Returning to school in September
If your child goes to school in South Gloucestershire, watch our short video message about returning to school in September from our Cabinet Member for Schools, Skills and Employment and our Director for Public Health. The video covers the plans that are in place to help you feel confident about your child’s return to school.
We know from talking with our schools, parents and carers, that some of you may be feeling anxious about your children returning to school in September.
It is completely natural to worry about what to expect, so we want to share with you the plans that are in place to help you feel confident about your child’s return to school.
- Returning to school
- Measures in place
- What we are doing to provide support
- Safe and active travel to school
- If anyone in your family has COVID-19 symptoms
- If your child displays COVID-19 symptoms whilst in an educational setting or school
- Concerns and answers to your questions
Returning to school
We are continuing to promote the government’s advice and our local messages to help reassure parents and carers that:
- school is the best place for children to learn and for their overall (mental and physical) wellbeing
- school gives children a sense of regular routine and helps them develop their social skills
It is vital that all children return to school this autumn. Attendance will be mandatory again from the beginning of the new term. Our schools are looking forward to welcoming children back safely to see their friends and teachers.
Public Health England (PHE) is clear that the risk of catching coronavirus (COVID-19) is low if schools apply a system of stringent controls to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. This includes regular handwashing and cleaning measures.
www.gov.uk/backtoschool has the latest information for parents and carers on the opening of early years providers, schools and colleges, safety in schools, attendance, transport, school meals and exams.
We also encourage parent and carers that if you should have any questions around the return to contact the school. The Head teachers, form tutors and class teachers are well placed to provide advice, guidance and support. If your child has a Special Educational Need, you can also access advice and support from the SENCo and we encourage you to do so.
The following leaflets for parents have been developed by the Department for Education and Public Health England:
Measures in place
Practical measures will be in place in our schools to make sure we are all helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19, including:
- all schools have updated their risk assessments to welcome all children and staff back safely
- each school will have decided how to group children – for small schools this might be a class group, whilst for larger primary and secondary schools this could be a year group (schools will make sure that contact between groups is reduced and they will follow the latest public health guidance for arranging classrooms and keeping safe distancing between pupils and members of staff as much as possible)
- thorough hand and respiratory hygiene will be observed – such as regular hand washing, sneezing into a tissue and binning it and making sure children and staff who do feel ill with any of the recognised symptoms of Covid-19 know that they are required to stay at home and get tested
- as far as the physical environment goes, every school is different (some schools have put in place one-way systems, with clear markings on floors and instructions about how your child should move through school, including at break and lunch times and while maximising the use of outdoor spaces for learning and play)
- a thorough local outbreak management plan in place for South Gloucestershire (we are in regular contact with school leaders to ensure they are fully supported should any cases in our schools be confirmed)
- arrangements for arriving and going home, particularly for reception children and those starting new schools in September (your school should contact you directly)
- using the findings of a recent survey to help understand what children are worried about and to support staff to continue making school feel a safe and positive place to be
What we are doing to provide support
We had a very successful return of children and young people in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on the 1 June and with students from Year 10 and 12 on the 15 June, due entirely to the excellent planning by our schools, working with guidance from the council’s schools support teams. We know that they have been building on this success to ensure the safe return of all children in September.
We have updated our re-opening guidance for schools, to supplement that from the government for the return of all year groups in September.
Over 100 experts including from health and education have been working together, with the involvement of parents and carers, to plan for a safe return. We are confident that, provided that cases of COVID-19 remain low in our area, all children will be able to access the curriculum, catch up on any lost learning and importantly, socialise and mix safely and happily once again with their friends.
We are calling this safe return to school #southglosconnect and it has the full commitment of all our school leaders. It is based on the understanding that anxious children will need more support to help them settle back in and learn effectively.
Our schools will be using a range of resources to explore children’s social and emotional needs, helping them to reconnect with learning and each other. This includes resources for children with complex and special educational needs and disabilities.
Children and young people will benefit from targeted support, specifically those who have been through traumatic lockdown experiences such as loss. There are also resources that will meet the needs of children who may have thrived in lockdown, so that they have the opportunity to continue to flourish.
We are supporting teachers, teaching assistants and others, who are there to care for and teach your children, build relationships, and help bring more joy back into children’s daily lives.
Safe and active travel to school
To help you plan your children’s journey to and from school, we are promoting safe and active travel advice.
Walk, cycle or scoot to school where you can. Where this isn’t possible, plan ahead to use public transport or drive to get to your school or college. Further guidance is available below under ‘Planning your school journeys’.
We have two more schools joining Frampton Cotterell Primary school on the national School Streets scheme, which aims to provide a healthier and safer environment for all by encouraging active travel to school. School Streets are being launched for King’s Oak Academy, on Brook Road in Kingswood from Wednesday 2 September and Abbotswood Primary School, on Kelston Close in Yate from Thursday 3 September.
We continue to share the government’s key messages about how pupils should travel to school and how to travel safely on school transport and public transport.
Planning your school journeys
On your journey:
- walk, cycle or scoot to school where you can
- plan your journey to school – if you aren’t able to walk, cycle or scoot, use public transport or drive to get to your school or college
If you are travelling by public transport:
- allow more time
- keep 2m apart from people not in your social bubble where possible while waiting and wear a face covering if you are aged over 11, unless you are exempt
- use contactless payment if you can
- be patient and follow instructions from transport staff
- wash or sanitise your hands as frequently as possible
- avoid facing other passengers if you can
- stay safe and look out for bus full signs – where you see one the bus will only stop when people want to get off
- If you are travelling by bus and it is full but they do stop, they will normally only be able to let one passenger on for each one that gets off
- be prepared to wait and please help others by prioritising those who need to travel more urgently than you
Avoid car-sharing if you can, but if you have to car-share with someone outside of your support bubble or family, share with the same small group only.
If you are sharing a car:
- open the windows
- wear a face covering if you are over 11 years old and are not exempt
- leave some seats free to social distance
- wash or sanitise your hands before and after each journey
- clean the car after each journey, including internal and external handles
For further information visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus
For up-to-the-minute travel information and help planning your journey visit www.travelwest.info
DO THE RIGHT THING. STOP THE SPREAD
If you are receiving school or college travel assistance from the council and you have any issues or concerns about your current travel arrangements for your child, email our Integrated Transport team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If anyone in your family has COVID-19 symptoms
Remember that if anyone in your family has any of the COVID-19 symptoms you need to book a test and self isolate for 10 days. The GOV.UK website has the latest information on symptoms and self isolation, you can read the guidance for people with confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19).
If your child displays COVID-19 symptoms whilst in an educational setting or school
If your child were to develop any symptoms whilst in an educational setting or a school, they will be taken to a safe room and will be supervised until their parent and carer can collect them. On collection, they will be advised to get their child and young person tested and they will be able to do this online. At all times, the responsibility for testing rests with the parent and carer.
Concerns and answers to your questions
If you or your children are worried about the return to school, do not worry alone. Do talk with your school about your concerns, so that together we can work to overcome them and help you feel happier sending your children back. Visit our Mind You website and our young people and mental health page for further information.