We know that keeping children safe and reassured during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a priority for all Senior Leaders and Educators. As we come to the end of the academic year in England, we are all faced with new beginnings in September. Schools will re-open to all year groups, and there is a lot to consider. Nothing compares to being in the classroom face to face with your students. Although the restrictions and capacity will be different, there are some key things to keep in mind.
Looking after staff
During the peak of the pandemic, teachers have been called front line workers and have been remarkable at adapting to the new normal of 2020. Senior Leaders need to check in with their teaching staff and ask how they are feeling and address any anxieties that may have developed. Reduced class sizes may mean that less staff are physically required in the school buildings each day. Some schools are providing a staggered approach to returning staff and allowing the new procedures to be eased in when September arrives.
Keeping children safe & informing parents
A great way of communicating how your school is going to keep everyone safe is to put together an informative video for parents. Walkthrough the school, show the new signage, explain the new policies and demonstrate the increased level of cleaning and sanitisation. Show the new layouts of the classrooms and how the corridors and high use pathways will be managed. Show how shared equipment and resources will be used, cleaned and utilised with little disruption to learning. With so many questions around the spread of the virus, it’s important to show how your school have addressed the risks of returning and what students can expect upon arrival next term.
You could include video or social media snippets to cover topics like;
- How do your students arrive and leave school?
- What will assemblies look in September?
- Are we maximising the use of outdoor spaces?
- What will break times look like?
- How sports equipment and the playground will be managed from September 2020
Ongoing communication through online newsletters and dedicated social media posts will minimise questions and build confidence in the entire school community.
Schools are developing new policies now around ‘bubbles’. Where possible, we will now work in class, year group and department sized bubbles. Your school should have or be in the process of developing social distancing processes that will help minimise contact between pupils and staff. To deliver the curriculum and maximise attendance in the new school year these measures need to be thought about by School Leaders, implemented and communicated to all school staff, students and families to put the safety of all in the school community first.
The full school guidance on Schools reopening was published on the 2nd of July 2020. You can read more specific and official advice here.
Prevention and safety is the goal for all in the Education Sector. Let’s work together to keep our schools open so our students can continue to enjoy learning!