Letter to Parents/Carers 1.6.2020
Welcome back to term 3B at Shotton Hall Primary School. I hope you enjoyed half term and didn’t do any school work!
As you are aware the school remains closed to all pupils apart from essential key workers and vulnerable pupils. Last week Durham County Council released a press statement recommending that our schools do not consider opening until 15th June 2020. As a DCC school we are heeding this advice. I am also aware of some greater concerns about opening from scientific advisors to the government. The safety of our whole school community continues to be our top priority.
We are watching events closely at the same time preparing the school for reopening when we believe it is safe to do so.
Classrooms are being prepared for return of pupils in years R,1 and 6. There have been many changes in response to the government guidelines. The greatest change your child will see is in the classrooms and the school grounds. We currently have 12 tables in each class with one chair at each table and very little other furniture. All soft furnishings have been removed as have books. Displays remain in place but are not interactive. The entry and exit to the class is via outdoors. The heart space is closed off to pupils apart from upper school who need to access toilets.
The large hall is out of use as it is now a store for all the furniture and resources removed from classes.
The thermal imaging cameras are now fitted to enable us to identify those with a temperature.
The lining of the grounds is completed giving one way direction around the building and indicating 2m distancing. The play frames have been removed or cordoned off.
We have an intercom and a contactless doorbell being fitted this week.
We continue to plan our curriculum as we have been allowing all pupils access from home or school.
We are reviewing the key worker provision to ensure it runs effectively with more pupils.
We have a staggered timetable for entry and exit, lunch times and break times.
We have marking around the school for the future.
We are very fortunate to have extensive grounds and expect a lot of learning to take place outdoors in the fine weather. Teachers will bring out equipment for use and then set it aside for cleaning after use.
For parents and carers the school will also feel very different as they will not be coming onto the school yard but will hand pupils to their teachers at their designated gates. Once all pupils are in school the gates will be locked to enable us to have full and safe use of the whole school grounds for outdoor learning. If you wish to collect a child for an appointment you must phone first and you will be given a time to collect from a gate.
Strictly only one parent allowed on site to deliver and collect pupils and we ask that you leave quickly to allow others to gain access. Parental concerns will be communicated by phone as there will be no visitors in school for the protection of the whole school community. Any essential visitor will be passed by the headtacher.
Sadly, we will not be holding any group events this term. This includes sports events, Shotton Hall LIVE!, Assemblies, Year 6 leavers.
The Lockerbie visit is now cancelled by them and we will be working over the next few weeks to refund all costs once we receive them back from the centre. Please be patient with this- we are doing our best to repay you quickly.
All of these changes make us realise what a wonderful school community we had established with parental involvement high on our list of priorities and throughout this lockdown we have been able to maintain a very strong relationship with you all. We are keen to maintain this very good relationship with parents and carers now and hope you stay in contact with us – even though it will be at a distance!
Remember the ‘school’ is not necessarily the building but the people in it ( though we are so lucky to work in such amazing grounds and a state of the art building). We are in this together and united we can protect our community. The environment will be different but the learning experiences your child will receive will be just as good as they always were- we will make sure of that.
DCC PRESS RELEASE 27.5.2020
Council provides further information to schools on reopening
A North East council has provided further information to schools on plans for phased reopening.
Durham County Council has provided the information after new scientific advice was published on Friday 22 May and due to concerns that key issues outside of its control have not yet been resolved.
The advice from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), states there is ‘a consensus that evidence on the role of children in transmission of COVID-19 is unclear with a number of gaps in understanding’. It also says there is some evidence to suggest that children are as susceptible to COVID-19 as adults but advised that is not conclusive. Scientists have also advised government that the messaging to parents and teachers had to be ‘robust’ in order to ‘enhance confidence and willingness to return.’
The council has also acted in response to data which shows the North East having the highest coronavirus infection rate in the country.
Its action is also in response to delays implementing the national Test and Trace system – seen as vital in managing children returning to school. The system will not be fully operational by 1 June, the date previously announced by ministers as when the phased reopening should begin.
The information the council has provided to schools advises that 15 June, the date the government has put forward for secondary pupils to return, is a more realistic date for the phased reopening to begin.
Cllr Olwyn Gunn, the council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “Our priority has always been the safety of staff, children and communities and we have issued extensive advice and guidance to headteachers and governing bodies with the emphasis on reopening only when risk assessments have been carried out and found to be of a high enough standard.
“We have at no point stated schools should return on 1 June. And in the light of the new scientific advice, high infection rates and the unacceptable delays in implementing Contact Tracing, we believe 15 June is a more realistic timeline for all schools to work towards, subject to government scientific advice and individual school risk assessments.
“Ultimately it remains a decision for schools to open when they feel it is safe to do so and I would like to place on record our sincere thanks to all headteachers and staff for the tremendous work they are doing to this end.”