Thank you to everyone for completing the survey monkey parental survey so promptly. Your comments and kind words are very much appreciated; we would agree wholeheartedly that the current situation is very unfamiliar to us all.
Following our parental survey, emails and conversations with parents we would like to respond to your questions and concerns regarding the safety of a return to school for Years R, 1 & 6 as requested by the Government.
Many staff and parents are understandably anxious regarding safety, risks and the impossibility of maintaining social distancing in young children.
We are trying hard to create a safe, practical, pragmatic solution to the Government's request. This very much depends on how we manage risks, numbers of children and staff capacity.
We acknowledge the situation that parents and families are in and know that some of you will have very much enjoyed being at home whilst others may have had very difficult times - managing home learning, parents' own work, and family life during lock down.
Equally the Harrison team has been working very differently and I cannot thank the team enough for their tireless commitment to our school community whilst juggling their own family life, jobs, own children's home learning and continuing to be in school.
Since Friday 15th May we have been inundated with requests from parents for key worker spaces at school and thank you for your understanding and patience whilst we have been working to find a way to safely welcome back more children. Our solution has to be manageable and safe.
Opening for more children will only take place if the 5 key tests set by the Government are met; this includes a decrease in the rate of infection of COVID-19. We are planning, but will only re-open school for more children if it is safe to do so. We still don't know if we will be asked to take more children on June 1st; we think that there will be a further announcement on May 29th. The local authority is giving us the responsibility for managing our situation and expects schools to be open.
Of course we will do all we can to minimise the risks (see below) however, ultimately, it is your choice as to whether you send your children back to school.
How many key workers' children have attended school since 23rd March?
At present we have approximately 65 children in school each day and a total of 83 different children have attended school since 23rd March; some of these are our most vulnerable. Our arrangements have been very flexible dependent on numbers of children and groups have been very small on some days.
How many key workers' children need spaces from 1st June?
Since Friday 15th May we have received an additional 120 requests for key worker care provision which has implications for opening school more widely. This number matches the initial response on March 20th.
Which children will be in school on 1st June?
Our first priority is to ensure that we can safely accommodate the anticipated much larger group of key workers' children from all year groups and our most vulnerable children.
Key worker children will have to be in school from Monday to Thursday to manage this.
Will Years R, 1 & 6 return to school on 1st June?
Year R can return to school on 1st June, if parents choose to.
The Government and Local Authority have advised us to prioritise provision firstly for critical key workers' and vulnerable children, and then consider how we can accommodate returning children in Years R, 1 & 6; starting with youngest children first.
Once the increased key worker provision is established, Year R is settled into a very different regime and the new structure is safely in place we will consider a return to school for Year 1.
Will Harrison continue to provide Home Learning?
Although the Government has stated that we are under no statutory obligation to continue home learning we intend to continue to provide it for all year groups, including the Year R children still at home. We are looking at ways to improve our programme to keep learning ‘topped up’ and maintain interest and motivation.
Will Year 6 return to school?
We really want to see our Year 6 children back to finish their year and help them transition to secondary school.
It is unlikely that this will be at Harrison from June 1st.
We are currently scoping plans at another local school for our Year 6 team and children to go to, safely. We hope to have news very soon.
When will other year groups return to school?
At present we do not know when other year groups will return.
If I am a Key Worker what do I have to do next?
If your children have already been in key worker care provision they automatically have a place.
New applications are being processed; you will receive an email from us asking you to provide us with proof of your employment.
Please check the Gov.uk link below to see if your children are eligible for key worker provision.
Will my child have to attend school every day?
If you have registered for a keyworker place, or your child is in Year R, your child will be expected to attend from Monday to Thursday each week.
Children who do not start on 1st June will not be able to attend later as we want to avoid adding children to existing pods.
We regret that we cannot staff a more flexible model from 1st June.
The larger numbers of children necessitates a more structured approach.
Why is school closed on Fridays?
School will be closed on Fridays to enable the teaching team to continue to prepare high quality home learning and provision for children in school.
The site team will need to thoroughly clean the school on Fridays to maintain strict hygiene measures due to the large numbers on site.
Please note not all staff can be in school - some are shielding as due to Government guidelines they are 'extremely clinically vulnerable' or 'clinically vulnerable' or shielding a vulnerable family member.
How will key worker provision be organised?
Children will be in 'pods' of 15 (or less) across the school working with the same adult in allocated rooms to complete their lessons until the end of term.
In order to have adequate adult supervision, ensure safety, maintain social distancing, minimise mixing and support children to learn, we will need to move towards a more formal school day model.
What will children need to bring?
Any medication that may be required for example asthma inhalers, epi-pens etc
Children must wear school uniform but should wear training shoes.
Lunch boxes can be brought but must be cleaned every day.
Children will not need PE kit.
No bags or equipment/toys can be brought to school.
Children need to bring a named water bottle and hat.
Please apply suntan lotion before school.
What safety measures will be in place?
As advised by the Government, if your child comes back to school there will be strict measures in place to minimise risks (see below) which must be adhered to by everyone.
Will children be expected to socially distance?
We expect children to remain 2m apart but know that this is difficult.
We have worked through stringent safety measures to:
Who will children be with?
Children will be with a teacher or teaching assistant - this may not be their class teacher or teaching assistant due to staff availability.
Year R children will be in groups of 15 from their class and with Year R staff.
Key worker children from Years 1-6 will be in groups from their year group, as in key worker provision now.
Please remember their friends may not be attending school.
What will the school be like?
Children will stay in their pods with time inside and outside every day.
Lessons such as PE will be outside.
We will not congregate for whole assemblies, class assemblies, sports days or fundraising events.
What hygiene measures will be in place?
We have increased cleaning and anti-viral measures.
Children will be taught hand washing procedures and be prompted throughout the day.
Toilet use will be closely monitored.
Equipment will be cleaned daily.
Children must not bring bags or equipment to school.
We are removing soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean.
Packed lunch boxes can be brought to school.
Families should avoid public transport.
A full risk assessment has been compiled using local authority guidelines.
Face coverings will not be worn in school.
How will breaks and lunchtimes be organised?
Breaks and lunchtimes will be staggered.
Different pods will be allocated to specific areas outside.
We cannot guarantee social distancing to the same degree as indoors.
What time will children start school?
Drop off and pick ups will be staggered.
Times will be confirmed soon.
Pods will have designated drop off and pick up points.
Only one adult can bring children to school.
Parents must keep 2 metres social distancing.
Parents must arrive and leave promptly.
Parents will not be allowed to enter the school building.
All communication must be via phone or email.
Will hot dinners be available?
Universal Free School meals will be available for Years R, 1 & 2.
Free school meals will be available to eligible children from Years 3,4,5 & 6.
Other children can order a hot dinner - payable through Tucasi
Where possible children should bring a packed lunch.
Children will eat in their classrooms.
Hot dinners will be delivered in compostable boxes to classrooms.
Will food boxes still be available for collection?
Yes, food boxes will still be available for collection on Mondays for eligible families if your children are not in school.
What happens if my child becomes ill during the day?
All children’s medical information must be up to date.
Children's temperature must be checked before arrival at school.
If a child has a high temperature or has a new, continuous cough they cannot attend school.
If children become unwell they must be collected immediately and the whole family must isolate for 14 days in line with government guidance and all children and adults within that pod must also self-isolate for 14 days.
First Aiders will wear protective clothing when attending to poorly children.
And finally the Governing Body and I believe we have found a safe, sensible, manageable solution to the Government's request. Whilst we know that our solution may not be what some parents are hoping for we ask for your understanding and support at this time.
Equally we understand and respect that some parents, including key workers, will prefer to keep their children safely at home.
Thank you once again for your positive messages, acts of kindness and encouragement.
I am truly grateful to the team at school for everything that has been done over the past eight weeks. We are trying our best to keep encouraging our learners to be the best they can, whilst keeping your children, and our own families, as safe as we can.
Sara Gmitrowicz, Executive Head teacher and David Moorman, Chair of Governors