We are now at the point where the government had hoped that schools would reopen on the 1st June, just a few days away. Doncaster LA has taken the view that based on the evidence and taking scientific advice into account, the risk to children and staff is too great to open. I think the opening point will move to 15th June for Reception, Y1 and Y6 – and I think most of us are relieved at this postponement because we all thought it was a dangerous move. The big sticking point for most people is that the government has clearly stated that children as young as four and five cannot socially distance, and yet they want to cram them into classrooms where they will all mix. This would be easier with Y6, but even then it would not be possible to enforce social distancing. Teachers wonder why it is essential that Primary children are in schools whereas Secondary children are not, and we are not really sure of the answers.
On Monday 1st June, all teachers will be in school to look at the Risk Assessment that has been drafted. We will also be planning next steps for the school and talking about how to provide online work for all children, whether they are in school or not. On Tuesday, LSAs will be in school looking at the Risk Assessment, after which, it will go to governors and then onto the website and out to parents. Writing the risk assessment has been very time consuming as there are so many points to cover as all we can do is make the school safer, we cannot make it safe in terms of coronavirus – and that is basically because we cannot make children socially distance.
I believe that in September, the school will be open to all children – but by then the incidence of the disease should be very low and the track and trace system should be working in a swift and sophisticated manner. I do think that next year will be a strange one – the after-effects of such a disruption to a school year may well be felt for quite a while… but we will have to wait and see.
(Written on a Monday again) Most of my thoughts at the moment are about the question of schools reopening on June1st to Reception, Y1 and Y6. And when I say ‘most of my thoughts’ I really mean it: my waking hours including those when I should be asleep! When I wake at 3.00am, for example, the first thing I think of is school and how we manage to keep it safe!
Speaking for the government this weekend, Michael Gove said definitively that schools would be safe – but then a minute or so later, he said ‘you never can eliminate risk.’ And that is what keeps me awake. Unlike every other industry, it is accepted by the government that ‘social-distancing’ cannot happen with Reception and Y1 children – but the government clearly accepts that the risk is worth taking. Indeed, the government has decided that these are the first children back to school.
Later this week, we will have a risk assessment from the Local Authority based on discussions with teachers, unions and the Health and Safety Executive which I will share with parents by email.
I hope that everyone is keeping well in these strange times.
Well – it seems strange to have a Bank Holiday on a Friday and it seems strange to be in school on a Bank Holiday – but it is a strange year.
Something will happen on Sunday and we may have a suggestion of what schools will look like in June/July. I asked parents if they would share their thoughts and this is a summary of those replies: A parent suggested alternate weeks for each part of a year group which would effectively reduce numbers by 50% which would make social distancing easier. Another suggestion was for half the school in Monday and Tuesday and half in for Thursday and Friday, with Wednesday being deep clean day. Shorter school days was another suggestion. One parent pointed out what we have already been discussing, which is that Y6 in particularly need some sort of decent closure to their primary school education, so they might receive preferential treatment in terms of a return to school.
As Headteacher, and talking to staff, we are very concerned about the idea of children coming back into school as we know social distancing will be extremely difficult to manage. I think that we are also pretty sure that we cannot have school dinners for the rest of this term – too many opportunities for cross-contamination, but we could manage packed lunches, continuing to pay for FSM out of our budgets.
I guess we will know more on Sunday – and I assume that I will be writing to parents on Monday or Tuesday with our response to whatever the government say.
It now seems to be Monday! And although not many people are blogging back, I don’t think it hurts to carry on for the duration of the period when the school is closed to most children.
There is lots and lots of chatter at the moment about schools reopening in June – but as yet there are not details. We will have to wait and see what is expected of us and then we will try to proceed as safely as possible.
I will be writing an email for al parents today letting them know all I know ( not much) and asking them their views. Please to let me know those views because understanding all the issues will make life easier.
I really would recommend that all parents look at the masses of photos on the website of children using their time well… and take a look at twitter, Facebook and YouTube to see what everyone has been up to.