Arrangements for return in September

Dear Parent/Carer,

I hope that you and your family have had an enjoyable summer thus far, despite the ongoing restrictions and uncertainties relating to the pandemic. As you know, all pupils in England are able to return to school this autumn and we are very much looking forward to welcoming new and existing pupils next week.

This page contains important information regarding safe arrangements in school that I would like you to talk through with your child before the start of term. I shall write to you again in the week we come back with more details about the term ahead, but for now I want to focus on safe return arrangements from the first day onwards.

Start dates and times for the different year groups are:

Wednesday 2 September:

  • Year 5 to report to the Year 5 yard at 8.50am

Thursday 3 September:

  • Year 5 as above
  • Year 6 to report to the Year 6 yard at 8.50am
  • Year 7 to report to the top yard at 8.40am
  • Year 8 to report to the Beaumont yard at 8.40am

Each year group will have a ‘Welcome’ assembly on their first day where the detail on this page will be clearly explained to them. We know that most pupils will be excited to return and will easily adapt to the new arrangements, however we understand that some will be feeling a little nervous and we will be here to support and reassure them.

Key points for safe return

  • The procedures that we have put in place for pupils’ safe return adhere to the Government’s guidance on the full opening of schools, which was updated on 7 August. A detailed risk assessment and accompanying operational plan have been prepared in accordance with the guidance and approved by Trustees.
  • In the guidance, the section on attendance makes clear that all pupils are expected to be in school, with the possible exception of individuals still unable to attend in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves, or because they are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus. If this applies to your child, please inform us as soon as possible. Details of the NHS test and trace service can be found here. Children who remain on the shielded patient list or who have family members who are shielding are able to return to school. Some pupils who are no longer required to shield but who generally remain under the care of a specialist health professional may need to discuss their care with their health professional before returning to school (usually at their next planned clinical appointment). You can find more advice from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health at COVID-19 – ‘shielding’ guidance for children and young people.
  • Pupils should attend each day in full school uniform, as per our policy. According to the guidance, school uniform does not need to be cleaned any more often than usual, nor does it need to be cleaned using methods which are different from normal. Pupils should only bring essential equipment to school (pen, pencil, ruler etc) and a water bottle, which should be filled to reduce the need to use the school’s water dispensers, although these will be available with touch points cleaned regularly. Pupils should not share equipment with others.
  • Regarding getting to school, children and young people are being encouraged where possible to avoid public transport, particularly at peak times, and to walk or cycle to school. Where your child relies on public transport to get to school or college, and cannot walk or cycle, the safer travel guidance for passengers will apply. Advice on safe travel is also available as part of the #TravelSafely campaign. Northumberland County Council has asked us to send this letter and associated information leaflet to parents of young people using dedicated school transport (that is transport that does not cater for the general public). Should this apply to you, please go through the details with your child. However your child travels to school, we would ask you to remind them about the importance of social distancing and of adhering to year group bubbles where possible. We understand that you may be keen to walk your child to school at the start of a new year (or a new school for year 5), but we ask that you drop your child off at the main entrance to the school site where staff will be on duty to guide your child in the right direction. If you have any concerns, please give the school a call and we will be happy to help.
  • Face coverings are required at all times on public transport (for children over the age of 11). As children are likely to come into very close contact with others outside their year group they should wear coverings on school transport as well. If your child has been wearing a face covering before arriving at school, they must wash their hands immediately on arrival, dispose of any temporary face coverings they may have been wearing in a covered bin, or place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag they can take home with them, and then wash their hands again before heading to their classroom. Please talk this process through with your child. Public Health England does not recommend the use of face coverings in schools. They are not required in schools as pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups, and because misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission. This position may of course change and we will review our own position in the light of any new guidance. As things stand, should a particular child have a strong desire to wear a covering, parents should request this via and we may allow it, following us giving guidance on safe use and provided that it is plain and appropriate.
  • The regular and thorough cleaning of hands remains of critical importance in preventing the spread of the virus. All pupils will be required to clean their hands regularly (with soap and running water or hand sanitiser). We have installed additional hand-washing facilities at key entry points to the school buildings, with hand sanitiser located at key points including in all classrooms. Notwithstanding this, we encourage parents to provide their children with hand gel that can be applied straightforwardly as and when required. Pupils will be supported to wash their hands at the start of each day using designated year group facilities (including the additional hand washing stations), and they will be directed to sanitise their hands immediately on entry to their first classroom of the day, when they change rooms and before break and lunchtimes.
  • Please talk to your child about the ongoing importance of good respiratory hygiene. The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach continues to be very important and we will have enough tissues and bins available in the school to support pupils and staff to follow this routine.
  • Pupil behaviour at HMS is outstanding. This will be crucial in ensuring all are kept safe while the pandemic remains a concern. We have added an annex to our behaviour policy and would ask that you go through this with you son or daughter before they come in to school. We will also go through these expectations with them. Any pupil who is intentionally not following the guidance, and who puts the safety of others at risk, will be dealt with very firmly with sanctions applied.

Other practical points to note:

  • Pupils are to bring their PE kit to school and change for their lessons as normal. There will be no swimming lessons until further notice.
  • Lunch money should be added to your child’s account as normal. Whilst we will be serving school lunches every day, we will not be operating a break time service for the time being.
  • We will be limiting the number of visitors entering the school site and ask that you call or email the office with any queries in the first instance. Meetings with members of staff can be scheduled over the phone.
  • A reminder that pupils can continue to bring their mobile phone to school but that it must be switched off and kept on their person at all times.
  • Year 5 and 6 pupils will be asked to leave their bags and belongings on their peg all day and only carry necessary equipment to lessons. Year 7 and 8 pupils will be asked to carry their belongings with them to each lesson to ease congestion in the corridors and should consider this when preparing for their day ahead.

The annex below is largely the same as that sent in July, slightly amended to reflect updated arrangements and included again as a reminder of the key operational features of our return. As mentioned, I shall write to parents/carers again next week with more details of the term ahead. In the meantime, all good wishes.

Yours faithfully

Graeme Atkins, Executive Headteacher