Welcoming pupils back to school safely in September
The government is planning for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. Our school will be open to all children from the start of September and children will be expected to attend every day.
Over the past few months, our school leaders have been working closely with teachers, the Local Authority, SNMAT and unions to ensure that our school reopens in the safest way possible.
Gamston remained open throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to support key workers and vulnerable children, welcoming children from 2 other local schools to share our facilities. We also welcomed back several year groups during the summer term. We thank our parents for the feedback that enabled us to work in partnership for the safety and educaton of our children and our teachers and support staff for all that they have done to keep our pupils safe.
The safety of our pupils and staff is our main priority. We have put robust measures in place to reopen our schools in a way that enables pupils to continue their education and development while minimising the risk of spreading the virus. These new measures will require a number of changes to how we will organise your child’s day as detailed in the letter to parents 28.08.20.
Please contact the school office (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions or concerns about your child returning to school. Hopefully, the steps we are taking will reassure you and your family.
We’ve answered some of the most common questions that parents have asked our schools below.
Why are schools reopening now?
Returning to school is vital for children’s:
This is why it is important that all pupils return to school in September. Missing out on more time in the classroom risks pupils falling further behind.
The opening of schools also allows those who are caring for children to resume their working lives.
The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus is very low. The negative health impacts of being out of school are more likely to affect children. A recent study by Public Health England found that only 70 children, out of 1.6 million who had returned to school in June, tested positive for COVID-19 and just 128 members of staff. Since reopening in June, only 30 schools reported an outbreak – where two or more people were infected – which was just 0.01% of the total number open, or one in 10,000 schools.
What are schools doing to keep children safe?
There is evidence that the risk to children from COVID-19 infection is lower than in the general population.
We have been planning and preparing for reopening for several months and have put detailed plans and comprehensive measures in place to enable our children to continue their education and development while minimising the risk of spreading the virus.
We will be using protective bubbles to help manage risk. A bubble for us is a class (2 year groups) who spend their day together, away from other bubbles. Staggered start and finish times further help to reduce the number of children entering and leaving the school site at any one time.
We have also thought carefully about the curriculum and will be avoiding activities that bring children into very close contact with each other. Children will use individual resources rather than sharing materials with other children. If any resources are going to be used by more than one child during the day, then they will be carefully disinfected before being used by a different child.
We have enhanced cleaning procedures in our schools. Cleaning is being carried out more often in classrooms and all communal areas, such as toilets and corridors. Surfaces in the classroom and dining hall including tables and chairs, and frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, will be cleaned regularly during the day.
We will also use the health and safety measures that have become familiar during the pandemic, including:
Will children and staff be expected to wear face coverings in school?
The Government has issued new guidance about face coverings in schools (please click here to access this guidance). The guidance applies to secondary schools, but not to pupils in primary schools where the risks to children are lower.
In areas where there are additional local restrictions in place (these areas are listed on gov.uk), face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils in secondary schools when moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. It will not be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and where they can inhibit learning.
Is it compulsory for pupils to attend in September?
It is vital that children return to school for the sake of their educational progress, wellbeing and their wider development. Missing out on more time in the classroom risks children falling further behind.
School attendance is mandatory from the beginning of the autumn term. This means that it is your legal duty as a parent to send your child to school regularly. The usual rules on school attendance will apply and the government is asking that schools take action to enforce attendance if a child misses school without a valid reason.
A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in September in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating and have had COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result themselves, or because they are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19. You must let us know if this applies to your child.
During the autumn term, we will focus on children’s wellbeing as well as their education to smooth their return to school. We are very aware that many children have been away from school for a long time and that the experience of coming back will be difficult for some children. If your child has found lockdown exceptionally difficult and you are worried about them settling back into school, please contact the school to discuss how we can support your child to return.
We understand that some parents and carers will have concerns about their children returning to school in September. If you consider that your child may have additional risk factors, please do contct school email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
What can parents do to help?
There are a number of things parents can do to help children return to school safely and happily:
2. Know when your child is expected back in school
3. Encourage your child to behave well at school
4. Help reduce the spread of COVID-19
What will happen if a pupil falls ill or develops symptoms at school?
Any child who falls ill or develops COVID-19 symptoms in school will need to be collected immediately by a parent or carer. A child who is unwell will wait in the Green Room before being collected by a parent. There is a First Aid resource in each bubble’s home base (the area of the school where they will have all or most of their lessons)
What will happen if a pupil or member of staff tests positive for COVID-19?
If a pupil or member of staff develops one or more of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will be sent home and asked to book a test.
If someone tests positive, the school will contact Public Health England (PHE) and follow their guidance. Following advice from PHE, the school will contact parents by text message if their child has been in close or direct contact with someone who has tested positive, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days.
In this time... Lord Jesus
In the mist of a storm,
You said 'Peace, be still.'
Let our anxious fears fade away,
Surround this school in faith, hope and love,
Bring our nation through this challenging time.
Grant wisdom to those with great responsibility,
Gentle hands and patience to those care,
And healing and hope to those who contract the virus.
The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
8am to 6pm – Monday to Friday
10am to 4pm – Saturday and Sunday
It is essential that everyone washes their hands more often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing with soap employs mechanical action that loosens bacteria and viruses from the skin, rinsing them into the drain. Drying hands afterwards makes the skin less hospitable to the virus. Hand sanitiser can be effective if soap is not available or the situation makes using soap less feasible (i.e. when outside) but using hand sanitiser provides none of the virus-destroying friction that rubbing your hands together and rinsing with water provides.
The latest guidance and video on hand washing can be found at:
Some other points of contact and support
Childline: 0800 1111
Samaritans: 116 123
Domestic Violence Hotline: 0808 2000 247
Mind: 0300 123 3393
Age UK: 0800 169 6565
Resources to help to support your children's understanding:
The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.
Resources are currently available for KS1, KS2 and KS3 and can be used in various settings including schools and at home:
You can help to slow the spread of Coronavirus!
Make sure you and your children follow these general principles to prevent spreading any respiratory virus:
Please follow this link to access an nhs video that shows the most effective ways to wash hands:
Resources to explain Coronavirus to children.