Two Thanet schools outline initial proposals for June partial reopening and keeping pupils and staff safe

The logistics of a return to school

Thanet schools have started to outline measures they will be taking for the expected return of some pupils from June 1.

On Sunday Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the phased return of primary school pupils in Reception and Years One and Six from June 1 as part of a covid recovery roadmap.

It has also been suggested that secondary school years 10 and 12  could return before the end of the summer.

But, for pupils to return there are many logistical problems that need to be solved – including how to keep youngsters social distancing.

This week Newington Primary head teacher Cliff Stokes told parents: “Rest assured, your child’s safety, as well as the safety of the staff, will be paramount in our minds whilst we are planning for June 1. We will do our utmost to allay any anxieties that you may have.”

And St George’s head teacher Adam Mirams warned the youngsters time in school would be very different from their pre-covid experiences.

He said: “In reality it is unlikely that the school will look anything like normal for the rest of the academic year while we try and implement what we can.

“In essence everyone needs to realise that social distancing in school is I believe a very difficult ask of staff and children, alongside the importance of protecting all from the continued threat of the infection. These will be things that we will do our best to achieve but in all honesty will find hard to facilitate.”

Today both head teachers have outlined some plans for the proposed return to school.

Mr Mirams has already said there will be no sanctions for pupils who do not return in the run up to Summer, a message reiterated by Government.

Plans for Newington:

  • Children will be taught in classes of no more than 15, with a teacher and teaching assistant. Who staff members are will depend on availability
  • Children in class will be taught in isolation throughout the day and will not meet adults or children from other classes
  • Children will be taught about social distancing, although the younger the child the less likely they are to adhere to it
  • All children and adults will be temperature checked at the start of each day. Any child showing symptoms will be sent home and cannot return until they have been tested for the virus.
  • No visitors to the school unless invited by the leadership team
  • Lunch provided for every child to be eaten in class, or the dining hall or outside
  • Clear routines and guidelines for entering and leaving school
  • No out of hours clubs
  • Key worker children will continue to be accommodated

Plans for St George’s CofE, Broadstairs

Mr Mirams says in a letter to parents/carers: “The Government message at present is changing daily and I have decided that as Headteacher of the school I will be making decisions in regard to any changes to the current arrangements.

“There will be absolutely no change until June 1 or later and even then we will only be taking in children in Reception classes in the first instance across the school. It is an almost impossible task to initiate whole scale returns and most of what we could offer will be limited due to staffing, safety and logistics.”

• There will be no rapid move to meet all the Government targets for return over the coming weeks and decisions will be based on the school’s individual situation.
• St George’s will only be starting with Year R at a time when Mr Mirams feels it is right to do so.
• It will be impossible to social distance Year R and the day will be clearly staggered and shorter.
• Arrival and departure from the site will be staggered with a shorter school day.
• There will be no more than 10 per class and there will only be two Year R classrooms.
• Children will be expected to wear school uniform and bring a packed lunch.
• All break times will be staggered but social distancing will not be possible with 4-5 year olds.
• The school will have to review Key Worker and vulnerable children provision once capacity increases as it is unlikely that they can accommodate large numbers.
• The school will wait to see if they can safely provide provision for Year R before increasing to other years.
• One to one support will not be possible and specialist staff will be limited.
• In regard to Secondary, the school will be looking at Year 10 plans for the coming term but it is unlikely that they will have them in at present.

Parents of a Year R child that feel they want them to return to school by the end of Term 6 are asked to email the following address by Tuesday, May 19 so the school can start planning for numbers. Email safeguardingenquiries@st-georgescofe-thanet.kent.sch.uk

Mr Miram added: “The current situation is causing all of us much anxiety and I can assure you that the school staff are working extremely hard to ensure that we are providing the support we can in all areas. All of us are working to ensure that we can get as many children back to school at the moment but there are many pressures from all angles and I will continue to try to steer the school towards a place that ensures a safe and healthy environment for all. As you can imagine this is proving to be a difficult task.

“I would also like to reiterate that the decision over your child returning at any time is yours and all we can do is to try and facilitate a measured and timely return. I am very passionate about all in our school and the decisions that I make are not done lightly.”

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