Return to School

Dear Families,

We are genuinely looking forward to welcoming all of our Hillfort children back to school on March 8th! In the last few weeks, we have become experts on virtual meetings, had an Ofsted inspection and generally done quite a lot of DIY around the place – including planning to put a new roof on the school!
We are excited to open for all children. We can now share with you some key information on our planned procedures for welcoming your child back. Our arrangements have been slightly complicated by the fact that for the next few months, we will be having some significant capital works completed – including having a new roof put on to much of the school. Arrangements could be subject to change… whilst of course adhering to all Covid-related guidance from the Government to ensure safety of our children, parents, and school community. If you need any additional support advice in relation to the return to school, please contact the school office.

School Attendance:
It has been made clear by the Government that attendance is mandatory from Monday 8th March. For parents and carers of children of compulsory school age, this means that the legal duty on you as a parent or carer to send your child to school will apply and families could be fined if they choose to keep their child at home. We understand that as a parent your child’s return to school at this time may be worrying for you. If this is the case, please contact us this week to discuss any concerns.
If you or your child are currently shielding or clinically extremely vulnerable and we are not aware, please contact us so that we can advise further. Please provide the school with written evidence.

Timings of the School Day:
We will be open Monday to Friday for full school days. We ask that only one adult per family drops and their child/children, facemasks are worn and social distancing adhered to. To help keep large groups apart we plan to continue to stagger drop off and collection times. This will be different to how it was arranged prior to this lockdown. You will drop off children based on pupil’s surname, starting from:
Drop-off at 8.45am: A to F and collection at 3.10pm
Drop off at 8.50am: G to O and collection at 3.15pm
Drop off at 8.55am: P to Z and collection at 3.20pm

Where parents have a double-barrelled name, please use the letter from the first of the two surnames. Where you are dropping off children with different surnames, please select the first name alphabetically. For example, siblings by the names of Jake Smith and Amy Burt would be dropped off together at 8.45am and collected at 3.10pm.
When dropping off, parents will need to ‘drop and go’ to avoid congestion – a member of staff will be on the playground to receive your child. Equally, at the end of the day, please collect your child from the playground at the above times. If you need to speak to your child’s class teacher, please send an email or telephone the school office.
It is important you stick to your time slot to help us ensure social distancing on the school site and wear a mask.
We have a one-way system around the school to help with social distancing on the school site. You will then need to exit the school site by following the one-way system.

Walking Bus:
The Walking bus will resume from Westbourne carpark at 8.30am on Monday 8th March. Any new users of the service, will need to telephone the school office to check availability.

Before and After School Provision:
Our wrap around provision will be available in the normal fashion. Please book via the ParentPay booking system by 11pm of the previous evening. As ever, there will be limits to the numbers of children we can accept. Booking will be on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Breakfast club starts at 7.30am (£2.50 per session) and After-school Club is 3.15pm – 6.00pm (£10 per session).

Our Curriculum:
To transition our children back to school we will be focused on getting them back into school in a calm way. The first Monday will see a practical Science investigation day as children tend to get very involved in those days, and then we will continue with the usual routine as we feel that children are desperate to get back to normality. Class teachers will return to deliver the full range of curriculum subjects as before and they will continue with virtual assemblies via Microsoft ‘TEAMS’.
To support wellbeing and relationships, the class teachers will closely monitor this – especially over the first few days – and Wellbeing Wednesdays Afternoons will continue for at least this term. Making your children feel happy and safe in school is our utmost priority.

Behaviour expectations and procedures remain the same as before the lockdown with an absolute importance on children being aware of behaviours which are unacceptable in the current climate.

School laptops:
Whilst we were happy to loan out laptops, we will now need them back to ensure that children can learn in school! Please can you return those laptops to the front atrium where a member of the admin staff will be there to check them back in!
This needs to be done by Friday 12th March – at the latest.

Our bubbles:
Our classes will generally be formed as year group bubbles to minimise risks to all. To minimise contact between bubbles, outdoor spaces have also been specifically allocated. The guidance however, has evolved
to allow us to merge bubbles if there is an educational need. Therefore, there will be some movement between year groups – most obviously for our Read Write Inc. Phonics programme. This will involve working between a maximum of two year groups.

All children will be required to wear the correct school uniform (please see attached uniform policy). The guidance states these do not need to be cleaned any more often than usual – neither do they need to be cleaned using methods that are different to normal.

There will be minimal indoor PE, so most weekly PE lessons have been timetabled to be outside. Pupils may come to school wearing their PE kit on the days they have PE (which needs to be the expected PE school t-shirt/polo shirt & black shorts). Wearing black tracksuit bottoms is encouraged if the weather is cold. Your teacher will let you know this week which days PE sessions are.
If weather is rainy, children to bring school uniform in a bag.

School Meals/Lunchtime:
Children can either bring a packed lunch or have a hot school dinner. Due to the planned building works, it is most likely that children will eat in their classrooms – but the full menu will be available with specially purchased ‘flight trays’ for hot meals! The current school menu is attached.

After School Clubs:
There will be academic support clubs, by invitation, for children for the rest of this term and for next half term (Summer 1). We will then review this position for the second half of the Summer term (Summer 2) with a view to re-introducing activities such as athletics clubs and arts and craft clubs etc.

Specialist Music Teaching:
This specialist music teaching will re-start from the week of the 8th March.

Access to School:
Access to the inside of our school building is to be kept to a minimum, so please only come into the reception area for any urgent queries. Masks must be worn in the reception area and social distancing observed. It would be much better to communicate with us via email or telephone in the first instance.

Communicating with teachers:
We wish to avoid parents and teachers engaging in long conversations on the playground as we require children to be dropped off/picked up quickly to help with social distancing on the school site. If you have any urgent queries, please contact the school office. You may also email your class teacher, but please do not expect a response during the teaching day . If you need to speak to a teacher or vice versa, they will contact you by phone outside of their teaching hours.

Handwashing, Respiratory Hygiene and Cleaning:
We will continue to teach children the importance of handwashing in a sensitive and age-appropriate way. As a minimum we will wash hands on arrival, when we change activities and before and after play and lunch and before home-time. We will continue to model good respiratory hygiene with ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ reminders.
We will continue with our rigorous cleaning rota to include lunch times, when areas that are used frequently are cleaned, such as door handles and toilets. Every classroom benefits from enhanced cleaning, including twice-weekly ‘fogging’ of the environment.

First Aid and Medication:
First aid will be administered in your child’s bubble. Staff will wear appropriate PPE equipment and will wipe down surfaces using the cleaning materials provided in the first aid room and dispose of waste in the clinical waste bin provided. If your child needs medical attention, a first aid slip will be given to you at the end of the day. If the child walks home on their own, they will be given the first aid slip and you will be informed separately if necessary.
The way we administer medication to pupils will not change. Medicine will be administered by an adult within your child’s bubble. If your child requires medication to be administered at school, please contact the office and complete the required form.

In the event your child shows symptoms of Covid-19:
Your child will be sensitively moved to a safe space in school where they will be looked after until you are able to collect them. Your child should then be tested for coronavirus and remain at home until you receive the results. If the test is negative, your child can return to school assuming they are well enough. If a test is positive, all children and adults in that group will be required to self-isolate and must not attend school. There would then be a further 10 days of isolation after the first day of symptoms or positive test.

Lateral testing:
Lateral testing is underway for staff who have opted to do this. We undertake this twice a week as an additional safety measure.
What can my child bring in to School?
A bag to carry your book and lunch box in.
Children can bring in their own stationery but then keep it in school.
Reading books will be sent home and stored on return (for 48 hours) before being re-issued.
Clearly labelled coats and water bottles are all fine to bring in to school. They will remain on your child’s peg/table when not in use by your child.
It has been the strangest of times – I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that we just want to get the children into school to get everyone’s lives back to normal…or as close to normal as possible! Throughout this time, the teaching colleagues have longed to see children return to school, and we will be excited to see them.

I am sure it will be “all hands to the pump” on Monday morning – last time it took a couple of days before we all got into a routine for drop offs/pick ups, so we will be grateful for you bearing with us and trying to arrive at the right times!
And finally, please do bear in mind that teachers have had absolutely no preferential access to vaccines. They will be ready with smiles on their faces, but with 400 children arriving, they too might be a touch nervous. I am sure a friendly smile in return would mean the world to them.
We will see you on the gate, on Monday 8th, ready to get on with offering the education that our children deserve.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Tim Cook