Dear Parent / Carer.
I would like to start by letting you know that myself and the staff wish you and your families are well and have been able to keep safe during this challenging period of time. School has not be able to operate as we normally do at the centre of our community working in partnership with parents and supporting each other. There is nothing we would like more than to reopen our gates to all of our pupils, parents and community.
Primary schools have been instructed to open Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from June 1st before, potentially, opening up for all year groups by the end of June. This has, understandably, been met with a mixed response with many concerns from various areas of society but, particularly, parents and carers.
I have risk assessed re-opening our Nursery provision and discussed this with our Chair Of Governors. At the current time Nursery will not be re-opening as we are unable to put enough safe measures in place. We need to monitor how the new systems work with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children in the first instance. I do apologise for this decision but I have to ensure the safety of the children and staff as my main priority.
We are working closely with the Local Authority to identify what we can do to follow national expectations in order to manage the many complexities of returning greater numbers of pupils safely whilst also supporting others who remain at home. Please find attached a letter from Caroline O’Neill, the Head of Children’s Services for Gateshead to all parents in Gateshead with their views on a return to school at this time.
It is important for me to be very clear with families about what school will be like if we open during the next few weeks in order that you as a parent can make an informed decision. We will do all we can to reduce the risk of virus transmission by changing routines and systems as well as reducing pupil numbers and limiting who they come into contact with. What cannot happen in school, because we are dealing with large numbers of young children, is to create the same robust social distancing environment that can be followed by adults. The government knows this and that is why schools are not expected to make themselves 'COVID Secure' as other work environments must. This is also why it has been made clear that parents/carers will not be penalised for lack of attendance if they choose not to access school because of their concerns.
What does this mean for how school will be organised?
To attempt to reduce risk for staff and higher numbers of children who return to school before the summer, the school organisation will be very different. We will be implementing a range of measures including:
• Children may not be with their current class teacher and may not be with the same group of children
• They will need to remain in that classroom for the duration of the day. They cannot mix with the groups of children in the other classrooms
• Only one child will be allowed to the toilet at a time and there will be specified times to use the toilet
• Children will be asked to sit 2 metres apart at all times
• Their classrooms will have all unnecessary furniture and equipment removed and all soft furnishings and toys removed
• Children must have full washed clean clothes on every day. This does not need to be uniform
• They will not be able to bring anything from home. No reading books, no packed lunches, no pencil cases.
• When any equipment is used it will then need cleaned before other children use or touch it
• Alcoholic hand sanitiser will be used in each classroom – some children have experienced allergic reactions to this
• They will have some lessons that involve a lot of independent learning as the teacher will not be able to go side by side or sit next to them to give them targeted support needed
• Only one parent is allowed to drop off their child
• This parent will NOT be allowed to enter the school grounds or have the daily contact or conversation they may need or are used to having
• Drop off and pick up will take place at the school gates and be marked out for parents to queue 2 meters apart
• Early pick ups will not be able to happen. Children will have to be collected at the specified time
• They will eat packed lunches provided by school in their classroom
• If they fall over or have a toileting accident, they will be encouraged to change themselves and clean their scrape or cut. If this is not possible the parent will be called to collect them so they can do that at home
• Year 6 will not be able to have a leavers assembly, a reward trip or the usual end of year events
• There will be no sports day, no class assemblies and no trips
• Parents must be available throughout the day in case they are needed to collect children.
Next steps for Caedmon Community Primary School?
Finally, you all know by now that my philosophy is to create a school environment where everyone can thrive in a safe, secure and supportive atmosphere where we celebrate the achievments of everyone. The measures we are having to put in place mean that school will not look or feel like like we are used to on a day to day basis. In order to continue with our plans we do need to know what your intentions are as parents. Therefore, could I please ask that you complete the Survey Monkey questionnaire on the link below as soon as possible indicating your intentions with regards to sending your children back to school.
We will continue to provide home learning and resources for children that remain at home throughout June. Thank you for all the communication and kind messages throughout the lockdown period. I have seen many of you within the community over the last 8 weeks. I am just sorry that we are unable to return to ‘normal school’ yet.
Take care and stay safe.