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Arrangements for September - Autumn Term 2021

Friday 16th July 2021

Dear parents & carers,

IMPORTANT - Looking ahead to September 2021

In a previous Parent Mail, it was mentioned that schools were awaiting updated guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) regarding the planned relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions on July 19th.

That guidance has now been published so we are now sharing with you an overview of our planning for when the children come back to school on Monday 6th September. This is quite a long letter but, I do think it is important that we communicate openly and honestly with our families.

Please note: For the last four days of this term, we will keep the current systems in place.

I appreciate that people may have very different feelings about so-called ‘freedom day’ with some keen to see a return to some kind of normality and others concerned about a spike in infections & the impact on critically vulnerable people. Our aim here at Bignold, is to take a balanced approach with us planning for the new school term to be as similar as possible to how it was before the pandemic whilst still keeping in place some mitigations.

Please note: the current guidance may be subject to review & we have been warned that a significant rise in the national infection rate or the emergence of a new variant could result in changes to our planned opening arrangements. We will update you as soon as possible if this does happen.

I thought it would be helpful to start with some key headlines from the new DfE guidance:

  • The Bubble System has been changed and we hope that, if a child or adult tests positive, the whole year group will no longer be asked to isolate. However, the details of this are yet to be fully confirmed and the local Outbreak Management may still require specific close contacts to isolate (see below).
  •  Face masks will no longer be compulsory outdoors – we would ask that visitors entering the school building do continue to wear a face mask (unless exempted from doing so).
  • Good attendance is vitally important. The advice to shield is no longer in place and all children are expected to attend school unless they are ill or have been told to isolate by Track and Trace. Schools are not able to authorise holidays and non-attendance can result in a fine being issued by Norfolk County Council.
  • Parents and carers should not enter the school building unless they are arriving for a scheduled appointment.
  • Staggered start times & the one-way system will no longer apply. We would ask that you walk on the left as you enter & exit to help the flow of footfall.
  • Hand hygiene remains vital for helping stop the spread of infection with regular washing & sanitising to continue.
  • Respiratory hygiene will also continue to be important with children encouraged to use a tissue when they cough or sneeze in order to ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’.
  • The cleaning of hard surfaces in the school (such as tables and door handles) will continue to be carried out frequently.

I would like to make it clear that we will be moving forward with reducing restrictions as directed by the government. However, we will continue to proceed with caution as we feel we have a clear duty of care to out community and that you all deserve us to have given any measures we put in place all due care and attention.

Whilst we are very eager to move forward into this ‘new normal’, we know we will face a challenging Autumn term and the picture will continue to change. Whilst you will all, no doubt, be very pleased that we hope to see far less closure for bubbles, you should be aware that schools MUST have a local outbreak management plan. We will continue to be supported by Public Health England and Norfolk local Outbreak Management Team. This MAY mean if there is a very significant increase in cases and risk, there is STILL the potential that we would be directed to return to online learning. We wanted to make that really clear to help manage expectations. This would be a very last resort but in terms of the ‘dark art’ of risk management it is a possible outcome.

Your support during these difficult times has been hugely appreciated. Specific arrangements for September can be seen below.

With my best wishes,

Chris Newman

Head of School

 

Arrangements for Autumn Term 2021

The start of term:

Children will start back at school on Monday 6th September 2021.

Morning drop-off:

8.30 am

8.35 am

8.40 – 8.55 am

8.55 am

9.00 am

Gates open for Preschool & Nursery

Gates to main school open

Soft start – classrooms doors will open from 8.40 am & you can drop off your child at any time from then until 8.55 am.

Children will have learning activities in the classrooms & will read 1:1 with staff.

Classroom doors will close.

School gates will be closed.

Registration will begin.

Learning starts – children will need to be in their classrooms & ready to learn.

Children should be dropped off at the classroom doors and we would ask that parents & carers leave promptly so that we can limit the number of adults onsite.

The Reception classes will use the main school entrance (timings for this have been sent out separately) so it will still not be possible for parents to come into the office hatch until the children have gone through to their classrooms. Please continue to use the messages@bignold.norfolk.sch.uk email address or telephone on 01603 625721.

Attendance & being on time

As I am sure you can appreciate, having a positive & structured start to the day is hugely beneficial for children’s education; we all know, as adults, how bad having a rushed, stressful morning makes us feel.

Our learning starts promptly at 9.00 am so we would ask that all children are in school at least 5 minutes before that so that they start their day in a calm, purposeful manner.

We appreciate that sometimes families can run late for a variety of reasons. If this does happen to you, please phone the school office so that we know to expect you.

Children arriving between 8.55 and 9.25 am will be marked as being late.

Children arriving after 9.25 am will be marked as unauthorised absence and this will affect their overall attendance*.

*This is in line with DfE guidance that arrival at school more than 30 minutes after registration began should be counted an unauthorised absence.

Overall good attendance has a massive impact on how well children do in school and there is strong evidence to show that children whose attendance is over 96% of all sessions are more likely to make good progress and achieve academic success.

Afternoon pick-up

Classroom doors will open at 3.15 pm so we will open the school gates just before then. We would ask that parents still follow social distancing and wait for children to be dismissed from the classroom doors.

If your child is in Year 4, 5 or 6 and you would like them to walk out of school on their own to meet you, please contact the school office so that we can update our records.

Lunchtimes

Although we will no longer be operating completely separate Year Group Bubbles, we will still put in place some measures to limit the amount of contact there is between our year groups.

Year

Times

Eating

Playing

Nursery (children staying for a full day)

11.30-12.30

Classroom

The Nursery garden

Reception

11.45-12.45

Infant Hall

The Reception garden

Year 1

11.55-12.55

Dining Hall

Year 1 garden & front playground

Year 2

11.55-12.55

Dining Hall

Front playground

Year 3

12.25-1.25

Dining Hall

Front playground & field or back playground & outdoor gym

Year 4

12.25-1.25

Dining Hall

Year 5

12.25-1.25

Junior Hall

Year 6

12.25-1.25

Junior Hall

 

There will be stagger for eating times to reduce the pressure on key pinch points i.e. the Dining Hall. This would also mean that, should any restrictions be put in place, we are already limiting contact between year groups.

Outside playtimes are also staggered slightly so that year groups are not out together for long periods of time. Years 3 & 4 will share an outside space, as will Years 5 & 6. They will alternate between the front playground & field or the back playground & outdoor gym each half-term.

We will also be encouraging children to sit and enjoy their mealtimes together without bolting food and rushing outside. Enjoying sociable time with food can be a really pleasant experience – it’s something many of us do as adults – and we think it is important that children are encouraged to do this too. Sadly, I see an awful lot of wasted food when children try to ‘dump’ their packed lunches or school dinners so that they can rush outside. I do understand why they want to do this but I know how hard families work to provide these meals and hate to see them wasted.

School uniform

The Bignold school colours are grey, green and white and you are free to combine those colours how you like. We do, however, expect all children to follow the school dress code at all times:

Jumpers - children should wear plain jumpers or jumpers featuring the school logo. Hoodies or branded clothing are not permitted and children will be asked to remove these.

Trousers - children should wear plain black or grey trousers. Jogging bottoms or branded clothing are not permitted.

Shoes - We ask children to wear plain black outdoor shoes, a suitable style for everyday wear. Footwear such as open-toe sandals, high-heeled shoes and slingback shoes do not provide adequate support or protection. Plain black trainer style shoes can be worn but, as a general rule, trainers are not permitted.

For P.E. we ask that children should wear plain black or grey shorts with a plain white t-shirt or a plain unbranded t-shirt in their house colours. Football shirts should not be worn.

When the weather gets colder, children should wear plain, unbranded black or grey jogging/tracksuit bottoms and a plain, unbranded sweatshirt or hoodie. PE will take place outside as much as is possible so children should wear sturdy outdoor trainers.

On PE days, children should come to school in their P.E. kit – your child’s class teacher will let you know when PE takes place when school resumes in September.

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