Re-opening School Letter 21.5.20

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,

Victoria McConnell
Headteacher
Wensum Junior and Nelson Infant Schools

Friday 15th May 2020

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 head@nelson.norfolk.sch.uk

Yours sincerely,

Victoria McConnell        Lynsey Holzer

Headteacher                    CEO

NelsonInfant School     Evolution Academy Trust

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