Thursday 4th June 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
Once again it has been a busy week in school with putting the latest guidance from the Government into practice in terms of the risk assessment and I am delighted that we will now be able to proceed with our plan for a wider re-opening on Monday 8th June by welcoming firstly the Year 1 children who have previously expressed a wish to return. We will be sending out letters to those families later this week with specific instructions. The plan at the moment is to open Year 6 on the following Monday 15th June, with a view to Reception after that. Each week we will review the safeguarding practices and risk assessment and make adjustments where required. We do have to be clear that the measures that we put in place are to reduce risk and we cannot guarantee that risk is eradicated. We will be strict with our isolation of the bubbles of Key Worker children and individual year groups but we have no control over who those children mix with outside of school or at other providers. Because of the complicated logistics, we are unable to guarantee that your child will be with their chosen friends or teacher. It is very rare that we have to be so inflexible, but unfortunately this is one case when we will be unable to accommodate everyone’s wishes.
The Government’s list of critical workers that was due for review during half term finally landed this week. There were no changes to the scope of critical workers but we have seen a significant upturn in requests for child care in the Key Worker bubbles. Vulnerable children and Key Worker children are prioritised in the guidance and we are pleased that we have been able to accommodate all new requests this week. There are still a few practicalities that we need to iron out, mainly the dropping off and collecting of children but it has fed into revised processes for the children coming in next week. In addition, yesterday we received the long awaited specific guidance about procedures and letters for parents should a child fall ill in school.
These plans are subject to us having a full complement of staff. If staff fall ill and are absent (non- COVID) children will not be able to attend school as we cannot provide cover and parents will need to make alternative child care arrangements. If anyone in the bubble tests positive for COVID, the whole bubble will be isolated from school for 14 days. We just hope it doesn’t come to this.
I would like all parents to know that our focus on each and every child will not change whether your child is in school or not. We are here, albeit remotely, for each one of you. I completely understand the disappointment and difficulties for families who have not been given the choice of sending their child back to school at this point. The “chosen” year groups may appear arbitrary and it is not my role to express a personal opinion on who should be top of the list. In my view, I want to be able to welcome every single child safely and I know the staff feel the same. I have always been open with you and this won’t change. If all the Key Worker bubbles and planned year group bubbles are filled we will be at maximum capacity in terms of staffing and there will be no possibility of additional year groups being able to return before the summer. If the Government and Local Authority guidance changes, we will amend our plans and look at how we can do it. However, the next planned review of guidance is not due until the end of this month.
In terms of looking further ahead, I have absolutely no idea at this point what September will look like. I can assure you that I find that as frustrating as you do. I am hoping that the Government is planning this now and we will be ready to look at how it can best work for all classes. I am hoping that it can be done in a timely, transparent and safe way without the stresses that the present wider opening is causing to all concerned. We are in the final stages of employing a new Reception Teacher for September. The process has been severely hampered by the lockdown but we are confident that we have secured a fantastic new teacher to join the team. As soon as the paperwork is finalised, we will introduce them to you! I will be unable to share further staffing with you until I know what the expectations for September are but I do need to prepare you that not all teachers will be “moving up” with their classes. I know that some of you will be disappointed as we are hoping that we can do this for the present Reception and Year 1s but this is just not logistically possible in school for the other classes.
My next focus is on liaising with High Schools so that we can do the best that we can for all our Year 6s, whether in school or not, so that they feel secure in starting their new schools and that High Schools have as much information as possible. Miss Pickles has already had extensive discussions with some schools.
Finally for today, please can I ask that you really read closely the information and instructions we send if your child will be attending school. It is absolutely essential that only one parent drops a child off and that you arrive at exactly the right time in the right place. Cars will not be permitted in the car park after today. If we all follow the safety measures, we reduce the risk of the virus spreading and therefore prevent having to close bubbles.
I think that in my last letter, I said it was the most challenging of times I had worked in. I can confidently say that the last 10 days have been the hardest yet, trying to balance my ambition of getting children back with their safety and the well-being of staff amidst a torrent of guidance. Thank you to the key workers who managed to source childcare in half term, it meant that the staff could have their first break since March. It was strange being the only one here but I was supported by the pictures of smiling children that surround me in school and kind wishes from parents.
Wishing you all the best for a safe next phase