important to note at this stage that whilst we are making every effort to keep certain aspects of school life consistent for returning children, there will be some significant changes to daily school life. Having reviewed the space we have available in classrooms, the maximum number of children we can safely accommodate in a classroom is 15. This means that children may not be based in the classroom they were in prior to lockdown. We are also having to use staff from outside of their year group to support these smaller classes. Again, this means your child may not have the teacher they did prior to lockdown.
If Phase 1 runs as we are expecting it to, we are provisionally planning to welcome back children from Year 1 who have indicated they will be returning from Monday 8th June.
Again, it is important to note at this stage that whilst we are making every effort to keep certain aspects of school life consistent for returning children, there will be some significant changes to daily school life. Having reviewed the space we have available in classrooms, the maximum number of children we can safely accommodate in a classroom is 15. This means that children may not be based in the classroom they were in prior to lockdown. We are also having to use staff from outside of their year group to support these smaller classes. Again, this means your child may not have the teacher they did prior to lockdown.
Our next priority will be to open up to pupils in Year 6. At this stage, we are not able to confirm a specific date that we will be able to welcome Year 6 back to school. We are aiming to do this as soon as we can but need to be confident that we can do this as safely and as closely to the Government guidance as possible. We appreciate this may be unsettling for our families but we need to approach all phases of wider reopening with caution.
Wednesday Afternoon Closures
Please note we will be closing the school from 12pm every Wednesday. Exact finishing times for each year group will be confirmed in due course.
The only exception for this will be children of key workers who for the first week will be able to remain in school on a Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday afternoon provision for key worker children will have to be reviewed on a week by week basis due to staffing capacity to cover this.
We legally have to give staff planning time and we cannot do this without cross contamination of groups. We also need the capacity to allow for further deep cleaning of the school each week and this will enable us to facilitate this.
Wrap Around Care
We know how valued Tiger Club is and we have spent many hours trying to plan rota’s and provision to keep this running as we move towards wider opening of the school. Sadly, there is no possible way of us maintaining small, consistent groups and continuing this consistency into breakfast and after school club. Children attending wrap around care would then move into class groups and if in the worst case scenario one of them became unwell, the potential spread of COVID would be far greater across a higher number of groups of children.
Clinically Vulnerable and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Groups
If a child lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting.
If a child lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out in the COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable guidance, it is advised they only attend an education setting if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may not be possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, we do not expect those individuals to attend. They should be supported to learn or work at home.
The school office will remain closed and you will only be able to contact them via the school telephone number or email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Parents will not be allowed to enter the school premises unless a prior arrangements has been made.
The existing stringent handwashing routine will continue throughout the day. Children will be asked to wash their hands on entry to school and when leaving school as well as at regular intervals during the day.
All equipment will be cleaned regularly.
All soft furnishings have been removed.
Children will be sensitively taught and guided through these changes as part of our PSHE sessions. They will make their own new class charter for this situation.
Parents are encouraged to walk or cycle to school, however we will not be able to store bikes and scooters on the premises. The use of public transport in line with the government advice is to avoid this if you can or take protective measures.
We will continue to provide home learning packs for those children who are not attending school. The next pack will cover the period 8th – 19th June.
We continue to follow the strict guidance if anyone becomes unwell with a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss of smell and taste. We ask that parents are vigilant in informing us if your child or a member of your household develop the symptoms COVID-19. We strongly urge you to take this very seriously to protect our staff and our children.
Finally, please bear in mind that there is always the possibility that Government guidance will change between now and the 2nd June. These are our initial tentative plans but are subject to change if the need arises.
Thank you for your continued support. We have received many lovely messages and positive feedback about how we have been supporting you over recent weeks. We recognise that this is a very difficult time for all of our families and are proud of what an amazing community we are all part of.
The Senior Leadership Team at Foundry Lane
David Higlett, Chair of Governors