Welcome back letter

3rd September 2020

Dear Families and Friends,

I hope you have all had a good summer and have managed to have some fun when the sun decided to shine. This last year was the strangest any of us can remember and things won’t feel the same when we go back, but all of the staff can’t wait to have the children back in school.

Apologies for another lengthy letter, I wanted you to have as much information as possible. Some of the information will be the same but, if you are like me, you may want to read it again.

As you might know, we have been given new guidance from the DFE and we have taken time to consider it and our approach moving forward and wanted to just give you an update. Please remember that all information is subject to change and the DFE may give us additional guidance once term starts.

I am also sending you the Frequently Asked Questions we have received from the City Council which I’m sure will be useful.

Thank you again for all your support during lock down, and we are relying on your support to help us to make school as safe as possible and we need everyone to understand some of the changes we are making to our what normally happens. The information about the staggered starts and finishes which we shared at the end of last term has not changed, there is a diagram further down this letter which explains when and where your child/ children will enter school. I know some of you have some concerns about getting your children to more than one gate at different times, please know that the teachers understand there may be some difficulties at first which we will try to solve as they come up. There are 10 minute slots which will hopefully give you time to drop off at different spots.

Before I explain the arrangements for how things will work, I want to remind you of all the safety measures we have in place in school:

  • Hand sanitisers in every classroom and around school
  • No visitors onto site without appointment
  • Regular timetabled hand washing
  • Personalised packs for children in years 1-6 so that resources needed for learning aren’t shared
  • Regular cleaning throughout the day
  • Children /staff who develop symptoms to be isolated immediately and sent home and tested
  • Social distancing wherever possible
  • Your child/children will be in a year group bubble. Playtimes and lunchtimes have been and will be staggered so that year group bubbles do not come into contact with other bubbles. Because of this, we will not be running breakfast club and after school clubs for now

It is expected that ALL children will return in September and you know how closely Mrs Macdonald tracks attendance!! In fact, we have a new member of staff called Mrs Woodward who some of you may have already spoken to, who will now be looking after all things attendance.

There are things we can teach them and ways we can teach them that simply are not as possible at home. It is also a matter of mental health. Children cope best in routines and being alongside their peers. I know you will support us in getting all children back to school in September but trusting that we are going to do it as safely as possible.

 

So how will it all work?

While reception and nursery will come in in small groups to get them used to school, all other children will return to school on Tuesday 8th September – hopefully this will explain how it will work.

 

It is really important that you use the entry points on the map and only come to the gate 5 minutes before the time as children will not be able to play on the playground before or after school. Children will be picked up from the gate and can be collected from the same point.

The DFE are also advising that children should wear school uniforms from September and that these do not need to be washed daily. I know some of you will have uniform that your child has now outgrown but is still in really good condition. A big thank you to those of you who supported St Oswald’s by buying your uniform at their shop in West Denton, it has been much appreciated. We have also set up a uniform page on Facebook where you can message to let us know what you might need.

Usual uniform should be worn for school each day, other than the days which your child’s class has PE. On PE days children should come dressed in PE kits (joggers, t shirts, trainers, hoodies or sweatshirts – these do not have to be uniform but the simpler the better).

What will the children be learning and what will it look like?

Our curriculum will remain broad and balanced and we will still be working from our Knowledge Organisers to ensure children have the knowledge and vocabulary they need for different subjects. Our curriculum has been very well-planned and we know that many of you have supported as best you can with this at home. On our return to school, we will be working with children straight away on their basic skills and ensuring that we work hard in the Autumn Term to plug any gaps in knowledge.

PE will take place outside and there will be no contact sports. PE resources will be cleaned between each class or quarantined for a minimum of 72 hours. Sadly, children are not able to sing in groups in school and so some elements of music and other curriculum areas will be taught differently, although we will sing outdoors and when children are distanced. There will be fewer opportunities for group activities but this will not affect the curriculum or learning.

As well as focussing on the children’s learning, there will be a big focus on their wellbeing. Making sure your children feel happy, safe and loved is always at the centre of everything we do.  After such a long time out of school, and knowing that some children will be nervous about coming back or about what has been going on, teachers have been planning some welcome back activities and are making time every day for children to chat and share how they’re feeling. If we have any concerns, we will talk to you and work together to make sure that the children are feeling happy and secure. Staff have already had many discussions about how the return to school might present additional challenges for some individuals and groups and will be working closely together to make sure the children are supported in whatever way they need.

Classrooms will look different to usual. In KS1 and KS2 classes, children will be sitting in rows for several children or at separated tables for two children. All will be facing the front and there will be very limited movement around the classroom. Teachers will stay at the front of the class as much as possible. Each child has their own resources such as scissors, pencils, glue sticks and rulers. Soft furnishings have been removed as they are difficult to clean and some furniture has been removed in order to create more space. Windows and most internal doors will be open to increase ventilation. Because the Early Years curriculum cannot be delivered in the classroom model described above, in Reception and Year 1, children will still have opportunities to learn and play together, they will not be sitting in rows. We have made some changes to what is available, without having a negative impact on children’s learning, development of social skills and general well-being. These resources will be easy to clean and will be cleaned at the end of each day or between children using them. Staff will still be distanced from children as much as possible.

This has been quite the year and there may well be more changes on the way. We have learnt to work in different ways and have made great use of home learning- we hope to continue using this in the future.

Next year will see a different way of working and your continued understanding will be greatly appreciated. There is no one tried and tested method for us to use and we will need to keep looking at the best ways of working as we move forward I’m sure. You have been a fantastic group of parents to work with and I know you have gone above and beyond for your children during this very difficult time

How will the children catch up on what they’ve missed?

With your children having missed so much school, and the challenges of home learning, we know that they will be coming back with different strengths and needs. Staff will be working closely with the children to find out where they need extra support and where we can challenge them further. We will be receiving  some extra ‘catch up’ funding from the government and we will use this to support the children as effectively as we can.

What will happen if your child shows symptoms?

It is essential that you do not send to children to school if they have any symptoms of COVID-19. You can check what the symptoms are here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/

If your child shows symptoms or appears unwell while at school, they will be taken to Dame Stephenson’s room where they will be looked after until they can be picked up. You can then get your child tested and, if the test is negative, they can return to school – we will need to see confirmation of the test before we welcome them back into school. If the test is positive, then we have procedures in place to ensure bubbles will be isolated in line with medical guidelines. As we are coming into the season of cold and flu viruses in school, we expect to have to follow this procedure many times as we will not be able to distinguish between the cause of any symptoms. Please make sure that your contact details are up to date so that we can contact you easily.

The current advice states that primary school staff only need PPE if they are unable to maintain distancing in a situation such as administering first aid. In the case of administering first aid, staff will wear gloves, face coverings, visors and aprons. There may be other occasions when staff feel the need to wear PPE, including in classrooms. Children do not need to wear face coverings. If you choose for your child to wear a face covering, please make sure that they understand how to do so safely. Staff will be able to wear face coverings in school if they choose to.

What happens if there is one or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in school?

 If we become aware of one or more confirmed cases, we will contact the PHE Public Health Protection Team who will discuss the context of the case/s and will seek to establish what kind of contact there has been between the person/people with the positive test result and other members of the school community. It is important to try and work out who else might be at risk. We will then inform other parents and carers if there are any further actions to take. This could result in one or more classes having to begin a period of self-isolation and/or the building might need to be deep cleaned but this will be decided by the Public Health Protection Team once they have spoken to school and parents/carers. If a member of your family has a test with a positive result, then you will need to inform us that your child/ren will be absent for the period of self-isolation. In the unlikely event of a whole class, KS or the school having to self-isolate or ‘lock down’ again, we will revert to using Class Dojo for learning as we did in the summer term.

While this term is going to be different to any other, I know the children and staff will have a wonderful time being together in school. All of the staff have worked extremely hard to make sure school is ready to welcome back your children – a massive thank you to every one working in school who has gone above and beyond since lock down and during the holidays.

With love and lots of best wishes,

Mrs Eatock