The government have announced that all primary school children will return to full-time education with the start of the new school year in September.
The school site at East Bierley Primary School presents us with many challenges, our classroom spaces and the hall are smaller than average, corridors are narrow and, in particular, we have very limited outdoor space with a very small playground on a slope. On a normal day we have split lunch and break times to allow children to have adequate time outdoors. The restrictions placed on us by the pandemic make this even more of a challenge for us all.
In recent months we have been working closely with Kirklees Council on solutions and will now have the exclusive use of a section of the "moor" adjacent to school, whilst the restrictions placed on us by the pandemic are in place. This will make a significant difference and allow us to have more time outside both at play and in our extended curriculum.
Set out below are some of our plans for school and hopefully answers to many of the questions that you will have. In the first section there are some excellent resources to help you support your children prepare for the return to school. All of our plans are designed to keep everyone in our community as safe as possible and follow the guidance that we have received from the Department for Education. The guidance is still being updated which could alter our plans and we will, of course, keep all things under review.
How can I support my children?
Although some children have returned to school already, for many, the new autumn term will be their first time stepping into a classroom since lockdown began. Understandably, this may be a strange or worrying time for some children, parents and carers.
We know that supporting children’s mental wellbeing during the return to school will continue to be a key priority. To help you, we’ve collected together lots of useful resources, all focussed on making sure the return to classrooms in the autumn is a mentally healthy one.
Mindfulness calendar – Mentally Healthy Schools - Practising mindfulness over the summer break will help your child deal with any anxieties or worries when they return to school. This resource is a two-week calendar with a mindfulness activity suggested each day, which parents could use for the last two weeks of summer.
Self-care summer activity pack – Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families - Help children create their own self-care plan for the summer holidays with this activity pack.
Going back to school – Partnership for Children - Parents can work through this table with their children to explore the things they may be worried about when going back to school, and ways to calm
Tips for returning to school video – Nip in the Bud - In this short video, clinical psychologist Dr Jess Richardson shares straightforward suggestions for parents and teachers to deal with any potential apprehension or anxiety children may experience on returning to school.
Letting go & future plans – Partnership for Children - An important part of preparing to go back to school is to reflect on what has happened during coronavirus, as well as looking forward to the future. Parents can complete this simple activity sheet with their child to help them let go of things they may have missed out on during the lockdown.
‘My Back to School Bubble’ e-book – e-Bug and NABU - This simple, illustrated e-book is ideal for parents of young children to explore what the return to school might look like, and help them feel more prepared.
Self-care kit – NHS - Practising good self-care is another important way children can get ready for the return to school. This self-care kit has lots of ideas and activities for self-care for children, including mindful colouring, breathing exercises, an emotional check-in, a self-soothe box and more.
Preparing your child for the first day back at school – Trauma Informed Schools - Schools may want to share this poster with parents, which features some simple top tips for helping children feel more ready to return to the school environment.
The School Day
When do the children return to school?
Children in all year groups apart from Reception will return to school on Tuesday 8 September. Parents of our new reception class have received an email from Mrs Clark which details when your agreed home visit is and then dates of your visits into school. Reception children will be in school full-time from Wednesday 16 September.
How will children be dropped off?
As we have lots of external doors directly on to the moor at the rear of school and onto the playground, we are not altering our normal opening time. Children should be dropped off directly to the external door to their class at any time between 8.40 am and 9.00 am. Parents should not enter the playground or the fenced off area on the moor.
- Reception children should enter school via the gate off the moor at the bottom of the steps.
- Year 1 children should enter school via the gate by the main entrance.
- Year 2 and 3 at the lower gate.
- Year's 4 and 6 should enter via the gate in the new fencing by the seating area on the moor.
- Year 5 should enter via the gate at the front of school by the car park.
Children should not be on the school site before 8.40 am. We believe that this natural stagger and varied entrances should not create congestion around school and will allow you to maintain appropriate social distancing.
How will children be collected at the end of the day?
In order to minimise people around the school at the end of the day, we will have two distinct collection times. Children in Reception, Years 1 and 2 should be collected at 3.15 pm and children in KS2 (Years 3-6) at 3.25 pm. Parents from Years 1, 2 and 3 may enter the playground and should leave as soon as they have collected their children. We appreciate that for those with siblings this may mean a short wait and we will try to ensure that older siblings are out of class first. Please do not arrive early for pick up.
What are the social distancing rules around school?
We trust that everyone is aware of their responsibilities. In order to assist with this can all parents and carers please note:
- Only one parent should drop off and collect children
- Please leave the school site as quickly as possible
- All movement around the outside of the building should be in a clockwise direction
- Please adhere to the times mentioned above
- Parking around the school site is particularly limited and creates congestion. We recommend that, wherever possible, you walk to school or park a distance from school and walk
How will the school day look?
We will be starting the term with our usual Citizenship Week, a chance to come together again as one community and develop a sense of belonging. The day itself will look as close to a normal school day as possible and we will be delivering a broad and balanced curriculum in all classes. The biggest modification will be that we cannot have whole school gatherings in the hall. This means that our regular whole school collective worship will need to take place in classrooms.
What will the classrooms look like?
Classrooms have been reorganised to remove any unnecessary furniture and resources that can be stored centrally. Where practical, children will be seated in rows facing the front of class.
What about lunch times?
In order to minimise the number of things coming into school, we are encouraging all children to have a school lunch. Helen will be preparing her usual excellent options which will be available to view on the website, children make their choice first thing every morning. Our initial plan is to deliver all lunches in the hall with children eating in their bubbles. This will happen across the usual 2 sittings with Reception class eating first once they start. Children bringing packed lunches will eat with their class and we ask that lunches are brought in disposable bags or plastic lunch boxes.
What are bubbles?
A bubble is a group of children and adults who do not mix with another group. During the lockdown we had bubbles of up to 15 and we gave these names such as Invincibubble and Imaginabubble. Consistent bubbles reduce the risk of transmission and assists with the Government's Track and Trace measures.
How will bubbles be organised?
Children will be in their normal classrooms and bubbles will be formed by phase giving us a maximum number of children in a bubble of 60. The bubbles will be as follows:
- Reception class
- KS1 - Years 1 and 2
- LKS2 - Years 3 and 4
- UKS2 - Years 5 and 6
Forming a bubble of 2 classes allows us to maximise the time that children can spend outside at play and lunchtime as well as enabling our enrichment curriculum.
Bubbles will be kept apart from other bubbles as far as is reasonably possible; whilst it is acceptable for children to not distance within their bubble the government guidance states staff should stay distanced from the children where possible. The school will do everything possible to minimise contact and mixing, while delivering a broad and balanced curriculum.
Can siblings be in different bubbles?
Yes, the DfE advises that siblings may be in different bubbles. Endeavouring to keep the bubble at least partially separate and minimising contacts between children will still offer public health benefits as it reduces the network of possible direct transmission.
Can staff move between bubbles?
Yes, the DfE advises that: “All teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year bubbles in order to facilitate the delivery of the school timetable.” DfE Guidance for full opening – schools, published 2 July 2020.
Where staff need to move between classes and year bubbles, they will try to keep their distance from children and other staff as much as they can, ideally 2 metres from others. In most cases, we will have consistent staff with each class, with the need to move staff only happening if staff are absent.
What about Extended Provision?
We have extended our breakfast and after school clubs to help as many parents out as possible. After school club will now run until 5.30pm. Both clubs will now take place in the hall and we will endeavour to ensure that children remain in their bubbles. Details have been circulated on how the clubs will operate and those allocated a place have been sent details of costs and a contract. It is important that the terms of the contract are accepted via the online form linked in the email. Payment for both clubs should be made half-termly in advance.
Places are limited and we do have a waiting list for some days, if you are interested in accessing either club please email us giving as much detail as possible.
We are now registered for the Government's Tax-Free Childcare scheme and would encourage payment through this system. The majority of parents should be eligible and will save 20% of costs. The scheme can also be used to pay for any after school clubs when we start these up again.
There will be no additional after school clubs during the first half-term.
Infection Control Measures
What measures will we have in place to reduce the risk of transmission?
There are important actions that children and young people, their parents and those who work with them can take during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Preventing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) involves dealing with direct transmission (for instance, when in close contact with those sneezing and coughing) and indirect transmission (via touching contaminated surfaces). A range of approaches and actions will be employed to do this. These can be seen as a hierarchy of controls that, when implemented, creates an inherently safer system, where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. These will include:
- minimising contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school.
- ensuring good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
- cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as detergents and bleach.
- minimising contact and mixing by altering, as much as possible, the environment (such as classroom layout) and timetables (such as staggered play times).
- wherever possible we will minimise visitors into school and meetings will be conducted remotely
Will staff and children need to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
The latest evidence and advice is that children aged 12 and over should wear a mask where social distancing cannot be safely managed and there is widespread transmission in the area. Primary school children will not need to wear a face covering.
The majority of staff in school will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work. PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases, including: where first aid is needed for a length of time; where an individual child or young person becomes ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms while at schools, and only then if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained; where a child or young person already has routine intimate care needs that involves the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used.
Children do not need PPE in school and advice from the Government states that they should NOT wear masks.
“Public Health England does not (based on current evidence) recommend the use of face coverings in schools. This evidence will be kept under review. They are not required in schools as pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups, and because misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission. There may also be negative effects on communication and thus education.” DfE Guidance for full opening – schools, published 2 July 2020.
Will we carry out temperature checks on individuals on arrival at school?
No. Public Health England is clear that routinely taking the temperature of pupils is not recommended as this is an unreliable method for identifying coronavirus (COVID-19).
How will the school respond to any infection?
Staff members and parents must understand that they will need to be ready and willing to:
- Book a test if they are displaying any of the recognised symptoms.
- Not come into the school if they have symptoms, and must be sent home to self-isolate if they develop them in school. Please do not dose your child with Calpol in order to send them to school. If they are ill, they must stay at home.
- Self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone who develops coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or someone who tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). Should there be a positive case identified in school then parents will be informed as soon as possible.
What about pupils who are shielding or self-isolating?
The DfE advises that the majority of pupils will be able to return to school. Shielding advice for all adults and children will pause on 1 August, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). This means that even the small number of pupils who will remain on the shielded patient list can also return to school, as can those who have family members who are shielding. Read the current advice on shielding here.
Where children are unable to attend school as their parents / siblings are following clinical and/or public health advice, absence will not be penalised. Please contact us to discuss if this is the case.
Other frequently asked questions
Will children wear school uniform?
Yes, normal school uniform is to be worn. A fleece can be worn alongside the jumper as windows will be open in school. T-shirts do not have to be logoed. School shoes should be black please.
On PE days (which we will inform each class of separately) children will need to come to school in PE kit. They should wear plain black joggers as well as shorts. PE will often be inside but they will need joggers for outside play, lunchtime and outdoor PE on those days.
Please ensure everything is clearly named.
What should children bring to school?
• A named water bottle should be brought in and taken home every day. Please fill with water not juice.• A coat, we have limited time outside so will want to maximise it regardless of the weather.
• For Years 1-6: A stationery set (if ordered from school this will be in your child’s classroom) in a clear plastic pencil case and a packet of tissues. These must be kept at school.
• For year 2-6: A small bottle of hand sanitiser may be provided.
• Plastic lunchbox if having packed dinners.
• A healthy snack, such as fruit, not in a tub please.
What children should not bring with them?
• Please do not send children in with a bag – we will issue wipeable plastic wallets for books to be transported. When guidance is relaxed, it will be school book bags only throughout school.
• Mobile phones or smart watches.
How do I speak to my child's teacher?
If you need to pass a message on to the class teacher please in the first instance email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need to speak to a teacher please email and the teacher will get back to you as soon as they are able to.
What information is there regarding attendance?
In March when the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was increasing, the DfE made clear that no parent would be penalised or sanctioned for their child’s non-attendance at school. The DFE has now stated: “School attendance will now be mandatory again from the beginning of the Autumn Term.” DFE Guidance for full opening – schools, published 2 July 2020.
Our normal absence procedures will apply and in the first instance please phone the school and speak to a member of staff. Preferably we would ask that you call after 8 am when the office is staffed.
What if my child has a cough or cold?
The NHS advises that if a child has mild cold-like symptoms they should continue to go to school.
Sore throats and blocked or runny noses are not symptoms of coronavirus. In the case of a heavy cold children may need to take a day or two off to get better.
Will educational visits take place?
Residential visits are suspended at present, we have re-booked the Year 6 residential at Winmarleigh for February and hope that this may take place.
Day trips are allowed but we will not book any trips during the first term back at school.