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Letter from Mrs Harrison 18/05/2020

Sunday 17th May

 

Dear Parents and Carers,

 

Thank you to those who responded so promptly to the questionnaire last week – we had 125 responses. As anticipated, there were a wide range of responses, but we welcomed the honesty with which you explained your response.

 

It is extremely challenging to assimilate all of the guidance that is coming in from the Government as it comes from a vast array of sources including their briefings at 5pm, their briefings to the press and media and the often contradictory written guidance to schools that changes daily. As parents, you can be assured that we are doing our very best to take all reasonable measures to prioritise the health, safety and welfare of children, colleagues and the community. But I must be clear that it is not the responsibility of Head Teachers or schools to convince parents it is safe, that is the job of the Government. I will not be able to discuss your decision with you personally. That is your responsibility. There will be no fines or judgement if you choose to keep your children at home. By the same token, we will do our best to keep children safe if you choose to send them in. I will share the details of the measures that we are putting in place, once they have been finalised.

 

In the meantime, below I am sharing the outline plans that we have so far. These are based on the Government’s safety recommendations in the context of our school and in discussion with Leeds Education Authority. Once again, I reiterate that this is a plan for our school community only and should not be compared with other schools. This is our plan for our school as we know it best. The opening of school from the 1st June should not be confused with a return to the education that your child was receiving prior to March 20th. It will be very different with huge limitations. At Deighton Gates we are planning for September as life being somewhat closer to normal than June.

 

The Senior Leadership Team have already been in school to look at how this works and will continue to do so this week. We have been advised to take things carefully to check that we can keep everyone safe by trialling some of the systems that might help to manage the risk. We are therefore planning to start with 2 groups of Year 1 children (max 10 per bubble) from Tuesday 2nd June. (Monday will be staff training day to familiarise and train staff with new procedures and the risk assessments. We will be closed to all children on the Monday.). We then aim to invite some Y6 children in (date to be confirmed). Reception is somewhat harder. With advice to remove such a long list of resources such as water, play-do, fabrics and to try to prevent from sharing, we need to consider how that can work. Last night’s suggestion at the briefing that we just sit them at socially distanced desks is not going to work. We also want to work with partner schools to share ideas.

 

Some of the planned measures for school from after half term that have been agreed so far:

  • Children will be in group bubbles of no more than 10 children in a classroom. Children in a group bubble will arrive, leave and play at different times to other group bubbles. They will have no contact with other bubbles. These will not change weekly.
  • Morning drop off times will be staggered for all three year groups. Clarification of drop off arrangements to comply with social distancing will be released next week.
  • One member of staff will lead each bubble (unless a job share). This will not necessarily be the present class teacher but may be a Teaching Assistant or other member of staff.
  • If a member of the bubble shows symptoms and subsequently tests positive for the virus (staff or child), all members of the bubble will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Desks will be 2m apart. Children will not be able to share resources and will keep their tray with them on their desk with their pencil and books in.
  • Children will not be able to bring items from home other than a coat, water bottle and lunch box.
  • Parents will have an allocated time slot to bring their child to the classroom door and to collect at the end of the day. They will not be able to wait in the playground.
  • Children will not be allowed to wear a mask in school. Staff will have the choice as to whether to wear a mask or not.
  • Social distancing at playtimes and lunch times will be actively promoted and children will not be able to share equipment.
  • A room will be allocated as a medical room where children will wait to be collected by a parent if they show symptoms of the virus or are ill. Staff supervising them will have access to full PPE.
  • Children attending school in R, Y1 and 6 will wear uniform where possible. Clothing will need to be washed every day.
  • School will be closed to classes on Friday afternoons.
  • If you commit to sending your child to school, it is expected that they will attend school every day unless they are ill. In the case of illness, we must be informed by parents leaving a message on the absence line.
  • Key worker children for other year groups will continue to access child-care provision in the hall. They will have their own arrival, departure and break times. They will not mix with the school bubbles. They do not need to wear uniform. Child-care will be provided on Friday afternoons for key worker children if required. Key worker children only need to attend on days that they have been booked in.
  • Children can only be in 1 bubble. Children attending school cannot access the key worker child-care provision.

 

It is essential that parents and children recognise that this will not be school as we know it. Tragically the rite of passage for Year 6 children will not happen this year. High schools will not be arranging transition visits, the residential is already cancelled and there can be no end of year whole class events. Our curriculum offer will need to be looked at carefully over the coming weeks. If the weather continues to be kind, we will be outside as much as we can. For children not accessing school, staff will endeavour to continue to provide the learning activities as we have done so far. These are greatly supplemented by the Oak Academy and BBC Bitesize resources that are now available.

 

I agree with the Government that the first 2 years in school are key. The children have missed some of that early schooling and anything we do now is not going to have a significant impact on filling those gaps with the limitations listed above, so we have agreed that Miss Welsh will take the Reception Class into Y1 from September. I am sure you will agree that she knows the children best and where they were up to. She is best placed to pick up where they left off in March and manage that transition to the Year 1 curriculum when, and only when, the children are ready. By the same measure, Year 1 children were only just finding their feet in Key Stage 1 and their path towards Year 2 would be tricky if we just expected them to be ready in September and with a new teacher. Therefore, I am delighted that Mrs Bourne, who joined us part time in January, will be taking the class into Year 2 and will be full time from September. Mrs Bourne is experienced across the whole of Key Stage 1 and will be able to work with where the children are now and aid that transition to the Year 2 curriculum as they are ready. I would like to thank Miss Welsh and Mrs Bourne for helping us to make this happen with their support for the children in their classes. We hope that this will go some way to reassuring those parents who would prefer to keep their child at home until after the summer holidays. Details of the new Reception Teacher for September will be announced as soon as we are able to do so.

 

 

In the meantime, in the content of the email you have just received, for parents of children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 ONLY you will find a simple form to return by email to the school office (staff@deightongates.leeds.sch.uk) to confirm if you intend to send your child/children to school after half term. Please could this be completed by 5.00pm on Wednesday 20th May 2020. This will give us time to allocate children to their bubble and give you a start time if you are in Year 1 or 6. Staffing of each bubble will not be allocated until it is confirmed that the Government’s 5 tests have been met and that we are being asked to open. At that stage, we will have a better idea of which staff will be available for work.

 

We will be closed at half term whilst we all take a break. No additional work will be set on the class web-pages but activities will stay on there. We are hoping that annual reports will be out at the start of June based on assessments made up to and including the Spring Term.

 

I would like to take the opportunity to thank you again for all of your support. You really have been incredible throughout all of this and your kind words have been a constant boost to morale in school.

 

Once we have finalised our detailed plan towards the end of the week, I hope to share it with you so that it may answer any questions that you may have.

 

 

Best wishes

Claire Harrison

 

 

 

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