Returning to School After Lockdown – March 2021 FAQ
Will my child be able to return to school on Monday 8th March 2021?
All students are expected to return to school in a staggered way from Monday 8th March 2021. The first focus of teachers will be to support students to regain confidence in the classroom so that they catch up on the lost learning time brought on by school closure.
What are the Covid recovery plans which the Academy has in place for the return to school in March?
All schools are required to undertake a detailed risk assessment which seeks to minimise the risk of infection for students and staff. This has been undertaken with input from the Local Authority Education and Health teams. The risk assessments have been approved by the Academy’s Governing body, but will be updated if Government guidance changes.
How can the Academy ensure that students are not exposed to infection?
The Academy cannot guarantee that students are not exposed to infection, however it can take ‘sensible and proportionate’ steps to ensure that the risk of infection is minimised. These steps focus on both prevention and control.
What are the plans which the Academy will have in place to try and prevent infection?
The full return of all students means that students will not be able to maintain 2m social distancing during the course of the school day. However the following steps have been taken to limit social contact within the Academy.
- Students will remain within their Year Group (‘Year Group Bubbles’) and will not have contact with students from the older or younger years during the school day.
- Staggered arrival and departure times will be arranged by year group to limit interpersonal contact.
- The Academy’s Senior Leadership Team will be on duty to ensure that children arrive and leave the academy site safely.
- Students will be required to wash or sanitise their hands on entry to the building and classroom.
- Additional hand sanitation points have also been set up on entry to the building.
- The timetable has been rearranged to allow for single Year Groups. This will ease congestion in the Cafeteria, playgrounds and corridors.
- Where the timetable requires movement between classes this will be highly controlled using a strict one-way system.
- Students will be reminded of the rule regarding quiet corridors to minimise ‘aerosol transmission’.
- Facemasks are highly recommended to be worn in classrooms, corridors and communal spaces.
- Additional cleaning routines will be undertaken while students are in class so that door handles, hand rails and other high frequency touch points are regularly sanitised.
What are the steps which the Academy will take to try and control possible infection?
The most important control which the Academy can communicate is an absolute requirement that students or staff who are displaying symptoms do not come to school. If a student shows symptoms within the Academy s/he will immediately be placed in isolation until a parent or carer is able to collect her/him. No further steps will be taken by the Academy until a positive Covid-19 test is received.
The main symptoms of Covid-19 virus are:
- A new, continuous cough
- A temperature of 37.8°C or higher
- A loss of or change in your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
What are the steps parents/carers can take to help control possible infection?
The most effective way for families to help control the spread of Covid-19 is to ensure their child takes a Lateral Flow Test. This helps to identify positive cases and protect others by upholding the self-isolation rules. This will keep schools open for in-class teaching.
What should I do if my child or someone in my household displays symptoms?
In this situation it is right for your child to stay at home in order to control any potential spread of infection. A Covid-19 test should be obtained and if positive, the individual must stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days. All other members of the household must also quarantine for 14 days. Parents must inform the Academy immediately in either case.
What will the Academy do in the case of an outbreak?
The Academy will rely on swift contact from parents/staff members or from the ‘Track and Trace’ system to inform it if a student or staff member has tested positive.
In the event of a confirmed Covid case at the Academy – identified by NHS Test and Trace, the health protection team will be contacted and a rapid risk assessment will be carried out. Based on the advice of the health protection team, those that have been in close contact will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 10 days. Household members of those close contacts sent home will not have to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member develops symptoms.
Is my child allowed to wear a facemask?
Students are highly recommended to wear a facemask within the Academy where a distance of 2m cannot be maintained. This includes the classroom. Students who are exempt from wearing a facemask on medical grounds must display an exemption badge/card.
Will teachers wear masks?
Teachers will be expected, like the students, to wear a facemask in corridors and communal spaces. Teachers have the option to wear a facemask or visor in the classroom if they wish. Teaching assistants who are required to give more individualised support are likely to wear appropriate PPE. These rules will vary slightly where members of staff have underlying health conditions or if they choose to wear a mask in class.
Will my child be able to continue to have school meals?
The Cafeteria will continue to provide food at lunchtime as usual and steps will be taken to manage the flow of students in order to avoid congestion. There will be many more ‘grab and go’ options to increase choice and speed of service. The Cafeteria will not be open before or after school at this time. (We will review this once we have updated guidance from the government).
Sixth Formers will have access to the Cafeteria during 1A if they have a study period and can only buy food at these times. They will not be able to use the Cafeteria at any other time, unless prior arrangement through the Sixth Form Team.
Will my child be provided with school equipment and how will I know that this is safe?
Students are already aware of the requirement to bring their own individual Power of 3 (clear pencil case with equipment, a reading book and student planner. A mask is now the fourth compulsory piece of equipment). This is particularly important, as students will be reminded not to borrow or lend equipment to others.
Students returning after this second lockdown will be provided with an ‘AFL Pack’ which contains their own whiteboard, marker pen and glue stick. This has been provided at the Academy’s expense. These items are their own which they must look after and bring to every lesson, and students should keep these items topped up. This will eliminate sharing of items.
Students will be provided with antiseptic wipes in order to wipe their own IT, music tech keyboard, or other equipment before use. These are also available in all classrooms to use as required.
Will assemblies take place?
Yes, assemblies can take place provided they only include students from one Year Group and all students are facing the same direction. Students will be sat in alternate seats. Furthermore, a number of assemblies will be recorded and played to students in their tutor classrooms.
Government guidance is clear that assemblies may operate for one Year Group but not for multiple Year Groups. As such, Student Achievement Manager and SLT assemblies will run, but only for one-Year Group at a time. We will use our larger assembly spaces for Year Group assemblies to allow better social distancing.
Can students take part in PE and Music?
Yes, PE and Music can both take place within Year Group bubbles. There will be a restriction on contact sports, some music ensembles and singing. We will keep this situation under review as further evidence and guidance emerges.
Will there be a full range of Session 3 extra-curricular activities?
The Academy will do its best to maintain some Session 3 extra-curricular activities – however these will be limited by the requirement for students not to mix with others outside their own Year Group. A modified Session 3 extra-curricular timetable will be issued at the start of term. The arrangements for extra-curricular activities will be reviewed at the end of September once the Academy has settled into its new routines. We will continue with some Session 3 activities online.
Are there any changes to uniform regulations?
No, the Academy uniform remains unchanged. It is recommended that uniform is washed more frequently where possible. Students should change out of their uniform immediately upon returning home after washing their hands.
Is it safe for my son/daughter to travel to the Academy on public transport?
The Academy is strongly recommending that students walk or cycle to the Academy if this is possible. If they have no option except public transport, a mask must be worn and time must be allocated to take account of the limited capacity on buses (there will be some student designated buses on popular routes). At the end of the Academy day students will be required to walk to bus stops further from the Academy in order to limit crowding. We also remind parents not to drop students off on Cathnor Road as this adds to congestion close to the Academy entrance.
What if my child has an underlying health complaint, which makes her/him particularly vulnerable?
Parents of a student with severe or chronic health conditions should seek the advice of their health professional regarding their return to school. Advice received must be passed on to the Academy and a temporary amendment to the student’s Individual Health Care Plan (IHCP) must be agreed before the student returns to the Academy. In some cases, it may be appropriate to complete an individual risk assessment which will need to be communicated more widely within the school community. Parents needing to update an IHCP should contact the Admin Office by email and cc their child’s Student Achievement Manager (SAM).
What if my child has special educational needs and will find it difficult to follow the revised school arrangements?
Arrangements in the Academy will be explained carefully and sensitively in order to reassure all students that the Academy is being made as safe as possible. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions on the first days in the Academy and it is hoped that the new arrangements will quickly settle into a sensible routine. Parents of students with Education & Health Care plans who are concerned about how their son/daughter will be able to manage the new arrangements should make direct contact with the Academy’s SENCO who will offer individual guidance.
What if another child fails to respect appropriate distancing within the Academy?
Whilst the Academy will be sensitive to students ‘re-learning’ the discipline of school life, it will have to take a firm line on breaches of discipline because of the increased risk that these may pose. Issues such as pushing, spitting, chewing gum, casual dropping of food and failure to follow classroom/corridor codes may lead to harsher punishments (such as internal exclusions) than students have previously experienced. It is essential that parents re-inforce the need for socially responsible behaviour both in transit to and from Academy.
Am I able to visit the academy site as a parent?
Yes, but by appointment only. Parents will not be permitted beyond the academy gates unless for a previously arranged appointment. All visitors are expected to wear masks and abide by the usual social distancing/sanitising protocols. Parents should avoid the area directly outside the Academy if they are waiting to collect their child. Please arrange to meet your child a short walk from the Academy (towards Uxbridge Road or Goldhawk Road).
How will my child be able to keep up with their work if they have to quarantine for a period?
Teachers will continue to follow the curriculum and use resources which are available on Firefly. Students will therefore be able to keep up with their studies by following the same PowerPoints and completing the same activities/written work as their fellow students who are in the Academy. Quarantining students are advised to maintain the same timetable as they would have followed in school in this context. Work will still be set on Satchel One (formerly Show My Homework).
What if there is an outbreak in my child’s Year Group and the whole Year Group are required to quarantine?
This is an unlikely event. But in this situation also, students will be supported remotely to maintain their usual timetable via the lessons on Firefly and on Microsoft Teams. Assessments will be set on Satchel One (formerly Show My Homework). We will follow the Test and Trace protocols set by the Healthcare Team.
How we will keep the students separated?
Students will be kept in Year Group bubbles.
- Students will arrive & leave through the same entrance/exit. There will be a slightly staggered start and end to the day. Students have a 15 minute entry/exit window for their Year Group and should arrive as close to the early time as possible. On arrival they should wait to be direct from the yellow markings (Years 7-11) and red markings (Sixth Form).
- All break and lunchtimes will be arranged to maintain Year Group integrity.
- Any extra-curricular activities will operate for single year groups.
- All reflections will be organised by Year Group by the Student Achievement Manager.
- Sixth Form will generally not be expected to arrive before their first lesson and will be dismissed after their last lesson of the day. The exception to this is at morning tutor sessions, prearranged meetings or tutoring.
- Movement between lessons will be carefully coordinated. Students are in specific subject bases for the majority of their lessons. Moving between rooms will only be for specific lessons in specialised teaching spaces (DT, Art, Music, PE and Drama). All internal doors will be kept open to allow transitions to be as quick as possible and allow increased ventilation.
How will classrooms look/operate?
Teachers will aim to remain 2 metres away from students as much as possible, as well as each other. Government guidelines clearly state that students must be seated in rows, facing forwards, and that group tables are not acceptable. Hand sanitiser will also be provided in every corridor. Students will be expected to use the sanitiser as they enter each classroom (they may bring their own with them to school if they wish). Windows and, where possible, doors will be kept open at all times to enable maximum ventilation. Students will also collect a wipe on entry and clean their work area.
The teacher will need to enter the student zone briefly during a lesson – for example, to hand out resources. Gloves will be provided to all teachers. Teachers may or may not circulate around the room. Provision for 1:1 feedback to students while they are working will be limited. The exception to this is teaching assistants who will wear PPE when working with individual EHC plan students (but only up to 15 minutes if sitting within 1 metre).
What about shared resources e.g. textbooks?
Resources like textbooks will not be able to be used by multiple Year Groups. Teachers will either allocate certain sets of textbooks to a particular Year Group or photocopy/scan the required pages.
Similarly, equipment must not be shared between students – We must stress to parents the importance of students having all items on the equipment list. Students must bring their full learning kit every day and check regularly to ensure that it is kept fully stocked (Power of 3 – reading book, planner and clear pencil case and equipment). A facemask is now a necessary fourth piece of essential equipment.
Students will also be given an ‘AFL Pack’ which contains their own whiteboard, marker pen and glue stick which they must bring with them to every lesson.
Shared equipment, which cannot be brought in by students, such as computers, or specialist equipment in science/art/music, will be wiped down before and after use by students – wipes will be provided.
How will break time work?
Breaks will be in Year Group bubbles. Students (and teachers) will have a 15 minute break in Session 1B (except Sixth Form). On each day, each Year Group from years 7-11, will have break outside using both KS3 and KS4 playgrounds (the MUGA is reserved for PE lessons only).
How will reflections (detentions) run?
The behaviour (whole school rewards and sanction) system will operate as normal – students will be given merits and negative conduct points. Students may receive a reflection (a 30 minute detention at the end of the day). Reflections will vary depending on the Year Group. For 1 hour reflections parents will be given 24 hour notice.
Will students do PE?
Yes, PE lessons will continue for all students in Year 7-11. The PE team is working hard to review their schemes of work to ensure that sports are appropriate to a socially distanced environment. There will be limited contact type sports and students will be outside as much as possible. Extra-curricular PE for each Year Group will be organised as soon as possible. We will prioritise Years 7-9 in the first instance.
What will happen during my singing lesson?
Singing is not allowed currently. Music has an amended curriculum to develop music understanding and appreciation.
How will the Academy help my child make sufficient progress when they return?
The Academy is putting in place a programme for students identified as benefiting from additional support. The Academy is paying for tutoring opportunities conducted by both onsite and online tutors. Additionally, the Academy will be taking advantage of the National Tutoring Programme.
Further details will come from the Head of Lower and Upper School to those students selected to take part in the additional support.