Please find below answers to a range Frequently Asked Questions regarding the protective measures against COVID-19 for the re-opening of Pennthorpe in September 2020.
Children will work within bubbles but these are defined by year groups, rather than the previously defined maximum numbers. Bubbles will be as follows:
Will the children be grouped into bubbles?
The purpose of bubbles is to minimise contacts and mixing between people, reducing the potential transmission of coronavirus. There has been recognition from the DfE that children find it challenging to distance themselves from staff or from each other and therefore the bubbles provide an additional protective measure (in conjunction with social distancing within the bubbles where possible).
What is the purpose of bubbles?
No. All teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year groups in order to facilitate the delivery of the curriculum. This means lesson can be delivered by our subject specialist teachers, and the children within a year group can be grouped in ways that benefit their teaching e.g. gender based groups for Games and ability based groups for certain subjects. All teachers and staff will endeavour to maintain a safe distance from the children and will implement the appropriate protective measures.
Will the bubbles compromise the quality of teaching my child receives?
Teaching and Learning
Children will return to their usual curriculum and timetable. Subject specialist teaching will be enjoyed by all age groups and children will be able to move between locations in order to make full use of Pennthorpe specialist teaching facilities.
Will my child follow the usual Pennthorpe curriculum?
The Government regulations have suggested that there could be an additional risk of infection in environments where children and adults are singing, chanting, playing wind and brass instruments or shouting. As such, singing will not happen in groups of more than fifteen and when it does take place, children will need to be side-by-side and not facing one another. This has implications for our music curriculum and Mr Yarrow has been working on adjustments to ensure we do not lose the joy of music during this period.
How will Music lessons be impacted by the measures?
PE and Games lessons will continue as normal. Children will be kept in consistent groups and sports equipment will be cleaned thoroughly between each use by different groups, with hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene kept paramount due to the nature of exercising.
Unfortunately, we will be unable to play competitive fixtures against other schools due to the risk of infection, for at least the first half of the Autumn term. This will be reviewed regularly. Mr Barnett, as Director of Sport, has set up an internal league whereby bubbles will play one another so the children continue to enjoy a vital element of competitive sport.
We expect that Pennthorpe pupils will be able to continue with swimming lessons as usual.
How will Sports lessons and Matches be impacted by the measures?
Children will be provided with their own set of stationery in the Pre-Prep and Years 3 and 4. Reading and Library books can be taken home and returned, but will then be quarantined for 72 hours before being re-circulated. Other equipment, such as art tools, sports equipment and science apparatus, will be thoroughly cleaned between classes. In the short term, children will not be permitted to bring in toys or other items from home, for example, for ‘Show and Tell’, however parents could help their child continue to enjoy this popular activity, by enabling children to show items to the teacher before being taken home again by the parent.
How will shared equipment that my child uses for learning be managed?
Classrooms may look a little different as desks are required to be forward facing with children sitting next to each other for our older children rather than in groups around tables; this does not mean however, that there will be any compromise to the children’s collaborative learning as the teachers will employ many creative ways of engaging children. We will continue to remove some of the soft furnishings from classrooms, such as role play clothes or cushions, to reduce the risk of infection but we will endeavour to ensure this does not impact negatively on either the curriculum or the children’s anxiety levels.
Will the classrooms look the same as usual?
Trips will go ahead following a thorough risk assessment and consideration of the risk of contamination to both children and staff. We will, where possible, make use of our own school buses and we have already secured a coach company who has evidenced full compliance with the COVID regulations.
Unfortunately, we are not permitted to run any residential trips and we have already moved the annual Year 5 residential to High Ashurst to the Summer term. I am now investigating the likelihood of the annual ski trip during the Christmas break and we will communicate with the relevant parents on this matter.
Will trips and residentials take place?
Break and lunch times will be staggered with each bubble allocated a particular play space.
How will break times work?
Our catering will return to normal service but with appropriate protective measures in place. Snacks will be provided in the usual way, either in the Pre-Prep classrooms or via the tuck trolley.
Lunch will be served, either in the Pre-Prep Hall for the younger children or Dining Room for the Prep children, with some slight adjustments to timing (to enable each bubble sufficient time and a period of cleaning between each sitting), as well as the manner in which food is served (to eliminate the sharing of tongs on the salad bar for example).
Will snacks and lunch be provided?
The start and end times are slightly different to usual, to enable us to stagger the drop-off and collection of children, to help manage social distancing. The specific timings for each year group is explained in the Heads letter which has gone to parents.
Will the timings of the school day return to normal?
Breakfast Club will happen as normal with the children separated into two groups (Pre-Prep and Prep) at opposite ends of the Dining Room where possible.
After School Clubs and Extracurricular Activities will occur as normal with pupils moving to their required activity or room following the normal supervision guidelines. Where possible, children will be kept in age group bubbles for example, in the wraparound care rooms, eating Tea or when attending an extracurricular club. Some activities have been adapted to ensure they are non-contact for example Judo.
Prep will continue as normal and will be supervised by the academic staff in a socially distanced manner.
Will Flexiday be available?
Children will be expected to return to school in their usual school uniform, with the option of both summer and winter uniform in the first half of the Autumn term. Children will bring in their sports kit in the relevant kit bag and change at school, with the exception of the Early Years children who will come to school in sports kit on relevant days.
Will the children wear usual school uniform?
Pennthorpe school minibuses can continue to run and provide our before and after school service. Where possible, children will be required to be grouped as closely as possible to the school based bubbles, use hand sanitiser upon boarding and disembarking, socially distance when waiting to embark on the bus and socially distance when on the bus where possible.
Additional cleaning of the minibuses will be undertaken to ensure compliance with the Government guidelines.
Will school buses be operating?
The Government regulations do not currently permit schools to host whole-school events where children and adults are able to congregate. The school calendar has scheduled a multitude of exciting events, such as concerts and performances, and we will leave these as planned in the hope that the regulations may change and it may be safe to get together as larger groups.
As a backup, we have considered how we might still enable our children and parents to enjoy these elements of school and will communicate on these matters as we get nearer to the time.
Will there be any whole school events?
There are various parental events planned next term, such as Future Schooling talks and consultations. Our plan is to continue with these, but in a safe and socially distanced manner.
Will parental school events be taking place?
In-person assemblies will be limited to bubble assemblies, however we will continue to record a weekly whole school Chapel which the children will be able to share in Form Time.
Will there be weekly Chapels?
Parents will be permitted to enter the site in a socially distanced manner as we recognise that this is critical for our youngest children; however, only one parent is permitted on site and NO PARENTS ARE PERMITTED TO ENTER THE CLASSROOMS. It is absolutely essential that parents co-operate with the timings provided and that social distancing measures are observed and parents do not linger on site unnecessarily. While we do not wish to compromise the friendly atmosphere of Pennthorpe, the more parents on site, the more we risk the contamination of the children, staff and the campus.
The Front Office will not be accessible by parents without prior arrangement via a telephone call or email, as the DfE guidance states that coming onto the site without an appointment is not permissible. Our team are still available to help wherever possible, and therefore parents are encouraged to still call/email and receive support that way.
Are parents permitted on to the Pennthorpe site?
No. Any face coverings that staff or children, young people or other learners are wearing when they arrive at school, must be removed by the wearer and placed into a plastic bag that the wearer has brought with them in order to take home. These should not be disposed of in school bins.
Currently, face coverings are deemed unnecessary in school and are considered as having a detrimental impact on both teachers and children. However, this may change as we near re-opening and there is much debate currently within the media on this topic.
Will the staff be wearing masks? / Would you expect the children to wear masks?
Pennthorpe has employed additional cleaners who will work throughout the school day, focused on the areas identified by the Public Health Authority. At various intervals, and in addition to the increased cleaning schedule, adults within each room will disinfect and clean tables, door handles and equipment. Each class will have their own allotted set of classroom cleaning equipment in a caddy which will be stored appropriately within the classrooms.
What additional cleaning will Pennthorpe undertake?
Adults and children will be required to wash their hands on entry to school, before and after break times, before lunch, when they change rooms, before leaving school and anytime that they visit the toilet.
Wall mounted hand sanitisers have been fitted outside every room across the school and pumps by every computer or device.
Will children be encouraged to wash their hands frequently?
Teachers will not be available to speak to at drop off or pick up in the normal manner as parents are unable to enter classrooms. However, parents are welcome to make an appointment either by contacting the staff member by email or via the Front Office. Staff will of course communicate as quickly as they are able.
Can I talk to my child's teacher as usual?
Supply teachers, peripatetic music teachers and other temporary staff, such as therapists and specialists, are permitted to move between schools. However, any visiting staff to Pennthorpe will be thoroughly vetted and asked to read and sign the school’s COVID-19 procedures, which they must adhere to. All visitors will have their details checked and must support the NHS Test and Trace scheme.
We will not be permitting contractors on site during working hours unless it is critical to the functioning of the school.
Will the school still have visits from visiting staff members and contractors?
No. There is no DfE requirement to check children’s temperatures as they arrive at school. All families will be expected to monitor their child’s temperature, and general health, at home and report any symptoms of Coronavirus to the school as soon as possible.
“Parents, carers and settings do not need to take children’s temperatures every morning. Routine testing of an individual’s temperature is not a reliable method for identifying coronavirus. Educational and childcare settings should reiterate to parents the need to follow the standard national advice on the kind of symptoms to look out for that might be due to coronavirus, and where to get further advice.”
(Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings: updated 1st June 2020)
Will there be daily checks on staff and children for high temperatures?
Any child showing any COVID-19 symptoms (i.e. a temperature, new cough or the loss of smell and taste) will immediately be isolated and parents will be asked to collect as soon as possible. In the case of an emergency, 999 will be called. The child must remain quarantined at home for 10 days and will be required to have a COVID-19 test.
If the test is negative the child can return to the setting assuming they are symptomless and the school is satisfied that the child is well enough to attend school. If the test is positive, all children and adults within that bubble will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days and not attend school. The school continues to reserve the right to send any child home who is unwell, whether that be a cold or other such virus
This guidance also applies if an adult presents with symptoms. Parents and staff are expected to engage in the NHS Test and Trace process if required to do so.
Anyone showing symptoms is advised to follow the published guidelines.
What happens if a child shows symptoms of coronavirus whilst at school?
The bubble, if required to self-isolate, will immediately move to virtual provision which may have an impact on other bubbles where specialist teaching is utilised.
What happens if my child's bubble is required to self-isolate?
You will be aware that the air bridges to the UK are changing frequently. Please do be mindful of this and build it in to your travel plans for any trips between now and the start of term. Children will not be able to return to Pennthorpe until the end of their quarantine period, should they have travelled to a country without an air bridge at the point they return to the UK. See our guide for COVID related absence for further information.
Are there any travel restrictions for my child over the summer?
Pennthorpe will immediately move to a full virtual provision for all children, should the Government instigate a lockdown period again.
What will happen in the event of a regional or national lockdown?
Your child should not come into school, if they are showing symptoms of coronavirus. They, and others in their household, should self-isolate and arrange to have a COVID-19 test. If the test comes back negative, your child may return to school. If the test is positive they must remain at home for at least 10 days and can return once they feel well. See our guide for COVID related absence for further information.
When can my child return to school if they've had symptoms of coronavirus?
Where a child or staff member tests positive, the rest of their bubble will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of the wider bubble do not need to self-isolate unless the person that they live with from the class subsequently develops symptoms.
As part of the national test and track programme, if cases are detected at Pennthorpe, Public Health England’s local health protection team will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise Pennthorpe as to the most appropriate action to take. In some cases, a larger number of people may be asked to self-isolate as a precautionary measure.
See our guide for COVID related absence for further information.
What happens if there is a confirmed case at Pennthorpe?
Your child should not come into school, even if they themselves are not showing symptoms of coronavirus. They, and others in their household, should self-isolate and arrange for the person showing symptoms to have a COVID-19 test. If the test comes back negative, your child may return to school. If the test is positive the whole household should self-isolate. The child may only return to school after 14 days of self-isolation and providing they have no symptoms. See our guide for COVID related absence for further information.
What should I do if someone in my child's household has coronavirus symptoms?
Your child should not come into school, even if they themselves are not showing symptoms of coronavirus. They should self-isolate and if they develop symptoms carry out a test. If the test comes back negative, your child may return to school. If the test is positive the whole household should self-isolate. The child may only return to school after 14 days of self-isolation and providing they have no symptoms. See our guide for COVID related absence for further information.
The NHS Test and Trace have identified my child as having been in contact with somebody with symptoms or the virus. What should I do?