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Elms School

Keeping Everyone Safe

Keeping Everyone Safe During the Covid-19 Crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic something that none of us have experienced before.  As such, there are no tried and tested protocols to follow at this time, so we have to respond to ever-changing needs, advice and directives from government and the Local Authority.  This policy will be regularly updated as the guidance changes.

As a school, we are trying to observe the Government’s recommendation to Stay at Home, Stay Safe.  However, the Government has also stated that children of key workers and children who are vulnerable should be allowed to attend school as required.  Schools have been asked to provide childcare onsite for those children and to provide learning activities for pupils who are at home.

All parents and carers opted to keep their child at home for the two weeks prior to the end of term 4.  The school made up packs of work for every child, which included two weeks’ worth of activities appropriate to the age and stage of each pupil, plus the stationery needed to complete the tasks.  We had some positive feedback from parents, thanking us for the packs which contained “everything my child could need.”

Elms School will be opening for five pupils on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings during the Easter break.  After Easter, we will be opening for approximately 12 pupils, although this figure is likely to change day by day.  Although we have only six pupils whose parents are key workers, we have some pupils who are very vulnerable and, although parents initially wanted their child at home, they are finding this difficult and have requested some respite care.  Therefore, we will be opening for pupils whose parents request a place.  In some instances, where we and/or Social Services have specific concerns about a child, we will carry out a risk assessment and offer a place at school.

A number of staff are shielding for the duration of the crisis and this may impact our ability to offer places.  We have approximately 20 drivers available, so we can bring in 20 pupils per session.  If numbers go above 20, we will have to split the sessions or offer sessions to different children over the week.  This will be dynamically risk assessed each day.  We will observe the following point to ensure the health and safety of all staff and pupils:

How we will keep in touch

  • The welfare team are making regular calls to the most vulnerable families, offering support and discussing with carers whether the child needs to come into school. 
  • All teachers are making regular calls home to the parents of children in their tutor groups, so that they can make a general check on welfare and also support with the learning activities that have been set.
  • We will post regular updates to our website and Facebook page.  We will send a ParentMail text to alert parents and carers of any new bulletins.

What we would like parents and carers to do

  • If your child is able to remain safely at home, we encourage you to keep them home.  School has provided online learning for term 5 and we are sending out hard copies on request for those families who do not have access to the internet/printers etc.  Transport staff will deliver the packs on April 20th/21st.  Your child’s teacher will support with learning via email or telephone.
  • Please support your child with home learning by providing a suitable working environment such as a quiet space to work.  Your child’s teacher has provided a suggested timetable each day with appropriate learning activities.  Please discuss any concerns regarding learning with the teacher.
  • If you need a place at school for your child, please give us at least 24 hours’ notice so that we can arrange transport and adequate staffing.
  • Please encourage your child and all family members to regularly wash their hands for a count of 20 seconds.  The latest government advice is that thorough hand washing is more effective than using an alcohol-based sanitiser, because the action of washing hands causes friction that can dislodge the virus.

What we would like parents and carers of children who are attending Elms Site to do

  • Please ensure that your child washes their hands before leaving the home each day.   Hand sanitisers are available in school and your child will be asked to use these frequently throughout the day.
  • If your child develops a cough or temperature, please let us know and keep them at home.
  • If any child shows signs of a cough or any other Covid-19 symptoms during the day, the school will contact parents and carers to arrange to have them sent home straightaway.  School will provide transport as required.
  • Government advice to health care workers who are dealing with patients who have Covid-19 is to change their clothes and wash them as soon as they get home.  We feel it would be good practice for staff and pupils to do the same, therefore we recommend that you send your child to school in clean clothes every day.  To make this easier for you, we are suspending the wearing of school uniform during the crisis so your child will have more clothes to wear to school.  They can, of course, wear uniform if they wish to.  If this will cause a problem to you, please let us know and we can wash clothes at school if you send in a spare set of clothing.
  • We will try to ensure that all pupils and staff maintain a distance of 2m apart at all times.  Please talk to your child about the need to keep this distance.  Obviously, if your child is hurt and needs first aid attention, we will exercise our duty of care.   
  • In order to maintain the health and safety of all pupils and staff, we do not want to use physical interventions unless it is absolutely necessary to keep staff and pupils safe.  For this reason, if we feel that a child’s behaviour renders them unsafe in school at this time, we will have to review whether they can come onsite and we will arrange a different means of supporting you with childcare/respite.

Free School Meals

  • For the two weeks up to the end of term 4, we have made direct payments into the bank accounts of parents and carers.  From now on, we will use a voucher system as directed by the government.  We will post details of this on our Facebook page and website.
  • If your child is attending school we will provide meals as usual, however, the menu will be different as we are operating with minimal catering staff and our usual supplies may not be available.

Transporting pupils

  • Our transport team will collect one child only, who will sit at the back of the vehicle, 2 metres away from the driver.
  • Drivers will be given hand sanitiser, the option of wearing a face mask and disposable gloves if available.
  • Pupils will be asked to use hand sanitiser when they get onto the vehicle.

Keeping everyone safe onsite

  • All staff and pupils will be required to use hand sanitiser on arrival at school and throughout the day, if available.  Children will be asked to wash their hands and sanitise regularly.  We are doing all we can to ensure that we have adequate supplies of hand sanitiser, face masks, disposable gloves etc.
  • Pupils will be organised in classes of up to five pupils with two members of staff.  Pupils will be seated 2 m apart.  No contact sports will be played:  physical activity will consist of Keep Fit type activities.
  • All adults are encouraged to maintain a distance of 2m apart, as well as pupils.
  • Onsite activities will be informal or formal, according to the needs of each pupil.  Some staff will follow the online activities with children that have been set by teachers.
  • All work completed at school will be sent home each day or destroyed in order to avoid contamination.
  • Children will be given their own stationery to use at school.
  • Classrooms will be well ventilated, preferably with an external opening door.  Staff will be encouraged to take pupils outside as much as possible, weather permitting.
  • We will provide breakfast on arrival if required and school lunch.  All meals will be eaten in classrooms rather than the main dining hall.  The menu will be different to usual due to availability of supplies.
  • Andy Bennett will be available to support with behaviour.  However, if a pupil’s behaviour is deemed to be unsafe, their place at Elms will be reviewed and we may consider offering support at home in the form of taking the child for a daily walk. 
  • The school will be offering reduced hours of 9.00 – 2.30 pm.  This will allow us to plan for staff cover if things change at short notice.  We will not have a lunch break of 45 minutes but staff will encourage pupils to take short breaks throughout the day.

Cleaning the school

  • Refuse will still be collected from school and all bins will be emptied daily.
  • Cleaning staff have been issued some specific guidelines for adherence during this period. These include thoroughly cleaning all surfaces which are likely to be touched with disposable cloths and wearing gloves at all times which are then disposed of.
  • Classrooms that are being used will be thoroughly cleaned each day.

What we expect from staff

  • All staff should keep us informed of any change to their circumstances.
  • All staff should be available for work unless they are self-isolating, shielding or “stringently” observing social distancing.  In most cases, staff should be able to work onsite while following the protocols above.
  • We will operate a rota system in order to ensure that as few members of staff are onsite at any one time as possible.  However, all staff will need to be on standby each day in case the rota needs to change at short notice.
  • All teachers are expected to provide learning activities appropriate to the age and stage of their pupils.
  • All teachers are expected to make regular contact with parents and carers.  Teachers have agreed with parents and carers the most suitable way to maintain contact. Some teachers have opted to use their own phones and withholding their number or agreeing with parents and carers that they will “block” their number after the crisis has finished.
  • Teachers who are able to work will be asked to supervise classes of up to 5 pupils.  Teachers will need to check the rota to see when they are needed in school.
  • TAs should check the rota regularly to see when they are needed in school.  Those who cannot attend school should ensure that they do any work from home that is required.
  • Class-based staff should ensure that they complete their online training as agreed with their appraiser.
  • The site team will continue to look after the building, following the protocols outlined above.
  • The catering team will operate on a rota system and will provide lunch for those onsite.
  • The admin team will work from home or onsite as required.

We would like to thank all members of our community for their continued support and understanding throughout this difficult time.  We are aware that arrangements may have to change at short notice and we would ask everyone to continue to be patient as we work through this national crisis.

Stay safe!