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Dear Parents and Carers,

I am sure that you, like me, have spent much time this week thinking about the latest Government guidelines on the possible  reopening of schools for pupils in certain year groups from 1st June.

It is important to keep in mind that the Government have stated that this is a conditional plan and as such its implementation will be dependent on many factors around the spread and containment of the coronavirus. It seems that there is general scientific consensus that children are not suffering from the virus in the way older people are, but there doesn’t appear to be any consensus on whether or not children spread the virus.

However, we are currently planning and considering the logistics of offering provision for:

  1. Children in Year 6, Year 1, Reception and possibly Nursery
  2. Children identified by school as vulnerable or the children of key workers as set out by Government (These children have already been accessing childcare at Crossdale since March)

One of the difficulties in planning is knowing exactly how many pupils we will be catering for. The Government are encouraging all eligible children to attend (where there are no shielding concerns in their households) so that they can gain the educational and well-being benefits of attending. However, we are aware that some parents may be unsure about sending their children back to school. To support you in making a decision, the following guidance from the Department for Education may be useful:

  • Children should be in groups of 15 or fewer children in a classroom led by a teacher or teaching assistant. Each of these groups would be in its own ‘bubble’ through the school day
  • Children should not be able to mix with children who are not in their bubble. This may require staggered assemblies, playtimes and lunchtimes.
  • Staggered starts and ends to enable safe drop offs and collections are advisable, meaning not all children will start at 9am and end the day at 3.30pm.
  • Any provision may be limited to allow for cleaning and hygiene, meaning the timetable will need to be reduced.
  • There is no obligation to initially provide wrap-around care – not offering wrap-around care will help limit children’s contact to their bubble. (We will review this for key workers).
  • Schools have the option to phase some year groups back on a priority basis, meaning all year groups (R, Y1 and Y6) may not start back to school on the same date.
  • Brothers and sisters of Reception, Year1 and Year 6 children will only be admitted if they meet the vulnerable / key worker classification.
  • Only 1 parent will be allowed to pick up or drop off their children.
  • If there is a confirmed case of Coronavirus, all children in that bubble will be told to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Schools should focus on handwashing, good hygiene measures and effective cleaning routines

You can find the full Government guidance for parents and carers by clicking here.

I want to stress that we will be doing our very best to ensure that social distancing between staff and children, and between the children themselves, is adhered to. However, we are dealing with children and as you well know, children are inherently unpredictable. There is a crucial piece of information in the guidelines sent to schools by the Government:

  • We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account.

In terms of curriculum content and teaching, in many ways this would be a continuation of the materials we have been sending home, within an overarching aim of ensuring the emotional and social health of the children after a long period away from school. There would be English and maths work for the mornings and additional activities for the afternoons. Continuing with a similar curriculum will mean we can still offer home learning to children not attending school – children at home and school will have access to almost the same curriculum.

The decision on whether or not you choose to send your children back lies ultimately with you - hopefully the information in this letter will be useful in this regard. Although we will continue to encourage our vulnerable children to attend school, there will be no pressure placed on you by school. Furthermore, the Government has said parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.

We will continue to plan and will be in touch over the coming days to share more information with you, as it emerges, and also to ask your views on sending your children back to school.

Our priority as a school is always the safety of the children and the staff, first and foremost in everything we do. All we can do as a school at this time is implement fully the guidelines the Government have given us, give you the same information we have been given and, if your children do return, promise to look after them as carefully as we would our own.

Best wishes,

Peter Cresswell