COVID-19 keeping Junior School girls safe

Reopening plans for Junior School

Additional information on the phased reopening of Junior School from Monday 1 June for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, pending confirmation from the Government that this will go ahead.

 

As the prospect of Years 2, 3, 4 and 5 returning before our end of term on 3 July looks increasingly less likely, we remain fully committed to delivering our excellent online remote learning provision.  

Key changes to school routines, policies and procedures

We fully expect our approach will evolve, as Government guidance changes.

Our priorities

In re-designing our school systems, our priority has been, and will continue to be, the safety and welfare of our community – that must come first.

We are taking a risk-based approach to ensuring a safe operating environment, in accordance with Government guidance.

Key principles include minimising the number of adults onsite and reducing movement around school. Risk assessments are in place for all significant activities. Our second priority is providing the best possible education under the circumstances – one that is distinctively St Mary’s.

Key measures for reopening

Parents onsite

Parents will not be allowed to access any school buildings. If you would like to speak to your daughter’s class teacher, please email them. If you need to speak to Dr Degnan please also email or call the school office. Please maintain a safe social distance at all times when on the school site.

Drop-off

We are proud of the very warm daily interaction between staff and parents at St Mary’s. Despite new routines and social distancing, we want to continue this, so that girls feel reassured and happy arriving and leaving school. Please could pupils be dropped off by one adult per pupil. We will continue to greet girls with enthusiastic and welcoming smiles.

Drop-off – Pre-prep

Please drop your daughter(s) off between 8.00-8.45am. Girls in Reception and Year 1 must access school via the Coach House playground.

If you drop-off by car, if possible, please park on Trumpington Road and walk your daughter across the Fen and into school using the Brook Gate entrance. Or park sensibly in the carpark in the drive, as signposted, and walk your daughter down, through the green gate, to the Coach House playground. Then access the Coach House (Reception through their classroom door, Year 1 through the Year 2 classroom door).

Drop-off - Year 6 and key worker childcare

Year 6 girls will enter school through the main entrance to Acton House where there will be a hand washing station. A member of staff will be on duty to ensure girls queue in a socially distanced way.

If you drop-off by car, you may use the school drive but please do not park. Parking is reserved for staff and Pre-prep parents.

Pick-up

Pick-up will be staggered as follows:

  • Reception and Year 1 – 3.00 - 3.20pm
  • Year 6 – 3.30 - 4.00pm

Reception parents will pick-up from the classroom door on the Coach House playground. Year 1 parents will pick-up from the main entrance to the Coach House. We will not offer a pick-up from the drive so, as in the mornings, please park sensibly and walk down to the Coach House. Please maintain social distance from other parents and do not spend more time than is necessary on site.

Year 6 and daughters of key workers should be collected from the drive. If collecting by car please remain in your car and we will send your daughter to you. If you walk or cycle, please enter via the Brook Gate and collect your daughter from the lawn. Year 6/daughters of key workers will be brought out at 3.30pm to the drive or lawn depending on how they are being collected.

I am afraid there will be no Park & Ride mini bus services.

After-school care

If girls are not collected, they will join after-school care (4.00-6.00 pm). If you arrive between 4.00- 6.00pm, ring the camera doorbell, we shall answer and then bring your daughter out to you.

Please notify Dr Degnan in advance if you would like to use after-school care.

Daily routines

To ensure girls remain socially distanced (as much as possible) and to provide the best education, daily routines will evolve. It may be necessary to split classes into A/B groups and girls may not be taught in their usual classrooms. Breaks and lunches will also take place in these A/B groups.

We aim to teach outside, as much as possible, taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather and reducing risk of infection. To this end, we are erecting large marquees on the lawn and gazebos on the playgrounds.

Lunch

As aforementioned, girls will lunch in their class group. Please provide your daughter with a packed lunch every day and a freshly filled water bottle. Lunch will be taken outside (weather permitting) on the lawn, in the Sensory Garden or in the playground. Please provide a daily snack, clearly labelled in a newly-washed Tupperware container. Girls will play with their group in a different area in school each day. For example, they may be in the woods on Monday, on the lawn on Tuesday and in the playground on Wednesday.

Uniform

Girls will be expected to wear our summer uniform, apart from the day they have PE, when they should arrive in school wearing their PE kit. Your daughter’s class teacher will confirm the timetable for their PE day. Please send your daughter into school each day in a freshly washed dress. We realise this may be a challenge, and we have asked the PTA to donate extra summer dresses to girls in Reception and Year 1. In Year 6, please ensure your daughter wears a freshly-washed blouse each day, and where possible skirt.

Social distancing

The guidance from Government states: ‘We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account.’

Girls will inevitably interact with friends and staff, often at close range, as it is very challenging for children to keep two metres apart at all times. Nevertheless, our range of measures to promote social distancing have been successfully proven with keyworker children in the past few months. We will endeavour to carefully manage risk, as far as possible.

Hygiene

Good hygiene will be vital. We will speak to girls about hygiene routines, with an emphasis on regular handwashing. Child-friendly (Beatrice Bee) posters will be displayed around school reminding them about good hygiene. We will have two full time Porters in school following a stringent cleaning procedure.

On entry to school, both to Acton House and the Coach House, girls must thoroughly wash their hands, at a hand washing station. Wall mounted hand sanitisers are also placed in key areas.

In classrooms, particularly Pre-prep, soft furnishings will be removed to minimise infection risk. Class teachers will also include guidance on classroom stationery when they contact you.

PPE

The Government guidance states PPE should only be worn in school by members of staff, if or when they deal with pupils who display symptoms of the virus. Therefore, we will have appropriate PPE in the First Aid Station.

We would rather girls do not wear face coverings as per Government guidance. It has been shown that younger children are often unable to use face covering effectively and if used incorrectly they may inadvertently increase the risk of any possible transmission.

If you feel strongly that your daughter should wear a face covering, please speak with her class teacher. We will need to be reassured that she can use it effectively.

First aid

We will have enhanced First Aid provision on our return, including daily nursing cover and a new First Aid Station in an unused classroom.

We also have an isolation area prepared, should we have a suspected case. Testing for coronavirus will be available at local testing centres for pupils, staff and members of their households.

The school will strictly adhere to Government protocol for suspected or confirmed cases of the virus. We also hope to hear shortly about the Government’s plans for tracking and tracing.

Visitors

Visitors entering the school building will be strictly forbidden. Please use email or call the school office to contact your daughter’s class teacher. Dr Degnan will have a new camera doorbell so that she can speak with visitors, without them entering the building.

Attendance

Government advice states that, all girls in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, except those that are self-isolating or are clinically vulnerable, are ‘strongly encouraged’ to attend school when it opens.

Few, if any, girls fall into the clinically vulnerable category, but please follow medical advice if your daughter does. A pupil living with someone who is clinically vulnerable, can attend school, according to Government guidance. If a pupil lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out in the guidance on shielding, please seek medical advice and contact the school. Pupils should not attend if they have symptoms or are self-isolating due to symptoms in their household. We ask if possible that you check your daughter’s temperature daily before leaving for school. If it is higher than normal, please keep her at home.

You must also reassure yourself that you are comfortable with the measures we have put in place to mitigate the risk of infection in school. We are unable to guarantee a risk-free school, an inevitable risk will remain, but we feel we have taken considered, sensible measures to lower the risk of infection.

Pastoral care #StillStMarys

The wellbeing of our girls remains paramount. There will be a carefully arranged induction programme on their first day in the new look St Mary’s.

As always, we will continue to monitor every pupil and liaise closely with parents, if we have a concern. We are acutely aware a return to school after such a long time, plus new routines and social distancing, may cause anxiety. We will do our best to ensure school remains a happy home from home and that, as much as it can be, it’s still the St Mary’s they know and love.

We will continue to be led by Government directives and guidance. Should the opening date change we will contact you by email as soon as possible over the half term break.

If you have any questions

I realise the information above cannot be exhaustive. Schools are naturally busy and dynamic environments in which every situation cannot be planned for. However, I believe we have excellent relationships with you as parents and I hope we will continue to have an open, supportive dialogue through this challenging situation.

 Please email bdegnan@stmaryscambridge.co.uk if you need any further information.