Information regarding wider school opening from Thursday 4th June
Following on from the government’s initial announcement regarding the re-opening of schools to a wider number (namely Reception, Year1, and Year 6), conditional on the rates of Covid 19 infections continuing to decline, they have gone on to say that they hope that all primary year groups will be able to attend school for about a month leading up to the end of term. The DFE is talking about having classes of up to 15 in a room.
These are very difficult and confusing times. This is exacerbated by conflicting advice and different responses being made to so many aspects of the pandemic in different countries. We want to get back to some kind of normality, a different normality to anything we have had before. But we want to get there safely. There are economic, social, political and media pressures at play here. Many at odds with each other. Schools in Ireland remain closed as they are in Wales and Scotland. The R value is different in countries but also within England, with the north west particularly struggling to keep it below 1.
People want to work but they also want their children and families to be safe too. Whilst children have generally not been affected as badly as adults, they are carriers. Parents and teachers of young children know just how physical and hands on they are. Social distancing is an alien concept to them. This is why there has been surprise at the selection by the government of Reception and Year 1 children being the first to return to school.
The DFE proposal is to have 15 children in a room. We want to be transparent with you. That number concerns us a lot. The science of this pandemic is complicated and, with this being a new virus, there are lots of unknowns especially relating to children. (You might want to refer to the chief scientific adviser at the Department for Education (DfE), Osama Rahman’s response to the Science & Technology Select Committee this week. https://twitter.com/ka81/status/1260575048894685185?s=12 )
The following information is our plan for moving forwards. We think the absolute maximum we could have in a room is 10 children for KS2 and only 5 in a room for the younger children , therefore we would be able to accommodate the equivalent of one and a half year groups in school at any one time, using all our rooms. Initially, we will be allocating places to all 50 Year 6 children and, in order to keep numbers to 5 in a room, just 25 Y1 children at any one time. So, we would be re-opening , initially for half of the Year 1 cohort.
This would start on Thursday 4th June. Y1 children would use all 5 classrooms in the KS1 block. Y6 children would be in groups of 10 in 5 KS2 classrooms. Children of key worker children and vulnerable children, (whose parents will have been be contacted by school), would be grouped in one KS2 room, the Rainbow room, and the Sunshine, with another room being kept as a sick bay, in case children become symptomatic at school and need to be collected by a parent/carer.
The other half of the Year 1 cohort would attend on the week beginning Monday 8th June.
Should the take up of Y1 places be sufficiently low, we would then be in a position to offer places to Reception children.
Parents of children in R,Year1 and Year 6 should have received an email yesterday (14/05/20) from their child’s class teacher, with this information plus more detailed plans for children and a reply form to indicate that you want a place for your child. If you are a parent of a child in R,Y1 or Y6 and you haven’t received that email, contact the school office by email (email@example.com) . Replies need to be in by 9.30am on Tuesday 19th May, but only regarding children in these year groups. Siblings in other year groups will not be admitted.
For later on in the second half of the term, we cannot predict what the situation will be. It has been suggested by the government that other additional year groups come in. A government announcement on that will be made in due course apparently. We at Duke Street, would not want there to be additional pupils in school, but rather that other year group children come in instead. We do not plan to have all year groups in simultaneously here.
The government has said that reducing the risks for children and staff is their utmost priority. We share that concern and we want to see all our children back in school as soon as we are confident that it is safe to do so. In our judgement, we do not see having more than 10 pupils (5 for younger children) in a class is safe.
The government also recognise that each setting and community is different and that leaders will need to make their own judgements on the most important issues for them. They also say that every setting should carry out a risk assessment before opening.
As I mentioned earlier, these are our plans for moving forward. There is much more to do and further consultations are ongoing between the teaching unions, other professional associations and the government, to work towards a solution which is acceptable to all stakeholder groups.
As a headteacher, I am trying to co-ordinate the forward planning here at Duke Street Primary in a way which keeps the health and safety of pupils and staff at the forefront of our thinking. Senior leaders, governors and all staff are involved in this process too.
My good wishes to you all. Stay safe.
Duke Street Primary School