Dear parents, staff, families and children of Wensum Junior and Nelson Infant schools,
First and foremost, I hope this email finds you well and safe. I would like to start with some thank you’s. Firstly, thank all of you who are key workers working hard to keep our public services running.
Secondly, I would like to thank families and children who are so engaged on SeeSaw or at home and sharing all the wonderful things you are doing with us. It really keeps us all happy and smiling. We have seen children learn to ride bikes, cooking, mastering musical instruments to name a few. We have met siblings and pets; reptiles, chickens, dogs, fish (the pets, not the siblings!)
I extend my thanks to all our brilliant staff. You have worked tirelessly and flexibly, working on rotas and through holidays for our key worker children, planning online and providing paper packs, delivering food hampers, developing new ways of working, planning and cleaning routines! All of this has been done with smiles on faces and a sense of team spirit even when working at home and balancing your own families.
My wish would be for all of us to come back together to discover, learn, play and socialise and all the other wonderful things we get up to at school but I refuse to compromise on safety. The safety, health and happiness of our whole school community has always been the main focus at our schools but has become even more acute since the start of lockdown.
As a school, we will not be ready to welcome children back on the 1st June. We are planning on reopening as soon as we feel it is safe for Y6 as we know how much a closure to primary and a transition to secondary is imperative. For this reason, I also hope to welcome Y2 back after Y6 along with YR and 1. We will be re-evaluating the situation on a weekly basis so we can welcome children back as soon as we can. Y3, 4 and 5 will follow afterwards if we have capacity. We are hoping, if safe to do so, to be able to see all our year groups before the end of the academic year. We may send you more surveys to test the requirement for school places and be able to plan and staff them adequately.
When we do open school this term it will not be as we know it. Every child will be put into a ‘bubble’ (or as we have renamed for our school – a pod). Our infants will be in pods of 10-12 children with 2 adults due to the size of our classrooms, we can accommodate larger pods at Nelson. Our juniors will be in pods of 8-10 (as the classrooms are smaller) with 1 adult. The adult in each pod may not be the regular class teacher.
As we are looking at about 50% of children wanting to return to school (through our parent survey) 50% of children will still be requiring online learning therefore the children who will be coming into school will be offered a 3.5-4 hour morning block to allow the teacher time in the afternoon for planning for online learning. Children will not choose who they are in a pod with and will not be able to mix with others, including staff, outside of their pod. We know many children, and staff, will find this difficult because of positive relationships already formed. Children may have to come through a different entry point to school and at staggered times. We will, of course, be sensitive to family groupings as and where possible.
We have made the decision not to offer lunch at school as this further increases the risk of infection to invite lunch staff into each pod to allow staff a break. We will, therefore, look to offer a packed lunch to take home for children entitled to a school meal. For those families entitled to free school meals who are staying at home, the voucher scheme will continue to my knowledge.
As we do not have enough class space or staff for all children to be in their pod at school all of the time, we will operate a one week on one week off system. So, for example, if your Y3 child chooses to return to school, they will be invited in to their pod 5 mornings a week for 3.5-4 hours for one week then will have the following week at home completing distance learning.
We know that we will need to return to school possibly before a vaccine has been found, but when we do, I want the decision to be well planned and well timed to know that we have reduced the risk of infection as much as we possibly can.
Our provision for key workers will remain unchanged. This will still be offered daily 9-3.
I know there will be numerous questions and comments following this email.
Please can I urge you to refer to the FAQs for some answers. If you would still like to discuss any points with me, please do not hesitate in getting in touch,
As always, stay safe. Enjoy the beautiful sunshine,
Dear Parents and Carers,
We are writing today to provide you with an update in our work in preparation for opening our schools to more children.
The Government, as you may be aware, have asked that we begin to plan for the reintroduction of provision for Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children. We take the safety of our children and staff very seriously and we will not compromise on our high standards of safety and care.
We have spent the week following the government’s announcement working closely as a team with our Health and Safety and Property Advisors to look very carefully at the guidance which has been issued and start to form a plan for the return of pupils. This plan is being carefully risk assessed to ensure that as a Trust, we not only follow the Government and Local Authority basic guidelines, but go beyond them.
We have set out our guidelines which we will be following as a Trust in the form of FAQs. These are subject to change depending on further government advice but we wanted you to be aware of our planning at this time to enable you to have as much information as possible.
Our next steps will be to contact parents of the individual year groups early next week to ask whether you intend to send your child to school to access the provision we are providing and also to give you further detailed information on: start and finish times, details of the provision for your child and communications we will make with your child and family to help reassure the transition back to school.
Over the next week our Trustee Board will continue to meet as a specialist COVID group, and the Local Governing Boards will also have overview of our planning. Only when the Headteacher, Trustees and Central Team of Health and Safety Experts and Property Team have signed-off on individual plans will schools be given the go ahead to start their provision. The team of school and Trust will continue to monitor standards of health and safety at every school throughout this period.
In this period of national uncertainty, we cannot foresee what course the COVID outbreak will take but we can be certain that as schools within our Trust, we have made every effort to put into place in our schools the most stringent and considered safeguards that we can to protect children and staff.
Your views are important – Please read through the attached FAQs and if you have any questions of queries, we want to hear them. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria McConnell Lynsey Holzer
NelsonInfant School Evolution Academy Trust
Attendance at School
When will my child be expected to return to school?
The Government have produced guidelines to ask school to open Nursery provision, Reception, year 1 and Year 6 from June 1st. This does not mean that all year groups will be open from the 1st and all our schools are planning on a staggered start for children, your school will contact you early next week with a clear plan for a start date and what the days will look like.
Do I have to send my child if the school is open for the year group?
It is expected that you will send your child to school if the school is open for the year group but the government are clear that there will be no penalties in place for parents choosing not to send their child to school. You can expect telephone calls from the school to talk through reasons why you have decided to keep your child at home but this will be a discussion at this stage. If your child is self-isolating or shielding due to a medical condition they will need to remain at home at this time.
If my child is not in the returning year groups or cannot come to school will the online learning continue?
Yes, it will continue.
Will my child be expected to attend all day and will the start and finish times be the same as normal?
Our schools are planning very carefully for the start and finish of days to ensure we limit the possibility of crowds of parents and children so all our schools are operating a staggered start and finish time and your school will contact you individually about the arrangements for your children. These may change as we work to find the best solutions for children.
If my children are in different year groups – some in the returning year groups and others in non-returning year groups, can I send them all?
Not at this time. We have to carefully follow our plan to reintegrate children gradually.
When will the other year groups be returning?
We do not have a clear plan from the government on this issue but we will let you know as soon as we hear anything.
Can I send my child on some days and not others?
No. If you send your child into school, you will be expected to send them to each session.
Will the children of keyworkers and vulnerable groups continue to have provision in the school?
Yes – children of keyworkers and vulnerable groups will continue to access provision. This group pf children will be kept separate from the returning groups.
When should I keep my child at home?
You should keep your child at home if the child or anyone in the household shows signs of Coronavirus. Children and members of their household will be eligible for testing under the government scheme. If your child is in the clinically vulnerable category including conditions such as asthma and diabetes, you should seek medical advice before returning to school.
How are we as a school making a decision that our school is following all the guidelines and is as safe as we can make it?
As a school, with our members of the Trust team, we have completed a detailed risk assessment which looks at 9 areas of our school operations. This will be under constant review by the school and the Trust and overseen by Trustees. If any element of school practice is measured as high-risk we will either take actions to improve it or could close down provision.
When would you take the decision to close a school or classes in a school?
We may be asked by the government to close down the provision in a school if directed by the government if there are increases in infection rates in a local area. We may close a school if there is an outbreak of cases in the school or within a bubble. We may close a school or classes if we are unable to provide enough staff to operate safely.
How will you ensure that drop off and pick up times are safe?
Each school has a very clear set of guidelines including one –way systems for parents and staggered entry and exit times which we will supervise to ensure that there is limited contact between parents or children at drop off and pick up times. Parents will be encouraged to use telephone or email to communicate with teachers or staff.
How will we ensure good hygiene in school?
Handwashing – There will be a clear routine of handwashing throughout the day. All children will be shown and supported to do this thoroughly alongside government guidance. We have secured large stocks of soap and hand gel to ensure that there is good access across the school.
Cleaning – All our schools have new regimes for cleaning which include additional hours for cleaning staff and additional and clear guidelines to ensure all frequently touched surfaces are cleaned regularly including the cleaning of toilets once per hour.
Resources – Children will have their own set of pencils, books etc. which will be kept for them only with no sharing. This is not the case in Reception, where any resources shared will be regularly cleaned between uses.
Home to school Items – Children will not be permitted to bring items from home except water bottles and lunchbox and will not be bringing home resources from school at this time e.g. reading books.
Will we be expecting social distancing in school by children and staff?
All children will be in much smaller groups or ‘bubbles’ – the number in these groups will always be below the recommendation of 15 and depending on the size of classrooms will often be as low as 10 or 8. The children in the bubble will stay with this group throughout the day – at break times and lunchtimes and throughout the week and will not come into contact with children in other ‘bubbles’. In their group, the layout of the classroom has been designed to ensure that children in the older year groups stay at a distance of 2 metres from each other as much as possible. In reception classes this is much more difficult. We will be keeping our reception groups small and ensuring through our planning that children are distanced as much as possible. Children will not be allowed to move around the school building freely, this will help reduce contact with others.
What will happen at lunchtimes and Breaktimes?
Children will keep in their ‘bubbles’ to play and eat. Strict cleaning will take place before and after food and children will be instructed to wash their hands before and after food. Children will not be eating in a room with other ‘bubbles’. Breaktimes and lunchtimes will be at different times for different ‘bubbles’ of children.
What will happen if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus at the school?
If a child or staff members develops symptoms of Coronavirus, they will be isolated from the rest of the group, sent home and asked to self-isolate for 7 days and encouraged to access testing. All staff and children attending school will have access to a test if they display symptoms. If the test is positive, we will notify parents and send home the whole group of children for 14 days. At each stage, before and after testing, parents within the group will be given full information to enable them to make clear decisions.
What will the education for children look like in school?
We have exceptional teachers in our schools who will continue to do their best to provide stimulating activities for children in and out of school settings. We will listen carefully to children and parents about how things feel and do our best to make things feel as normal as possible. The teachers will continue to provide lessons in school and continue to make them fun and stimulating. This will include PE lessons in their ‘bubble’ and work across the curriculum. We will not ask them to engage in any work which would mean close contact with another person, but our teachers will make sure there is plenty of collaboration in different ways.
Nursery and Reception – In our Nursery and reception classes, we will limit the number of activities available per day and are likely to direct the children to activities to ensure distance. Regular wiping of any shared resources such as bicycles will take place in addition to regular handwashing and any previously shared resources such as play dough will be temporarily unavailable. Children will still sit on the carpet in Nursery and reception, sing songs and play games, but will be asked to sit apart on spaces.
My child has additional needs? Will my child get the provision they need?
Our dedicated teams will work with all parents but particularly those in vulnerable groups to ensure that children and parents are well prepared for the return. Please contact school directly to discuss the individual and they will work through a plan with you.
How will you ensure children understand the new expectations of them and are well prepared for a return?
Our teams will be working hard over the next week to prepare information, communicate with families by email and video links to ensure children feel well prepared for the return.
Will my child have their usual teacher?
As long as the staff member is at work, we will try to keep children with a known teacher or teaching assistant. Other adults may also be working with them.
Will my child need to wear school uniform? Will my child need to wear a mask for school?
Yes, your child will need to wear school uniform or PE kit and follow the usual policies on behaviour in school. We would request that children do not wear a mask for school.
How will you look after the wellbeing of my child?
The safety and wellbeing of your child are our top priorities. We have a talented team of staff who will be incorporating opportunities for children to talk about their experiences and any anxieties they may have during this difficult period. We will of course communicate with you throughout this period and concerns they may express – this is a team effort.
What do I do next?
Your school will make contact with you directly and give further information about start dates and timings and will ask you to tell them whether you will be sending your child. IF you have any questions of queries, please contact us – we want to hear from you!
Further Information: https://www.gov.uk/government/
Evolution Academy Trust Family of Schools – Update following the Government’s announcement to close schools Thursday 19th March
Following the announcement by the government yesterday, schools in Evolution Academy Trust will continue to do all we can to support the learning of our pupils and families across the trust.
We support the Government’s decision that children of key workers and vulnerable children will continue to attend school. We understand that examples of key workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers and we expect a definitive list from the government to be released later today. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans. Your individual school will contact you directly about the arrangements for your children. If you are not in one of these groups, you will be expected to keep your child at home from Monday.
It remains our duty as schools to provide an education for your children. Each school will provide work and explain how further work will be communicated. We are recommending that during term time children keep to a similar routine as when they come to school. If you need further support throughout this period, please make contact with your school who will do their best to support you. Unless school staff are unwell, they will be continuing during term time to work and support their pupils.
Parents whose children are entitled to a free school meal will be contacted to provide a voucher during term time for the value of the meal or a collection point for food that would have been provided in school. The Department for Education has said that there will shortly be a national voucher scheme and we will keep you updated over the next 2 days as details emerge.
As a trust, we recognise the significant anxieties that surround the current situation for children and families. Our School staff have the same anxieties for their health and their families and are working hard to ensure that we retain the highest quality of provision and care for all our families during this time. The trust is grateful for their continuing diligence and care at this time. We thank you for your patience as we work at speed to answer the many questions that this new situation brings. Please be assured we continue to work on your behalf to do the best we can for all children across the trust.
We will issue further communications as the situation develops and as the government and local authorities release further information.