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Return to School - September 2020

 

18th September 2020 - School Covid Measures

Dear Families

A number of parents have asked for further clarification in relation to some of the COVID measures currently in place at school. We are doing our very best to comply with all government guidelines to ensure the safety of children, parents and staff at all times. We are learning all the time and we really appreciate your feedback as this helps us to improve our systems faster.

Face Coverings
Government guidelines state that primary school children do not need to wear a face covering as they are under the age of 12. Staff at primary school are not expected to wear a face covering unless they are supporting a child who is showing symptoms of COVID-19. This is mainly because it would be very challenging for staff and children to communicate with each other if their faces were covered.

The government guidelines say that “face coverings would have a negative impact on teaching’ and their use should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Because staff are not wearing face coverings in schools, we have put additional protective measures in place: · Regular hand washing · Staff bubbles · Regular high touch cleaning · Different break times and lunch times We recognise that this guidance appears confusing but the government have decided that the risk of reduced quality of education is higher risk than the risk of staff wearing face coverings in primary schools.

The government have informed head teachers that where there are high levels of positive tests in their community, they can consider staff wearing face coverings. This does not currently apply to our community. We have recently asked parents to wear a face covering while picking up their children because we cannot guarantee that we can keep a safe distance between parents, particularly at the end of the day. The silver line on the playground is to support us to limit contact between staff and parents.

Toileting
All children now have designated toilet breaks throughout the school day. At Phoenix, we now only have access to one set of girls and boys toilets and so each class has had their toilet breaks timetabled to avoid any crossover between bubbles. The toilets are regularly cleaned throughout the day and in between scheduled bubble groups to reduce the risk of transmission. The timings for children are below: Bubble 1: EY/Y1/Y2 have 6 dedicated toilet breaks throughout the day Bubble 2: Y3/Y4 have 5 dedicated toilet breaks throughout the day Bubble 3: Y5/Y6 have 5 dedicated toilet breaks throughout the day.

This does mean that the children cannot go to the toilet during break and lunchtime but have the opportunity to go to the toilet during any of their dedicated slots which are spread throughout the day, including after lunch. If a child is desperate to go to the toilet, they are allowed to go but it means there is a higher risk of them crossing with another child from a different bubble. We are trying to limit this as much as possible.

Lunchtime
Lunchtime is very different to how lunchtime was before COVID. The guidelines state that children should sit in rows and not groups to reduce the risk of transmission. Therefore, at lunchtime, when children arrive in the lunch hall, they are expected to sit in rows and sometimes this is away from their friends. Children having a meal provided by the school have their meal brought to them to their table – this is to ensure that children are not queuing up in the lunch hall and creating large gatherings.

Packed lunch pupils also sit on different table to allow the kitchen staff to deliver the right food to the right children, based on their dietary needs. Unfortunately, we do not have enough staff at lunchtime to facilitate having packed lunches in classrooms as well as school dinners in the hall and supervising children who are playing outside.

Also, during this time, classroom tables and chairs are wiped down ready for the afternoon. Children will notice that there is less time in the lunch hall to socialise. This is because transmission of germs is most likely in the lunch hall so we are trying to keep this to a minimum. We do ensure that children have plenty of time to play and talk outside during their lunchtime.

In addition to this, the guidelines say that tables in the dinner hall need to be wiped clean before the next bubble of pupils arrive. This means that all the tables in the dinner hall need to be cleaned between bubble 1 and bubble 2 and again between bubble 2 and bubble 3.  This allows your children to be able to eat safely when they arrive. There are a small number of children who take longer than the dedicated slot to eat their lunch – and if this is the case – staff will move them to a table away from the other bubble arriving so that they can finish eating their lunch before going to play.

Any items brought into school from home pose a higher risk of transmission from the virus. This includes items in a child’s packed lunch box. This means that staff will encourage children to open their own yoghurts or other foods, to reduce the risk of transmission. Staff will help children who have a particular difficulty with eating, or younger children, but we would like to keep this to a minimum particularly for older children.

It would really support our lunchtimes to be even smoother if parents could ensure that when packing a lunch they show their child how to open certain foods or particularly for younger children, pack their lunch in easy to open containers.

Social distancing in classrooms
The guidance for primary schools recognises that it would be extremely difficult for children to maintain social distancing but asks primary school teachers to encourage social distancing in a number of ways: ·

  • Children should sit in rows and not in table groups
  • No assemblies
  • No singing

Individual equipment In addition to this, particularly in the older year groups, we are encouraging children to understand the importance of keeping ourselves and others safe including not turning to talk to your partner directly.

We share your frustration at changes such as these and also feel sad that our children are growing up in a time that restricts face to face conversations. However, we do believe that this is part of preparing your child for loving long term with COVID-19. There is also specific guidance around equipment which is that every child has their own stationary pack with all their equipment that they don’t share with their teacher or their friends as it is considered a ‘frequently touched item’. Children are very good now at recognising the importance of this.

Also for music lessons, all group singing is no longer allowed and musical instruments are named and tagged so that the same child uses the same instrument and it is not shared with their friends.

Communicating with your child’s teacher
We wanted to reassure parents that their child’s class teacher is always willing to talk to parents. However, due to our minimising risks for our staff and other children, we cannot allow prolonged conversations on the playground or in the building. This is frustrating for us as it is for you and we want to find ways forward with you. Some of the ways you can contact your teacher are listed below. 

  • Email office@phoenixstpeter.org with your child’s teacher’s name and they will forward the message to them. 
  • Call the office 01502 574 586 and leave a message with the office team and they will talk to the teacher to organise a call back.
  • Contact the parent representative for each class if you have a general question/concern and they will bring those to their regular meetings or speak to the school on your behalf.

We encourage you to still speak to us, we are always here and willing to help in any way that we can. Can we please request that parents avoid sharing individual concerns or worries on social media and instead book an appointment to speak to their child’s teacher.

Phoenix has had a strong start to the term - The children have come back to school ready to learn and have been thoroughly enjoying their new topics and their new teachers. We don’t want this strong start to be jeopardised by growing frustrations.

Please help us to help your children by working with us.

With warm wishes,

N Paczuska, Head Teacher

17th September 2020 - Return of Year 3

We are pleased to let you know that the staff member has had their test result back and it's negative so in light of this we would like to welcome you all back into School as of tomorrow morning Friday 18th September.

Many thanks for your understanding,

16th September 2020 - Partial School Isolation of Year 3

Dear Parents/Carers,

I am writing to inform you that several members of staff who have been on site have developed possible symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are isolating awaiting test results. The individuals have not been in school since they developed symptoms and have been self-isolating at home, as per government advice. They have not yet had test results to confirm whether they have coronavirus.

As the case has not yet been confirmed, pupils and staff that came into contact with the individual do not need to self-isolate. If anyone else in school develops symptoms, they will be sent home to sel fisolate for 10 days.  Pupils who are required to self-isolate will not be penalised for non-attendance and remote education will be provided throughout the period they are at home.

Due to staff shortages caused by this we have decided to close the school to year 3 students from tomorrow, 17 th September 2020, until Tuesday 22nd September 2020 when the students will be welcomed back into school. It is highly likely that the school will be closed until Tuesday so an online learning option will be available to all year 3 students whilst not in school – this will be provide by Miss Moore the year 3 teacher via Microsoft Teams as used before during lockdown.

Details of this will follow via the school app. I would like to reassure you that we take any suspected cases of coronavirus very seriously. As soon as the individual developed symptoms, they were immediately sent home and a deep clean of any areas they were in was carried out. I understand that you may find this news worrying, so please get in touch with the office to discuss any concerns. I am sure that you will join me wishing the individuals a safe recovery.

Yours sincerely,

Miss Paczuska, Head Teacher

28th August 2020 - Return to School Update

Dear parents and carers,

After a long period of closure and holiday, we’re really excited to welcome your child back to school this September. Having to work remotely has reminded us just how great your children are, and we’ve really missed being with them. But we know that welcoming them back we have a responsibility for maintaining their safety, and that of your family.

We have extremely detailed plans for re-opening safely, and our staff have worked hard to get these ready. Here is a summary of the main measures in place:

  • Children will be in “bubbles” of 2 or 3 classes. They will not mix with students from other bubbles while at school.
  • Each bubble will have their own breaktime and so full use of the playground.
  • There will be 3 zones in place for the 3 bubbles at lunchtimes and eating times will be carefully staggered.
  • There will be set times for toilet and handwashing breaks for each class.
  • We have an enhanced cleaning schedule.

In July we wrote to you with information on the start and finish time for your child/children and we also sent details of what to expect in school together with the rules for drop off and collection. This information will be resent early next week, for those of you who may have mislaid it.

However, it should still be available on Marvellous Me. You may have seen stories in the media about use of face masks in schools. The government changed their guidance this week. Previously it was that face masks should not be worn in schools, largely due to the risk that re-use of masks and incorrectly taking them off could actually increase transmission. The guidance is now that face coverings should be worn in areas of high coronavirus transmission in secondary schools.

Children and teaching staff are not required to wear face coverings in primary schools.

We will keep this under review and let you know right away if the situation changes.

We look forward to seeing you all on Thursday 4th September.

With warmest wishes,

Nadia Paczuska
Head Teacher