Dear Parents and Carers,
As promised in last week’s newsletter, I am pleased to provide further details, regarding the provision we have put in place for the reopening of Rhos Street School on June 29th. As you will see below and as I have previously stressed, what will be delivered will be very different to what our pupils are used to. I would be grateful if you could explain the contents of this letter to them beforehand, to provide them with the necessary information, in order for them to be fully aware of what to expect when they attend.
While we have made every effort to ensure that the school is as welcoming as it can be and the sessions the pupils spend with us as stimulating as we are able to make them, it has also been necessary to put measures in place to ensure that the health and safety of the school community is protected as much as possible. Many of those measures will be unfamiliar to our pupils. Please go through these with your child and reassure them that they are in place to protect them and that we are really looking forward to welcoming them through our doors again.
We want to make sure that what we have put in place is appropriate and works for us. It may well be that we adjust or amend some of the arrangements going forward. However, to begin with, all pupils whose parents have indicated they want their child to attend will do so for one session per week for at least the first fortnight. We will be open for pupils in Reception up to Year 6 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and no more than eight pupils will attend any session with their teacher on any day. Following advice taken, the school will initially remain closed for Nursery pupils. Giggles will also remain closed for the rest of the academic year. We will consider the feasibility of any transition activities nearer the end of term.
Sessions will begin at 9.30am and will end at 1pm. Pupils will have two snack breaks during this period and will need to bring their own snack and their own water bottle. The school will be closed for pupils on Thursday and Friday for an extensive clean, before pupils return on the following Monday. On those days the school is closed, teachers will be able to give added focus to home learning, so that the blended approach of face to face schooling and home activities can complement one another. Consequently, the amount of online support on Monday-Wednesday will be reduced as teachers will be working in school.
Below is a list of questions you may have in your mind about the whole process and hopefully you will find the answers that you need. Apologies for the sheer amount of information below, but I wanted to be as clear as possible regarding the extensive measures and arrangements necessary in these unprecedented times and despite the length of the letter I hope it gives reassurance that we have put everybody’s safety as paramount.
I have also attached the schedule for each week specifying on which day your child will be expected to attend. This timetable is based on the data received via the online questionnaires.
Will my child be safe at Rhos Street School?
At Rhos Street School, we have consulted with the local and regional authority to produce risk assessments and make adaptations to the building. These assessments have been rubber stamped by the Local Authority and the Governing Body. It is essential that pupils and parents follow instructions, guidelines and signage to keep themselves and others safe. Every effort has been made to mitigate all risks. However, no school, no building, no establishment will ever be completely risk free in the current circumstances, although the measures outlined below have significantly reduced that risk.
Will the school be clean?
Our team of cleaners have worked throughout the school closure period and the whole building has been thoroughly cleaned in preparation for reopening. Surfaces, door handles and high touch areas will be cleaned during and at the end of each day as well as all areas the pupils have accessed including cloakrooms and toilets. As stated above, a thorough clean will take place on Thursdays and Fridays.
How often will my child attend school?
Each pupil will be able to attend for one session per week. This may be reduced or increased as the term continues. At present, we are proposing one session between 9.30am and 1pm on either a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Siblings will attend on the same day.
How many pupils will there be in a class?
The number of pupils in a class will vary based on class size and the number of responses received. Numbers will be between 3-8 pupils. These numbers fall within the recommended amount of pupils based on capacity assessments while exercising social distancing of 2 metres.
Will my child be in a class with their friends?
Pupils will be with their usual classmates and teachers. We have endeavoured to ensure that siblings attend on the same days and have also tried to achieve some balance of friends together in their classes. Please remember they need to remain socially distanced, despite perhaps not having seen one another for many weeks.
How will classrooms be organised?
We have taken specialist advice to calculate the maximum number of pupils a class can hold according to Welsh Government guidance. Furniture has been relocated in some classrooms. Windows and non-fire doors will be kept open to ensure good ventilation. There will be a cleaning station in each class which will include wipes, hand sanitiser, spray and tissues/hand towels. A one way system will be implemented to assist with social distancing.
How will the school day be structured?
The focus of each session will be to support pupil wellbeing, support home learning, ensuring understanding of Google Classroom and other online platforms, troubleshooting and introducing future tasks. Other wellbeing activities will take place, such as circle time and class discussion, giving pupils the opportunity to express their feelings and communicate any worries they may have regarding recent events. Opportunities to go outdoors will be maximised, with two breaks for snack and play, plus PE, although no invasion games nor activities which require sharing of equipment will take place. Some eco activities may also take place, but once again, all outdoor activities will exercise social distancing with no sharing of equipment. All equipment used will be cleaned after use, including Chrome books used in class.
How will playtimes/breaks be managed?
Breaks will be staggered to reduce contact between numbers of pupils. Staff will be on duty, but it is essential that pupils observe social distancing measures during these periods. There will be separate designated areas for breaks and we will not permit pupils from different classes to interact at these times. Pupils can eat the snack they have brought, but no food should be shared and pupils should use their own water bottles and wash their hands before and after eating.
What sort of work will be done in these sessions?
The Minister of Education has stated that the purpose of the reopening of schools in Wales is to “Check in, catch up prepare ”. It will not be possible to run a full timetable and formal lessons when school reopens. Our initial focus will be every pupils’ well-being and then we will move on to discussions about how they have progressed with the work set during the lockdown period.
What changes have been made to the school building?
Signs have been put up to direct pupils, parents and staff both inside and outside. All soft furnishings have been either removed or made inaccessible. Certain areas, such as the Library and Donut room have been made out of bounds. Desks have been set up in line with 2 metre social distancing protocols. Arrows assist pupils in travelling in the correct direction. There is a one-way system for all staff and pupils to use in each class.
Where do I bring my child at the beginning of the day?
We encourage as many families as possible to walk their child to the school. If you are required to bring your vehicle, please ensure you DO NOT park next to another car, using alternate spaces in the car park.
We ask that only one parent walks their child to and from the site. Families should walk together but remain socially distanced from other families. Pupils can enter the building from 9.20am. Please do not arrive earlier than this time and leave promptly after dropping off your child/ren.
On arrival to school there will be a one way system. Please observe the signs. Foundation phase pupils are to enter school via the lower gate and will be directed up the path to their class by a staff member. Parents can then go up the steps inside the gate and exit via the top Nursery gate. Years 3 and 4 are to enter the main reception door with Year 5 and 6 pupils to enter via the hall door. Please explain to your child that they must enter the site independently with little fuss. No parents will be permitted to enter the school building. Please only visit the office if it is completely essential, otherwise please telephone or email.
Please take note of any signs Pen Barras have displayed, avoiding their walkways.
All pupils will travel in one direction to their classes to be welcomed by their teachers. There will be clear signage to help them travel in the correct direction safely. Foundation Phase pupils will enter via their classes external door after walking up the path. Years 3 and 4 will travel up the main corridor to their class. Years 5 and 6 will go through the hall, exit the other hall door and enter via their classes external door. Pupils will go straight into class and not assemble on the yard as they would normally do.
All pupils and staff will be asked to wash their hands on arrival to the site as well as on the following occasions:
– before and after handling food
– before and after handling objects and equipment that may have been used by others
– where there has been any physical contact
– after people blow their nose, sneeze or cough.
Where do I pick up my child at the end of the school day?
Pupils will be sent home via the same doors they entered the site. Foundation Phase from the bottom gate, Years 3 and 4 from main reception and Years 5 and 6 from the hall. May I once again ask parents to arrive on time, exercise social distancing and leave the site promptly.
Do the pupils need to wear uniform?
There is no expectation for pupils to wear school uniform. We strongly recommend pupils bring a sun hat and apply sunscreen before arriving on site. Please dress Foundation Phase pupils in clothes that they are able to independently undo/take off and put back on eg. after going to the toilet. Many doors and windows will be kept open, so please ensure that your child has a hoodie or jumper. It is advisable to wear something that is comfortable and easily washable. There is no need to bring in any PE kit.
What should pupils bring with them to school?
Welsh Government suggest that pupils should only bring a coat to school and nothing else e.g. No footballs, bags etc. All standard school equipment will be provided. Snacks should be brought in a labelled disposable bag and water in a labelled bottle. Please do not send in any nut products. If your child uses an inhaler or any emergency medication, please make sure they have it in school and it is labelled. They can bring hand sanitizer if they wish in their coat pocket.
I am a key worker and my child has been attending during the school closure. Will this childcare provision continue?
Rhos Street School will remain open all day to care for the children of key workers. Childcare runs from 8am until 3.30pm based in the school hall. All carers in the household must be key workers in order to be eligible. Children of Key Workers will also be allocated a weekly session with their class teacher. School lunch is available for Key Worker pupils.
If my child falls ill during the day, what are the procedures?
If your child is unwell, DO NOT send them to school. If your child becomes ill during the day they will be sent to the sickroom. A qualified first aider will attend to them, but this member of staff will be wearing PPE. Please discuss this with your child. The school will then contact you to collect your child.
What are the arrangements for PPE?
The guidance states that there is no need to use personal protective equipment (PPE) when undertaking routine educational activities in classroom/school settings. However, we will respect parental choice for a pupil to wear PPE if they wish. Some staff may choose to wear PPE – see Welsh Government guidelines. Any parent who wishes to wear a face covering on site is welcome to do so.
A member of my family is shielding, can I send my child to school?
Please see advice from Public Health Wales (www.phw.nhs.wales)
A member of my family is pregnant, can I send my child to school?
Please see advice from Public Health Wales (www.phw.nhs.wales)
Will there be schoolwork set over the summer holidays?
No. It is important that everyone-pupils, parents and staff alike-take some time to rest and recharge.
Can I send my child without notifying school?
No. Parents must inform school if their circumstances change and we will liaise with you to see if you can be accommodated under the current framework. Please contact the school if you have decided not to send your child after all. As a parent or guardian, you have the right to choose to send your child to school or not.
Can my child walk to school and back home on their own?
If parents have previously signed the consent form permitting them to do this, then they can walk on their own.
What are the arrangements for managing behaviour?
This could be a difficult experience for some pupils who may be anxious about returning to school. Pupils are expected to follow the rules for their own safety and wellbeing, and everyone else in the building. Please discuss this with your child. In primary schools, WG guidance recognises that it is not practicable to expect learners to always maintain social distancing of 2 metres. We will however, always seek to ensure distancing between learners. We recognise that younger children will not be able to maintain social distancing at all times but we will constantly remind and encourage, with class furniture and signage organised accordingly to facilitate this.
How will I know what is planned for September 2020?
Please make sure that school has your email address as this is our preferred and most effective method of communication. We will keep you updated during the summer holiday when decisions are made.
Other useful information
There will be no school assemblies held or any gatherings of pupils in school.
Foundation Phase pupils will not be permitted to sit together on the carpet.
We will not permit visitors inside the school building, unless there is an emergency or essential maintenance is required.
There will be no Breakfast Club.
There will be no after school club provision.
All staff will receive clear briefing on the above procedures.
Free School Meal pupils will continue to receive their payments.
I acknowledge that this is a lot of information to take in, but I’m sure you’ll agree, the above measures are necessary to ensure the safety of all. Your cooperation in complying with these guidelines is very much appreciated and I’d be grateful if you would discuss them with your child before we reopen to ensure that staff, pupils and everybody in the school community is suitably briefed.
If having initially decided not to send your child back, you have had second thoughts, please let me know and I will consult with you to see if we can accommodate you for future weeks, once the timetable is up and running.
Please also be aware that dialogue continues between Welsh Government, Local Authorities and the Unions, so some information above may need to be changed. If it does, I will inform you straight away.
If you have any further questions, please get in touch. Otherwise, I look forward to welcoming back our wonderful pupils and catching up with you all, after what seems like a lifetime!
Bryn D. Jones