Wider Opening of Schools
Updated 28th May 2020
Response to Government Guidance to re-open Knowsley Schools from 1 June 2020
May 28, 2020
Frequently asked questions
Q. Are Knowsley schools implementing the Government guidance and re-opening from 1 June 2020 to pupils in Nursery, Reception, Year 1, Year 6 and Year 10?
No. It is worth noting that all Knowsley schools have actually been open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of providing emergency childcare for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Knowsley schools and Knowsley Council recognise that the relatively late national Government announcement mean that there was not sufficient planning time to extend this offer to other key year groups by 1 June 2020; therefore schools in Knowsley will not be extending their pupil populations by 1 June 2020.
Q. When will Knowsley schools re-open?
It is more important for schools to re-open safely than it is to meet any arbitrary deadline. Schools in Knowsley will therefore re-open when Head Teachers and their Governing Bodies have agreed with all key stakeholders that it is safe to do so. Each individual school is required to undertake comprehensive risk assessments, working with accredited professionals and trade unions to ensure that all health and safety requirements are met.
Schools will need to re-organise classrooms, corridors, playgrounds and teaching groups before they can begin to welcome more children back to school. They will need to revise key policies, introduce new systems, source new resources, and implement public health guidance, as well as providing training/briefings so that all staff understand these new ways of working.
Each school is different and it is therefore not possible – and neither would it be appropriate – to give a definitive date for the re-opening of Knowsley schools. Initial intelligence suggests that the majority of schools will be extending their offer to pupils from 15 June 2020 at the earliest. The Council believes that the focus must be on the safe re-opening of each individual setting and recognises how difficult it is for each school to reach a decision when the national guidance and testing arrangements etc are changing so frequently – and therefore the Council will not be setting any specific date by which schools must meet safety standards.
Q. Will all identified year groups be welcomed back together?
No. Schools will take a gradual phased approach to the welcoming back of more students. Based on their risk assessments and available staffing, individual schools will identify the year groups who they will welcome back first. Our initial information suggests that many of our schools will start to welcome back Year 6 first. Schools will communicate their individual plans to their families.
Q. Will schools remain open for the children of key workers?
Yes; all schools in Knowsley have offered emergency childcare to key workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and this will continue.
Q. Will schools remain open for vulnerable children?
Yes; all schools in Knowsley have offered emergency childcare to vulnerable children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and this will continue.
Q. What steps do schools need to take to re-open?
The relevant Government guidance can be accessed here – it outlines a wide range of requirements for schools to consider before they welcome more students back to school. Trade Unions have also produced a joint checklist for school leaders to consider when planning for the return of more pupils. In addition to comprehensive risk assessments, some of the protective measures which schools are asked to have in place are:-
- Making sure that staff and children with symptoms of COVID-19 do not attend
- Reduced class sizes – to no more than 15 per teaching group
- Keeping teaching groups in “social bubbles” throughout the day in order to prevent contact with others outside the “bubble”
- Restricting movement into and around school
- Good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene systems
- Enhanced cleaning
- Good ventilation
- Utilising outdoor spaces
- Restricting parent/carer access to playgrounds/school buildings etc.
Q. Will all children in key year groups have a school place?
Not necessarily. Schools will audit their available staff and physical teaching spaces; they will then decide which year groups (in addition to the key worker children and vulnerable children groups) which they can safely accommodate in school. Some schools may be required to cap the number of places in particular year groups depending on the number of available staff, the flexibility of teaching spaces, and the demand from key worker and vulnerable children. Individual schools will communicate their plans to their communities.
Q. Is it compulsory for children in identified year groups to attend?
No; at present parents/carers can choose whether to access a school place or not. Families will not be penalised if they choose not to send their children to school.
Q. Will schools have staggered start/finish times?
To support the safe collection/pick up of children and to adhere to social distancing measures, it is highly likely that schools will introduce staggered start and finish times. Schools will communicate their individual plans to parents/carers.
Q. Are Knowsley planning for all primary schools to return before the summer holidays?
This is a decision for the Governing Body to make in each individual school, but it appears unlikely at present that all Knowsley primary schools will have fully reopened by the start of the summer holidays. The Council will not be setting any arbitrary target date for schools to reopen.
Q. What will happen if there is a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in a school?
Government guidance published on 20 May 2020 states that – when a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus.
The national guidance is currently being updated in the light of the development of the national contact tracing programme. Where a child, young person or staff member tests positive, close contacts within their class/group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class/group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member who they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.
Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.
When staff are caring for a symptomatic child or colleague who has become ill in the workplace, they should ensure that they wear full PPE as outlined in the Government guidance “Coronavirus: COVID19 Guidance for Educational Settings” (last updated on 20 May 2020).
Q. Will PPE be available to schools?
Government guidance indicates that schools should use local supply routes to secure PPE. Many schools will already have an available stock of some PPE. Schools are able to use a Service Level Agreement with the Council or their own supply routes to secure more PPE based on need in line with Government guidelines.
Q. Can schools access coronavirus tests for staff and children?
Yes; children over the age of 5 and all school staff can access testing for coronavirus via the Government’s website.
Q. What arrangements are in place for track and trace systems and how can schools access them?
As part of the national test and trace programme, if cases are detected within a child or young person’s cohort or in a wider education or childcare setting, Public Health England’s local Health Protection Teams will conduct a rapid investigation and, in conjunction with the Council’s Public Health team, will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. Schools will be updated further on outbreak management protocols once further government guidance has been published.
Q. How will clinically vulnerable and extremely clinically vulnerable staff and children be protected?
People who are classed as extremely clinically vulnerable are advised to remain at home and schools should seek to support staff and children to do so.
Clinically vulnerable staff, including pregnant women, should work at home if they can. If they cannot work from home they should be offered the safest available onsite roles and strict social distancing measures should be rigorously implemented within the setting.
Students who are clinically vulnerable, are directed to seek medical advice in relation to attending school.
Q. How satisfied are parents/carers with the approach taken in Knowsley so far?
A recent survey of Knowsley parents/carers in relation to the re-opening of schools indicated that many were highly satisfied with the emphasis being on Knowsley schools opening safely as opposed to according to any arbitrary timescale.
At present, no date in the summer term has been set for a confirmed wider opening of any school. Prescot Primary will continue to follow its planned yearly calendar and our emergency provision for key workers’ children will continue through what would have been the half term break. We would have returned to school on June 8th but so far no date has been set for a wider opening. Please see the bottom of this page for the full document.
The latest guidance from Knowsley Council can be found here: Knowsley News
Please scroll down for our letter to Key Workers and Free School Meal Guidance
Following the Prime Minister’s broadcast 8.30pm Monday 23rd March and the new stricter measures regarding social distancing and quarantine measures (otherwise referred to as 'lockdown') we urge all parents/carers to carefully consider their child's place at school.
While the guidance for schools and the guidance for parents/carers has not changed everyone must review if the place is essential. It is very clear, and always has been, that the safest place for your child is at home. School closed on Friday 19th March. School is open for children of key workers only and our most vulnerable children. This does not mean that these children must have a place. Families in these circumstances must carefully consider their childcare options and only bring their child/children to school as a last resort.
Our staff team are committed to supporting our school community.
Those staff with underlying medical conditions and those who are vulnerable themselves are not allowed to come to school but instead are supporting us by working from home, e.g. updating Home Learning and maintaining contact through our Twitter accounts.
Those staff who are able to come to work have worked together to create a rota of staffing to meet the needs of children attending school. This rota provides a skeleton staff as we do our best to minimise contact for them.
We urge all parents and carers to consider the risks of this unprecedented national and global crisis. Please help keep your family safe and your school safe. Only bring your child/children to school if you have no options of childcare at home. Thank you
Dear Parents / Carers
As you will be aware, Coronavirus is a rapidly changing situation and we have been working with the Department for Education, Public Health England and Knowsley Council to plan for such a pandemic.
As per the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday we have been directed to close schools for most children. We are prepared and ready to respond to this challenge.
We are writing to inform you that school will close on 20.03.20 at 3:15pm and will remain closed until further notice. Parents should check the school website and Twitter @PrescotPrimary for updates which will be posted regularly.
Pupils in KS2 will be provided with work through Google Classroom, digital subscriptions or iPad apps. KS1 can access work via the website or work packs if requested. EYFS parents can access activities that will be shared via Parent Share. Please check our Home Learning page on the website for more details. The work will be updated on a regular basis.
As advised by the government, we will be open from Monday 23rd March for the children of key workers (e.g. NHS staff, police, others in frontline services) and children with an EHCP or a social worker. Please let us know if you think your child falls into one of these categories by 12pm on Friday 20th March as we will need to refine our plans according to numbers.
However, we encourage you and your children to continue to follow Public Health England advice on keeping yourselves safe. Updated information can be found here :
The government has made it clear in its guidance regarding key workers: “Many parents working in these critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be."
This is an offer to parents and carers and there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so.
Pupils who are eligible for free school meals will have their lunches provided for them. Further information about this will be communicated to these families as soon as we have more guidance.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) - PHE and GOV.UK advice
In light of the recent outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19 we want to assure you that we take the health and safety of our students and staff very seriously. We cannot give advice to parents other than that which is produced by the government through Public Health England. Please continue to use this as your source of reliable information. We will continue to use both our website and our Twitter account @PrescotPrimary to support passing on the messages from central government.
Please see letters attached below.