Tuesday 19th May 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope that you and your families are managing to stay safe and well.
As you know, we have been working hard to develop a plan for partial reopening which balances our desire to have the children back in school, with the need to keep everyone as safe as we can. Thank you to everyone who completed the survey last week to help us with this. The reopening of schools has gained a lot of media attention but please be confident that we are focussing carefully on the best and safest options for our school community.
First and foremost, the Governing Board and I would like to reassure that you that our priority as a school is the safety of our children and staff. We will endeavour to make sure that school is as safe a place as it can be. I do, however, need to make you aware that the social distancing rules of maintaining a distance of 2 metres will be very difficult to achieve with our youngest children. In addition, the school building and classrooms themselves do not always allow for a distance of 2 metres. We will, however, have robust hygiene measures in place; regular hand washing and increased disinfecting of surfaces and equipment that children have used. Any child, parent or staff member with symptoms of coronavirus, or who has a member of their household with symptoms will not be allowed to attend school.
Like all Torbay Schools, we are working closely with the Local Authority and other partners to support families during the Covid 19 pandemic. Following the announcement about some children returning to school from the 1st June, we have been working with all schools and the Local Authority to consider how to provide an offer to those families that are eligible. Of course, your child may have been attending school for some of the time since the end of March and they will still be able to attend if they meet the criteria to do so. Primary schools and nurseries are now planning to open to more year groups (Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6), if it is possible and safe to do this after half term.
In partnership with the Local Authority and Torbay schools, we have agreed that we will welcome back all eligible year groups on a part time basis (key worker and vulnerable children will continue to be able to attend full time). In the first two weeks, you can expect a minimum of five teaching days to be provided to your child. Attendance is encouraged but is voluntary and no action will be taken (such as a penalty notice) if you choose not to send your child.
For the first two weeks, to allow us to maintain smaller class sizes, we will open to half the year group at a time. Half of the year group will attend school on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in week one and then Thursday and Friday of week two. The other half of the year group will attend on Thursday and Friday in week one and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in week two.
If your child is vulnerable or you are a key worker, we will be able to offer either a full-time place for your child (your child will be in a separate group and not with their class group in order to maintain small social bubbles and appropriate staffing levels) or part-time hours as described above.
Planning for this needs to be very carefully managed and we want you, as parents and carers, to be in the best position possible to make an informed decision about whether you wish to return your child to school in June. Therefore, we hope that the following information is useful in helping you come to an informed decision.
• Will my child be kept at least 2 metres away from other children and adults at all times?
No. We cannot guarantee that children attending school will maintain a 2-metre distance from their peers. This is especially true for our younger pupils in the Foundation Stage and Year 1. We will do all we can ensure children keep 2 metres apart where possible, but we have limited space in corridors and toilet areas and children aged 3, 4, 5 and 6 will not be able to stay within a confined space or sat at a desk throughout the day.
• Will my child need to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
No. Your child will not be expected to wear any PPE whilst in school. Advice from the government is that PPE can be detrimental to safety for young children and so we would ask that you do not send your child in with PPE, such as face masks.
• Will my child be in school for the whole day?
No. There will be a staggered start and end to the day, to minimize risk and support the ability of people to socially distance at these times. The logistics around start and end times will be challenging so we will require parents to be prompt when dropping off or collecting their children.
• Can my child attend every day?
If your child is classed as vulnerable or you are a key worker, your child will be able to attend school every day. For all other children across Torbay, all schools are working towards providing a minimum of 5 days within the first fortnight. Timetables will be allocated by the school and, due to the complexities of organising groups and staff, assigned days in school will not be negotiable.
• How will children be grouped?
The children will be taught in smaller groups of children from the same year group, by the same adult, while this is possible. These groups will remain the same; we will not mix them. As many children as possible will also be looked after in the classroom that they are familiar with. Having access to familiar staff and classroom environments is one of the major reasons we are providing a part time offer. We believe strongly that providing this familiarity is crucial for our very youngest children returning to school. Grouping will be decided by class teachers and will not be negotiable.
• What will my child be taught?
They will complete the learning that has been set as part of the weekly home learning tasks. It is essential that the entitlement is the same for those in school and those at home. They will also have a daily allocated PE slot.
• Will my child mix with key worker children?
Possibly. Children of key workers requiring full day cover for the whole week will be kept separate from their year group as we wish to reduce the possibility of cross contamination between groups.
• Will my child receive a school dinner?
For the first two weeks of partial reopening, we will be offering all children a free school packed lunch. This is to minimise the risk of cross contamination. They will need to bring in their own water bottle, which should be filled with water.
• Will my child have to wear school uniform?
Your child will need to wear their school uniform. They should wear shoes that they can do sport in (not sandals). Children in Nursery, Reception or Year 1 should not have laces. If your child has grown out of their uniform, please let us know.
• Will all the children arrive and leave school at the same time?
No. We will stagger arrival and departure times so we reduce congestion. We will also use a different entrance for each year group. Practical details will be released nearer the time but be aware that, in line with the government’s documentation, parents are unlikely to be allowed on the school site.
• Will my children who are in different year groups be able to attend school on the same days?
If you have children in different year groups, we will try to make sure that they attend school on the same days. However, they will not have the same start and finish times.
• Will I be fined or taken to court if I decide to keep my child at home rather than send them to school?
No. The decision to return your child to school is voluntary and no action will be taken against you if you decide you would rather keep them at home.
In order for us to finalise our plans and for your child to be allocated a place, please complete the form using the link below by midday on Tuesday 26th May. This includes for those key worker and vulnerable children who have been attending over the last eight weeks.
Best wishes and thank you so very much for your ongoing support at this challenging time,