FAQs for September 2020

Published: 14 July 2020

The Coronavirus and School Opening - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). September 2020

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 outline our approach to reducing the risk of contraction and the further spread of COVID-19 for when we fully reopen in September 2020. 

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 all children in coming back to school on a full time basis 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 are updated, when required, to account for any national and local guidance changes.

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

Senior leaders hold regular meetings themselves and with lead members of the Governing Body, to ensure our policies and procedures continue to reflect the latest government guidance. Staff briefings are held twice weekly at school, with all staff members in attendance, reinforcing our collective responsibility to ensure our school is as safe as possible. This helps ensure our practice is consistently applied across St John Vianney School.

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 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 of pupils in classrooms

  • Staggering of activities - including breaks and lunch times

  • Manageable social ‘bubbles’

  • Reduction in 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

To achieve sensible social distancing practice, as we open fully in September, will require the formation of ‘social hubs’. Class ‘social hubs’ will be supported in a ‘wider hub’, (up to 40 pupils), based on their geographical location in school. Class sizes will be no more than 10 but for purposes of outside ‘play’ and at break times the ‘wider hub’ will be in operation. This will support the Government guidance on maintaining distinct groupings; balancing the need to reduce the risk of the spread of infection, and the expectation that school delivers the full curriculum to all pupils.

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.

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 and especially after transitions -  a change of activity

  • Staff and pupils have access to hand sanitisers in classrooms

  • Staff have access to anti-bacterial wipes and cleaning products in classrooms

  • The use of shared objects and equipment is limited

  • Our teachers and therapists have provided learning resources that support the teaching of pupils in 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 school-wide safer practice posters throughout the school day

How often is the school being cleaned?

The school buildings are being thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis, which includes sanitising all surfaces. Corridors and toilet areas are routinely cleaned throughout the school day. In classroom areas cleaning 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 Coronavirus were to be confirmed, a deep clean of the site would take place as soon as possible.

What are ‘our safer classroom practices’?

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

  • Pupils regularly wash and sanitise their hands every day
  • Pupils are grouped and spaced in classrooms with consideration to COVID-19 risks
  • Pupils are required to remain predominantly in their class spaces, with minimal visits to shared-use areas
  • Pupils are provided with their own stationery and resources
  • Surfaces and objects within classrooms are regularly cleaned
  • Unnecessary equipment, including soft furnishings, are removed from classrooms.

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

This varies across our different key stages; the largest class size we are planning for in September is 10 pupils.

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

Class teachers have been asked from September to deliver our whole, broad and ambitious curriculum - core and foundation subjects, creative activities and enrichment – as far as is possible. Activities that are usually accessed off-site will still be offered, but only following a thorough risk assessment of the activity by the SLT.

The initial focus of learning in September will centre on revisiting key aspects of learning from the point where learners stopped being taught the curriculum in mid-March. Other aspects of learning, including emotional well-being and PSHE, will be delivered in the first few weeks in September to support our learner’s transition back into full-time schooling. 

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 and their own work spaces, where possible. We are promoting good hygiene practices, (including lots of proper hand-washing), and staff are cleaning shared equipment regularly.

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

Yes. However, breaks and playtime will take place within the ‘wider hub’ and staff will support pupils at these times in maintaining sensible social distancing.

In PE, unnecessary equipment will not be used and equipment that is used will be cleaned more regularly. Staff will aim to clean the general gym surfaces and any equipment after their group has used the space.

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

Yes. However, our ‘wider hubs’ will be maintained.  Within these ‘hubs’, through the demarcation of separate play areas and provision of staggered breaks and lunch times, we will be able to avoid the queuing and congestion normally experienced at these times.

Until further notice, school will provide only packed lunches. These will be prepared in the school canteen, and eaten in your child’s classroom. Eating areas will be thoroughly cleaned after lunch has been taken. The cost of school lunch will remain unchanged - £2.00. All children will continue to make their individual lunch choices for the following week, each Friday – albeit from the unavoidably restricted menu.

May my child bring a packed lunch to school?

Yes. We ask only that they are provided a healthy and balanced meal.

Will I continue to receive Free School Meal (FSM) Vouchers for my child?

Those eligible for FSM will continue to receive weekly vouchers throughout the summer holiday. These are distributed by ‘Edenred’, on behalf of the Government. There is no indication this will continue in September, as children eligible for free school meals will receive lunches whilst attending at school. 

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

No - Unless an individual staff member has been given specific advice from their GP/Consultant to wear PPE at work. 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. 

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.

What happens if my child requires a physical intervention 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.

All staff at St John Vianney School underwent refresher training in the Team Teach methodology in July 2020. Our work in this area focuses on de-escalation, using a therapeutic approach. All pupils are expected to follow staff instruction and adhere to our pupil ‘Code of Conduct’ when in school. If a pupil was unable to observe our code of conduct we may decide that the pupil is no longer safe to attend.

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

If a pupil is displaying symptoms, they 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.

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. Following a positive test result,  the school will immediately contact and follow Trafford Public Health guidance and support its’ use of ‘Track and Trace’ to identify others at risk of COVID-19, in an attempt to reduce the possible further spread of the virus.

Who can be tested?

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


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


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

Government guidance states that from 1st August that ‘shielding advice’ will pause, (subject to a continued decline in the rates of transmission). This means that all pupils and staff who were previously shielding can now return to the setting, as can those who have family member shielding.

Some pupils who are no longer required to shield, but who generally remain under the care of a specialist health professional may need to discuss their care provision with their GP/Consultant before returning to school. If necessary, we will continue to support these pupils via our remote learning and therapy intervention. All other pupils from September 1st must attend their school setting.

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

In March, when the coronavirus outbreak was increasing, the Government made it clear that no parent would be penalised, or sanctioned, for their child’s non-attendance at their education setting. Now the circumstances have changed, it is vital for all children to return to their education setting to minimise, as far as possible, the longer-term impact of the outbreak on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development.

Missing out on more time in the classroom risks pupils falling further behind. Those with higher overall absence tend to achieve less well in both primary and secondary school.

Attendance will again become mandatory from the beginning of the autumn term.

This means that from September the usual compulsory instructions re attendance will apply. Including:

  • A parents’ duty to ensure that their child attends regularly at their education setting -  where the child is a registered pupil at school and they are of compulsory school age
  • St John Vianney School’s responsibilities to record attendance and monitor absence
  • The availability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices, in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct

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, nor 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. It is not possible for ‘transport bubbles’ to be replicated in school during the day, because of the number of LEAs we work with to supply education provision. Concerns about transport should be raised by parents and carers directly with the LEA transport provider.

Associated Documents