On Sunday, the Prime Minister announced ‘the first sketch of a road map’.
On Monday, the government published its COVID-19 recovery strategy, and provided schools with two documents: Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 and Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings.
On Tuesday, Heads of School and I met to talk through the detail set out in those documents so we could begin to explore how our schools can provide what the government asks us to do. These discussions have been continuing throughout the week.
On Wednesday, the Department for Education’s chief scientific adviser suggested the government guidance on safety is a “draft”, and will be reissued after further consultation with Public Health England. If this is the case, and the guidance changes, it leaves us with little time and lots of questions in order to try to meet the government’s aim to re-open.
Reassuringly, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, yesterday acknowledged the need for flexibility:
We need to make sure that schools have the flexibility to work within these guidelines to make the proposals work for both staff and for children.
On Thursday, we’d like to keep you updated about some of the possibilities that we have discussed. This is not an exhaustive list, but provides an idea of the range and difficulty of the conversations that we’ve been having. Nothing here is definite – no final decisions have been made – but we want you to be aware that the headlines aren’t quite the same as what could be the reality in a few weeks’ time.
On Monday 01 June, we will not re-open for children other than those of key workers and those who may be more vulnerable in some way – this is the same as what we’re doing now.
We are working towards some sort of re-opening, and it might be as early as Tuesday 02 June. However, it’s possible that some of the following will apply:
- although the government talks about children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returning, just one of those year groups returns to school
- the school day isn’t a full day and/or the school week isn’t a full week
- the whole year group does not return together
- your child will be taught by a different teacher and in a different classroom
- the curriculum is reduced
- school dinners would be different
When we plan for some children returning, we’ll very closely consider how we can continue to provide the best home learning activities that is practically possible.
Throughout this period, we’ve tried to communicate as much as possible with you to help you to prepare, and that’s why we’re presenting these possibilities. We know the fact they’re just possibilities might be frustrating for you when you’re trying to plan ahead, including whether you’re able to return to work, but the safety of pupils and staff has to be paramount.
To help us plan, there will be a short survey to you – look out for that today or tomorrow.
As always, we’ll keep you updated as our plans develop and when further guidance from the DfE is released. All of this will be done to make sure children, families and staff all stay safe.