Yesterday, the government published their expectation for the opening of schools from June 1st. The aim is for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return from that date, with children in the other year groups returning for the final month of the year. As the Prime Minister has stated, this move is of course dependent on the reproduction measure of the coronavirus continuing to decrease.
First of all, we are all very eager to return to school and spend time with our brilliant children. We miss them so much. However, my view all along has been that we have to be confident that a return to school is safe for everyone.
I have been involved in teaching for twenty years and along with the vast majority of headteachers in the country, I am absolutely baffled by the inclusion of Reception and Year 1 children within this plan. With best intentions, it is a challenge to ensure children of any age socially distance from their peers and staff members, let alone children aged four to six. I am in no way convinced that any child should be returning to school for the foreseeable future, particularly when the other European countries including our close neighbours are taking a different path.
So, can I guarantee that the children will stay two metres away from each other? I’m sorry, but I can’t, despite our very best intentions. If our other year groups return for the final month of the year, then any form of distancing will become virtually impossible. For parents, I am sure many of you are questioning whether your child will be safe on return. I am pleased that the government have stated that schools will not be accountable for attendance during this time and fining for absence is not on the agenda.
There are a number of serious considerations before we open, including:
As I have previously stated, the safety of the children, our families and the team is my priority. We are currently waiting for further instruction from the Local Authority before finalising our plan. As you can see from the considerations above, any plan will see significant changes to the school day and will impact on timings, both at the beginning and end of the day. We will all need to be very flexible as we move forward through this process. I intend to post the plan on the website by Friday 15th at the very latest so that you have enough time to consider and prepare for the changes prior to June 1st.
Thank you for your support, patience and understanding during this time.
Stay Safe everyone.