I hope you’ve had a good and relaxing summer break.  We’re almost there… but we’re all looking forward to having the children back and seeing their smiling faces!

As I said when we finished in the summer, I am writing this to confirm arrangements for the start of the new term on Tuesday the 7th.

I’m sure many of you will be aware that in line with the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, many control measures have ceased to be legal requirements.  All pupils in Y1-6 will return full time on Tuesday and EYFS pupils will have a phased start to school as communicated by the EYFS team in July.

Our latest risk assessment and COVID-19 outbreak management plan can be found on the school website.

Attendance

We have a duty to ensure good attendance and we regularly monitor this.  Where attendance becomes a cause for concern, the school policy will be followed.

Requests for leave can only be approved in exceptional circumstances and should be asked for in advance.  Holiday requests cannot be routinely authorised and unauthorised holidays could result in a fixed penalty notice being issued by the Local Authority if attendance is already low.

Please do not send your child into school if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • new continuous cough
  • fever
  • loss of smell or taste

Testing, Tracing and Self-Isolation

There are significant changes to the rules around self-isolation.  Starting this term, pupils will only need to self-isolate if they have tested positive for coronavirus.  Pupils do not need to self-isolate if they are identified as being a close contact of a positive coronavirus case.  Similarly, staff will not need to self-isolate if they are identified as having close contact with a positive case as long as they are fully vaccinated.

School is no longer responsible for close contact tracing.  This has been taken over by the NHS Test and Trace service, who will inform staff and pupils if they have been in close contact with a positive case and advise them to take a confirmatory PCR test.  School will continue to have a role in working with local health protection teams (HPTs) if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the school or wider community.

Children who are unwell should not come to school and should remain at home until their acute symptoms resolve… +24 hours for a fever and +48 hours for any D/V.  We should also try not to ‘second guess’ a diagnosis – if they have any of the symptoms above, they should isolate and book a PCR test.

If the test is negative, they should remain at home until the acute symptoms are resolved.

Passing on some recent advice, LFD tests are only to be used for asymptomatic people.  If there are any symptoms, then they should isolate and book a PCR test.

Start and end of the school day  

We will return to our ‘normal’ start and finish times.  Your child can arrive anytime between 8.45am and 8:55am but all children must be in their classroom by 9.00am and ready to learn.  The end of the school day will be at 3:15pm and all children will be brought to the front playground.   We’ve allowed the painted arrows to fade and don’t expect to operate the one-way system on the playground.

For the first few weeks of this term, we ask that all of our EYFS and Class 1 children use the side gate in the School House garden and walk around to the classroom.  This will ease congestion at the front door and reduce the number of people in the main corridor in the school building (see the next section).  We will review this in the first half term.

Please remember to be respectful to our neighbours and ensure the safety of our children by parking responsibly – this includes not parking opposite the yellow zig-zags.

In order to minimise risk, we kindly ask that parents continue to either telephone or email the office if they need to pass messages on, rather than cause congestion at the front window.

Face Coverings

The Government has removed the requirement to wear face coverings in law but still recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don’t normally meet.

Given that Devon is temporarily in an Enhanced Response Area, it is strongly recommended that face coverings are used in the communal areas of school.

Year Group Bubbles

It is no longer recommended that pupils remain solely in consistent bubbles.  Pupils will have playtimes together with no timetables for our different areas and also have lunchtimes together where they will be able to sit in groups rather than only facing forwards.  In the classrooms, teachers will also have greater flexibility when organising seating plans.

To prepare for the possibility that cases rise, the Risk Assessment states that it may become necessary to reintroduce bubbles for a temporary period in order to reduce the mixing between children.

School Uniform

Please continue to follow our usual uniform policy as detailed on our website

Children can continue to wear their PE kits on their PE day, and your child’s teacher will let you know when these are as soon as we’re back.

May I also remind you that jewellery should be removed, hair tied back and everything should be named please.

School dinners

We will again be serving lunch in the school hall for all pupils with the youngest children eating first and the older classes coming in to the hall when there’s sufficient space.  Keri and Martina plan to provide their usual full, and delicious, menu and children will choose their option at registration in the morning.  The menu will be made available to you by Monday, but please talk to your child about their lunch choice every morning as this helps in many ways!

Resources

Pupils should only bring essential items to school each day, e.g. lunch box, coat, school bag and reading book.  No toys or additional equipment should be brought in.

Before and After School

Before and After School Club will be held in the school hall from 8am and to 5pm, daily.  Please talk to Jo about your requirements.

Cleaning, hand hygiene and ventilation

The school is cleaned daily and we will continue to clean frequently touched areas during the day.  As part of our control measures, we will also continue to encourage regular hand washing.

We have managed to source individual bottle of Dettol hand sanitiser and these will be given to your child in the first week to be brought home.  These are for you to do use as you see fit.

Rooms will continue to be well ventilated and we will receive co2 monitors this term to help monitor ventilation.

Online remote learning

Remote learning will be provided for pupils who are following clinical or government guidance to stay at home e.g. where they are self-isolating.

Collective Worship and Assemblies

We will be reintroducing collective worship gradually to the whole school.  This will be delivered in key stages to begin with as we are keenly aware that many of the children have never experienced a whole school collective worship in the hall.  We will hopefully be able to resume ‘properly’ as we once were, as the term progresses.

School Events

It would be lovely to hold a breakfast morning, or Parents’ Day where you come in and look at your child’s classroom, but we are putting these on hold temporarily.  Alongside Devon County Council, we will continue to monitor through the term and update you on when we think these would be able to take place.

And finally…

I am extremely proud of how resilient our children have been over the past year and a half particularly with all the changes and continued uncertainty.  Thank you once again for your continued support and cooperation.

As we look forward to the start of the new school year, our priority remains to deliver face-to-face, high quality education to all pupils and minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Although we may feel excitement at the prospect of returning to normal pre-covid, we do need to continue to proceed with caution.  I will continue to keep you updated if guidance changes or arrangements need to be amended in response to government advice or Devon County Council guidance.

We look forward to seeing our families on Tuesday and I hope you enjoy the long weekend.

Julian Thomas