Coronavirus Update 15.5.20

15th May 2020

Dear parents and carers,
COVID-19 Update 15.5.20
As mentioned in my previous communication, the government recently announced that as a result of people adhering to social distancing measures, the transmission rate of Coronavirus has decreased and they anticipate a welcome back to school for some year groups in the coming weeks. They chose to begin with a phased return for early years, year one nd year six. Our first response to this was to consult parents and staff via a questionnaire to gather thoughts and feelings on this. This was followed by a feasibility study. We are presently working with our school community to prepare for a possible phased return which is flexible and which suits or settings. As you can imagine, we have many challenges ahead of us, these include:
• Instilling confidence for a safe return in staff, parents and pupils
• Health and safety checks
• Policy updating
• Cleaning and hygiene (including PPE)
• Moving around the school safely (Social distancing etc)
• Staff availability
• Group sizes
• Further steps to reduce the risk of spreading the virus
• Lunchtimes
• Behaviour and routines
• Managing pupil and staff wellbeing
• What to teach and how (re-socialisation, regaining momentum, resources, transition)
• Continuation of online learning and more
On analysing data from questionnaires, it became clear that 84% of parents are not confident in their children returning to school in the coming weeks and of those 80% are still able to work from home and 82% still have siblings at home if their child returns. The Y6 parents and children showed more confidence in a return than than the younger years. We carried out a feasibility study on the return of the younger pupils whilst taking into consideration the government’s reason for choosing these year groups. One of the reasons was for their early reading and writing skills but given the fact that children in other countries do not start their formal education until the ages of 6 or 7 and still surpass us by age 15, we felt we would rather offer more resources and support than ask them to return to school. Another reason for asking this year group was because they are less likely to engage with online activities but we have 96% engagement compared to an average of 40% nationwide. Also, given the fact that their curriculum is based on social skills and personal development, we felt that home was a much better place for them to practice these skills at the moment. We have therefore decided to work on a phased return plan for reintroducing school to year 6 only (along with keyworker and vulnerable children where required). This will take a lot of planning and will take some time so we will be emailing the parents of year six children separately once we have addressed all of the above challenges and are in a position to offer a safe place for them. There will be no statutory requirement to attend if your child is offered a place, no fines will be issued for non-attendance. We are not required to provide childcare.
We will continue to keep you updated as we make progress and when any new reliable, scientific evidence regarding safety is issued. The government plan is conditional and flexible and subject to change should the rate of infection not be where they require it to be by 1st June. We are working together with unions and the local authority with the safety of you and your children at the forefront of all our discussions.
Thank you for all of your ongoing support, staff children and yourselves are working so hard to keep learning simmering whilst addressing your child’s emotional wellbeing. Well done to all of you. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions or concerns.
Take care and stay safe,
Paula Blackburn