Oh my goodness, having just watched the Prime Minister’s address my head is spinning.
We have just been told if the government’s 5 criteria are met the government are expecting schools to open for our youngest children, those in EYFS and Y1 and our oldest children, those in Y6 from the start of T6, 1st June. We have no further details at this point than those just shared. We have been anticipating a phased return and as such have embryonic plans underway to work towards a phased return. The announcement does raise as many questions as it answers:
· are schools implementing 2m social distancing (note the guidance now says where possible)
· are children and staff to use masks or PPE
· how can play and lunchtimes be offered safely
The average classroom measures 7m by 8m: with social distancing each classroom can accommodate 8 pupils as a maximum. This means each class of approximately 30 children will require 4 classrooms.
At Minster and Halfway Houses Primary schools with year groups of 90, we do not have enough teaching spaces to safely observe this rule: each school has 21 teaching spaces. Sunny Bank will need 12 spaces, again, there are not that many available.
With the number of small groups we will need to offer, not all children will be taught by a known adult: there will not enough to go around. We know this will increase anxiety for pupils, parents and teachers alike. Despite our very best endeavours, we are not going to be able to offer the known and safe environment your child left, nor ensure in class contact with a known adult, although we will try.
We will also need to continue to offer childcare for key worker families and remote learning for the other 4 year groups.
The overriding concern of the government is for schools to open to support the economy, nothing to do with supporting our children or indeed to do with providing a return to education. I am sure you, like us, are all struggling to understand how a safe return can be facilitated. I anticipate there will be more details released over the next few days. The situation outlined above is however not able to be easily mitigated.
Bearing in mind the above situation we remain committed to supporting our children and families to feel safe and secure as we move forwards: if as parents you decide that the situation in school is too concerning we would absolutely support you in the decision to keep your child/ren out of school. We will not fine for non-attendance and will understand your position entirely.
We know that this time is extremely worrying and as such, I will aim to write again as soon as we have more details.
We are missing your children, take care of them and yourselves. We hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.
CEO The Island Learning Trust