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Autumn Term 2020 - Full Reopening Arrangements
Dear Parents and Carers
As you know, we have been focusing for some time on how to ensure that our school can safely open to all pupils in September – something we are all so much looking forward to. Now that the government has published its guidance for schools, we are in a position to update you on our plans.
The first thing to say is that we are absolutely delighted the government has said all pupils can come back. We have learnt a lot in lockdown about how to deliver virtual education, and families and staff have been outstanding, but children need the routine of normal school life and they also need to see their friends and teachers. It is vital that we get pupils back to school in September, and the government has made attendance compulsory unless there is a statutory reason for children to be absent.
Having already done a lot of preparation and ground work, we are in a very strong position for the autumn term. Pupils who have been in school so far are used to washing their hands and having their temperatures taken before they come inside, and these measures will remain in place. There will also be staggered start and finish times so we will write to you in due course with the details for your child.
Once pupils are in school, they will wash their hands regularly, including before and after they eat, and whenever they change rooms or return from break. They will also be placed in a protective bubble within their year group. Bubbles will not come into close contact with each other which will help keep the school safe. We have assigned a senior leader to each year group for next year, so we can ensure the needs of each cohort are thoroughly met.
Every child, and every home, has had a different experience with lockdown and home learning. Whilst we know the majority of families will be delighted that schools are reopening, there may be some parents or pupils who feel anxious about returning: if this applies to you, please do not suffer in silence. You should contact us as soon as you can and we will work with you to ensure you feel reassured that all your concerns have been addressed.
In addition to the safety measures set out above, we are well prepared in terms of securing the wellbeing and academic progress of pupils – both those who have not been able to return to school this term and those who will be taking important public examinations next year.
We recognise that there will be learning gaps to be filled when the pupils return and have planned a ‘recovery’ curriculum for the autumn term so that everyone has the chance to catch up. We will also ensure there is time devoted to the emotional wellbeing of pupils. In preparation for this, some of our teachers have been trained in how to deliver a mindfulness course to all pupils and all members of staff have also completed training run by an organisation called Trauma Informed Schools UK. These two training courses will allow us to be responsive to the needs of all the children when they return to school.
The government has said schools can continue to offer breakfast clubs and after-school activities. We are keen to be able to do this because we know how much pupils value our clubs. We are considering the government guidance and need to identify how we run these activities in a way that minimises risk and keeps everybody safe. Further details of what we will have on offer will follow in due course.
We will, of course, also need your help and support to keep school safe as we return to school. Obviously if your son or somebody else in your household has coronavirus symptoms they should stay at home until tested. Likewise, the government guidance says that if there is a confirmed case at school, then we should work with the relevant health authorities to ensure that everyone who was in close contact with them when they were infectious is notified and self-isolates for fourteen days – in reality, this is likely to be all pupils they have been in a classroom with.
But everyone will need to play a part in keeping the virus out of school. We request that pupils avoid going into shops on the way into school and that they walk or cycle to school if they can. If they have to use public transport, they should wear a face covering while travelling which is in line with current government advice. Please note, pupils will be required to wear uniform next term.
The summer term has been long and tiring for families and staff, but it has also been inspiring and uplifting. The whole community has pulled together to ensure pupils felt safe and supported, and we have shown just how much can be achieved in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances. No matter what your experience of lockdown, parents have been terrific: on behalf of all staff, we want to thank you for everything you have done to support your children’s success over this period, and to support our school.
We will continue to be in touch over the summer to keep you informed about our plans, and to remind you of the key information you need to know.