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Schools Re-Opening Frequently Asked Questions for Parents/Carers (FAQs)

This advice and guidance relates to the school year groups Primary Reception, Year 1, Year 6 and Secondary Year 10 and Year 12

The aim is to return on 1st June but when will it be confirmed?

The government will only confirm on 28th May if selected year groups will return on 1st June. They will only proceed with opening schools if the tests are met.

On 16 April the Government presented five tests for easing measures as:

  1. Protect the NHS’s ability to cope. We must be confident that we are able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK.
  2. See a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from COVID-19 so we are confident that we have moved beyond the peak.
  3. Reliable data from SAGE showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board.
  4. Be confident that the range of operational challenges, including testing capacity and PPE, are in hand, with supply able to meet future demand.
  5. Be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelms the NHS.

Which children will return to primary school?

The following children will be able to return to school on 1st June;

  • Nursery (if applicable)
  • Reception
  • Year 1
  • Year 6

Priority Children - vulnerable children and children of critical workers, who have been able to attend since March

Which students will return to secondary school?

Secondary schools will be making different arrangements and will be in contact with the parents of students in Year 10 and year 12 to confirm schools plans from 1st June.

I have to go back to work, can I send my child in even if they aren’t in the selected year groups?

At this stage schools are only open for the selected year groups plus vulnerable children and children of critical workers who have been able to attend throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

If you have been asked to return to work but do not have childcare, please talk to your employer to make necessary adjustments.

I don’t feel comfortable about sending my child to school. Do they have to attend?

Schools are looking forward to welcoming your child back to school and have taken every precaution to ensure the school environment is as safe as possible. However, we understand that some parents, for a variety of reasons, may wish to keep their child at home and continue for them to learn from home. It is not compulsory for children to attend. Please let the school know that you will not be sending your child in.

Will I be fined if I keep my children at home?

If you do not send your child in, you will not be fined at this time. We envisage school attendance fines will not be issued until September at the earliest, but this is not confirmed.

Where classrooms in schools are small can groups be smaller than 15?

The maximum group size is 15. DfE guidance asks that schools calculate how many children can be accommodated in temporary teaching groups and this is dependent upon the size of the classrooms and the layout of the school.

How will you limit the risk of infection for my child?

Schools are currently carrying out a risk assessment ahead of re-opening so that they can put in place a comprehensive programme of measures to limit the risk to staff and children.

Due to the age of the children who will be returning, social distancing will be a challenge. Therefore the government have suggested;

  • smaller class sizes - with a maximum of 15 children per class
  • rearrange classrooms - ensuring desks are spaced out as far as possible.
  • limit mixing - children will stay in their groups and be assigned specific staff members
  • staggered timetables - Limiting number of children on lunch and breaks, changes to pick up and drop off times
  • minimising contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school
  • cleaning hands more often than usual - wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use alcohol hand rub or sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered
  • ensuring good respiratory hygiene - promote the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
  • cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as disinfectant

My school is considering marking out the floors to ensure that children are never less than 2m apart, is this something that all schools should be doing?

This is definitely one of the measures that schools should consider but this will depend on each schools situation. It is not mandatory. Floor marking is one the measures included in the risk assessment. For example, in areas where queues may develop floor marking can indicate safe distance rules. Floor marking may also be used along shared corridors to keep pupils apart on one side.

Will the school day start and end at the same time?

There may be some changes to the timings of the school day to ensure schools can safely manage drop off and collection of children. Schools will clearly communicate these arrangements with parents before the school returns.

How will I drop off and collect my child?

Collection and drop off of children may be a different process to that a few months ago. Schools are currently drawing up plans to ensure social distancing can happen at these times. Further details on the arrangements will be sent to parents and may be displayed on the schools website.

What if one of my children is in one of the returning years but another is not?

Only children in these year groups can return to school from 1 June. This does not include siblings in different year groups unless those siblings are in a priority group, for example, vulnerable children and children of critical workers.

The Government hopes that all primary school children can come back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible, although this will be kept under review. Reducing the risks for children and staff is of utmost priority

Should my child wear a face covering, mask or other PPE?

Government guidance states, “Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended”

Staff will only wear PPE when;

  • a child whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs.
  • a child becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in their setting and needs direct personal care until they can return home. A face mask should be worn by the supervising adult if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained. If contact with the child or young person is necessary, then gloves, an apron and a face mask should be worn by the supervising adult. If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn.

If you have any concerns please speak to the head teacher at your school.

Will there be COVID-19 testing and contact tracing in education and childcare settings?

Testing is already available for all school staff and their household members.

When the wider cohort of children are invited to return to their education settings, all those children eligible to attend, and members of their households, will have access to testing if they display symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

To access testing parents should use the 111 online coronavirus service if their child is 5 or over. They should call 111 if the child is under 5.

This will enable them to get back into childcare or education, and their parents or carers to get back to work, if the test proves to be negative.

In the event of a child or member of staff testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), the relevant group of people within the school with whom the child has mixed closely (their cohort), should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the cohort or in the wider setting, Public Health England’s local Health Protection teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take.

Usually someone else collects my child from school as I have to go into work, can someone from another household collect my child?

Government guidance would only allow someone to pick up a child from another household if a 2m distance is kept between them. This would be very difficult with young children and therefore we would advise only members from your household should collect your child.

Will Breakfast Club and Afterschool Club start again?

At this stage individual schools will need to consider the health and safety of pupils and their local circumstances to determine whether they can open wrap around care for children. You will need to make contact with your school to clarify local arrangements.

Will my child get a hot meal or a packed lunch?

To help with staggered lunch times, it is likely that schools will start with the provision of a packed lunch. We can then assess meal numbers and if it’s worth opening up the school kitchens. Caterlink and schools are keen for a “normal service” to resume as soon as possible so that the children get a hot meal but the provision of a packed lunch will reduce the contact required for serving food. Parents will be kept informed of any changes to lunch time food.

What should I do if I think I might be eligible for Free School Meals?

Please visit our website at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals where you can apply on line and will receive an instant decision on your eligibility. If you are experiencing any problems with applying online please email the team with your full name, national insurance number and the child’s name and date of birth at freeschoolmeals@gloucestershire.gov.uk.

Will I still receive hampers or packed lunches over the May half term?

If you have been in receipt of the above, this will continue through the half term

Will the DfE voucher scheme continue over the May half term?

According to latest guidance, this provision will not be available over the half term break

If I don’t send my child in, will I still get my FSM voucher?

The provision of food vouchers for those eligible under the benefits criteria will also continue to be available where needed for those not attending school. Your school will let you know if government guidance is updated.

Will my child be taught by their usual teacher?

Schools cannot guarantee this as each class needs to be split. The aim is to have at least one adult who will be familiar to the children in each class. This may be the teacher or a teaching assistant as far as possible. Please contact your school for clarification.

Will my child’s school be open for the summer holiday break?

The Government has not yet issued any guidance about opening in the summer, schools are currently planning to be closed in the summer break.

Schools are encouraged to make arrangements that are consistent for pupils and their families.

Home Education

Where can I find advice on supporting my child’s home learning of secondary school children (year 7 to 11)?

Please find the latest government advice for parents/carers at Help secondary school children continue their education during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Where can I find advice on supporting primary aged school children at home?

Please find the latest government advice for parents/carers at Help primary school children continue their education during coronavirus (COVID-19)

How much am I expected to educate my child at home?

Several parents have asked for advice on how to manage home learning.

Many schools have provided educational activities that your child/children might do. However, it is also important that you and your family balance home learning with other activities that will keep your children happy and occupied in a healthy and balanced way. You are the best judge of what they need whilst they are in your care at home. It is important to provide enjoyable and relaxing things to do – reading and researching, creative activities, physical exercise, simply chatting and watching films. It is helpful to create a routine for children so that their minds are kept active with interesting tasks and challenges, however, you do not need to try to replicate a school timetable. Focus on what you can do as a closely confined family and how to get on.

If you feel that your child is under pressure to complete a lot of online learning tasks, please contact the school for advice on how to manage this. It isn’t clear how long the isolation requirement will be in place, and so schools will be doing all they can to help keep your child actively engaged during this time, in readiness for their return to school. Schools want to ensure that they are supporting you as a family and offering your children every opportunity to stay connected to their learning, whatever age they are.

Are there any additional on-line resources for adults and children with additional needs and learning difficulties?

Photosymbols have launched new easy read website on Coronavirus for people with learning disabilities.
https://www.keepsafe.org.uk

There is a Facebook page for people to keep connected with others;
https://www.facebook.com/124116121107/posts/10158320294951108/?d=n

There is an easy read version of the Prime Ministers letter
https://www.keepsafe.org.uk/pm-letter

Cards for Zoom meetings
https://www.keepsafe.org.uk/to-do/cue-cards-for-video-meetings

Where can I find Education Resources On-line?

In addition to online resources schools already have in place and the information provided by the LA on home learning examples and resources: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/schoolsnet/school-provision-during-covid-19-crisis/home-learning/ the DfE have now brought together an initial list of online educational resources to help children to learn at home; all currently being offered for free.

It is not intended that these individual resources replace a school’s properly planned curriculum, but schools may also wish to explore these as they consider how they continue to support children’s education. Resources are available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

How can I look after my child’s mental health and well-being?

The government has just issued new guidance for parents and carers on looking after the mental health and well-being of children and young people, during the COVID-19 outbreak. This advice can be found at COVID-19: guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

Will my child continue to access CAMHS?

Over the coming weeks they are continuing to offer services but will need to focus on urgent or priority care. CAMHS are managing the care for children who are in the middle of treatment on an individual basis, based on clinical need. CAMHS will continue to work with children, young people and families by telephone, video consultation and face to face if needed. In addition, the services will be offering advice lines, available Monday to Friday.

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