FAQs - Coronavirus and School opening 2/6/20

Published: 02 June 2020

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Our main concern is to keep our pupils and staff safe. Using government guidelines, we have put together some FAQs, and plans for safe classroom practice; which outlines our approach to reducing the risk and spread of COVID-19. 

We would like to thank you for the support you have given the school during the closure, since the end of March. We now want to encourage children back to school and wish to do so in a safe and planned manner, so pupils once again can receive the benefits of attending school at St John Vianney.

These FAQs will be updated, when required, to account for any national and local guidance changes.

Q - How will the school leaders and Governing Body ensure everybody’s safety?

Senior leaders hold regular meeting themselves and with lead members of the Governing Body, to ensure our policies and procedures continue to reflect the latest government guidance. A daily briefing is held every day at School, with all staff members in attendance, reinforcing our collective responsibility to ensure our school is as safe as possible.

Q - How can you ensure ‘social distancing’ at school?

Across the St John Vianney site, we encourage sensible social distancing. We cannot possibly ensure that everybody maintains a two-metre distance at all times. Many have described social distancing with very young pupils as ‘impossible’ and we have a challenge to face in supporting children and staff to practice social distancing in School. However, we do our absolute best to apply consistent and common practice.

We maintain:

  • Sensible grouping and spacing pupils in classrooms
  • Staggering activities - including breaks and lunch times
  • Significant reduction of the number of visitors into school
  • Reduced staff numbers in school - depending on pupil numbers
  • Movement of pupils between classes and groups kept to a minimum

We continually review the number of pupils attending. If attendance was to significantly increase, leaders and staff will consider how to achieve sensible social distancing.

Whilst we recognise the importance of social distancing, we have to be realistic, factoring in that our pupils have a range of complex social, emotional and mental health needs, which may make social distancing difficult for them.

Q - How are you promoting good hygiene?

Across our school, good hygiene is regularly promoted as follows:

  • Staff and pupils are encouraged to wash their hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds throughout the day
  • Staff and pupils have access to hand sanitisers in classrooms
  • Staff have access to anti-bacterial wipes in classrooms
  • The use of equipment and shared objects is limited
  • Our teachers and therapists have provided learning resources, teaching pupils the importance of hygiene and hand-washing techniques
  • We use social stories to communicate information about safety and good hygiene practices
  • We display and refer to our safer practice classroom posters on a daily basis.

Q - How often is the school being cleaned?

The school buildings are being thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis, which includes sanitising all surfaces. In classroom areas this is an ongoing process during the day. At the end of each day whenever a classroom is used, the Estates team undertake a ‘deeper’ cleaning of each room, before the area is used again. If a case of COVID-19 were to be confirmed, a deep clean of the site would take place as quickly as possible.

Q - What are ‘our safer classroom practices’?

We have implemented the following safer practices in all of our work spaces and classrooms:

  • Pupils regularly wash and sanitise their hands every day
  • Pupils are grouped and spaced in classrooms sensibly
  • Pupils are provided with their own stationery
  • Surfaces and objects within classrooms are regularly cleaned
  • Unnecessary equipment, including soft furnishings, are removed from classrooms.

Q - How many pupils will be in my child’s class?

This varies across our different key stages; however the largest class size we are planning for is 7 pupils.

Q - What will my child be learning in school during the return to school?

Class teachers have been asked to deliver a consistent programme for the day that each child will come into school. This will principally be Maths, English, Creative and Topic activities, PE and Emotional Well-being activities. The focus will be on revisiting key aspects of learning from where learners stopped being taught the curriculum in mid-March.

Q - Will pupils be using equipment that could spread the virus?

Yes. However, unnecessary equipment and soft furnishings have been removed from class spaces. Pupils are given their own stationery supply. We are promoting good hygiene practices (including lots of proper hand-washing) and staff are cleaning shared equipment regularly.

Q - Will my child participate in physical activity, including playtime, lunch and PE?

Yes, however this will be restricted and staggered to maintain sensible social distancing. PE is part of the curriculum; however unnecessary equipment will not be used and equipment that is used will be cleaned more regularly.

Q - Will my child have break and lunch times at the same time as the other pupils?

Yes, however due to our small class sizes, we are able to stagger breaks and times when pupils will eat lunch; avoiding queues and congestion and splitting up play areas. Lunches will be prepared in the school canteen, and food will be eaten in supervised classroom areas.

Q - May my child bring a packed lunch to school?

Yes. However, we will also provide freshly prepared lunches (sandwich meal bags) made to order by our catering team. Eating areas will be thoroughly cleaned after lunch time.

Q - Will staff be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves?

No. Government guidance clearly states that in education settings, there is no need for the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Schools are expected to be following however, the principles of good hygiene and infection control. We do have a stock of PPE, but this is only for use in the unlikely event that a pupil, or staff member presents with COVID-19 symptoms whilst in school. 

Q - What are the schools doing when pupils spit?

Due to individual needs, some of our pupils spit. Whilst no additional PPE is required or recommended, regular cleaning of surfaces, objects and toys will be undertaken. 

Where it is felt that a pupil spits in an act of aggression, a sanction will be given. This may involve a fixed-term exclusion. In extreme cases we may decide that a pupil is not safe to be in school.

Q - What happens if my child requires a physical intervention (a Team-Teach hold) to keep them safe?

Safety comes first. If physical intervention is necessary, social distancing inevitably becomes a lower priority. However, physical intervention is always used as a final resort. Our approach focuses on de-escalation, using our therapeutic approach. All pupils will be expected to follow staff instruction and our Pupil Code of Conduct on any day in school. If a pupil was unable to follow these guidelines and rules we may decide that the pupil is no longer safe to attend.

Q - What steps will be taken if a pupil or staff member develops symptoms in school?

If a pupil is displaying symptoms, the pupil will be isolated in school with a staff member, in a designated room. Both will be provided with PPE to wear whilst a phone call home is made to arrange for the pupil to be collected as soon as possible. A staff member would be sent home immediately. A child or staff member will be asked to self-isolate in the home for 7 days and their fellow household members to self-isolate for 14 days. In both cases, a COVID-19 test will be expected to be completed as quickly as possible.

Q - What steps will be taken if a pupil or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?

After taking a test, if it is confirmed that a pupil or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, then the pupil’s whole class, including the staff members, will be advised to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. If that pupil or staff member has been in contact with other pupils or staff members within school, it may be decided that a partial, or whole school closure is required to allow everybody directly affected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.

Q - Who can be tested?

Anyone above the age of five with symptoms can be tested for COVID-19:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested

If you are an essential worker and have symptoms, you can also apply for priority testing:

https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers

 

Q - Should I send my child to school if I have a medical condition and am classed as vulnerable?

Government guidance states that any pupil or staff member who is living in a household with someone who is classed as ‘clinically vulnerable’ but not ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, should attend school/work. This includes living with someone who is pregnant.

Any pupil or staff member who lives with someone who has been classed as ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ and needing to shield (one of the 1.5 million people who received letters) are not expected to attend school/work at this point. We will continue to support the pupil via our remote learning and therapy intervention, where required.   

Q - If my child shares transport with another pupil, how can my child practice social distancing to and from school?

For pupils who travel on SEN transport, guidance suggests that neither PPE, or social distancing, are needed if pupils are not symptomatic. However, transport providers are reviewing their routes and the numbers of pupils they can accommodate on transport. Concerns about transport should be raised by parents and carers directly with the LEA transport provider.

Q - How are staff travelling to and from school?

The majority of staff travel by public or personal transport. In order to reduce risk, we have revised our start and finish times for staff, to enable them to travel at less frequent times of the day. We have also reduced the number of days staff are required to be on site, whilst pupil attendance is lower than it would be usually.

Q - Will I be penalised for not sending my child back into school?

No, you will not be penalised if you do not send your child back to school for the remainder of this academic year. However, all pupils with education, health and care plans should, where possible, return to school from 8th June 2020. As we have remained open throughout the pandemic for Key Worker’s children, we now want to encourage all pupils to return to school. We do understand that some parents have already indicated that in the current circumstances they do not wish their child to return until September, at the earliest. However, those pupils who do not attend will continue to receive support via our remote learning on the School website and therapy intervention, if required.