COVID-19 School Reopening FAQs
Please see below for some questions we’ve had regarding the school’s phased reopening beginning on June 2nd. We thought it would be useful to share these with you.
- Which year groups are returning to school?
The Government has asked primary schools to welcome back children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 alongside priority groups. The Government’s ambition is to bring all primary school year groups for the last month of the Summer half term if conditions nationally make it feasible. This will be kept under review.
We have a large number of vulnerable staff and although we will open to EYFS, Year 1 and Year 6 this will be monitored depending on pupil and staff numbers.
- Why aren’t all the children coming back?
The DfE have based this on the need to reduce the rate of transmission of the virus. So have taken account of the need to reduce numbers returning as a gradual process and smaller groupings in classes can be maintained.
- If one of my children is eligible to return can’t their sibling come back too?
Sadly, the answer to this is ‘no’. Siblings cannot attend unless they are in another of the selected year groups or you are a key worker. This would raise the number of pupils attending the school too quickly.
- Does my child have to attend?
No one with symptoms should attend for any reason. All children in the selected groups are encouraged to attend unless self-isolating or shielding. Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time and schools will not be held to account for attendance levels.
- I am worried that my child is vulnerable or that a family member is. Should I send them back to school?
Children and young people who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should continue to shield and should not be expected to attend.
Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.
Children and young people who live in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should only attend if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and the child or young person is able to understand and follow those instructions. As we will not be able to socially distance children within their class group, it would be advisable for these children to remain at home.
Children and young people who live with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable) as defined in the social distancing guidance and including those who are pregnant, can attend. DFE May 2020
- How big will the classes be?
The DfE is recommending class group size should not exceed 15 pupils per small group and one teacher plus a TA where required. Where there are not enough teachers, Teaching Assistants will lead a group. Desks should be as far apart as the room allows.
Having completed risk assessments and a parent survey, classes will be no larger than 15 children when we return.
- Will you guarantee that social distancing takes place e.g. keeping children 2m apart?
We will of course do our best to support distancing, especially with any adults in the school. DfE guidance states ‘We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account.’ We will try to ensure children stay apart and children will not be allowed to share resources or toys. We will be ensuring that each class ‘bubble’ does not come into contact with other class bubbles. Children will only be able to socialise with children in their class, even at playtime. Parents need to know that in returning to school there is a very real likelihood that children will touch adults and one another and come into close contact. The nature of the school site and the age of our children is such that this is unavoidable and we cannot be expected to respond to complaints around this when it inevitably happens. We cannot alleviate every risk and parents must understand what we are able to do and use this to inform their decision making.
- Why can’t my children (siblings) play with each other at break time?
To enable us to maintain distance from others for each class bubble, it is important that children only play with children in their bubble. This helps us to limit the number of people each bubble comes into contact with, which will aid in preventing transmission.
- What hygiene measures will be in place to prevent transmission?
- follow the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance
- ensure that sufficient handwashing facilities are available. All classrooms have sinks. Hand sanitiser will be available in areas without access to soap and water.
- clean surfaces that children and young people are touching, such as toys, books, desks, chairs, doors, sinks, toilets, light switches, more regularly than normal
- ensure that lidded bins for tissues are emptied throughout the day
- where possible, ensure spaces are well ventilated.
- prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation
We will ensure that all adults and children:
- frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly.
- clean their hands on arrival at the setting, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing
- are encouraged not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose
- use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and use bins for tissue waste (‘catch it, bin it, kill it’)
- ensure that help is available for children and young people who have trouble cleaning their hands independently
We will consider how to encourage young children to learn and practise these habits through games, songs and repetition.
- Will children be confined to the same classroom environment most of the day?
Government advice on the Scientific evidence shows that the outdoor environment is much more manageable in terms of virus transmission. With the Summer weather coming we will be moving towards more of an outdoor learning approach, where possible. However, outside of this, we will keep children within their own classroom during the day.
- How will lunch time work?
Lunchtimes will be staggered and children will only eat with others in their bubble. We are only able to offer a packed lunch. The children will collect their packed lunches from the school hall, return to their classrooms to eat or, where possible in their alloted outside area.
Free School Meal children will continue to receive vouchers if they are not attending school.
- What measures will school be employing to help prevent transmission?
In addition to what has already been mentioned
- give children a designated classroom and group (which we are referring to as their bubble) for lessons and play, to minimise the opportunity for mixing.
- regularly clean the setting.
- not allow children to bring in their own resources such as pencil cases.
- use PPE such as gloves, aprons, masks, hand sanitiser and anti-bac wipes as identified in our Risk assessments, when it is necessary to do so.
- confine resources to rooms to minimise sharing and when sharing is essential (eg laptops), clean resources before transference.
- organise lunchtimes and playtimes differently, keeping children in their bubbles.
- be vigilant in identifying children with symptoms, isolate them and ask parents to collect them
- removal and/or restricting access to unnecessary items in classrooms.
- removal and/or restricting access to some soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean.
- not share PE equipment. All bubbles will have their own equipment in a box. Where it is not possible to have class resources, equipment will be cleaned between each class use.
- Will my child be expected to share resources, such as pens and pencils?
Where possible, children will be given their own equipment, which they must not share with anyone else. They must not bring any equipment in from home. Any resources that are shared (e.g school laptops) will be disinfected after use.
- I’m a keyworker and my child has been in the childcare provision throughout. My child is in YR, Y1 or Y6 what will happen to them?
Your child will be kept within their keyworker group. This will mean they can continue to attend school at more flexible times to suit your work hours. We will do our best to provide them with the learning materials used by their peers in their year group and we would encourage them to attend school everyday.
- I’m a key worker and I have only needed my Y1 child to access school childcare for 2 days a week up to now. Do they have to attend every day from 1st June?
The Government advice is that they strongly encourage eligible children to attend including priority groups. Ultimately it is the parents decision. A full weekly attendance is easier for schools to plan for and helps children with their routine.
- My child is in the childcare provision currently but isn’t in the year groups above?
Priority group children will continue to come to school. They will be in separate class ‘bubbles’ together.
- Will everyone arrive at school at the same time causing an increase in risk?
The school will organise a staggered drop off and collection time for pupils. (More details to follow) The approach to drop off areas will be marked out with a 2m queue (just like a supermarket) and there will be a drop off zone from where the teacher will invite pupils in.
Only one parent or carer should accompany the child to school to minimise risk. Parents will not be invited to enter the building but will drop off as described above. Schools have no power under the law to enforce social distancing with parents other than to make that request.
Latecomers will need to use the buzzer at the pedestrian gate. Your child will then be collected and taken to their class by a staff member.
- Will the school have assembly/acts of worship?
Class bubbles will have an opportunity for reflection within their daily session, but there will be no mass gatherings or daily acts of worship as a school for the time being.
- My child is feeling anxious about coming back to school, how can I prepare him/her?
You will need to prepare your child by talking about what school was like and what it will be like now. It will be different.
It will be important to encourage your child to talk about their experiences in ‘lockdown’ and that this period is now ending.
- Will children go straight back into normal lessons following the National Curriculum?
No, not initially.
The initial focus, for as long as we feel necessary, will be on supporting personal, social, health and emotional aspects of learning to support children’s wellbeing. They have all gone through an incredible period of change and may have experienced loss on a number of different levels. This shouldn’t be ignored. However, we also know that children like routine; therefore, new routines will quickly be established and when children are ready, we will continue teaching lessons as normal.
We plan to make use of our outdoor learning environment as much as possible.
We will of course ensure that skills in English and Maths continue to be developed.
- How will you support my child’s emotional well-being?
In addition to that mentioned above, staff will be available to provide support. Our SENCO lead will work to ensure that children’s needs are met.
There will be plenty of opportunities for children to discuss their feelings, play, rebuild friendships and have ‘break out’ or ‘chill out’ spaces for times when they may feel overwhelmed.
- Will staff and children wear masks or PPE?
The Government guidelines state, ‘The majority of staff in education settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain a distance of 2 metres from others. PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases including:
- children, young people and students whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs should continue to receive their care in the same way
- if a child, young person or other learner becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in their setting and needs direct personal care until they can return home. A fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained. If contact with the child or young person is necessary, then disposable gloves, a disposable apron and a fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult. If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn.’
- Where staff would feel more confident if wearing PPE the school will facilitate this.
- Will my child need to wear a school uniform?
No, we do not need you to send your child back in uniform as we do not think it is necessary for the time being. Please send your child into school in sportswear: joggers, t-shirt and trainers if you can. If you are unable to do this, trainers (or other suitable footwear) are the most important item to wear. This means that they will not need to bring in a PE kit and can carry out all activities without having to change. Where possible, we would advise that children come to school in fresh clothing every day.
Hats and long sleeved tops may be needed for sun protection. We advise applying long lasting sun-cream before coming to school rather than bringing cream in.
- What should my child bring to school each day?
We only want your child to bring a lunch box and a water bottle. It would help greatly if they were pre-filled. They must be taken home each day and washed. Coats and/or hats may be needed, especially as we will be using our outdoor spaces more.
We would advise that you apply long lasting sun-cream if possible before coming to school rather than having to bring sun-cream in.
P.E. kits, book bags, ruck sacks, etc will not be required and will help to ensure that classrooms and cloakrooms are as clutter-free as possible.
- Will the breakfast club and after school club be open?
No, we’re currently unable to provide enough staff for the breakfast and after school club. This will be kept under review and should the situation change, parents will be notified.
- Will we allow visitors and volunteers into school?
No until the situation improves, we would prefer to minimise additional adults coming in and out of school.
- Will extra-curricular clubs run (football club, dance club etc)?
No. These bring too many children into contact and mix the school groupings.
- Will the school office be open?
Yes, but parents and children will not be allowed into the office. We will not be accepting late arrivals to school via the office, but using the buzzer at the pedestrian gate and we do not want parents to come into the school reception unless this has previously been agreed. Where possible I would ask that parents ring/email the school as opposed to presenting in person.
- Will you continue to provide online home learning activities for children who do not return to school?
We will continue to set home learning activities during term-time, so that all children have access to provision to support their learning. These activities will, in the main, be what the children in school are accessing. With school reopening to a greater number, parents will need to be mindful that teaching staff will not be as responsive to parent messages.
- Will children and young people be eligible for testing for the virus?
The government advice is:
When settings open to the wider cohort of children and young people, all those children and young people eligible to attend, and members of their households, will have access to testing if they display symptoms of coronavirus. This will enable them to get back into childcare or education, and their parents or carers to get back to work, if the test proves to be negative. To access testing parents will be able to use the 111 online coronavirus service if their child is 5 or over. Parents will be able to call 111 if their child is aged under 5.
- Will teachers and other staff be able to get tested if they have symptoms?
Access to testing is available to all essential workers. This includes anyone involved in education, childcare or social work – including both public and voluntary sector workers, as well as foster carers.
- What will happen if a child in the class shows symptoms?
We will follow the Government guidelines set out below.
If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in an education or childcare setting, they must be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance.
If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age of the child and with appropriate adult supervision if required. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.
If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else. PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
If a member of staff has helped someone who was unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home (although this will be offered to any member of staff if the case arises) unless they develop symptoms themselves (and in which case, a test is available) or the child subsequently tests positive (see ‘What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?’ below). They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.
- What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in school?
We will follow the Government guidance set out below.
When a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.
Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.
Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.
As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the cohort or in the wider setting, Public Health England’s local health protection teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases a larger number of other children, young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.
- Will the school take my child’s temperature every day?
Yes, we will be checking temperatures daily with a non-invasive thermometer which points to the forehead.
- Will there be any trips once school opens on June 1st?
No. There are no plans to take the children out of the school grounds until further notice.
- How can I speak to the class teacher if we are not allowed into school?
You can contact your child’s class teacher by using the class email. If you are unable to do this, you can phone, use the website contact form or email the office who will then pass the message on.
- Why are different schools doing different things to reopen?
Individual school circumstances are different – numbers in year groups, staff available to work, number and size of available rooms etc… means schools all face their own challenges when preparing the site for the return of pupils.
- Where can I find more information about returning to school?
The Government information is provided here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june