Dear Parents and Carers,
Re: Return to school
Firstly, we would like to personally thank you for your patience, understanding and cooperation during what has certainly been an incredibly difficult and unprecedented time. This has been a challenging period for everyone, with our families and school being affected by the coronavirus situation in many ways. Coming back to school in September is going to be difficult for everyone. Our job is to try and make it as easy as possible for you as parents, and also our children.
The safety and wellbeing of both our pupils and our staff is our highest priority. We have been working hard for a while now to get St Joseph’s ready to reopen in September. Since we have been open for different groups of pupils since March, and again in the summer play scheme for two weeks, we have learnt certain lessons which we will develop ready to make this possible. We have been carrying out health and safety risk assessments as part of our planning for all pupils to return, to make sure that everyone is safe in school. The purpose of this letter is to set out how we will do this.
Frequent hygiene arrangements will be in place, so that all children wash their hands immediately when they arrive and frequently during the school day. You can support this by:
- ensuring that anyone who has coronavirus symptoms, or has someone in their household who does, does not attend This means if your child, or someone in your household, has symptoms you should not send them to school
- engaging with the NHS Test and Trace process so that cases can be identified, and action taken. This means if your child develops symptoms, you should arrange for them to get a test and you should inform us of the results of that test.
The government’s guidance recognises that younger children may not be able to maintain social distancing so it is likely that for younger children in Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1, the emphasis will be on keeping our children and staff within separate groups. For our Key Stage 2 children, the emphasis will be keeping groups of children and staff distant from each other, where possible.
We have tried to divide the school up into bubbles or groups, so that the risk of spreading infection between groups is minimalised. Groups will arrive in school together, have playtimes together, have lunch together and leave at the same time. Staff will work, where possible in the same groupings, again to minimalise risk. We will have four groupings within school:-
- Nursery and Reception
- Year 1 and Year 2
- Year 3 and Year 4
- Year 5 and Year 6
Nursery and Reception: School doors will open at 8.45. Nursery children will come into class via the usual front door. Reception children will come into school through the door of their classroom. Reception will have their lunch in the main hall from 11.30am. Children can be collected at the car park from 3.00pm.
Year 1 and Year 2. School doors will open at 8.45. Children will enter directly into their classrooms, using the door from Year 2 once they have had their temperature taken. Y1 and Y2 will walk down to the school hall to have lunch for 12.00pm. Playtimes will be held on the playground as usual. Children can be collected from outside their classrooms at 3.15pm.
To help parents with children with other siblings in school, we will arrange for family groups to arrive and leave together.
One-way system: We will be operating a one-way system into KS1 at the start and end of day. We would like parents to walk up the footpath to KS1, and then walk down through the car park. There will be 2m lines drawn on the pathway, so that each family can stay socially distanced. (please see video on our website)
I am sure you will understand that we cannot allow any parent to come into school at the start of the day, or at 3.15pm. Our staff will however be present in the playground to welcome children and answer any queries. In addition, we would urge parents not to gather at the start and end of the day in groups.
Years 3 and 4. Children should meet in the playground, immediately left of the main building (the Huff Puff yard). There will be blue dividers set up in the playground to keep the two classes separate. Doors will open at 8.45am. Children will be met by our staff and accompanied into their classroom, one year group at a time. Y3 and 4 will go out to play at 12.00pm, before having their lunch at 12.30pm. They will stay in the hall for 30 minutes, before going back to class for the afternoon session. Children will leave to go home at 3.15pm from the playground.
Years 5 and 6: Children should meet in the playground, immediately to the right of the main building. There will also be blue dividers to keep the two classes separate. Doors will open at 8.45am. Again, children will be met in the playground by staff and accompanied to their classes. Children will have playtime at 12.30pm, before having their lunch at 1.00pm. Lessons will then resume at 1.30pm. Both classes will leave to go home at 3.15.
Year 3 and Year 6 will be on the upper part of the main school building, while Years 4 and 5 will be downstairs.
A plea to parents: we have tried in our planning to make these arrangements as easy for our families as possible. Unlike many schools, we will not be staggering start and finish times. The difficult part will be access to school for parents. Because of the risk of infection amongst so many children and parents all being together, we will unfortunately have to insist on the following:-
NO access will be possible between KS2 up or down the hill to KS1. We ask parents to walk round the corner past the church. Although this is inconvenient to many of you, you will appreciate that having children and parents crisscrossing on the hill so close together increases any risk of infection.
NO access to Key Stage 2 playgrounds at the start of the day. Parents will be able to collect their children from the playground at the end of the day (thus avoiding crowded areas on the pavement).
NO parents can come into classrooms.
If you have children in both KS1 and KS2: please drop your KS2 children off at KS1, and we will bring them down the slope at the start of the day.
New cleaning arrangements: we have introduced new cleaning arrangements to try and minimise the risk of infection. We have employed two new cleaners whose job will be to clean every classroom, toilet, door handles etc throughout the day. Thus, when a class goes out to play, the tables, chairs and work surfaces will be cleaned. Corridors and toilets will be cleaned during lesson times.
In class: The government’s guidance recognises that younger children may not be able to maintain social distancing. Thus, to minimalise risks, we will try and ensure our younger children are kept in separating groups. For Key Stage 2 children, the emphasis will be on distancing. In class, children will be taught in rows facing in a single direction, with a safe distance children and adults. (Please see the video on our website) For small group work, staff may work closer to children, but for no longer than 15 minutes at a time.
Face masks: the issue of pupils and staff wearing face masks has been in the news all week. Current guidance is that they are not necessary in primary schools. We will inform you if this changes.
Temperature testing: as children come into school, we will be monitoring children’s temperatures. We will be using a hand-held non-touch thermometer which is held about 5 cm away from the forehead. If the temperature is high, we will monitor the child for other symptoms during the day.
Walking Bus: back in January, we wrote to all parents about starting up a walking bus, starting from Whalley Road. We would like to start the walking bus on the first day back at school. We will write to you separately about this, but we feel this will help with any difficulty getting children to school whichever year group they are in. The bus will run from Whalley Road at 8.10am, past the cemetery, past Mount Avenue, Ashbourne Road before joining Aldrens Lane at 8.45am.
Personal belongings: It is still recommended that pupils limit the amount of equipment they bring into school each day, to essentials such as lunch boxes, hats, coats, and books. School will provide each child with a plastic wallet containing pencils, rulers and rubbers etc. School bags are allowed.
Swimming, clubs, music: current guidance is that we limit the contact we have with outside visitors. Consequently, there will be no sports clubs or music lessons until further notice. PE will be done outside as much as possible, with equipment sanitized between use.
Finally, thank you for your patience and understanding with all of this. These arrangements are not perfect, but they are the best we can plan for, at the moment. It is very inconvenient to make parents walk round on the road between KS2 and KS1. It is also sad that parents won’t be able to pop into class to see staff. We will always listen to you if you have thoughts and ideas. Similarly, we will follow the guidance given to us. If there are changes and improvements, we will implement them as soon as we can.
Mr Belbin, Miss Griffiths and Mrs Beaumont