Guidance for students in Junior School
Returning to school Spring 2021
Please find below an outline of the measures in place in Junior School. Many measures will be familiar to us all, the key change applies to staff: teachers will be required to test themselves twice a week at home.
We all recognise that nowhere can offer a guaranteed COVID-19 free environment, but our measures are in place to manage risks and to offer as close to a 'normal' experience of education as is possible. Extensive and updated risk assessments for the opening of our Boarding facilities, our Senior and Junior Schools have been seen and approved by our Governing Body.
Our current Covid policies
We have updated our Behaviour and Discipline Policy with regard to COVID-19 expectations. Expectations will be made clear both by class teachers and by the Head of Juniors. During the first few weeks, there will be frequent reminders, taking account of individual needs.
Uniform and masks
The Government guidance states ‘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'. Either summer or winter uniform can be worn up until the Easter holidays. On a day when your daughter has PE she will be able to attend school in her PE uniform, the same applies if she has a sports club on any given day. The guidance is clear that face coverings should not be worn by primary aged children, therefore please do not send your daughter to school with a face covering.
The school minibuses will not be running until after the Easter holidays at the earliest when the service will be reviewed and it may therefore be offered in the Summer Term. Please direct any questions about the minibus service to Greg Ball, Operations Manager.
We will continue with the three separate bubbles in the Junior School:
- Bubble 1: Pre-prep
- Bubble 2: Years 3 & 4
- Bubble 3: Years 5 & 6
These bubbles will be kept apart as much as is practicably possible, in order to reduce the risk of transmission and minimise the number of pupils having to isolate should there be a confirmed case. Within bubbles we will encourage the girls to distance but we acknowledge, as does the guidance, that this is difficult with younger pupils so the emphasis should be on maintaining bubbles. In order to maintain bubbles, we will, for example, have three separate lunch sittings and separate playground areas alongside other measures to maintain the integrity of the bubbles.
School bags and equipment
Pupils will be allowed to bring in school bags; school bags should only contain pencil cases, snacks and freshly filled water bottles. Shared equipment within bubbles will be regularly cleaned.
Movement around the building
In Acton House, we have one-way systems in place for stairs and designated toilets for the different bubbles. The girls will be taught in their classrooms as much as possible, this includes Art, the Art Room will not be used.
Music lessons will continue to be taught. We have risk-assessed Music lessons to ensure they are as safe as possible.
Peripatetic lessons (including LAMDA) will also continue to take place in school, we have moved lessons to larger, better-ventilated teaching rooms and we have a stringent protocol in place for the teaching of peripatetic lessons in school.
End of the day
Differently to morning drop off you will be allowed on-site, i.e. past the brook/green gates. However, we ask that you socially distance from other parents and vacate the school site as quickly as possible. We will continue to provide Homework Club/Late Stay and Twilight until 6.00pm. These clubs will all take place in the Dining Room.
Please collect your daughter from the Dining Room patio doors. We will not offer other after school activity clubs in the two and half weeks until the end of term.
The key message is that every person in the St Mary’s community needs to exercise personal responsibility in maintaining a high level of hygiene. Teachers will ensure that there is time in the school day for regular hand washing.
Key touchpoints, such as door handles, will be sanitised regularly by our cleaners throughout the day and the school will be cleaned more extensively, each evening by the cleaners. The school will be following national guidance about the use and cleaning of equipment, all of which has been Risk Assessed. Further details can be ascertained from our Operations Manager.
All homework in Years 1 to 6 will be completed electronically on Teams, as per the Autumn term. Pupils will also be able to borrow reading scheme and library books as we have a system of quarantine in place in the Coach House and Acton House libraries.
The Monday Head’s Assembly will continue to be delivered online so as to avoid mixing bubbles in Acton Hall. We will also continue with the Thursday morning Pre-prep assembly. Hymn practice and Tuesday’s whole school worship assembly will not take place.
The Government has stated that school attendance will be mandatory from the beginning of the Spring Term and so usual expectations about school attendance will apply. We are aware that a small number of pupils may still be unable to attend in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating, if they have had symptoms or a positive test result, or because they are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19.
As before, please inform Dr Degnan in the school office of any absence(s) and use the Parent Portal to request future absences.
Should your daughter/s develop any of the symptoms of COVID-19 then she will not be permitted into school. Please refer to this up-to-date list of symptoms If your daughter develops symptoms during the school day, she will be taken to an isolation room and you will need to collect her as soon as possible. The Junior School will then follow advice from the NHS Test and Trace/Department of Education team.
If your daughter is unable to attend school because she is complying with clinical and/or public health advice, the School will offer access to home learning on a short term and limited basis.
Visitors on the school site
Following guidance, we are sadly not allowing parents or other visitors or guests to come into school this term. If you wish to speak with a staff member, we ask that you arrange a Zoom call. All adult visitors will be required to wear a face mask when they are in school.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any further information.