Letter regarding the partial opening of the Prep School
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Firstly, I hope that this letter finds you and your family well.
Secondly, I also hope that, although we are currently not at school, your children are enjoying and benefiting from the live virtual curriculum and other online learning, that is taking place across all year groups. I would also like to thank you for the extremely positive emails that you have sent myself and the staff, regarding our remote learning provision.
I am writing to you regarding the recent announcement made by the government, in which they highlighted their wish to have primary schools open from June 1st for pupils in the Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 groups. This is conditional, based on current Covid 19 infection rates continuing to decrease. As part of the framework identified by the government, we have been asked to ‘identify likely numbers of pupils returning’. I am therefore keen to understand whether you would like your children to return to school on this date. This information will allow us to plan a safety conscious and effective provision as far as is possible within the Government’s current and evolving directives for schools. Alongside any returning pupils, the school will attempt to continue to staff the current Key Worker provision.
Whilst, as a school, we will aim to mitigate risk as much as we are able to, the government advice states that ‘early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff’. Therefore, although we will be making significant changes to the school day, environment and timetable, which are described below, and will follow government guidelines in order to try and mitigate the risk of transmission and infection of the novel corona virus, it must be acknowledged that the movement and gathering of groups of people does increase the risk, compared with staying at home.
As per the current government advice in ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings’ which was published on the 11th May 2020, we will need to make the following changes to the school day, environment and timetable in order to mitigate as much risk as possible for those attending school.
Pupils will be unable to be in groups larger than 15 pupils and they will remain in their groups throughout the day, with their class teacher or teacher allocated to their group. They will be unable to mix with pupils in any other groups during the school day, even if there are other groups of pupils in the same Year, or pupils from the same family.
Pupils will NOT wear school uniform, because the same clothing cannot be worn on consecutive days and clothing will need to be thoroughly washed when children return to home at the end of every day.
There will need to be staggered drop off and collection times, between the hours of 8.30am-4.30pm, for each group of pupils in order to avoid mixing between groups of pupils, staff and parents.
Parents will be unable to enter the school buildings and should not gather in groups themselves. Different school entry and exit points will be implemented for different groups of pupils and parents.
Packed lunches will be provided in the classrooms, as a shared dining space cannot be used.
Staggered break and lunchtimes will be created and zoned play areas will be implemented in order to avoid mixing between groups and the cross-contamination of outdoor spaces. Unfortunately, the school play equipment will be unable to be used.
Classrooms will require significant changes which will include the removal of soft furnishings, soft toys and other toys that are hard to clean; other non-essential items will also be removed.
Where possible and relevant, desks will be placed 2 metres apart.
Pupils will be unable to share resources or stationery and individual pupil resources will be provided. Pupils should NOT bring in any items from home (this includes laptops) as the items cannot be suitably sanitised.
If returning pupil numbers are significant then certain specialist lessons and aspects of specialist teacher interaction, currently being provided online to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, will not be possible due to the lack of laptop facility and the fact that the specialist staff will be at home, continuing to provide learning to other year groups. Therefore, an altered and reduced timetable will be created for pupils who are physically in school. The ICT device provision in the Preparatory School has been significantly reduced, as we have loaned a large number of devices to families, staff and pupils in order to facilitate the remote learning provision.
1-1 TA intervention will be not be provided to pupils physically attending school. This is in order to limit the pupils’ exposure to more adults than is absolutely necessary within their small groups and to ensure that intervention can also continue across all other year groups engaged in remote learning.
It is highly unlikely that school buses will be able to be provided due to social distancing requirements stipulated for travel to and from school.
We will continue to insist on high levels of hand hygiene and hand washing. Each group of pupils will be allocated to a distinct set of toileting facilities and all facilities, frequently touched surfaces and classrooms will be disinfected and cleaned every day.
We hope, by putting in the above measures, that we limit exposure to the virus, however, in order to follow current governmental advice, should any pupils or staff develop symptoms compatible with coronavirus they will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days.
We have been promised that all staff and students who are attending an education setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms and will be encouraged to get tested in this scenario. Where the child or staff member tests negative they can return immediately to school and people in their household can end their self-isolation. Should the test return a positive result, then the rest of the group of pupils and staff member with whom they have had contact, will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
The above is in line with current governmental advice, however, there appears to be complications and contradictions, which the teaching profession are currently reacting to. As a result, we are receiving daily updates to the advice; we will, of course, amend our position in light of these and inform you of any salient changes as soon as possible.
Please could you contact the school using email@example.com to let us know if you would like your child/children to attend school, in the relevant year groups, from June 1st onwards or whether you would prefer to keep them at home.
All responses need to be received by Tuesday 19th May at midday, in order to allow us sufficient time to organise the required health & safety, catering, staffing and timetabling measures. Any non-returns will be treated as not wanting children to attend. It is very important that we understand how many pupils will be attending as the educational provision will differ based on this number.
If you would like further information, relevant government documentation can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020
Should you require any clarification regarding the proposed partial opening of the Preparatory School, please contact me and I will do my best to answer your questions.
We look forward to hearing from you in the near future and I wish you a safe and happy weekend.
Ben Noble Richard Notman
Head of Stover Preparatory School. Executive Headmaster