Very, many thanks for all of your hard work with your children at home and your efforts to support the school in the current situation. This is really very much appreciated by our schools.

As you will already know, the Government have said that some children may be able to return to school from June 1st, if it is safe to do so. Further Government guidance was issued last Monday night to enable schools to plan for a possible safe return to school for some of the children from the 1st June 2020.

The key messages from Government are;

  1. Schools continue to offer places to the most vulnerable children and to children of key workers
  2. Schools will look at ways to open to more children from June 1st if is considered safe to do so
  3. Parents will NOT be fined for not sending their children to school
  4. If a child is shielding, then they should NOT attend school
  5. If a child lives with someone who is shielding then they should NOT be in school.
  6. Groups of children must NOT mix together or come into contact, and children within a group need to stay 2 metres apart, if they can. This will be particularly hard to enforce for Early Years children.
  7. If there is a shortage of teachers, a teaching assistant can lead a group.
  8. Aim is for all children to have some time in school before the Summer holidays.

As outlined by the Government our schools will prioritise the following groups of pupils:

Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6

Plans for bringing children back into our schools may be different to this in our 2 Special Schools. These schools will let parents know of their arrangements over the coming days, as will the Primary Schools.

Please can parents understand that this will most likely mean most children will only attend for a few sessions each week maximum and may well not be able to with be with their existing teacher. We know this will be a very anxious time for you and your children and our schools will do all that we possibly can to support your children and ensure that they are safe in our schools.

Over the next two weeks, we need to plan in case we can open to more children on June 1st and our schools will be doing the following;

  1. Sending out a survey or calling parents to find out how many parents want to take up places for eligible children
  2. Analyse the responses to identify key groups of children
  3. Review staffing to ensure enough staff are well and available to work
  4. Ensure adequate and appropriate cleaning and PPE resources are fully available
  5. Update our risk assessments, we have now measured every classroom, toilet area and learning space and know how many children can fit into each room at any one time
  6. Move all tables in classrooms and seats to separate children so they are 2m apart
  7. Plan timetable so that we can offer as much outdoor learning as possible
  8. Plan how any remaining staff can continue to support ‘home learning’ for children, where possible, given that a lot of staff will be in school
  9. Plan our groups of children and staff, so that they are safe and safety and hygiene rules can be followe
  10. Re plan our school environments so that groups MUST stay in 1 room during the day and term
  11. Plan staggered break & lunchtimes so the groups are not mixing together/moving around the school at the same time
  12. Plan how and where lunches will be provided and eaten including the potential cancellation of the current voucher system for free school meals for those who access school
  13. Plan new staggered drop-off and collection times –only one parent can bring their child/ren so we will share drop off/collection points and timings for each group
  14. Plan increased cleaning as toys and equipment can only be used by one group
  15. Plan increased cleaning during and end of each day.

For those children who gain a place in school, there are some strict guidelines specified by the Government;

  1. No unnecessary use of buses/coaches/taxis for children arriving to school, encourage children to cycle or walk to school.
  2. No visitors/staff/children/families/contractors can enter the building if they have symptoms.
  3. Only 1 parent/carer can escort a child to school.
  4. Parents/carers cannot enter site and/or gather at school gates and doors.
  5. Don’t share stationery or resources. Shared areas and surfaces need cleaning daily, and disinfected/bleached frequently.

All of the above will be considered in each of the school plans.

I hope you find this outline of what our schools will be doing useful in clarifying both the Government requirements/policy and the school-based plans. Our primary aim will be to keep children and staff safe when in school at all times. Please contact your child’s school should you have any questions or concerns during this time.

Many thanks for all of your patience and support during this challenging period. We really appreciate this.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Rob Johnstone
Senior Executive Leader
Orchard Community Trust (MAT)

Dated: May 15, 2020

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