Start of Term Information
Dear Parent / Guardian,
Although I did send information on the start of this new term out to you last July - much has changed since then and even very recently and so I want to provide you with what I hope will be the final update of the holiday so that you are all aware of what the current situation and guidance is and of what the procedures and changes will be for all of us next week.
I have re attached the start dates and times for each year group as a reminder of when your child starts back.
Please remember when reading them that your child is now one year group further along than they were before as it is not uncommon for children to turn up for the wrong time because of this.
As I know you will have heard in the news schools are considered to be very safe places for children regarding corona virus and the changes and regulations we will be following this year are to keep them safe and to reduce the risk of them contracting and spreading the disease to others.
In order to best make sense of the changes for you I will run through them in the parts of the school day in which they occur. Some of this has been communicated to you before but there are some changes as well.
Reduce the risk to children in the journey to and from school.
We have looked at models where the school day is staggered between year groups but have rejected them because our longer lesson times (which help reduce any risk due to movement around the school) mean some years would not finish school until 5 pm (hitting rush hour) and other groups would still be hitting rush hour on the way in. Given that we are served by several buses, train stations and DLR stations the travel danger for our students is not being crowded by eachother (as it is for schools with say only two bus routes serving them) - it is being crowded by the general public.
Instead (and until it becomes safe not to) we will begin school for all year groups at 9:30 am and finish around 3:40 pm (slightly staggered dismissal) so that our children are not using public transport during crowded rush hour times.
This will cause only a slight delay for those children picking up younger siblings from nearby primary schools.
Reduce the risk to children at points where they are entering and exiting school.
Happily we have more than one entrance our children can use. In the morning when children all arrive at different times this is less of an issue and our wide main gate does not cause crowding. Contrary to previous guidance we cannot, at least at present be collecting and storing mobile phones (which are still banned from the premises). Therefore wherever possible children should leave them at home. If they are seen or heard for any reason or staff become aware a student is carrying one they will be confiscated and stored for your collection 24 hours later as in the standard previous policy.
At the end of the day certain year groups will be directed to leave by other exits and at slightly staggered times.
Reduce the risk to children at the times where they have to move around the school (including using the toilets).
Regular cleaning and disinfection will occur throughout the day of all surfaces such as stair rails. lift buttons, door handles etc and of course toilets too. Some toilets will be specifically for the use of certain year groups only (although we do not have enough separate toilets to allocate 1 per year group). all air hand dryers have been switched off as per guidance and paper towels will be available instead.
As much as possible the timetable ensures children are either going to the playground or back to a classroom with as little 'sideways' movement between classrooms as possible (so that they tend to be facing the same way - one way travel- rather than moving towards each other face to face). The reduction in year groups taking breaks and lunch together (see below) will further reduce the number of children moving along corridors and staircases at any one time.
Following the recent events in the news and bearing in mind the local situation and the width of our corridors and stairwells we will require children to wear face masks / coverings when in corridors or stairwells.
This will not presently be required when in the playground due to the much lower risk of transmission when outside.
Reduce the risk to children during break and lunchtimes
Some year groups in the boys school will have break and lunch together but in seperate zones.
Some year groups in the girls school will have break and lunch together but in seperate zones.
At no time will all children in either school be on the playground at the same time,
Some children will be asked to line up at the end of their break or lunch to enable their return to lessons to be staggered slightly as well.
Reduce the risk to children and others during lessons.
Hand washing facilities will be increased and hand sanitiser will be available in all classrooms for children to use before beginning their lesson. Classrooms will be rearranged so that all children are facing forwards rather than facing inwards towards each other in group settings. All possible ventilation such as opening windows and doors will be used to increase air flow but of course all air conditioning has been turned off. All children must bring their own pens and equipment as it is no longer considered safe to lend out or to share equipment between children. Where a child has no equipment staff cannot lend only give eqpt and therefore it may be necessary to charge for this.
At times it may be necessary for tables to be wiped / disinfected at the start or end of a lesson and eqpt such as wipes / sprays etc will be available for this. Children may be asked to wipe their tables much like people do to their trolleys in supermarkets.
In lessons taught by certain staff (those who were previously shielding/at very high risk/pregnant in third trimester etc) children must wear face coverings when in those lessons at all times.
Due to the risk of transmission involved staff will not be required to collect in books to mark homework. Instead HW will be set online in the way you have all become used to and handed in online as well (if written out it can as before be photographed and submitted online).
Children must remain in the classroom and off the corridors throughout the lesson and so only those with a toilet pass or who have been collected by a member of staff will be allowed to leave the room.
Although Govt. guidance does not state staff should wear PPE our Teaching Assistants work very closely with the children they support and so they will be wearing clear visors which should not impede communication.
Reducing the risk of infected persons coming into school.
Govt. guidance says schools are not to temperature scan children from September.
We will temperature scan all visitors to the school as a routine practice and send home any member of staff or child who appears to be unwell / displaying relevant symptoms.
However we rely on parents and our families to behave sensibly and to protect their own children and other people's children by keeping their child at home if unwell, carrying out tests for Covid 19 and or self isolating if that is appropriate following the current govt. advice.
In general terms now - we all have to do our best to ensure that school can remain open and our children can remain in their classrooms, with their teachers for as long possible without any need for a further lockdown of any kind, even a partial one.
There will of course be all these new rules in place to help us keep everyone safe and I know that our children will want to follow them and do the right thing.
Please encourage them to do so and please understand that if any child does behave in a way that reduces the safety of others / refuses to comply with these covid precautions - we will have to send them home in order to keep others safe.
I would like to end by saying thank you once more for all of the effort you have put into maintaining your children’s education this year.
I know how hard that has been for some of you but I want you to recognise also that as a result you are now so much more skilled and knowledgeable about your child’s education than you have ever been before.
I have always said to you at events how important you are as parents to how they do and you are now the most highly skilled parents at supporting their child to suceed that there has ever been.
I know you have looked forwards greatly to not having to do that any more come September.
However please don’t forget that when it comes to homework and even more importantly - the revision periods coming up your new skills will be vital in making sure your child does not suffer as a result of all the school they’ve missed.
I hope we never go back to working from home and schooling from home but I hope also that when it comes to those important ways in which you can support your child at those key times - that we can call on those new skills of yours again.
Thank you again and I look forward to seeing you all soon.