I hope you are pleased to see Spring is springing and it helps us all to feel hopeful. This is a bit of a long read but necessary read – I suggest it is taken with a cup of tea or beverage of choice!
You will have heard that the Prime Minister announced schools would be fully opening on Monday March 8th 2021.
As schools, we are very pleased to be welcoming children back. We, of course, recognise people have very different views but in the main feel this will be seen as a positive move for children and families. I must again acknowledge the superb feeling of community cohesion because of the support you have shown the teams in school. It has been very much appreciated by staff. Thank you.
Full re-opening does of course raise challenges, as we need to ensure systems and processes continue to prevent, as far as is possible, further transmission of Coronavirus 19. There is a lot to organise, but I hope you trust the staff as they flex, adapt and rise to the professional challenges they have faced through the pandemic. We are updating our risk assessment in line with the revised guidance.
SCHOOL CLOSURE – March 5th 2021
In order to make sure we are fully prepared Norwich schools in Evolution will be closed on Friday 5th March for all children. This is so that:
- an additional deep clean can be carried out in all areas of school
- classrooms and other spaces can be reconfigured and re-organised
- staff can test systems and routines prior to admitting all children
- staff can finalise planning and preparation in teams
We recognise this may be inconvenient for some families and of course apologise for that but hope you understand the need for rigorous final preparation. We have already been preparing so are well placed. This day provides the only opportunity to carry out the essential work listed above. We have tried to give you as much notice as possible. The schools will provide some suggested activities for the day and will not be providing feedback on Seesaw.
ARRANGEMENTS for March 8th
All children will be returning on March 8th unless they have been advised to continue shielding because they are clinically extremely vulnerable. We have decided not to phase the return and all children will return on March 8th at a staggered time. Each school has its own system which will remain very similar to previous arrangements. The Heads will communicate with you about individual schools.
CONTROLS AND PREVENTION
The measures we have in place to prevent transmission become even more important as more children return. This list is not exhaustive but offers reminders:
- no child or adult should come on-site if displaying any symptoms
- strict social distancing – only one adult per child unless you have an agreement with the heads based on need
- no gathering on or around the school site, including the car park area please
- face coverings to be worn by all adults on site please unless exempted
- good hand hygiene before, during and after school
- good respiratory hygiene “Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’
- good ventilation
- enhanced cleaning in school
- no families in school building unless by prior arrangement
- separate bubbles and groupings as far as is possible
- staggered start and end times
- inform school as early as possible if your child or a household member is symptomatic or has tested positive
In addition, this time, school staff are able to opt to use lateral flow tests (LFT) to identify if they are asymptomatic. LFT tests are not being used for primary aged children. The roll-out of the vaccination programme also serves to reduce risk.
The government have taken a very strong stance about attendance, advising schools to remind parents that all compulsory school-age children who are on roll must attend. Our attendance, when schools were last fully open, was mainly very good. We feel this is because you trust our systems and hope that again you can be reassured about the measures that will be in place to minimise the risk of transmission. We agree that good attendance is essential. I do not feel it will help parents to take an adversarial stance about attendance. Instead, we will work with families to understand any barriers so all children can attend. Remote educational provision will not be available unless a child has been told to shield or a group is self-isolating. This is because we are unable to manage dual systems when all children are back in school.
Whilst we are very hopeful about the wider opening, it is important to remind families that there may still be times when ‘bubbles’ or groups of children and staff are required to isolate. Because the virus is far less prevalent, we are hoping this will be infrequent. We will use the same systems that were previously in place.
If your child has loaned a device from school, you will be asked to return it. This is so we can continue to build on some of the good work we have seen on Seesaw. Schools will tell you individual arrangements for returning.
WHAT CAN CHILDREN EXPECT?
Our priority will be to make sure children feel happy safe and secure so they can learn well and feel successful. Lots of children will be very excited and some may feel worried. It will be important for us to make all children feel really welcome and secure. We will do this by building on the existing good relationships with children and families. In addition, we will be using our professional knowledge of what works well for young learners. The following are some strategies we will be using:
- providing a really warm AND calm welcome
- hopeful and high expectations for all children to feel successful
- re-establishing clear routines during the day
- re-establishing behaviour expectations so children know what is expected of them
- supporting children to re-establish behaviour for learning so they can quickly re-engage
- providing opportunities and support to re-establish friendships
- planned activities that support good mental health, positive relationships and good attitudes to physical health
- identifying children who may need additional pastoral support to help re-integration
- positive language about learning and their next steps (we will not be talking to them about lost learning!)
- low stakes ongoing assessments in core subjects (English and Maths) so that we can make sure we really understand where all children are. This will be very informal and sensitively handled
- tailoring the curriculum so that children become secure in core areas of learning for their age and stage; this will be evaluated and reviewed regularly as we build an understanding of the range of need
- a very strong focus on helping all children to become the best readers they can be
- use of precision teaching of core content so all children make good progress
- some bespoke group or individual work when and if necessary
- a broad and balanced curriculum so children experience and learn about and through other subjects i.e. Science, Art and History
BREAKFAST AND AFTER SCHOOL CLUBS
It is our intention to provide this service if at all possible. Your school will be gathering information to assess the demand and keep you informed.
I know there is a lot of information and hope that it helps you understand decisions we make. Doubtless, the challenges will keep coming; however, I feel very strongly that we have a professional and moral duty to offer our children a positive and hopeful view of their future. We will continue to work in partnership with families as much as possible to make this coming phase a real success.
We very much look forward to welcoming you all again, in a strict socially distanced way of course!