Coronavirus - Preparation for potential School Closures
20 March 2020
Dear Parents and Carers
Further to the email/Dojo sent out this morning:
As you will no doubt be aware, the government released the list of key workers and further clarity on vulnerable children, in the early hours of this morning. A full copy of the guidance is available on this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
The key message from the government is that, if children can stay safely at home, they should, to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents and carers, wherever possible, to keep their children at home. Schools have been asked to stay open to provide childcare for those children who absolutely need to attend.
This service is not open to all, and if you are able to keep your children at home, then you must do so. Government advice says that staying at home is the safest place for children and will prevent rapid spread of the infection. Sending your child into school should be as a last resort or because you are required for critical work.
Children of essential Key Workers
Based upon the responses to the text I sent out this morning, asking parents to inform us if they need childcare, I am pleased to say that we can cater for everyone who replied and said they need it. This will take us over-capacity but we are anticipating that some of these will be for some days and not others. As such, we will not need to send out a questionnaire to determine your specific circumstances just yet. I am eternally grateful to those of you who said that you are key workers but have said you will keep your children off school; it is your responses that have allowed us to provide the service – you know who you are.
Later today we will text the families of identified key workers to book their places for next week.
We can only continue to offer school places if:
This will therefore need to be reviewed daily and is subject to future Government changes in guidance. If ratios are too high we will have no option but to close for all pupils. PLEASE, only send children in if you absolutely need to.
For now, we will use the school text messaging service to book places although we hope to improve this to something a little ‘tidier’ as we move forward.
Children eligible for Free School Meals (FSM):
Those children usually eligible for benefits related free school meals will still receive a meal each day. This will be available to both FSM children attending the childcare provision available and those at home. If any FSM children are in school – we will sort out their lunch. The school will provide a packed lunch for all of those working from home which can be collected between 10:30am and 11:30am and taken home.
Please be aware that this does not include universal free school meals for all children in Key Stage 1 and is only available to those who meet the benefits related free school meals criteria. If you are unsure as to whether you meet these criteria, please contact the school.
For those that are not eligible for benefits related free school meals, who meet the criteria and are attending school on Monday, children will need to be sent to school with a packed lunch. We are still awaiting further clarification from the Local Authority on whether or not their staff will be able to provide a hot meal throughout the rest of the week and will send further details about the arrangements as soon as we know.
Tasks and Activities for children – working from home
It is essential that all children are supported in their learning during this time of uncertainty and we know that you will be keen to play your part in this. Staff have been working hard over the recent period in anticipation of school closure and will be providing learning opportunities during this time. It is an expectation that all children engage in the learning provided and we will be monitoring this activity. Where children appear not to be accessing these learning opportunities, we will follow up with parents.
A letter outlining our learning provision was sent out earlier in the week. The only difference is that there will be some days when teachers are not available to provide online support as they will be each working 2 days per week in school.
Much of the learning we are asking pupils to do at home is based online. Today we are sending home iPads for some pupils to borrow who have been unable to complete our ‘dummy run’ because they has no access.
It is essential that children understand the rules and steps to keep themselves safe whilst working online. Please ensure children are properly supervised and that they are not left alone for long periods of time browsing the internet. We have strict firewalls at school to block inappropriate content that you will not have at home.
Those children that continue to attend school will also be accessing the same learning – there will not be separate provision for those in school compared to those working from home.
We will continually reassess the situation as more information is made available and will ensure we keep all parents and carers updated.
Remember that the latest guidance from Public Health England can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance
We appreciate the situation will create additional pressures for families, we will continue to seek out ways in which you can seek out support, similar to the document I posted on Dojo yesterday.
This letter aims to outline the arrangements we are putting in place for the next week. However we will constantly review the situation and keep you all informed. Things are changing minute by minute – If this letter appears a little disjointed it is because I’ve had to write and rewrite sections and new information arrives from various different organisations.
We’re on this.
Good luck. I’ll be in touch soon.
18 March 2020
I am sure you are aware of the sense of inevitability that the government will instruct schools to close at some point in the near future. As I mentioned in my last letter, we know as much as you do about when this might be; it could be in a few weeks or it could have happened between my writing and your receipt of this letter. My intention here is that Peafield will remain open and functioning as normally as possible for as long as we can.
I’m aware of some other school closures – predominantly secondaries. Where there are a large number of staff absences due to the imposition of the latest self-isolation rules, some schools have not had the supervision capacity to operate safely. Peafield is fortunate to not be in that position.
We are receiving daily advice and updates from the government DfE and we hear that they are developing their own ideas for schools and pupils although nothing has been released to us yet. We don’t know if they will provide schools with a complete solution that must be followed, if they will expect schools to develop their own systems or something in-between. Therefore, staff at Peafield Lane have been working hard with our partners at Flying High Trust to create systems that will allow learning to continue in the event that we are instructed to close and there is nothing provided centrally. The system we have developed is not perfect but it serves the purpose of allowing learning to continue and it provides a secure method of communication between teachers and parents and a safe environment in which pupils can access their work.
Tonight, we are having a ‘dummy-run’ where children have been asked to look on their Dojo’s ‘Class Story’ and complete the short task that has been set. There will be teething problems and we would ask that you work together with us to iron them out as we tweak things along the way. Tomorrow we’ll tackle any issues that might arise.
Children will need supervised access to the internet. They can use a tablet or laptop – they do not need to be high spec or brand new. If you do not have internet access at home please let us know as soon as possible.
The children have been practicing all week and should know exactly how to log into Purple Mash and any other websites they may be sent to. So, even if it sounds confusing to you, my teachers assure me that your children will know exactly how to use each of the systems. The only system we need you to be able to use is Class Dojo. If you get stuck – contact your class teacher and they will help you out.
Below. I’ve provided an example of a typical day that we have developed alongside our Partner schools in the Trust.
10:00 – 11:00
11:00 ß …. à 2:30
2:30 – 3:15
Daily Work Available on Mash/Class Dojo and Class Website
Class Check-in.Teacher available for online chat
Independent study time.
Teacher will periodically respond to dojo and emails
Teacher available for online chat
Log into Class Dojo in the morning. Teachers will have prepared work and have it posted in Dojo’s ‘class story’ by 9am each day. Some of our older children will have their own personal Dojo accounts. Younger children will use the class story only.
It will include a range of activities with a mixture of online and offline activities. Exercise books will be provided for offline tasks – Please ensure they are well cared for and that standards of writing reflect the pride that children should show in all of their work.
Between 10:00am and 11am
Teachers have been instructed to be sat at their computers ready to receive any questions and provide support for children and parents who have any questions about the work they have been set. Children do not need to log in to the morning ‘check-in’; Teachers will be there for you if you need them. You can contact teachers through Dojo and email.
Up until 2:30pm
Children continue with their work at their own pace. We are setting work that should last approximately 2 - 3hrs per day which means that if children are working from around 9am through to 2:30 pm they will have 5 ½ hours to complete up to 3 hrs worth of work.
Teachers will continue to check for messages throughout the day but it could be a bit longer between responses as they will have other duties they are carrying out at the same time (including looking after their own children).
2:30 – 3:15pm
This is another period of time when teachers will be timetabled to be at their computers ready to receive emails, Dojos, etc. Teachers will use this time to see which children have been logged into the ‘Purple Mash’ system. If we haven’t heard from a child in a couple of days a senior member of staff will contact you directly to check that all is OK.
It is our intention to keep the ‘virtual school’ up and running for as long as is necessary. We are committed to continuous communication with you and with our children and so it goes without saying that we will need your support with this. Whilst there will be a reduction in the ‘daily work’ for children during the Easter holidays, we are still planning to keep lines of communication open.
We understand that for many of you, your children will be spending time with other family members whilst you try to go out to work. Please feel free to share their contact details with us and we will support them in accessing the systems needed to support children’s learning. Please understand that it may take a few checks for safeguarding purposes as we cannot simply accept anyone into what is a safe, ‘closed system’.
If our staff and their families get ill we will try to provide cover to continue the service as much as we can. We will endeavour to keep you informed throughout.
Other information and updates:
Finally, and most important – your children are our children. That means that from our perspective here at Peafield, we are a family – you included. We want you all to stay safe and to look out for yourselves and for each other.
Coronavirus Information – Frequently Asked Questions
Friday 13 March 2020
Earlier in the week I wrote to you to let you know that for UK schools it is ‘business as usual,’ and this continues to be the case. I can appreciate that whilst we are saying one thing, the media are continuously speculating and this can be confusing. Therefore I thought I would write to clear up some concerns and offer some advice by answering a few of the questions that we have been receiving.
1 Is the school closing?
It may be that at some point in the future the government decides to close schools but we don’t know when this might happen or whether there will be a country-wide closure or a more local response. Schools receive daily updates and this is because decisions are being made on a day-by-day basis at government level. It is highly unlikely that we will be told, e.g. “Schools will close in two weeks’ time.” More likely, we will receive instructions on one day to say closures will be from the next working day. Schools will close based on government instruction and will not take local decisions.
2 How will we know if the school will close?
If there is a national closure it is possible that the first you (and we) will hear about it is that there will be an announcement by the government on TV, radio, etc. Following this, we will immediately contact each of our parents via text to let them know what is happening. Information will be posted on the school website. The school will not close part way through a day. So, if there is an announcement at e.g. 11am by the Prime Minister, you will be told that Peafield Lane will be closed ‘from tomorrow’ or ‘from Monday’ and we will share with you the anticipated length of closure.
If schools close…
3 What will happen to my child’s education?
Whilst we are being told that it is ‘business as usual’, we have looked at what is happening in other countries and, behind the scenes, we are preparing for ‘just in case’. Throughout this week (16-20 March) teachers are preparing work that can be completed at home and we are also planning for teachers to be available online for periods of the day to be accessible to parents and children to provide learning support. We are still working on the fine details but the plan is that there will be set times during the day where children and or parents can contact their teacher or TA directly from home. It won’t be for the whole day as, just like you, many staff will have their own children off school and they will need to meet their own families’ needs.
Over the next few days we will be trying to find which of our families can and cannot access online learning platforms (access to smart phones, tablets, computers, etc). We are also looking at multiple platforms to ensure communication and information sharing remains safe. At the moment it is looking like Class Dojo might be one solution but we have more testing and staff training to do – please get signed up if you haven’t already!
4 What will happen with SATs and other exams?
All of the information we have received so far is that they will go ahead as normal. We need to remember that any decisions will be made on a national level. Therefore please continue to support your children as we want to ensure that we do not lose this opportunity for learning as a result of any potential closure. No individual child will be worse or better off should the unlikely decision be made to postpone exams, or indeed, sit exams after several weeks of school closures.
5 Will the school be open for childcare?
6 What will staff be doing?
Teachers will be expected to provide work for pupils and be accessible (alongside some TAs) for online communication for a period of time each day during term time. TA staff will have training programmes that they will be accessing. Admin staff will be working from home. Cleaning staff will be in school carrying out a deep cleaning exercise.
7 Can I keep my child off school as a precaution?
No. It has been made clear to all schools that the normal attendance arrangements are in place. Any unauthorised absences will be logged and could lead to significant fines. If the schools are open, they remain open for all pupils and attendance is compulsory barring the usual acceptable reasons for absence. If you have a child of increased vulnerability, as a precautionary measure we advise you contact your consultant/111 for specific guidance and assurances.
8 Where can I get more information?
The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
You can keep up to date with advice by consulting the Public Health England website:
Or the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
The latest advice concerning Coronavirus was updated on the 12th March 2020.
You can keep up to date with advice by consulting the Public Health England website: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
Or the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Please use the links above to keep up to date on the latest guidance on what to do if displaying symptoms associated with coronavirus.
The Government’s plans now are to continue to try and contain the spread, but also delay its spread.
Whilst there are no current plans at a Government level to close schools, we will continue to follow government guidance and IF schools are to close I would like to reassure you that our staff team are working to ensure that there is educational provision in place for all children during any period of closure. Any decision to close a school, or all schools will be a government decision, and not one taken locally by individual schools.
We will continue to keep you informed and hope that you will take the time to read and follow the advice below and to review the attached FAQs based on questions that are arising locally and nationally.
Schools are at this point, staying open, and your child should continue to attend.
Please stay well informed, and as ever, should you need to discuss any school related concerns with us, please contact us in the usual way.