COVID-19 – UPDATE 9th July 2020
A Message from the Copthill Heads
Happy Holidays Everyone!
We have been cautiously pleased with how smoothly the return to school of all our yeargroups has been and are carefully planning Copthill’s return to the new term in September.
Following our communication at the end of last week, the DfE have now updated their guidance which states that:
Primary schools should only welcome back additional children where:
they can accommodate more children while still following the approaches set out in the protective measures guidance and their own risk assessment
We have also received positive assurances from our insurers regarding our risk assessment and plans for a return to school for all of our children.
In anticipation of the DfE’s updated guidance , we have been busy organising essentially 8 ‘mini’ schools within our extensive buildings and grounds which provides every group with their own classroom and own toilet and play area. Staff are allocated exclusively to one group, unless working or supervising outdoors.
We are currently training staff and setting up facilities for an anticipated return 4 days per week for Years 2,3 and 4 from Monday 22nd June until the end of term on Thursday 9th July (inclusive). Whilst this is fully our intention, please understand that these dates may need to be changed if unforeseen circumstances dictate.
We are confident that using already published DfE guidance, and utilising all our indoor and outdoor space, we can continue to operate safely and effectively. However, it is important to point out that there still remains a risk in returning which parents must assess in light of your own family’s particular circumstances. Should it become necessary, specific groups may be required to return home and self isolate. Specific guidance on this would be sent out prior to starting.
We are confident that our complex plan and risk assessments will keep all our children and staff within independent groups of less than 15 with minimal risk of contact with other groups or staff. We would effectively make 8 independent ‘mini’ schools within our school.
- The model we have planned to implement would provide all the children with 4 days a week in school ( 3 classroom based and 1 outdoors). These days will differ for each small group of children. Before and after-school care would not be available.
- The absolute minimum aim would be one 4-day week for each year group although, depending on a confirmed start date, our present intention would be for all to attend for as many of the remaining weeks of term as possible (and we acknowledge there aren’t many which is why we are keen to get our insurers’ approval as soon as possible!).
- There may be different start and end dates for different year groups.
- Each year group would be split into 3 groups, with the exception of our Year 2 cohort whose class sizes are under 15. Each group would work and play exclusively within that group with the same staff when indoors. Each group will be allocated staff, although this may not be their current class teacher.
- Staff will enforce social distancing where practical; this cannot be guaranteed within each small group.
- Each year group would have exclusive zones, both inside and out, including toilets, to ensure minimum contact with other groups.
We have been offered the goodwill and flexibility of every available member of our teaching, support and administrative staff, which has been essential to make this plan work safely in the interests of all . We would also be grateful for that same understanding and support from all parents too. From the children’s perspective, we will try to ensure that their small group takes account of factors such as friendships, mental wellbeing and academic development. Depending on the group to which your child is assigned, it is likely that siblings may unfortunately not be attending on all the same days. We apologise for this; however, please understand that our priority is the appropriate grouping of the children and it would be impossible to coordinate this for every family.
Children of Critical Workers
Children of critical workers in main school will be asked to join their year group cohort and attend school on the days allocated to their group. We strongly believe that this is the best cause of action for their wellbeing rather than asking them to remain in a separate group of mixed ages.
Regrettably, there will be limited online learning for those who cannot / do not wish to return as our teachers cannot do what, in effect, would be two separate jobs. Across our whole community, children, staff and parents have adapted brilliantly to teaching and learning in a virtual school but we know that this has limitations that only a return to school can overcome.
Risk control measures
Guidance from the Department for Education sets out a hierarchy of measures for us to work through with regards to keeping pupils and staff safe. These measures are:
avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms
frequent hand cleaning and good hygiene practices
regular cleaning of settings
And minimising contact and mixing.
We will be putting in place all reasonable practical measures to ensure we follow these four measures and are making comprehensive plans and risk assessments. We are confident we have adequately put in place contingencies to cover measures 1-3 and, with regard to minimising mixing, we intend to allocate children to small groups of no more than 15 as per current advice, with minimal opportunity for contact with other groups.
Whilst every effort is made by staff in controllable situations, we cannot guarantee that we can adhere to stringent social distancing within these at all times groups. The very nature of children, their teachers and the activities they may undertake together, means that this is impossible and we would be wrong to suggest or even hint otherwise. We firmly believe this would, in fact, be detrimental to the wellbeing and progress of the children and would negate any positive steps that might be made through a return to school.
Thank you, as always, for your incredible, ongoing support and patience. Your encouragement is so much appreciated.
Jonathan Teesdale and Helen Schofield
Principal and Head of School