Re-opening to all students in September – frequently asked questions

In addition to the following questions and answers, the government has also published information for parents and carers on the return of all children back to school in the autumn.

Will a specific and thorough risk assessment be carried out on all aspects of re-opening the academy to all students?

Yes. As a Trust we have established working groups to manage the safest way to re-open our academies to all students. This has included conducting a thorough risk assessment within each academy setting, which have been approved by the Board of Trustees. These risk assessments will continue to be reviewed and updated, with the safety of all students and staff in mind.

Under what circumstances should parents not send their child back to the academy? What is the academy’s position on non-attendance?

The government has stated that all students are expected to return to school from September. Our expectation is that your child should attend so long as they are well to do so and that the normal rules of attendance will continue to apply.

Shielding advice for all adults and children will pause on 1 August, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of Covid-19. This means that even the small number of students who will remain on the shielded patient list can also return to school, as can those who have family members who are shielding. Read the current advice on shielding.

Students MUST NOT attend if they, or any family member they live with, are displaying symptoms of Covid-19. If a child becomes unwell during the session, they will be moved immediately to a nominated separate room and parents/carers will be contacted as soon as possible. Also see: ‘What happens if students become ill or have an accident whilst in the academy?’

There may be some exceptional circumstances which could result in your child not attending and the academy should be informed the reason at the earliest opportunity, for example:

  • if a child is self-isolating and has had symptoms or a positive test result; or because they are in close contact with someone who has Covid-19
    • if rates of the disease rise in local areas, children (or family members) from that area, and that area only, are advised to shield during a period where rates remain high and therefore they may be temporarily absent
    • if a student remains under the care of a specialist health professional and may need to discuss their care with their health professional before returning to school (usually at their next planned clinical appointment). You can find more advice from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health at COVID-19 – ‘shielding’ guidance for children and young people’Where a student is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical and/or public health advice, the academy will offer access to remote education. Where children are not able to attend school as parents are following clinical and/or public health advice, absence will not be penalised.

Do students need to wear their uniform?
Yes. It is our expectation that the normal academy uniform policy will apply from September. The government’s guidance states that uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often than usual, nor do they need to be cleaned using methods which are different from normal. If you have any concerns about access to the correct uniform for your child, please contact the academy.

How will students get to and from the academy?
Please walk or cycle to the academy wherever possible and maintain social distancing. We understand this will be difficult for students when they see their friends, but it is very important that physical contact is prevented.

We have asked parents to avoid dropping their child(ren) off at the academy site where possible if travelling by car. By arranging a drop off and pick up point away from the academy, with your child walking to this point instead, we can help to reduce the congestion at the academy during busy times. We thank you for your support with this.

Will all students start and finish at the same time?

Yes, start times and finish times are the same for all students.  We do, however, have a specific entrance and exit point for each year group to avoid multiple year groups from gathering together.   Details of the entrance and exit that your child(ren) will use will be sent in August within the detailed joining instructions for their year group.  It is extremely important that students arrive and depart via the entrance/exit point they have been allocated, following the set transport arrangements. Please contact the academy office if exceptional circumstances arise.

Will you be offering extracurricular activities or clubs?

There will be no extracurricular activities or clubs for the first two weeks of term.  Arrangements beyond this date will be confirmed with students and parents.  We have taken this approach to ensure that the academy staff can focus upon getting the new school routines and core curriculum re-established first.  We hope to start offering year group specific extracurricular activities again after this period.

Where will students be based? Will their classroom(s) look different?

In line with the guidance, our aim is to minimise contact between children by separating them into groups which are known as ‘protective bubbles’.  Details of your child(ren)’s designated year group zone for lessons and social times will be sent within the detailed joining instructions in August.

Will students be able to move around the academy?

Students will only be able to move around their own year group zone and social area.  They will not have open access to the rest of the academy site.  When lessons require specialist rooms or facilities, students will be escorted by staff outside of the normal lesson changeover period when corridors are empty.

Will you operate a one-way system?

No. However movement is managed to ensure that social distancing is maintained throughout the academy and that year groups do not mix.

How often do we expect students to wash their hands?

We will be asking students to sanitise their hands upon arrival, before they eat, at the end of break times and before they leave as a minimum. We will also be reinforcing the ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ message to help educate students to cough or sneeze into tissues, to place tissues in the bin and to wash hands after – we are supporting this with posters to remind our academy community about the importance of thorough handwashing. We would ask that you can support us by emphasising these messages at home too.

Will hand sanitisers be available?

Hand sanitiser will be available for use, in addition to, but not as a substitute for, frequent handwashing.

What toilet and washing facilities are being provided for students?

Nominated toilets will be provided with handwashing facilities – these will be the closest to the rooms being accessed by students.

Will food, water or other drinks be provided by the academy to purchase? Are students allowed to bring their own?

We would encourage students where possible to bring snacks, packed lunch and their water bottle with them, but these should not be shared with their friends. Students will be able to purchase drinks as well as hot and cold food, but this will be from a highly reduced menu compared to normal.  They will not have access to the dining hall but food and drink will be served remotely within their year group zone.

The water fountains are turned off to prevent contamination and therefore students should ensure they bring with them all the drink they require. Please note that no fizzy drinks should be bought to the academy.

Will students get a break mid-session and can they socialise?

The school day will operate as normal with break and lunchtime as normal.  Students will spend break and lunchtime within their year group areas and will not be able to socialise with other year groups.

How do we ensure that we support students who are upset and/or anxious?

The wellbeing of students remains of the greatest importance to us and we recognise that students will have experienced many different feelings during this time. For many students, returning to the academy will provide them with the routine and structure that they need. We will ensure that staff are well-trained and confident to provide the reassurance and emotional support that all our students need.

If your family has experienced bereavement during this time, please let us know so that we can support your child in the best way possible.

What PPE should students and staff wear?

In line with the government’s guidance, the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) should only be required in certain circumstances. Students will only be required to wear a face mask if travelling on public transport, they are not required to wear a mask in the academy. However, if they choose to provide and wear their own masks, this will be acceptable. Where a mask is worn by the students this must be a proper mask plain in colour not an improvised alternative, for example a scarf or balaclava. The government has also stated that it is not necessary for adults to wear masks unless they are supporting a child with symptoms or carrying out personal care activities. There may therefore be times when adults in the academy will need to wear a mask and this will be explained to students.

What happens if students become ill or have an accident whilst in the academy?

If any student becomes ill with suspected Covid-19 symptoms they will be isolated immediately in a room provided by the academy, as per the government guidance. We will contact parents/carers to inform them to collect their child. We will then ask that the whole family follows the government advice and guidance around seeking medical help and isolating for the appropriate period of time. Anyone who displays symptoms of Covid-19 can and should book in for a test and engage in the NHS Test and Trace process.

In the event of a positive case being confirmed the academy will inform Public Health England and follow their guidance.  It may be necessary to ask groups/bubbles and staff to isolate following a possible case. Please see question ‘What happens if a student or member of staff tests positive for Covid-19?’

For any illnesses or accidents not linked to Covid-19, the usual policy around health and safety and first aid applies. Suitable PPE will be provided and used in situations where it is not possible to maintain social distancing.

What happens if a student or member of staff tests positive for Covid-19?

If someone tests positive for Covid-19, they should follow the ‘stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection’ and must continue to self-isolate for at least 7 days from the onset of their symptoms and then return to the academy only if they do not have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste. This is because a cough or anosmia can last for several weeks once the infection has gone. The 7-day period starts from the day when they first became ill. If they still have a high temperature, they should keep self-isolating until their temperature returns to normal. Other members of their household should continue self-isolating for the full 14 days.

As soon as the academy is made aware that someone who has attended has tested positive for Covid-19, the academy will contact the Public Health England local health protection team. This team may also contact the academy directly if they become aware that someone who attended the academy has tested positive for Covid-19, as identified by NHS Test and Trace.

The health protection team will carry out a rapid risk assessment to confirm who has been in close contact with the person during the period that they were infectious, and ensure they are asked to self-isolate. The health protection team will work with the academy in this situation to determine the actions that we need to take. Based on the advice from the health protection team, we will send home those people who have been in close contact with the person who has tested positive, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days from when they were last in close contact with that person when they were infectious. Household members of those contacts who are sent home do not need to self-isolate themselves unless the child, young person or staff member who is self-isolating subsequently develops symptoms.

If someone in a class or group that has been asked to self-isolate develops symptoms themselves within their 14-day isolation period they should follow the ‘stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection’. They should get a test, and:

  • if the test delivers a negative result, they must remain in isolation for the remainder of the 14-day isolation period. This is because they could still develop the coronavirus (COVID-19) within the remaining days.
  • if the test result is positive, they should inform their academy immediately, and must isolate for at least 7 days from the onset of their symptoms (which could mean the self-isolation ends before or after the original 14-day isolation period). Their household should self-isolate for at least 14 days from when the symptomatic person first had symptoms, following ‘stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection’.

It is extremely important, to protect both students and staff, that social contact outside of the academy is kept strictly in line with the government guidance. Parents are advised to ensure that their child does not mix more widely with other students beyond the academy, as this places their group at the academy at increased risk.

Will a designated safeguarding lead and first aider be on site?

Yes, a first aider will be on site each day and a member of the safeguarding team will be on call, if not available on site as well.

Will there be any changes to the curriculum? How will you help my child catch-up if they have fallen behind their expected age-related targets?

We will deliver a broad and balanced curriculum to all year groups.  All subjects will continue, although some adaptations to the content and the way they are normally delivered will be required.  For example, in practical subjects adaptations will be required to reduce contact and equipment sharing etc.

Teachers will be incorporating regular assessment points into their schemes of learning to identify gaps in student learning and plan appropriate teaching and learning to address these.

The government has announced that additional funding will be provided to all schools in England to help put in place catch-up support for students where it is needed. We will be planning to ensure that this is used to the maximum benefit of students in the new academic year.

What equipment will my child need?

Please refer to the essential equipment list on the academy website.

Can students use their mobile phones at the academy?

The academy’s mobile phone policy remains the same.