Covid-19 - parent info

COVID-19: Information for Parents / Carers

We have implemented a range of new measures to help both staff and pupils to stay safe and well.

Having opened to all children in September, you can read our procedures in full below. We encourage you to read these plans in detail so that you understand how school will run this term.

All of our plans are underpinned by government guidance.

Please also find below some links to useful information about how we are dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This webpage will be updated regularly.

Letters to Parents

Key Policies relating to Covid-19

Latest advice for parents from the Government

Home Learning

EMAT NHS Track and Trace Privacy Notice

Who can come to school and when?

All children should be back in school full-time from September. 

Anyone who is ill should not come to school. This is very important in minimising the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).

Government guidance states:

"When we made the decision to ask schools to open only to a small number of children, this was done with the aim of reducing transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), to protect the NHS and save lives. As the situation improved, we began to consider how we could bring more children and young people back into schools, and supported primary schools to do so from 1 June, focusing on some year groups being educated in small ‘bubbles’, and secondary schools from 15 June, with year 10 and 12 spending some time in school in small groups, with public health risk reduction measures in place. Since 15 June, primary schools have also had flexibility to bring back other pupils where they have space to do so.

Now, the circumstances have changed. The prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased, our NHS Test and Trace system is up and running, and we are clear about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments within schools."

Please note that whilst is our full intention to welcome all pupils back in September, the possibility of a local lockdown remains, should the COVID-19 situation worsen again in Milton Keynes. In the event of a local lockdown, school may be closed and we would resume our online learning provisions.

Does my child have to come to school?

Yes. Usual rules on school attendance will apply, including:

  • parents’ duty to secure that their child attends regularly at school where the child is a registered pupil at school and they are of compulsory school age;
  • schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence
  • the availability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct

The government guidance states:

"The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school.

Lower academic achievement also translates into long-term economic costs due to having a less well-qualified workforce. This affects the standard of living that today’s pupils will have over the course of their entire life. For many households, school closures have also affected their ability to work. As the economy begins to recover, we need to remove this barrier so parents and carers can return to work.

Given the improved position, the balance of risk is now overwhelmingly in favour of children returning to school. For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in school far outweigh the very low risk from coronavirus (COVID-19)…As a result, we can plan for all children to return and start to reverse the enormous costs of missed education. This will be an important move back towards normal life for many children and families.

While coronavirus (COVID-19) remains in the community, this means making judgments at a school level about how to balance minimising any risks from coronavirus (COVID-19) by maximising control measures with providing a full educational experience for children and young people…

In March when the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was increasing, we made clear no parent would be penalised or sanctioned for their child’s non-attendance at school.

Now the circumstances have changed and it is vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the pandemic on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development.

Missing out on more time in the classroom risks pupils falling further behind. Those with higher overall absence tend to achieve less well in both primary and secondary school."

Should my child come to school if they were previously shielding?

The vast majority of children are now able to resume schooling. The government and medical practitioners now know much more about coronavirus (COVID-19) and so going forward there will be far fewer children advised to shield, even if community transmission rates of the virus are high.

However, the government guidance says we should note that:

  • a small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves; or because they are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • shielding advice for all adults and children paused on 1 August due to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). This means that even the small number of pupils who will remain on the shielded patient list can also return to school, as can those who have family members who are shielding. Read the current advice on shielding by clicking here
  • if rates of the disease rise in local areas, children (or family members) from that area, and that area only, will be advised to shield during the period where rates remain high and therefore they may be temporarily absent (see below).
  • some pupils no longer required to shield but who generally remain under the care of a specialist health professional may need to discuss their care with their health professional before returning to school (usually at their next planned clinical appointment). You can find more advice from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health at COVID-19 - ‘shielding’ guidance for children and young people

Where a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical and/or public health advice, we expect schools to be able to immediately offer them access to remote education. Schools should monitor engagement with this activity (as set out in the section below).

Where children are not able to attend school as parents are following clinical and/or public health advice, absence will not be penalised.

Is the school minibus be operating?

Yes. Pupils accessing the school minibus service tend to be consistent and do not mix with the general public. According to the government, this means that, unlike on public transport, the advice for passengers to adopt a social distance of two metres from people outside their household or support bubble (or a ‘one metre plus’ approach where this is not possible), will not apply to the school minibus. Therefore, the school minibus will operate.

Please note that pupils using the minibus service will be required to:

  • use hand sanitiser upon boarding and disembarking the minibus
  • queue up and board the vehicle sensibly
  • sit in the seat allocated to them by the minibus driver (Mr. Cox) and chaperone (Miss Oakley)

Children on the school minibus do not need to wear a face covering, since face coverings are not advised for anyone under the age of 11.

What if my family uses public transport to get to school?

The government expect that public transport capacity will continue to be constrained in the autumn term. Their guidance states that its use by families travelling to school, particularly in peak times, should be kept to an absolute minimum if possible. We therefore encourage parents, staff and pupils to walk or cycle to school if at all possible, for the foreseeable future. However, we know these options will not be suitable for all. Families needing to use public transport should refer to the safer travel guidance for passengers.

What are the times of the school day and where should my child enter/exit the school site?

As detailed in our letter on 16th July, there will be a staggered start and finish for different year groups until further notice. This is to allow the safe entry and exit of pupils, whilst aiming to ease congestion around the school site and on public transport. The stagger times have been decided in collaboration with Shepherdswell Academy in order to try to allow parents with children at both schools to go between sites at the required times, particularly if their child is in Year 3 and/or 4 at Orchard. We ask that only one adult per family comes on to the school site for drop-off / collection please.

We are concerned that children in Years 5 and 6 will arrive early to school and add to potential congestion at the gates as the Year 3 and 4 children arrive. Please speak to your child(ren) in Years 5 and 6 to ensure they understand they must try to arrive at the school site as close to 08:45 as possible.

If you are travelling to school by car, please ensure you:

  • arrive at the correct time (see below) to drop-off / collect your child and leave the site as soon as possible
  • drive carefully and slowly on the roads surrounding the school.
  • park sensibly, with consideration of other road users, parents and our neighbours.
  • do not park on yellow lines, people’s driveway entrances and ambulance bays for the residential home on Ravensbourne Place.
  • do not drive or park on the pavements surrounding the school, as this creates a dangerous environment for families – particularly those with wheelchairs and / or pushchairs.

Entrances, exits and staggered start / finish times

Year Group

Classes / Teachers

Entry and Exit Gate

Start Time

Finish Time

Year 3

Elm – Mr. Williamson

Maple – Mrs. Nicholson and Mrs. Turvey

Yew – Miss Kabir

Front Playground Gate

8:30am

3:00pm

Year 4

Beech – Mrs. Hathalia

Hazel – Mr. Allwood

Poplar – Miss Evans

Rear Gate on Ravensbourne Place (near the staff car park)

8:30am

3:00pm

Year 5

Rowan – Mrs. Naylor

Sycamore – Mr. Davis

Willow – Miss Naseri

Rear Gate on Ravensbourne Place (near the staff car park)

8:45am

3:15pm

Year 6

Ash – Mrs. Mundy

Elder – Mrs. Carter

Oak – Mrs. Vaike

Front Playground Gate

8:45am

3:15pm

 

Cedar – Mrs. Stockton

Rear Gate on Ravensbourne Place (near the staff car park)

8:30am

3:00pm

Year 3 children should enter and exit the school by the playground gate at the front of school. In the morning, they should go straight to their classroom areas, and whilst waiting for the doors to be opened we ask that parents ensure they maintain social distancing.

Year 4 children should enter and exit the school by the rear pedestrian gate on Ravensbourne Place. Please do not walk through the vehicle gates into the school car park. In the morning, they should go straight to their classroom areas, and whilst waiting for the doors to be opened we ask that parents ensure they maintain social distancing.

Year 5 children should enter and exit the school by the rear pedestrian gate on Ravensbourne Place. Please do not walk through the vehicle gates into the school car park. In the morning, they should go straight to their classroom doors and line up sensibly.

Year 6 children should enter and exit the school by the playground gate at the front of school. In the morning, they should go straight to their classroom areas and line up sensibly.

We ask that parents of Year 5 and Year 6 children do not come onto school site if possible, to minimise risk to everyone and ensure we can maintain social distancing.

Children going to Cedar class should go straight to Cedar as usual, using the rear pedestrian gate on Ravensbourne Place.

Is Breakfast Club operating?

Yes. Children are able to attend Breakfast Club but must book their place first as there will need to be a limit on places available. This should be done through the electronic booking form emailed to you in the past month. If you need this to be re-sent, please email the school office. At breakfast club, measures will be in place to try to ensure everyone’s safety. This will include a more ‘self-service’ approach than usual, with pupils being assigned to a table with other children in their year group ‘bubble,’ and all children facing the same way (As per government guidance).  Cutlery, tableware and condiments will be on the tables when pupils arrive and will be cleaned more regularly and thoroughly than usual.

What should children wear to school?

Government guidance encourages the wearing of full school uniform. It is also clear that clothing will not need to be washed any more frequently than usual or be cleaned using different methods than usual.  We will therefore expect all students to be in full school uniform from September.  We appreciate that financially these are difficult times, so if any family fears they will find the cost of uniform too high, they should contact the school office and we will help with second-hand uniform. All items will have, of course, been washed.

Does my child need personal protection equipment (PPE)?

No. The government guidance (implementing protective measures in an education and childcare setting) states:

“Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended. Face coverings may be beneficial for short periods indoors where there is a risk of close social contact with people you do not usually meet and where social distancing and other measures cannot be maintained, for example on public transport or in some shops. This does not apply to schools or other education settings. Schools and other education or childcare settings should therefore not require staff, children and learners to wear face coverings. Changing habits, cleaning and hygiene are effective measures in controlling the spread of the virus. Face coverings (or any form of medical mask where instructed to be used for specific clinical reasons) should not be worn in any circumstance by those who may not be able to handle them as directed (for example, young children, or those with special educational needs or disabilities) as it may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission.”

Most staff in education, childcare and children’s social care settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain a distance of 2 metres from others.

PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases if:

  • an individual child, young person or other learner becomes ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and only then if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained
  • a child, young person or learner already has routine intimate care needs that involve the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used

Despite staff not being required to wear PPE, please be aware that some may still choose to do so.

What routines are in place for increased hygiene and safety?

Temperature checking

There may be occasions when we take children’s temperatures on arrival to school as a precaution. This would be done with an infrared thermometer which requires no contact with the child. Any staff using a thermometer would have the appropriate training. Further information on what would happen if a child becomes unwell is given later in this letter.

Hand washing

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an easy virus to ‘kill’ when it is on skin. This can be done with soap and running water or hand sanitiser. All children (and adults) should wash their hands upon entry into school or their classroom. All handwashing should be in line with the current COVID-19 guidelines and for at least 20 seconds on each occasion. Handwashing routines will continue throughout the course of each day. For example, before and after break and lunch time, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into a tissue and after going to the toilet. Each classroom has a hand-washing sink either in it or just outside, with soap and paper towels available and a lidded bin for used tissues and paper towels. There will be plenty of handwashing facilities (including hand sanitiser) around school, so children do not need to bring their own bottle.

Respiratory hygiene – ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’

The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach continues to be very important when pupils sneeze or have a runny nose. We have ensured we have plenty of tissues and lidded bins are available all around the school to support pupils and staff to follow this routine. We will spend time reinforcing hygiene processes in the first few weeks of term to ensure pupils get this right.

Toilets

Toilets will be cleaned regularly in-line with government guidance. Children will be encouraged to clean their hands thoroughly after using the toilet. Each year group has access to its own toilet facilities near their classrooms.

How are school trying to minimise contact between children?

Minimising contacts using a ‘bubble’ approach

The main principles in minimising contacts between pupils are trying to keep groups of children separate (in ‘bubbles’) and maintaining distance between individuals. In primary schools, the emphasis will generally be placed on keeping groups of pupils apart more than individuals, since younger children find it difficult to maintain distance from any people they are with.

In-line with government guidance, we are seeking to maintain year group ‘bubbles’ as much as possible. This means we are trying to reduce the contact that each year group has with one another. At Orchard, we are fortunate to have external doors to every classroom, which means that for most of the day, individual classes will be kept separate from each other. However, logistically and practically it is very difficult for classes in the same year group to be kept apart for the whole school day, particularly for break and lunch times and during lessons such as physical education (P.E.).

Maintaining these year group ‘bubbles’ that do not mix makes it quicker and easier in the event of a positive case to identify those who may need to self-isolate and keep that number as small as possible. We have to accept that it is highly unlikely we will be able to keep these bubbles completely separate all of the time despite our best efforts. However, as the government guidance states:

“Both the approaches of separating groups and maintaining distance are not ‘all-or-nothing’ options, and will still bring benefits even if implemented partially. Some schools may keep children in their class groups for the majority of the classroom time, but also allow mixing into wider groups for specialist teaching, wraparound care and transport... Siblings may also be in different groups. Endeavouring to keep these groups at least partially separate and minimizing contacts between children will still offer public health benefits as it reduces the network of possible direct transmission.

All teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year groups in order to facilitate the delivery of the school timetable.”

In-line with government guidance, tape will be placed in the middle of the school corridors so that all children walk on the left-hand-side should they need to pass each other. Government guidance states:

“While in general groups should be kept apart, brief, transitory contact, such as passing in a corridor, is low risk.”

External classroom doors will be used for children to enter and leave their classroom on each occasion. The internal doors to the corridors will be propped open and should only be used when children need to go to the toilet or in an emergency.

Measures within the classroom

Government guidance suggests that keeping pupils in class or year group ‘bubbles’ is the best way to reduce risk of transmission in primary schools. In class, it is difficult for staff and children to maintain distance, but the children will be educated and encouraged not to touch staff and their friends wherever possible. Younger children and children with more complex needs are more likely to find this difficult, but trying to maintain distancing even some of the time will help.

As suggested in the guidance, pupils will be seated in class side-by-side and facing forwards where possible, rather than face to face or side-on.

What equipment might be used and how is the school reducing risk?

Equipment and resources are integral to education in schools. During the summer term, equipment use was minimised, a lot was moved out of classrooms and there was significant extra cleaning. According to government, that position has now changed for the autumn term, because prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased and because resources and equipment are so important for the delivery of education.

  • For individual and very frequently used equipment, such as pencils and pens, government guidance recommends that staff and pupils have their own items that are not shared. Pupils will have their own tray of equipment on their desk – parents do not need to send their children to school with a pencil case.
  • Classroom-based resources, such as books and games, can be used and shared within year group bubbles; these will be cleaned regularly, along with all frequently touched surfaces.
  • Resources that are shared between classes or bubbles, such as sports, art and science equipment will be cleaned frequently and meticulously and always between bubbles, or rotated to allow them to be left unused and out of reach for a period of 48 hours (72 hours for plastics) between use by different bubbles. This includes library books being returned to the library.
  • Children should bring their own water bottle to school with their name clearly written / stuck on it.

Government guidance states:

"It is still recommended that pupils limit the amount of equipment they bring into school each day, to essentials such as lunch boxes, hats, coats, books, stationery and mobile phones. Bags are allowed. Pupils and teachers can take books and other shared resources home, although unnecessary sharing should be avoided, especially where this does not contribute to pupil education and development. Similar rules on hand cleaning, cleaning of the resources and rotation should apply to these resources."

Planners for children in Years 5 and 6, reading books and homework can be taken to and from school. Parents of children in Year 5 and 6 are asked to look at their child’s planner at least once per week and sign them. This is to ensure good communication between home and school whilst preparing the children from similar practices at secondary school.

What happens at break and lunch times?

Break times and lunch times will be staggered for year groups in a similar way to the start/ finish times of the school day. This means that Years 3 and 4 will have slightly different break / lunch times to Years 5 and 6. At break times, the playground and multi-use games area (MUGA) will be used (weather permitting), and ‘sectioned’ so that year group ‘bubbles’ do not interact with each other.

At lunch time each class has a large, marked section of the field to play in should the weather be nice: