St Mary's

Catholic Primary School

Classes and COVID-19 Adjustments

 A good news update for the school - Our Section 48 report has been published. We are very proud of our outcome and I want to thank staff, children, parents and IEB for enabling this outcome. Thank You!

Start of Year Newsletter and Updated - Parent Guide to School Opening

(1st September 2020)

 

Dear Parents, carers and children,

I hope that you have all had a restful and healthy summer break. As anticipated, there have been some changes to government advice around COVID-19 transmission and I would like to use this newsletter to add to the school opening planning shared at the end of the last academic year. Changes are highlighted in yellow so you can see these easily. Please take time to read and review these as they are important to the health and wellbeing of our whole community.

 

Reminders

Reading display

Mrs Smith would like to create a reading display in September to celebrate the reading that you have all continued to do at home. Please can you email a photograph of your child reading, perhaps in an unusual place, over the summer holidays. Please email these to admin@st-marys-pri.wilts.sch.uk by Wednesday 2nd September.

 

School Uniform

As the summer holiday is often the time when parents

purchase new school uniform, please refer to the last newsletter for clarity on what we ask children to wear to school.

 

September Planning

As head teacher, I am responsible for not only the wellbeing of the children but also that of staff in St Mary’s. It is this sense of responsibility that has guided the plans I have made. As a school that is reflective, we have drawn on our experience since the start of the pandemic to inform our plans for the wider opening of the school this week.

I continue to refer to government guidance but also follow a “Precautionary Principle” which means our actions or systems are there because they are logical and based on current evidence that may or may not yet be scientifically verified. These actions are however unlikely to cause harm and most importantly could potentially prevent it. Notwithstanding this, it is also important to recognise that despite our best efforts, due to the contagiousness of COVID-19, the school cannot guarantee that a child or adult won’t become infected or unwell.

 

This summary compliments the school’s COVID-19 School Action Plan and associated Risk Assessment. As with all things related to COVID-19, updates will be posted on the school website and we will always be guided by the latest Government advice. Within this update we refer to two types of distancing. The first is physical distancing which we define as the distance between individuals. The second is social distancing which we define as reducing interactions between different groups or individuals from different groups.

 

What drop-off and pick-up will look like:

At the start of the day, a senior member of the school staff will meet and greet children arriving at school. This time is a valuable opportunity to see how everyone is and be available to answer questions.  Government guidelines state that schools should prevent large numbers of people congregating at drop-off and pick-up times and that in staggering the day, this should not reduce children’s learning time. We will meet this guidance in the following way:

 

Drop-off window

Key Stage 1 playground

Year 5 and Year 6 door

08:20 – 08:30

Year 1 and Year 2

Year 5

08:30 – 08:40

Year 3 and Year 4

Year 6

08:40 – 08:50

Nursery and Reception

 

 

Pick-up window

 

 

14:40 – 14:50

Year 1 and Year 2

 

14:50 – 15:00

Nursery and Reception

Year 5

15:00 – 15:10

Year 3 and Year 4

Year 6

 

So that learning time is not lost, the children in Key Stage 1 will stop having a routine afternoon break. This will not be an issue from our perspective as much of their afternoon learning will be active and outside.

Over the last term we worked hard to meet physical and social distancing guidelines whilst at the same time getting drop-off / pick-up times down to a minimum. We will continue to do this in Term 1 but need your help to achieve this by:

  • Using our floor markings to ensure that at drop-off you maintain physical distancing.
  • Ensuring only one adult / family member drops-off and picks-up.
  • Arriving on time for drop-off and pick-up.
  • Not remaining in the car park after you have dropped a child / children.

At drop-off / pick up we will continue to use a one-way system in the playground or to the classroom door. At the moment, parents / carers are not permitted to enter the school building.

 

Routines in place to be vigilant and help prevent transmission:

Physical distancing: Children will be reminded about keeping physical distance from others. Although the Government does not believe physical distancing and the 2m rule is practical in primary schools, this will continue to be a principle we aim for wherever possible.

School staff have worked hard over the summer holidays to ensure our classrooms are as safe as possible. We are working to government guidelines with respect to this and the details of how classes will be organised is outlined below.

Social Distancing: As with last year we will continue to operate a learning hub system. This means that wherever possible we will try to keep children from different learning hubs as separate as possible. This distancing also includes as adults, who when working between hubs will be required to maintain distances or wear face coverings so that they do not increase their risk of transmission between / across hubs.

Handwashing and Hygiene: We have a high emphasis on hand washing and hand sanitization across the day. As a minimum this happens at transition points, (start of day, before and after break and lunch time and at the end of the day). Hand hygiene is a mixture of 20 second soap and warm water washing and hand sanitization using alcohol-based gel.

We encourage a “catch it, kill it and bin it” approach and each class, corridor and toilet has a good supply of hand towels, tissues and swing bins.

On-going cleaning: In addition to heightened cleaning at the end of the day, classroom surfaces, door handles, light switches are cleaned across the day by school staff.

Temperature taking: All children’s temperatures will continue to be taken on arrival. These will be collated to form a profile of each child. This will be used to monitor and track fluctuations and take precautionary action where needed.

Footwear Sanitation: We will continue to try and mitigate children bringing germs into the school from outside by retaining our footwear sanitation stations at external doors.

 

What happens if someone becomes unwell:

If a child or staff member develops obvious current symptoms of COVID-19 (new and continuous cough, increasing temperature, loss of taste and smell) the school will:

  • Send the staff member home and arrange for cover.
  • Isolate the child from others and contact parents to collect them from school.
  • Clean the areas where the child or staff member has been.
  • Ask the person to arrange for a test to be taken as soon as possible.

If a child or staff member develops symptoms, they should self-isolate for 7 days and obtain a test immediately. New government guidance says that by September, wider avenues for testing will be available and that schools will have a small supply of self-test kits. While awaiting results, other members of an individual’s household should also self-isolate for 14 days.

If the test comes back negative and the symptoms have stopped, the individual can return to school and the remainder of the household can stop self-isolating.

If the test comes back positive, the health protection team will carry out a risk assessment and it is likely that direct, close and proximity contacts will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days from the date they were in contact with the infected person. Proximity contacts are defined as those who have been within 1m of the individual for more than a minute, those who have been within 2m for more than 15 minutes and those who the individual may have coughed or sneezed on.

Household members of a close contact do not need to self-isolate unless they develop symptoms. If a close contact who has been sent home develops symptoms, they must obtain a test immediately and continue to self-isolate. Members of their household should also begin a 14 day self-isolation

Precautionary Principles

In relation to our precautionary approach, we request that parents do not send children to school if they are unwell but without COVID-19 symptoms. I am acutely aware of the importance of staff and children remaining healthy at all times. With respect to this there are very real implications linked to staff absence for things such as common colds and seasonal flu, and I want to avoid this as much as possible. Illness linked to this will also require staff to self-isolate until confirmation and there may be difficulties covering this absence. For this reason, if your child is even mildly unwell, please keep them at home, “If in doubt, sit it out.”

Public Health England have also supported our policy we applied last year in relation to children who are clearly “under the weather” but not displaying the common COVID-19 symptoms. In these instances, children who seem to be unwell and “wilting”, may be sent home. This reflects the school’s “Precautionary Approach” recognising that children can often have COVID-19 and show mild or no symptoms but also that they are also susceptible to other illnesses that can be recovered from in a few days. In these instances, the school asks parents / carers to observe the child over the remainder of the day and days following this. If symptoms persist, a test should be obtained and the family should follow the Government guidance with respect to this. If the child “bounces back” and there are no signs of ill health, they can return to school.

 

How classes are organised:

Learning hubs: The school will continue to operate hubs and each hub will be split into mini-hubs comprising of our different year groups. Our planning at the moment is that these will be as follows:

  • Hub 1 (three mini-hubs: Nursery, Reception and Year 1).
  • Hub 2 (three mini hubs: Year 2, Year 3 and Year 4).
  • Hub 3 (two mini-hubs: Year 5 and Year 6).
  • Hub 4 (the school’s Admin block).

As detailed in Government guidance, there is no longer a need for mini-hub or bubble sizes to be kept at 15 pupils. This means that whole classes can now re-join provided that protective measures are in place and that the school responds appropriately if a child becomes unwell.

Classroom organisation: In line with government guidance, all children will sit facing the teacher and we will not be using table groups. The number of tables and children in our classes will vary depending on the cohort size but the above principles will be followed as much as possible.

 

Children will have their own drawer where they will keep their books and own stationary. Stationery and other frequently used books and resources will be stored in a plastic zipped wallet so that others can’t touch them.

Activities will be planned to avoid the sharing of resources and where this is needed, resources will be cleaned between activities. Where shared resources are used, children will be required to clean their hands thoroughly after the activity.

Children will sit next to the same learning partner throughout the day and we will look at ways to broaden learning groups whilst still maintaining physical distance through wider curriculum activities. 

Teachers will organise their classes and days so that there are clear entry and exit routines. Where multiple groups can avoid using the same access points, we will do this. The order in which children will leave and enter their class across the day will be specified by the teaching adult so that unnecessary mixing does not occur. The movement of children within the classroom will continue to be limited and as is our current practice, children will only visit the toilet one at a time. Mini hubs will not change classrooms as a rule and learning hubs will not usually visit other areas of the school.

Teaching staff will continue to predominantly teach from the front of the class and their working space will be preserved to reduce proximity contact with children. Staff may also wear face coverings and visors as a precautionary measure to prevent transmission. This will be particularly if they need to work in closer contact with children across the class.

 

How learning will be organised in school and if a child or mini-hub is sent home:

Since Easter we have been operating an approach that is now called blended learning. This means the content of learning is the same for children in school or at home. We will continue to have this philosophy in our planning of learning activities so that we can switch easily between class based teaching and home learning if needed.

From September, we will

  • Resume our normal Power Maths and Literary Curriculum for Maths and English but will make sure that this can be supported by remote lessons using the Oak Academy if children or hubs are at home.
  • Follow our established themes for the creative curriculum. Where we switch to remote learning, we will resume with or provide Pick ‘n’ Mix learning activities.
  • Resume daily reading, spelling / phonics / number skills and in the case of home learning will encouraged this at home.
  • Provide specific lessons across the week for RE and PSHE.
  • Use a mixture of indoor and outdoor learning to deliver their curriculum.
  • Continue our worship routine. This will be either streamed or uploaded to classes. Our weekly programme will be Whole School Worship on Monday, a follow up to this on Tuesday, class worship on Wednesday, Gospel Worship from Ten/Ten Worship or Mrs McDonagh on Thursday and Celebration Worship on Friday. Weekly worship where the children all join together in the hall is not recommended by the Government yet.

 

In the event of a whole or partial school closure, all home learning will continue to be accessed from the school website. The organisation of this may change as we move towards what we hope will be a mixture of streamed lessons and website-based activities.

 

What will happen at play and lunch time:

We will continue to stagger play and lunch times so that we can minimize the mixing of children between hubs. The staggering of these times means that the children from each hub will be kept together. The arrangements for play and lunch are as follows:

  • Hub One: Lunch together in the hall and playtimes in the Key Stage 1 playground.
  • Hub Two: Lunch in the hall and play in the Key Stage 2 playground or on the field
  • Hub Three: Lunch in their classroom or outdoor picnic tables and play in the Key Stage 2 playground or on the field

From September we will be resuming hot meals again but these will be limited to a single vegetarian or non-vegetarian choice. We are doing this to speed up meal times and ensure we are able to ensure children have valuable free time. Children having lunch in the hall will sit with their learning partner and following the Government guidelines, will not sit directly opposite another child

Staff breaktime: All school staff are entitled to a lunch break. This situation poses an increased risk of staff to staff infection. For this reason, time in the Staff Room will be limited, routines for cleaning, ventilation and access to this space linked to hub break times will aid transmission mitigation. Staff are instructed to maintain social distancing (2m) and physical face to face communication.

First aid: Any staff member treating a child for first aid is required as a minimum to wash / clean hands, wear gloves and a face covering before administering first aid. Additional PPE may also be worn. Staff will do this as most first aid situations will require closer than 1m contact with a child.

 

What to bring and what to wear:

School Uniform: From September, children are expected to wear school uniform to school each day. The details of this can be found on the school website and parents are asked to refer to this before making any purchase of new uniform or footwear over the summer break.

PE Kit: Children should wear their PE kit to school on days that they have PE. As with school uniform, what to wear for PE can be found on the updated school uniform section of the website.

Other belongings: Please ensure that:

  • If your child is in Nursery and Reception they have a change of clothes that can be kept in a bag at school.
  • Your child has a drinks bottle and suitable waterproof coat in school at all times in school.
  • Reading books and reading records come into school on a daily basis.

These items should be bought to school in a suitably sized school bag that can either be kept under your child’s desk or on a peg in the cloakroom.

 

The wearing of face masks or mouth and nose coverings:

Current guidance states that these are not required or suitable for primary school children or staff. The rationale for this has slightly changed over the summer for primary aged children in that they are in smaller more consistent bubbles, younger children find it hard to wear masks and finally, these will interfere with learning. This seems to be a continually evolving area and national policy may still change at short notice.

At the moment the general wearing of a face covering by children is not a school policy or recommendation. We will not stop parents from exercising their right to insist on this for their child provided that the child is able to wear these safely. Children bringing reusable masks must have a sealable plastic bag in which to store it when damp or needing to be changed; a spare mask in another bag and must wash hands before and after removing it.

 There may also be very valid reasons for assessing the community benefit associated with face covering when the winter months draw in and we can’t guarantee the levels of ventilation we have at the moment.

Guidance on how to wear a face covering will be placed on the school website in the coming days.

With respect to staff wearing face coverings and other PPE, this may be something that staff are directed to do or do out of choice. Staff are directed to wear face covering when:

  • Working between hubs or visiting other classes (e.g subject leader monitoring, taking messages or resources, collecting children).
  • Administering first aid.

Parents or other visitors to the school who need to enter the school building may be required to wear a face covering or other PPE.

 

Before and after school clubs:

It continues to be our intention to start breakfast and after school club from the week beginning 7th September. Details linked to this will be updated in the first week of term. We are not planning to start other after school activities in Term 1 and will be reviewing this decision at the start of October 2020.

 

I hope that this document has provided you with the information you need to understand how the school will operate from the start of this term. As with previous plans, these arrangements may change at short notice and will always be governed by Government guidelines. If there are urgent changes to these plans, these will be e-mailed and posted on the school website.

 

Finally, I would like to say that despite all that has happened over the last five months, we are all looking forward to opening the school and seeing you all again. We are very much looking forward to the year ahead.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

Paul Bacon

 

  

      Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.

      Welcome to Term 5 - A little hello from all the staff at St Mary's - click here

      Putting a smile on the faces of the NHS staff working opposite our school - click here

      Show your support for the NHS (and all keyworkers) by displaying a rainbow in your window. You can share your rainbows here by emailing a photograph to your class teacher.