We have been asked by the Government to make plans to begin to welcome children back on-site from 1st June, should it be safe to do so.  We need to go slowly, taking baby steps.  We must find safe ways of working.  The plan is based on the numbers of children we can safely do that with.  Not more.  Safety and well-being are the absolute priority.  

Preparation and the site

  • A great deal of preparation is being done in advance, including training and guidance for staff and finalising risk assessments etc. 
  • Masks and gloves are currently offered to all staff.  This is optional at the current time but will continue.  We will of course review this.  However it will be mandatory for first aid. 
  • It is unlikely that we will put markings around the school site before the summer holidays.  The plan which will follow, involves relatively small numbers of children and therefore it is unlikely to be necessary.  However, moving forward in the long run, they may become necessary in some places. They would of course be friendly and appropriate and not over the top!!!   
  • Cleaners will be on-site throughout the school day and will clean as required and explicitly directed.

 

Contact with school and the main school office

The office will be manned daily from 9-12.30pm for phone calls.  Parents cannot come to the school office at all.  Any chn being sent home during the session times will be brought to the gates.  

 

How parents will drop off and collect until the summer holidays

While numbers of children are relatively low, parents will be allowed access to the school grounds.  This will be reviewed and may change.  Parents/carers must socially distance at all times, at least 2 metres apart.  Any parent/carer not socially distancing will be refused further access.  It is imperative that families socially distance in order to prevent the spread of infection.

 

Staff support and preparation to return

Schools are being asked to do a Herculean task; provide key worker childcare, remote learning and begin to open for some small groups of children.  If planned well, this is achievable in a measured and safe way.  Little by little.

 

I will return to working on-site, despite a health condition.  This is for preparation and to ensure the opening of the site is safe and appropriate.  I will however be extremely socially distant at all times, which saddens me.  I will then review my need to be on-site as the weeks evolve. It is likely that once things are established that I will not attend the site every day but will be available remotely as I have been throughout.  I will find creative ways to ‘join’ our children!

 

Schools have to begin to reopen, but safety is the most important priority.  Staff with a health risk will not return to school, unless the guidance changes.  Staff in this group will continue to provide remote learning for children and will continue to be communicated with and supported as they are now.  Staff in this group are devastated that for the current time, they will have to work at home.  But they are an invaluable part of this plan, as remote learning is essential.

I am confident we can open the site to small groups of children safely for everyone, with the right decisions.

 

Social distancing

We need to assume at the outset that children cannot socially distance.  Some will have been made to socially distance themselves at home.  But for some others, we know that they have not been socially distancing as their families have ignored the need.  Therefore all children who begin to access the site will be directly and explicitly taught about our expectations of accessing the school site.  This will be done in a kind and warm manner.  Children need to feel safe and supported, not regimented and frightened.  They will be taught the simple rules of regular handwashing and sanitisation, moving around school and accessing toilets etc.  The rules will be simple and easy to follow for these small groups of children coming onsite.  We will keep your children as safe as possible, but not frighten them.

 

Parents who need to go to work – Now and in the summer holidays

We will continue to provide key worker childcare in the OOSC.  But this is ONLY for registered parents, for those who are central to the national COVID 19 response.  For everyone else, the Government guidance was clear. Employers should be supportive.  Schools will not open for all children, or even full time for the children who will be coming in.  This is because children have to be on-site in small groups.  We simply are unable to please and help everyone.  I am genuinely sorry about that. My job is to manage the safety and well-being of all of our children and staff, not provide childcare for families who need to begin to return to work.

No decision will be made about childcare during the summer holidays until nearer the time.  But we usually run OOSC during the summer holiday, this may reopen for the summer holidays as the paid service we usually provide.  Our school staff need a break.  If this was the case, then key worker families would therefore be able to access it, but it would be as a paid service.  If it was safe to do so, then it may be possible for non-key worker families to access our paid OOSC provision.  Our current costs are on the school website. A decision on childcare over the summer will not be made now.    

It has been a significant challenge to create a plan for our school; key worker childcare, remote learning and groups of children on-site.  I have to do this safely for all and my plan reflects this.

Kate Byrne

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