As our schools return for the autumn term and we welcome back children and staff, we understand that this may raise some concern about the risks of transmission of coronavirus. Along with all schools and colleges across the country, we are putting in every effort to follow the guidance and ensure that children and staff can return safely as the new term starts.
The Department for Education has worked closely with Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Test and Trace to ensure that they are doing all they can to minimise the potential risks of spread. A key part of this is the appropriate use of testing to help identify people who are positive and subsequently their contacts. Testing has been made available throughout the country and anyone with symptoms can book a test online or over the telephone through 119 to get the certainty they need to protect themselves and those around them.
Crucial to the overall support for schools and colleges is ensuring that everyone with coronavirus symptoms has access to a test as soon as they develop symptoms.
To ensure those with coronavirus are identified while avoiding a huge increase in demand for tests from people without coronavirus symptoms, it is recommended children and staff who feel unwell, get tested if:
- they develop one or more of the main coronavirus symptoms:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- the loss or change of their sense of taste or smell, or
- they are recommended to get tested by a healthcare provider (e.g. GP or nurse)
If a child or staff member develops one or more of the main coronavirus symptoms described above, only they should be tested. There is no need for their households to have a test, unless they are also symptomatic. Unless a child or staff member has one of the three main coronavirus symptoms, they should only be tested if instructed otherwise by the local authority, health protection team or their GP.
Further information can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-from-phe-and-nhs-test-and-trace-to-school-and-college-leaders/letter-from-phe-and-nhs-test-and-trace-to-school-and-college-leaders?utm_source=3%20September%202020%20C19&utm_medium=Daily%20Email%20C19&utm_campaign=DfE%20C19
Dear Parents and Carers
Following the Prime Ministers announcement that all pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full time from the beginning of the Autumn Term, I wanted to take this opportunity to reassure you that the safety of children, staff and families continues to be the key priority for Empower Trust and all of our schools.
Prior to breaking up for the summer holidays, all schools carried out a rigorous risk assessment to ensure schools could open safely based on the guidance and advice provided by the government and Public Health England. These risk assessments will be kept under review based on any changes to health and safety or COVID-19 requirements. Parents and staff will be kept informed of any changes to the arrangements announced by schools in July.
Risk assessments for all Empower Trust schools can be found below.
Chief Executive Officer
Risk Assessments for full re-opening September 2020 (All Trust Schools)
Risk Assessments for re-opening June 2020 (All Trust Schools)
FAQ's for Parents May 2020
Why has my school not opened for all of the children in reception, year 1 and year 6?
Any ‘re-opening’ should be incremental and driven by a risk assessment undertaken by the school. There are a number of reasons why some schools might be unable to provide a place for all of the children including:
- not having enough staff available (e.g. unable to be in school due to ‘shielding’)
- limited space in school to ensure social distancing, even in groups
The government advice is up to 15 children in a classroom, why is my school taking less?
School building and designs vary across the country. Where a Headteacher has completed a risk assessment and concluded that social distancing is not possible with 15 children in a room the Trust supports their decision to have fewer children.
Why has my school introduced rotas of classes/year groups, which is against government advice?
The government advice is to try and avoid rotas of classes and year groups. However, for example, in many small schools limited classroom space can make this difficult to manage. Additionally, many children travel to school by bus and maintaining social distancing for whole classes/year groups of children may not be possible as they travel to school. The Trust will support schools with implementing a phased integration if this is required, as we strive to get children back into school.
How will transport be provided for my child?
Your child’s school will liaise with the transport provider in relation to children who use school transport. There may be changes to timetables and these will be shared with you by the school.
At what time will my child be expected to arrive at school and at what time will they need to be collected?
Schools may organise a staggered drop off and collection time for pupils. This will be based on the assessment of risk. Parents should adhere to guidelines that have been set out by schools. Only one parent or carer should accompany the child to school to minimise risk.
I’m a keyworker and my child has been in the childcare provision throughout. My child isn’t in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 or 6 what will happen to them?
Schools will still prioritise vulnerable and key worker children for school places, regardless of their year group.
My nursery/reception child won’t understand about keeping 2 metres away from their friends, how will the school manage this risk?
It is understood by the government and schools that it would be impossible to keep young children apart, so the idea is to keep small groups of children together with the same adult/s, using the same equipment and resources in a so called “bubble”. This attempts to limit as much as possible contact between groups of children.
Why is my child’s school shut over half term?
Although schools have been shut for the majority of children throughout ‘lockdown’ they have been open for vulnerable and key worker’s children. Where a number of staff are unable to be in school other staff have had to cover, often daily, including over Easter and bank holidays. Additionally, staff have been providing home learning materials and monitoring children’s work throughout ‘lockdown’. We do not expect schools to open over half term. Some schools have decided to remain open for the vulnerable & key worker children, but this is at the discretion of the Headteacher and Governors.
What is the latest position on free school meals?
The current arrangements will continue for children entitled to benefits related free school meals but not attending school. This will mean that your child’s school will continue to provide vouchers, hampers or lunches.
If your child is attending school then they will receive a free school meal if they are entitled to a benefits related free school meal or a universal free school meal.
Will my child’s school continue to set home learning if my child is not in school?
We are waiting for the DfE to clarify the expectations about home learning but it is highly likely that parents might see some changes to home learning especially in primary schools. This will be because more staff will be involved in teaching and therefore the setting of work might have to be done in a different way and by different staff.
Does my child’s school have to provide wrap-around care during the summer term?
We will be in a period of change and transition. Schools are not required to provide wrap around care during the remainder of the summer term.
Update 11th May 2020
Dear Parents and Carers
Following the Prime Ministers announcement on Sunday 10th May, please find below a link to parent information from the government regarding the re-opening of schools from the 1st June.
Until the 1st June there is no change in the current arrangements for children.
Further information from Trust schools will follow when available.
Chief Executive Officer
Dear Parents and Carers
All Empower Trust schools are adopting a positive, pro-active approach to managing the current national coronavirus outbreak. As you are aware, the situation is fluid and may change rapidly. Headteachers are closely following the advice provided in daily government updates.
The latest government guidance can be accessed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance and https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england.
Following current government guidance, all schools are closed until further notice. However, all Empower Trust schools are providing child care for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, and also providing a Free School Meals service to children not currently attending schools.
Please be assured that the welfare of the children, staff and school community remain the priority of every member of staff at Empower Trust schools. We all want to do everything possible to support families as much as possible to manage during this challenging situation. Please keep up to date with the latest government advice and with school updates through email, text, letters and the school website.
Chief Executive Officer