Potential School Reopening

17th May 2020

POTENTIAL SCHOOL REOPENING

Dear Parents and Carers,

You will have seen lots of discussion on the news about the proposed reopening of schools in the near future. Firstly, it is important to point out that the government has asked us to ‘begin to prepare to open to more young people from 1st June at the earliest’, this is not a definite start date. There are still questions to be answered before we can confirm the decision to re-open. However, the one thing we will not do at Highfield, is open without being fully prepared, so planning is well underway.

Below I have highlighted some of the measures we are implementing to ensure that, should we open, we will do so in the safest way possible. You will also find a survey to identify the demand for places. Please can all families (regardless of Year Group) take a few minutes to complete this form on Monday, it will help us greatly in our planning.

Encouragingly, there is strong evidence to suggest that children are less badly affected by the COVID-19 virus, but ‘the science’ around how likely children are to spread the disease to other children, their teachers, or their families is not yet entirely clear. I have provided a link below to the guidance for parents on re-opening and would ask that you take five minutes to
read through it.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

As you know, we have kept our doors open to our most vulnerable pupils and for the children of key workers, every weekday, including holidays for the past 2 months. We will continue to do this, should those children require a place, irrespective of the year group. We are now beginning to prepare for re-opening to Year 6 pupils only. Significant discussion has taken place around whether Year 6 is the right year group to prioritise in middle schools, and it has been decided that we WILL prioritise this year group, in line with all other schools in the country.

I appreciate that there will be concerns around Year 8 transition, and this is something we will do to the best of our ability, potentially bringing Year 8 into school as the term progresses, if it is safe to do so. This decision will not be made for a number of weeks, and will depend on the COVID-19 situation, both locally and nationally. Whatever happens, we will do our best for Year 8 in their final term at Highfield.

It is important to recognise that, if we do open to Year 6 pupils on 1st June, it will not be school as we know it. Below are just some of the measures that will be in place. They are necessary measures to maintain a safe environment, but without doubt they will hinder the quality of education, the level of care, and the atmosphere around the school.

 The government has indicated a maximum class sizes of 15, but we are aiming to work with a maximum of 10-12. The children will sit on individual tables, they will stay together at all times and will not mix with other groups at all.
 Groups may not be made up of children from the same form classes and may not be taught by their usual teacher. There will be no flexibility for pupils to move groups and teachers will stay with the same groups every day.
 There will be staggered start times, breaks, lunches and closing.
 Lunches will be eaten in the classroom and school meals will be ‘packed lunch style’ rather than a hot meal.
 There will be regular hand washing and cleaning of the school throughout the day.
 There will be restrictions around use of the toilet.
 One room will be designated to hold pupils showing symptoms until they can be collected from school.

I appreciate that this is not straightforward and I thank you for your support. Safety is of the utmost importance in this planning; the safety of your children, the staff in schools and the wider community, as we all have our part to play in ensuring there is no second outbreak. There is an opportunity to share your brief opinion within the information form, but I appreciate you may have further questions and comments. Our plan is to share our risk assessments and a FAQ with you once the picture is clearer, we appreciate your patience on
this matter.

Thank you once again for your understanding through these unprecedented times. I will continue to update you with information as soon as it becomes available.

In summary:
We are planning for the possible re-opening of school to Year 6 pupils only, on 1st June.

We require all families (from ALL year groups) to complete the attached form by Monday evening to help us with our planning. If you have more than one child at HIghfield, please complete the form separately for each child.

Stay safe
Richard Oades
Headteacher