Detailed Letter to Parents - government's announcement to re-open
15th May, 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I am writing to update you following the government’s announcements earlier this week regarding schools, and to also address some of the questions and concerns I am sure many of you have now we are eight weeks into lockdown:
My child is in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 or Year 6. Will school be open for them on 1st June?
We do not know yet whether schools will be open. The government will make a decision on whether it is safe to start reopening nationally and they think this might be possible from 1st June at the earliest. Like every Head Teacher, I will also need to make a decision, with governors and staff, whether we are able to open our school in a way that is safe for our children, staff and families. We all miss your children dearly but will not open until we feel it is safe enough. This might mean it’s later than 1st June and it might mean we welcome children back more gradually. I know that many of you are keen for your children to return but safety must be the priority.
My child is in Year 2, 3, 4 or 5. When will school reopen for them?
At the moment, we do not know. The government has stated an “ambition is to bring all primary year groups back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible”. However, they have not shared any evidence that this will be safe or possible and it would be very complex for any primary school to accommodate all children safely before September.
If school does reopen in June, how safe will it be?
We are working hard on plans for how we would keep children safe. This is likely to include increased cleaning of the building; regular handwashing; learning in smaller groups; children in on a part-time basis only; reduced classroom and play equipment; different drop-off, pick-up, break and lunch times; PPE for staff to use in certain circumstances and restrictions on parents in school.
We will do everything we can to minimise the risks but I cannot guarantee that there will be no risk. The government guidance to schools recognises that “unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2m apart from each other and staff”. However, we will do what we can to social distance as far as possible.
I will be reviewing all the advice from the government, and from national and local health and education bodies, to ensure we make the right decisions and plans for our community.
If school does reopen, do I have to send my children in? Will there be online learning if I don’t?
The government has said that parents will be “strongly encouraged” to send their children in, unless your children are ‘clinically vulnerable’ or somebody in your household is ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ (click here for what this means). If your child does attend, we will follow up attendance as usual. However, fines will not be issued for anyone who is not attending school.
We plan to continue with the current home learning arrangements in place for all children regardless of whether they are in school or at home.
I feel like my child is falling behind. I am struggling to do home learning with them. What should I do?
There are five million primary school children not in school. Don’t worry, yours is not falling any further behind than the others. As teachers, we know we will need to work doubly hard when everything is back to normal.
We also know that you are not teachers. You may not have access to a laptop or enough devices for your children; that you all have different situations and may be juggling home learning with worrying about your own work. Even as teachers, we are struggling with home learning for our own children. I personally have found it harder to do some learning with my three children at home, than I find it to teach a class of thirty children or deliver an assembly to hundreds of children at school!
It is also normal for your children to be getting upset, be angry or defiant. They will miss their friends, and the routines of school life.
My advice would be:
- Talk to each other and to us about your worries. We might not have the answers but we can listen to each other and support.
- Try to enforce some simple routines, for example set times for getting up, dressed, washed, followed by breakfast then start some home learning such as exercise, reading or tasks set by school.
- Make sure they do some reading, exercise and a home learning task set by their teacher every school day. Don’t forget the whole school challenges too!
- Remember baking, household chores, board games, playing arts and crafts activities all have huge benefits to children and their development.
Remember, your child’s wellbeing is the most important thing. The children coming back to us happy and secure, with a sense of routine, is more important to us – and to their ongoing education – than them having done any particular piece of home learning.
I will be in touch again before half term as our plans for June become clearer. In the meantime, stay safe, stay well and take care. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via your child’s teacher or the office email.
Thank you so much for your continued support and understanding during this challenging time.
With best wishes,