Monday 6th July 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
As you can imagine, I have spent my weekend wading through the “Big Plan” trying to get a sense of how the full re-opening is going to work for us in September. I am delighted that we are aiming for it to be Tuesday 8th for all children in Years 1 to 6 as we had originally planned way back when we set the training days in January. New Reception parents will have their plan separately as soon as it is finalised.
Whilst we wait for the initial risk assessment from Leeds City Council, I thought I would share some of the principles that we will need to work to so that you can start to have an idea of what school will look like, especially if you haven’t been in at all. Lots of the control measures will remain as it is clear that COVID-19 will be with us for a considerable time to come, but we will be able to operate bubbles of whole classes. That means we are planning on all children being back for the new term. Sections in italics are taken straight from the new guidance.
The public health advice in this guidance makes up a PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’, building on the hierarchy of protective measures that have been in use throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. When implemented in line with a revised risk assessment, these measures create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.
The system of controls provides a set of principles and if schools follow this advice, they will effectively minimise risks. All elements of the system of controls are essential.
It is essential to note here, that whilst we cannot be risk free, if everyone does their part, we can minimise risk and therefore aim to prevent a return to school closure or local lockdown.
Our essential measures will include:
- a requirement that people who are ill stay at home
- robust hand and respiratory hygiene
- enhanced cleaning arrangements
- active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
- formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible and minimise potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable
Reducing contacts will be key and our controls will include:
- grouping children together
- avoiding contact between groups
- arranging classrooms with forward facing desks
- staff maintaining distance from pupils and other staff as much as possible
- limiting the access of adults to the school site
What will it look like? What does that mean in practice for us? What we know so far…
Whilst the finer details are still being finalised, we do know:
- Staggered starts for children in each class. We can’t get 30 children in all at once to wash their hands and we need to restrict the traffic of people on site. We having outdoor sinks fitted to alleviate some of the pressure on drop off but each class will be split into 3 teams of 10. (8.30, 8.40 and 8.50am). Class bubbles will not be able to mingle on the playground before, during after school. We will continue to line up, socially distanced as we are now having washed hands. Parents of KS2 children will be asked to leave their children at one of the gates to come in independently. The playground will be staffed from 8.30 when the gates will be opened.
- Staggered finishes. The same as above (3.00, 3.10, 3.20) so all children will have the same amount of time in school. We will be asking Year 5 and 6 parents if their children can walk home independently. Where we can, we aim to group siblings to the same times, but please bear in mind that this is a huge logistical task and cannot be guaranteed.
- Staggered lunchtimes and playtimes.
- Initially lunchtimes will be in classrooms. Menus to follow.
- PE kit. Children will not be changing for PE. They may wear black jogging bottoms initially with their white polo shirt and Deighton Gates sweatshirt or present sports hoodie with trainers on PE days. In September we will send out order forms for the new PE kit uniform. It will consist of plain black jogging bottoms or plain black tracksuit bottoms and a plain white T shirt with a red Deighton Gates Sports Hoodie. It will not be compulsory but I would ask you to support it if you can. There will not be the opportunity for children to get changed in school. Uniform is a key part of our school and we would like to maintain the high standards that we aspire to. The PE kit uniform will be available to order through school or locally. All PE will be outside in the autumn term as the guidance prevents us from using the halls for the foreseeable future.
- There will be no after school sports clubs in the Autumn term. This includes multi-sports.
- We are waiting to hear from Brook Babes about their wrap around provision, once we have finalised our plan. We will work closely with them to support your child care needs.
- We are not planning any trips out of school for the foreseeable future. Swimming lessons for Year 4 are suspended for the academic year. We are hoping that the children will be able to go in Year 5.
- We are unable to plan residential trips.
We still have 2 weeks left of the current arrangements. Please can I remind you of a couple of things?
- Please adhere to the drop off and pick up times and leave the premises promptly. Scooters and bikes are not allowed to be ridden in the school grounds. Children need to be with you and must not access the wider grounds, including the trim trail.
- Please make sure that you have informed your present class teacher if you are attending the transition meeting with your child. We are unable to admit people who are not on our expected list. This is key for Track and Trace.
- Each meeting is weather dependent. Times must be strictly adhered to in order for these events to be possible. Please do not attend if you are feeling ill or displaying symptoms of COVID.
This week will be a busy one with the start of the transition meetings and we are looking forward to seeing many of you. At the same time as a staff we are looking how we can get ready for September and support the children back in the best way we can. We will be unable to hold parents meetings but in September we will be arranging for your child’s teacher to have a phone conversation with you over the first few weeks so that we can hit the ground running. You will be able to chat over what has gone well during the lockdown and where you think your child may need some targeted help. We will then build that into our reconnection curriculum going forward.
I am pretty sure that you must be getting fed up of all these letters by now but I will keep them coming until all the dots have been rejoined and we are all back together!
Take care and please keep a watch on weather forecasts!