School Update Regarding Possibility of Reopening
Dear Parents and Carers
Firstly, I would like to thank every single parent for their support since our school was closed for the majority of the children. It seems such a long time since our school was full of laughing children. I miss every single one of them and, along with my staff, wish for nothing more than the government’s 5 targets to be met so that we can try to reopen for some children on 1st June.
Thank you to all the Year R and 1 parents who filled in our quick ‘Survey Monkey’ to indicate whether you would send your child back to school. We have to plan for everyone sending children back, but from your initial response it is looking at a 70% return to school.
I also thank you for your emails of concern about sending your children back, whilst COVID-19 is still such a threat to our lives. As a mummy, I share your fears, which is why, when considering all of the different organisational scenarios of a possible start back, I am thinking about your child and your family’s safety at all times. As a headteacher I am also thinking about my school staff’s safety too. I will have to let you know, however, I cannot 100% guarantee that your child will be socially distancing from peers in their 1-15 group. They are very young, and we will be teaching them to do this, putting classroom measures in place to do this as much as we can.
As a leader, I have been overwhelmed by the daily ‘updates’ that have been published to schools since Sunday. There have been many, including one that was released at 7pm last night. As a school, we currently have 6 teachers available for teaching, with children, in a classroom full time. I also have 4 classroom full time LSAs available. I have other staff members who can work part time. On this basis, it will be impossible for all Year R and Year 1 to start back full time with a 1-15 ratio, on June 1st and continue provision for keyworker children, should the five tests be met. It is looking unlikely that there will be room for wrap around care. We also have our Year 2 children and children who will not attend to consider, and their possible start back to school before the summer holidays. Health and Safety will be a much higher priority with a a higher cleaning regime.
This is before considering what school will look like for children. Some of the organisational scenarios we have looked at include children being taught in an unfamiliar classroom, with unfamiliar adults. Children will not be working in groups, have limited access to resources, and not be and with lots of their classmates. My own child has been confused that ‘school doesn’t look like school anymore’ and how he now cannot play near other children, when he has been in our keyworker group.
I am writing to you today to let you know your child’s wellbeing and mental health will be at the forefront of our final plan. This includes ALL the children in our school, not just Year R, which is what the government is advising should be a focus, if staffing is limited. Headteachers , with their governors, MUST still make the right decision for their own setting, children and staff. We understand with many more people going back to work, there will also be a request for more keyworker spaces, which we will cover as best as we can with the constraints of our staffing.
Learning will concentrate on ensuring children have recapped on prior learning before teaching new concepts. Our main focus will be reading writing and maths. We will ensure they have lots of ‘runaround’ time, and have lessons to promote creativity. There will be lots of singing too. We will try to normalise things as much as we possibly can in an unfamiliar world.
Over the next few days I will be having more meetings with staff and governors. We will then let parents know what a June 1st opening will look like at Bishops Waltham Infant School. Hopefully this will be with you, at the latest, a week before aJune1st start. Accompanying this will be a FAQ sheet for parents, personalised to our school and a leaflet for parents to discuss with their children, to help their child’s re-entry into school and what this will now look like.
Thank you for being the brilliant, understanding parents you have been during this closure. We have been overwhelmed, as a school, by your continuing support in your child’s learning and in your support of the staff. One Year 2 boy asked if ‘Mrs Riches is ok?’. I am, but only because I am lucky enough to work in Bishops Waltham Infant School.
With very best wishes