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Gloucester Academy

Reopening for parents

The government has announced that primary schools are to reopen to children in Reception, Year 1, and Year 6 on 1st June, providing that there is no rise in the 'R' rate (reproduction rate) as a result of other measures of easing the lockdown.

Understandably, a lot of parents and carers have questions and concerns about their child returning to school in June. In this section, we have answered a number of frequently asked questions to address those queries. The questions have been divided into five subsections, which can be found in the sidebar.

As always, the safety and wellbeing of our young people, their families, and our staff is our top priority, and we hope the measures we have put in place reassure you that your child will be safe upon returning to school.

At the same time, we must recognise that school life this term will be different to before the lockdown. Government guidelines still highlight the importance of reducing contact between people, including children in schools, to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

To do this, we will ensure the children and staff at our school only mix with a small, consistent group called a ‘bubble’. You will find that the term ‘bubble’ is referenced throughout these FAQs, so we’d like to start by telling you what a ‘bubble’ is.

What is a ‘bubble’?

A ‘bubble’ is a defined group of people that one person comes into contact with regularly. It is essential for individuals to be in only one ‘bubble’, and two or more ‘bubbles’ should never cross. By ensuring that they only have contact within their ‘bubble’, individuals are protected against cross-contamination.

To make this possible at our school, children will be in only one ‘bubble’. For example, if a child of a key worker is in Year 6 and has been coming to school during the closure, they will not be introduced to another ‘bubble’ when the other Year 6 pupils' return.

This approach is non-negotiable, as relaxing these rules would jeopardise the safety of every person in our community.

How many days can my child go to school?

Vulnerable children and the children of key workers will continue to have access to school five days a week. For their safety, they will remain in a ‘bubble’ with other children who are attending school five days a week.

Children in Year 6 will have the option of returning to school for face-to-face support for two days a week, with home learning supplementing this provision. The two days of school time, which will be either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, will be allocated to each child and are non-negotiable.

What are my responsibilities as a parent or carer?

As a parent or carer, you have the following responsibilities:

  • To respond in good time to requests from the school or trust for information that aids our ability to plan, prepare, and maintain a happy and safe school environment.
  • To inform the school in good time should your child not be able to attend on a particular day.
  • To be polite and courteous to members of staff at all times.
  • To understand that days for attendance will be allocated to your child and that they are non-negotiable due to safety and operational reasons.
  • To adhere to the government guidelines for social distancing at all times outside of the school premises and to ensure that your child also follows these guidelines.

What’s the procedure for dropping off my child?

You will be allocated a designated time at which to drop off your child, as well as a designated drop-off zone. You should accompany your child to the drop-off zone then leave the school site as quickly as possible. Please do not wait in the playground or spend time talking to other parents. This procedure will ensure that as few adults as possible are on school premises at the same time and contribute toward minimising the risk of infection spreading.

What’s the procedure for picking up my child?

You will be allocated a designated time at which to collect your child, as well as a designated collection point. You should collect your child then leave the school site as quickly as possible. Please do not wait in the playground or spend time talking to other parents. This procedure will ensure that as few adults as possible are on school premises at the same time and contribute toward minimising the risk of infection spreading.

Will the school office or reception be open?

No, neither the school office nor the reception will be open. We want to restrict the number of adults accessing the school site, so we are closing the school reception areas to minimise situations that pose the threat of cross-contamination.

Will school transport be available?

School transport is organised by local authorities and third-party providers, not by our school. We are continuing to liaise with these authorities and providers to understand what their arrangements will be for school transportation. We will, of course, provide more information on this as and when it is available.

What will learning spaces look like in schools?

We will be establishing ‘bubbles’ in which children are grouped together and remain in those groups from the moment they enter school to the moment they leave. The ‘bubble’ concept works as follows:

Children will be dropped off at, and collected from, designated areas and at allocated times.

Upon their arrival, children are immediately taken to a learning space, which may not be their usual classroom. This learning space is their ‘bubble’, and they will remain in it for the duration of the day, with the exception of using toilet facilities or taking part in recreational activities.

Each ‘bubble’ will have its own set of additional and incidental cleaning materials — such as hand sanitiser, antibacterial gel, and antibacterial handwash — which will be available to adults and children. There will also be hard-surface cleaner, which will only be available to, and used by, adults within that ‘bubble’.

If, for any reason, children need to move around the school, wherever possible, we are implementing one-way systems in corridors or devising rotas to minimise interaction between children in different ‘bubbles’. Corridors will also have safe passing places, should two people ever be required to cross paths.

What will classroom learning look like?

In agreeing for your child to return to school in the designated year group, it’s important to realise that what might be considered ‘usual’ learning is unlikely to happen immediately. Instead of face-to-face learning, we will be focusing on providing children with face-to-face support. In delivering this support, we will be engaging children in a recovery curriculum, which will include an orientation and awareness of the rules of contact, physical distancing, movement around the school, and accepted behaviours.

We have made this decision in recognition that, for many children who have not been in school for more than eight weeks, there will be a need to reestablish social and learning behaviours and ways of working before we can even consider teaching a more formal curriculum.

It is indeed very likely that before a more formal curriculum can be delivered, a degree of informal assessment will be required to identify the learning gaps that children have developed while spending such a long time away from school. These learning gaps may be counteracted by:

  • Revisiting areas of the curriculum covered before the school closures.
  • Reestablishing previously learned concepts and understandings.
  • Assessing what children have learned and developed through home learning.

Will my child be taught by their usual teacher?

Not necessarily. It is likely that your child may be taught by a different teacher during this time.

What will recreational activities look like?

It is challenging to define what recreational activities will look like. However, every school and person who will be in charge of a ‘bubble’ recognises the need for recreational time and activities.

When recreational activities take place, adults will be doing everything possible to ensure that children follow physical and social distancing rules. There is, however, the slight possibility that, in their excitement, children may breach these protocols. Rest assured that our staff will remain vigilant in upholding these safety guidelines and make every possible effort to prevent breaches occurring.

What will lunchtime look like?

Our school will not be providing any form of canteen service, with kitchen and dining areas remaining closed. Instead, we will be asking parents to provide a packed lunch for their child to bring to school. We also ask that, wherever possible, you send food in disposable packaging or containers.

Please be aware that all food packaging and containers will not be returned. However, water bottles can be brought in, but will remain in school and within the bubble for the duration of the term. Rest assured that water bottles left in the school will be cleaned regularly.

Children will eat in their ‘bubbles’ to minimise any risk of cross-contamination. Once they have finished eating, all food debris, wrapping, and waste will be placed in a bin bag, which will be tied and disposed of. A responsible adult will then clean all hard surfaces before the afternoon begins.

WHAT'S THE RISK?

How can you stop anyone with COVID-19 coming into school?

As it is possible for someone with COVID-19 to be asymptomatic (meaning they are not showing any signs or symptoms of having the virus), we cannot guarantee that no one with the virus comes into school.

However, as you can see from the measures outlined throughout our responses to these FAQs — such as closing reception, creating staggered entry and exit times, and keeping children and staff in ‘bubbles’ — we’re doing everything possible to limit the number of adults on the premises while children are in school. These limitations even extend to teaching and school staff who are not directly involved in providing face-to-face support to our young people, who will be instructed to remain off-site.

What happens if a child shows symptoms of COVID-19?

Any child who shows symptoms compatible with COVID-19 while in school will be immediately isolated and their parents or carer will be called to collect them. The child will be asked to self-isolate at home for a minimum of seven days. Other members of their household will also be asked to self-isolate, but for 14 days. The child may return to school after seven days IF they do not have a high temperature. If the child still has a high temperature, they should continue self-isolating until their temperature returns to normal.

What happens if a member of staff shows symptoms of COVID-19?

Any adult who shows symptoms compatible with COVID-19 while in school will be immediately asked to return home. They will then self-isolate for a minimum of seven days. Other members of their household will also be asked to self-isolate, but for 14 days. The staff member will return to school after seven days IF they do not have a high temperature. If their temperature is still high after seven days, they will continue self-isolating until their temperature returns to normal.

What happens if a child or member of staff tests positive for COVID-19?

Should a child or member of staff at the school test positive for COVID-19, they and the rest of their ‘bubble’ will be sent home and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. The other members of the household of the person who tests positive should also self-isolate for 14 days.

The other members of the household of the other children or staff within the ‘bubble’ do not need to self-isolate unless the child or member of staff they live with subsequently develops symptoms.

What happens if my child tests positive for COVID-19?

Should your child test positive for COVID-19, you should follow all advice and guidance from Public Health England (PHE). Your child will be required to self-isolate from school for a minimum of 14 days. You and the other members of your household should also self-isolate for 14 days.

What are you doing to reduce the risks of COVID-19 within school?

Throughout these FAQs, we have outlined some of the measures we are implementing to reduce the risks of the virus spreading at our school. These measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Reducing the number of children in school at any one time by splitting year 6 into two cohorts and teaching children two days a week.
  • Carrying out a thorough clean of the entire school on a Wednesday to ensure it is safe for the second cohort’s arrival on Thursday.
  • Carrying out a thorough clean of the entire school between the second cohort leaving on Friday afternoon and the return of the first cohort on Monday morning.
  • Allocating drop-off and collection times for parents to minimise the number of adults on the school site at any one time.
  • Providing each ‘bubble’ with its own cleaning equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE).

What can I do to reduce the risks of catching COVID-19?

Please continue to follow government and Public Health England guidelines regarding frequent hand washing and social distancing, and remain aware of potential symptoms of the virus.

How are you managing the behaviour of children?

Due to the risks posed by COVID-19, we all have a heightened awareness of the need to ensure the behaviour of any child does not impact on the health or wellbeing of another. As such, our levels of tolerance for poor behaviour will be significantly reduced, and any child who chooses to threaten, or actually causes, harm to another child will be immediately removed from the school. Actions that could be considered grounds for removal include threatening to or actually spitting, coughing in the direction of another child, or invading the personal space of another child or member of staff.

In the event that this behaviour occurs, the child’s parents will be called, and the child will be excluded for a minimum of 14 days, subject to a case review by our headteacher and The Greenshaw Learning Trust.

As always, though, our intent is for children to be happy, content, and relaxed while in school, and we will continue working hard to ensure this remains the case.

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

Do I have to send my child to school?

No, you do not. The decision to send your child back to school is entirely yours, and you will not be made to do so by the school, trust, or government. We do advise that you consider how comfortable you are with the risks presented to you before making a decision.

Will I be fined if I don’t send my child to school?

No, you will not. If you choose not to send your child into school, your decision will be respected, and no punitive action will be taken.

Will home learning be available if I keep my child at home?

Yes, it will. Home learning resources will continue to be made available to children across all year groups. Online materials may be limited, however, in order to protect our teachers against an unmanageable workload, as they will have returned to school to support children who are onsite. 

Can I choose the days and times my child attends school? 

If you are a key worker or have a vulnerable child, yes, you can choose how many and which days your child attends school, as well as specific pick-up and drop-off times.

If you are not a key worker, and you choose for your child to attend school, your child will be allocated a non-negotiable time and day according to the resources and capacity of the school to meet your child’s needs.

Will my child receive a meal at school? 

No, they won’t. For safety reasons, our kitchen will remain closed. Instead, we will be asking parents to provide a packed lunch for their child to bring to school. We recommend you include the following in a packed lunch: 

  • A drink.
  • Food.
  • A snack.
  • A piece of fruit.

We also ask that, wherever possible, you send food in disposable packaging or containers, as all packaging and containers will be disposed of to avoid any risk of contamination. 

However, water bottles can be brought in, but will remain in school and within the bubble for the duration of the term. Rest assured that water bottles left in the school will be cleaned regularly.

What happens if my child receives free school meals (FSM)?

Parents who are registered with the local authority will continue to receive FSM vouchers. This money should be used to provide your child with a packed lunch during the days they are at school. We recommend you include the following in a packed lunch: 

  • A drink.
  • Food.
  • A snack.
  • A piece of fruit.

We ask that, wherever possible, you send food in disposable packaging or containers, as all packaging and containers will be disposed of to avoid any risk of contamination. 

However, water bottles can be brought in, but will remain in school and within the bubble for the duration of the term. Rest assured that water bottles left in the school will be cleaned regularly.

Where will my child eat their food during lunch?

Children will eat in their ‘bubbles’ to minimise any risk of cross-contamination. Once they have finished eating, all food debris, wrapping, and waste will be placed in a bin bag, which will be tied and disposed of. A responsible adult will then clean all hard surfaces before the afternoon begins.

What can I send my child into school with? 

Children should not bring any items other than a packed lunch into school because we cannot guarantee that they are COVID-19-free. As such, we would ask that all items are left at home. This includes, but is not limited to: toys, games, lunch boxes, pencil cases, bags, and books.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Can I confirm I want or don’t want my child to attend school?

Yes, you can. We will be sending an online confirmation form to all parents with children in year 6. You will be required to complete this confirmation form by the specified date and time regardless of whether you want or don’t want your child to attend school.

What happens if I want my child to attend school?

You must complete the online confirmation form. In the online confirmation form, you will be asked for your contact details, your child's details, and confirmation of whether you are going to send your child into school for the next two weeks. Parents that confirm they want their child to attend school will be allocated a cohort number, dates for attendance, drop-off times, and pick-up times. This information will be sent to you before your child is expected to attend school. 

Parents will receive a new online confirmation form every two weeks and will need to confirm their choice for the next two weeks. This will continue until the end of term six in July.

What happens if I don’t want my child to attend school?

You must complete the online confirmation form. In the online confirmation form, you will be asked for your contact details, your child's details, and a confirmation of whether you are going to send your child into school for the next two weeks. You must provide all the requested details and confirm that your child will not be attending school for the next two weeks.

If you choose not to send your child into school, you will not receive any details, your decision will be respected, and no punitive action will be taken. It’s important to note that you will not be able to change your mind until you receive the next online confirmation form. Parents will receive a new online confirmation form every two weeks and will need to confirm their choice for the next two weeks. This will continue until the end of term six in July.

What happens if I change my mind about my child attending school?

If you have confirmed your child will be attending school, but you decide that you no longer wish your child to attend school, you must inform the school immediately.

If you have confirmed your child will not be attending school, but you decide that you wish them to attend school, you must wait until you receive the next online consultation form to confirm the change.

Where should I go if I have more questions?

We have prepared answers to lots of questions in the FAQs pages on our school website, which you can find  herehere. If you have further questions, please contact the school office.

OTHER QUESTIONS

What is face-to-face support?

Face-to-face support refers to the delivery of teaching by a member of staff on a direct, in-person basis, rather than over a video or audio call. At our school, teachers will provide face-to-face support from a safe distance to ensure that all safety guidelines are followed.

Can my child come to school even if they aren’t in year 6?

No, they cannot, unless you are a key worker or they are a vulnerable child. The school will only be open to children in year 6, vulnerable children, and the children of key workers.

Someone from outside my household usually collects my child; will this still be possible?

In order to follow government guidelines on social distancing, anyone from outside your household must stay two metres away from your child. This can be a challenge with young children, and potentially jeopardise their safety. We therefore strongly recommend that only someone from your household collects your child.

Can my childminder pick up my child from school?

Yes, they can. However, you will need to inform us of these arrangements, in writing, in advance. In addition, the childminder or registered childcare professional will need to provide identification upon picking up your child. This is to ensure the safety of your child, as we cannot guarantee that staff will be familiar with childminders. Both the childminder and the child must also follow social distancing guidelines.

My child travels to school on their own; can they still do this?

Yes, they can. However, they must still follow social distancing guidelines, and they must arrive at school at their allocated time slot. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure their child arrives at school without complication or disruption to the process.

Does my child have to wear a school uniform?

No, they don’t. We recognise that this may be an unsettling time for children, and that they may benefit from wearing clothes that they feel comfortable in. Therefore, we are happy for parents to choose whether or not their child wears a school uniform.

Will breakfast and after-school clubs start again?

No, they will not. At this stage, we are regrettably unable to provide wraparound care for children. This means that our breakfast club and after-school provision will not be starting when children return. This may, however, change in the following weeks if our staffing resources allow.