Return to school in September (now with Risk Assessment)
We are very much looking forward to having all students back in school in September. Information from the government to parents about schools re-opening in full for the new academic year can be found here. The guidance states that in terms of education our priority, quite rightly, should be to, ‘Teach an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects from the start of the autumn term, but make use of existing flexibilities to create time to cover the most important missed content.’ In terms of controls, it states that, as much as possible, we should reduce contact by grouping children together, avoiding contact between groups and use forward-facing desks. There is an acceptance that it will often be impossible for students to maintain social distancing when they are in full class groups and the emphasis is therefore very much on avoiding the unnecessary mixing of students, particularly between year groups. The guidance states that we should consider staggered breaks/lunchtimes to minimise time spent in corridors and continue to emphasise thorough hygiene and hand washing.
We have flexibility within the guidance and we need to consider our local context and conditions. In this respect, we have some considerable advantages. Most of our students come to school on foot and few use public transport. We don’t have lots of school buses which could lead to large groups of children arriving together and tending to gather. Also, we have a large site with plenty of space and fresh air between classrooms.
With all of this in mind, we have a secure plan which we believe prioritises the safety of all whilst also giving the maximum emphasis to our core purpose of educating our students. Our full, updated risk assessment for School can be found here. This, and all of the details that follow, could, of course, be adapted in light of changes to the situation or updated governmental guidance. All students will be briefed on the detail of school routines and procedures carefully at the beginning of next term. Our key ideas and the information that you need to know at this stage are as follows:
- ESSENTIAL: Please ensure that if anyone in your household has COVID-19 symptoms, your child does NOT attend school. Please phone the Student Service Office by 9.30am in the first instance on 01626 774091 (best option), or email firstname.lastname@example.org Any child or staff member who develops symptoms in the school day will be sent home immediately. Parents will be contacted immediately by school to make arrangements for their departure. If anyone in your household, or your child, tests positive for COVID-19 you MUST inform us.
- ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE: The government has advised walking or cycling to school wherever possible to reduce the use of public transport. We have three entrances/exits into school and encourage students to use all of them. We don’t need to stagger or amend our start and finish times. On entry into school, students should sanitise at the marked point and go straight to their tutor or first lesson. If students arrive late to school they must go to Student Services to sign in as usual. They must not gather with other students.
- ATTENDANCE: Attendance at school will be compulsory for the vast majority of children. The government relaxed the rules on attendance during lockdown but this changes in September and the normal rules apply: ‘School attendance will therefore be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term.’ If you or your son/daughter are worried about their return to school, please contact us and we will support and discuss. We do know that for some young people with health concerns there are real challenges and relevant questions to be answered. Absence should be confirmed to the Student Service Office by phone or email in the usual way.
- PPE: Students and staff will in general not be wearing face coverings in school unless the guidance changes. The government advice is clear that this is not necessary for most people. If face coverings are used on public transport to get to school, they must be removed and safely disposed of or stored before entry into school unless it is agreed differently for some in specialist cases.
- HYGIENE: Students will be expected to follow strict behaviour rules relating to physical contact with other students, and keeping their hands clean. They will be expected to wash their hands regularly, and/or use hand sanitiser.
- GROUPINGS & MOVEMENT: In order to maintain social distancing as far as possible, we have designed one way systems in various parts of the school which can become congested. We will brief all students on this at the outset of the term. During social times, as well as separate places/times to buy food, each year group will have separate designated zones to use. They will not normally be permitted to mix with different year groups in school.
- EQUIPMENT: It will be more important than ever that your child has their own equipment in school to ensure that this does not need to be shared. Please check that your sons/daughters are properly equipped at the beginning of each day.
- UNIFORM: We would like students to return to school in full uniform this September. Government guidelines are clear that this creates no extra risks for students or staff in terms of safety, and that excessive, daily washing of all garments is not necessary. This makes good sense educationally as uniform promotes identity and good behaviour, and this signifies a return to some sort of normality. On days when students have PE, we will allow students to attend school in their PE kit and we will clarify expectations in due course. We will make allowances for students who have been unable to purchase new uniform at the start of term and if parents are struggling with the costs of uniform please communicate with us; we do have some funds to support where there is financial hardship.
- FOOD: Our school canteen will be open in September and we will have an additional servery in the KS4 Common Room for Years 10 and 11. We would encourage all parents to consider giving their son(s)/daughter(s) a packed meal for school but hot food will be available as well as free meals for those who are entitled to one. Food will only be served in Break 1 (see below) as this minimises the risks of students mixing and potential virus transmission.
- ADAPTED TIMETABLE, ZONES & TWO STAGGERED BREAKS: We have carefully considered all of the risks and recognise that students mixing in a crowded canteen is our highest risk in school. It is for this reason that we are moving to two 30 minute break times and staggering break 1. This will enables all to get food and enjoy their social time in a safe manner. Each year group will also be designated a specific area for social time. Students will be talked through procedures on their return.
We understand that some of you and your children will be anxious about returning in September, after some months out of school. Please be reassured that we are taking exceptional measures to make our school as safe as can be. We will be providing additional emotional and wellbeing support for all students, and we will be providing further opportunities to support learning where this is required.