Back to school update
This week we welcomed back all year groups to our five CPET schools. It has been a long road, and we have desperately missed the ‘buzz’ of day-to-day school life, but on that first day back – Monday 7th September – it was heart-warming and very emotional to hear the joy of children playing in the playground and the chatter within our classrooms again. We now look forward with huge positivity and optimism.
In preparing for the return of all pupils, we have built on the core approach we had taken for the successful phased return of Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils from early June but revisited everything within government guidance. Over the summer holidays we updated our Trust-wide risk assessment that is personalised for each school covering issues such as staffing, class sizes, social distancing, PPE, cleaning, catering, first aid, fire safety, dealing with waste, reporting incidents and behaviour.
Having agreed our Trust approach we updated parents and carers across our five schools on our plans for September. From the logistical challenges of staggered start and finish times, different breaks, lunchtime and toilet use arrangements and managing social bubbles, to quarantining, use of bikes and scooters and parental social distancing there has been lots of information to try to get across via newsletters and explanatory videos. So what are the key safety measures that parents need to know?
Since the wider reopening of schools in June we have developed a number of systems and routines to ensure the health and safety of children and adults. On arrival at school, and frequently throughout the day, children are directed to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water. At other points in the day, they are provided with sanitiser. The school environment will continue to be ‘spot cleaned’ throughout the day. Staff have responsibility for ensuring frequent touch points, such as taps, door handles and tables, are cleaned at regular intervals.
Classrooms are laid out in a format so that children do not sit facing each other. Children have their own stationery packs and other resources which are personal to them to avoid sharing. Shared resources, such as laptops and books, are being used but cleaned after use. Reading books can be taken home as normal but are then put aside for 48 hours before re-issuing. Parents, carers and visitors are not permitted entry into school without prior appointment.
There are things we will all miss which are just not possible at the current time – large gatherings, such as assemblies, in particular. From the children’s perspective, yes, it is a different environment to one they are used to (and there is lots for us adults to continue thinking about), but the main thing is that the children are back within our school communities.
We are confident that the measures we have in place will make the return to school for children, staff and families as safe as possible. As with any new system, there may be changes and amendments we need to make once children, parents and carers return fully to the school site. We are evaluating the success of the systems from day one and each school will communicate any changes they need to make.
Clearly procedures for children or adults who show Covid-19 symptoms will continue to be strict, as are quarantine guidelines. As is the case during ‘normal’ times, the protection of pupils, colleagues and their families is the single most important priority for the Trust. Whilst we will react to whatever comes next, and provide whatever support is needed for our children now they are back as well as continuity of education in the case of a local outbreak, we continue to set high expectations in terms of school operations, curriculum, behaviour and pastoral support, and assessment and accountability. We are determined to make 2020-21 a year to remember for entirely good reasons.
Lesley Birch John Frost
CEO/Executive Principal Chair of Trustees
Cambridge Primary Education Trust