All of our plans and all of the measures we have in place are designed to reduce risk of Covid-19 infection as much as possible. This risk cannot be eliminated completely.
Government guidance gives us a hierarchy of the basic safety guidelines that we will follow:
We will have practices in place to work to everything in the above list. This will include guidelines for children and staff on how to work together as safely as possible. Organising how to minimise social contact and mixing is challenging but we know that initially it will involve:
Group sizes and organisation
The governors at Maple Grove have agreed that no more than 10 children should be in each classroom group.
We are offering full-time places to vulnerable children and to the children of critical workers just as we have been since Monday 20th March. We are now following government directions and using other available space to introduce other eligible children on a phased basis from 4th June.
How groups will work
Children will be allocated to groups of no more than 10. Each group will have an allocated lead adult who is likely to be a teacher but could be an experienced teaching assistant that knows the children well. Not all children will be able to have their usual teacher. Other adults (e.g. Teaching Assistants) may also be allocated to the group.
Children will not be able to move between groups and whilst we understand they may prefer to be with different friends and adults, we will ask everyone to understand that this is a temporary solution and it is important that children do not mix with children in other groups.
Children will remain in these groups at all times and will have a limited number of staff allocated to work with them, with the intention that each group is a “bubble” where any contact between them is minimized as much as possible. Each group will be based in a particular classroom and children will only leave this space for outdoor activities and breaks or to go to the toilet.
Siblings, even though they usually live together and mix at home, will be allocated to groups according to their age.
Each bubble will have a separate area for break and lunch times to reduce the number of children outside at any given point.
Our intention is that children from different groups have extremely limited (if any) contact with children from other groups. However, some adults will have to move between groups at times. When we do this, we are doing so in the knowledge that adults will be better at maintaining social distancing and handwashing / hygiene rules and therefore less likely to transmit infection.
Physical layout and use of classrooms
Desks and activities (for younger pupils) will be placed as far apart as possible. Most children will have an allocated desk that will be their base for a large majority of the time. It is where they will work and where they will store any items that are theirs to use when they are in school.
Movement around the room will be minimised. This will depend to an extent on the age of the children and movement breaks are recommended in all classes (e.g. because younger pupils in particular are not used to sitting still working for periods longer than 30 minutes). Some children may need more frequent movement breaks but this should always be considerate of social distancing guidelines.
These children will not be expected to sit at desks for extended periods of time – this is not a reasonable or educationally valid way of working.
There will be:
Parents and carers of all children need to understand that we will be doing our best to reduce contact between children within each group in line with the social distancing guidelines mentioned above. However, the age of the children and the style of learning will make controlling distancing and minimising contact more challenging – parents and carers need to be mindful of this.
Social distancing in school
The government have stated that the national advice of 2 metre social distancing will not apply inside schools.
However, we will have consistent guidelines (displayed clearly on posters around school and talked through and discussed frequently with children) in place that help children to understand how to reduce contact with people within their own group.
Tables and activities within classrooms will be as physically distant as possible and children will be encouraged to stay in a fixed area and let an adult move to them if they need them. Face to face direct conversation is discouraged (side-on arrangements are better). Actual physical contact is to be avoided but cannot be eliminated, especially with younger children.
The reality that all parents and carers need to be aware of is that children and adults are likely to frequently come closer than a 2 metre distance in the course of a school day.
This will typically be for a relatively short duration (e.g. passing by or having a short conversation) which we will do our best to minimise but we will not be able to eliminate all contact. Minimising contact with the people within each group of children has a role to play in terms of reducing risk but it is important to remember that the key measure of keeping these groups apart from other groups is also in place. Children will need introducing to these guidelines and will be given frequent reminders. Staff are all aware that this will be new learning for them and, whilst we do need to reinforce the guidelines where children forget them or find them hard to stick to, this will be done with patience and in a style appropriate to the age of the children.
Toilets for children
When children go the toilet, it will be one of the very few times they will access part of the building that is not their classroom. The numbers of children able to go to the toilet at any one time will be limited with clear and strict queuing systems in place. We will be encouraging children to go to the toilet frequently to avoid situations where they are “desperate”, especially when they are outside.
The children will eat their lunch in the classroom or outside if appropriate) and then, when they are all finished, will go to their designated outdoor area for a break (in the event of rain, they remain in the classroom).
Handwashing and cleaning of key surfaces will take place before and after lunch is eaten.
Packed lunches (with a choice of tuna, ham, chicken or cheese sandwiches) can be pre-ordered for the half term.
These will be free for children who are eligible (Free School Meals and children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) and at £2.50 for others (to be paid through School Comms in the usual way). These will be delivered to classrooms in time for lunch.
Alternatively, children will be able to bring their own packed lunch in a lunchbox or lunchbag which will stay with them at their desks through the day. As far as possible, please avoid sending items which children cannot open for themselves or manage on their own.
Children will be able to bring some fruit for a break-time snack if they wish to (free fruit and milk is not currently available).
Each group will be encouraged to use outdoor space as this is advised in the government guidance. We will have a rota to ensure space can be used effectively whilst minimising the risk of social contact between groups.
For break and lunchtimes, we will split the outdoor space into defined areas
Our Cleaning Regime follows government guidance. It takes into account the way that the building (and different rooms) are used throughout each week. Cleaning will be more frequent throughout each school day. All classroom spaces (and other key areas) will have cleaning materials available such that all staff can contribute to regular cleaning of the spaces used.
The Cleaning Regime includes a clear checklist of expectations, including key contact areas to be focused on (e.g. surfaces that are likely to be touched on a regular basis such as table tops, door handles, taps, toilet flushes and light switches).