UPDATE ON SCHOOL RE-OPENING FOR FAMILIES AND CHILDREN AT HOME
Dear Parents and Carers,
I am writing with an update for you all on our wider school re-opening.
From Monday 22nd June we will have around 60 children in school each day. This will involve 5 “bubble groups”, made up of the children of critical workers, children who are in need of additional support, and children in Year 6. All of our staff are now committed to working in school for most or all of the week while we also work as a team to oversee the online learning for our 150+ pupils who continue to work from home.
We know that this is a hugely challenging and difficult time for many families and we are encouraged by your support and by the children’s engagement with their home learning. We understand that there are many different views about returning to school and we continue to respect each family’s own wishes for the safety of their children.
Since the start of the pandemic, the local authority and the government has required us to prioritise the children of Critical Workers, and vulnerable children, including those with social workers and those with EHCPs. Many of these children were provided with childcare through the Easter holidays and into the summer term.
The government issued guidance that Y6 (and Reception/Y1 in infant schools) should return from 1st June. We have worked to address this safely within our own circumstances. The guidance is not manageable for many schools because there are either not enough staff, or not enough separate spaces, to meet the requirements of social distancing and the numbers of all groups of pupils suggested. As a result, Cumbria LA has said:
“We will adopt a tailored approach so schools can respond to their specific circumstances. As such, individual schools, and school clusters, will make their own decisions about how and when they can safely open, and to which groups of pupils from those specified by the Prime Minister.”
At North Lakes, we have tried our best to meet the steadily growing demand in terms of numbers. We have fixed resources in terms of staffing, and some limited space, for example in terms of toilets. Alongside this, staff have also worked hard to maintain the online learning for those children who cannot, or prefer not, to return.
Many parents do wish their children to return as soon as possible, and we understand that this will be a frustrating time for you. With regard to re-opening, we are following both national and local guidance. In Cumbria, schools have been tasked to re-open individually according to their own risk assessments. The local authority has said:
“It is important to understand that this means there will be different arrangements in different schools, even in the same area.”
Our own risk assessments are now available to view on the Frog Parent Portal, under the COVID-19 section on the left hand side of the home page. They are entitled “NLS COVID-19 Risk Assessment” – one each for Operations and for Premises. They have been based on guidance from the local authority and our health and safety consultants. Alongside these assessments, we have closely monitored local data on infection rates, which over the last two weeks are now thankfully much improved.
We remain open to applications for the children of Critical Workers and we continue to risk assess the needs of children and families who need additional support. We are open for Year 6 in two more part-time bubbles from Monday, but our remaining spaces are now very few.
I understand the frustration and the challenges for many parents and families, and we are disappointed for all of the children who have missed out on so much time in school as a result of this pandemic, especially for the children in Year 6 for whom this would have been their final term.
We are now approaching full capacity and while we will continue to review our groups, and to do what we can safely. Unless national and local guidance changes, we only have very limited space for any further children to return before the end of term.
We will continue to do our best to provide for the children at home as well as in school, and I would like to thank all of the staff who have worked so hard over recent weeks to meet the demands of this extraordinary time.
Thank you all for your support,