FAQ to help parents with the return to school in September

The full government guidance for parents can be found here

Timings of the school day

All students must be in registration by 8.45am.  The school day will finish 10 minutes earlier at 3.05pm.  Students who arrive late without a valid reason will have to stay until 3.15pm on the same day.

Does my child have to go to school?

Yes, as of September 2020 the Department for Education has reapplied the law.  It is compulsory for your child to receive a full-time education.

Why does my child have to go to school?

Returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing.  Time out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development.

What is the risk to my child?

Evidence suggests that the risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low but that there are negative health impacts of being out of school.

Will my child be safe in school?

Yes, each school is different, but all schools are following Government guidelines on reopening schools to children. Priestlands will have year group bubbles and your child will stay in this bubble. We have completed a detailed risk assessment and this will be regularly updated as circumstances change. We will have enhanced cleaning arrangements and students will be using hand sanitiser regularly. You can help by asking your child to wash their hands regularly, not touch their face, cough into their elbow, use tissues and bin after use and to do what school asks them to do to ensure their safety.

Should my child wear a mask in school?

There was originally no requirement to wear masks but guidance from the Government changed on 25 August.  Schools have the discretion to require face coverings in secondary schools in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed.  Priestlands will be requiring students to wear face masks in communal areas during lesson change, but will be asking all students to remove masks once seated in lessons.

Will my child’s teacher be wearing a full mask?

In most cases teachers will not be wearing full masks.  However, there are a few situations where this may be required - for example if a member of staff must provide close medical care for your child.

What if another child in the class has symptoms?

Priestlands will be following Government guidance if this happens. The child will be sent home and asked to self-isolate and test. Children who have been in close contact with them do not need to go home to self-isolate unless the child tests positive, your child develops symptoms themselves or you are requested to do so by NHS Test & Trace. Your child will be asked to wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and running water or use hand sanitiser and the area around the person with symptoms will be cleaned after they have left to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

What if my child has symptoms?

If your child has symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature/hot to touch, new persistent cough, loss or change in sense of taste or smell) the child and their household need to follow the Government guidance on self-isolation and arrange for your child to be tested (call 119 or book through www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test).

You also need to inform the school as soon as possible and update us on any test outcome.

Will I be allowed to come into my child’s school?

Please do not come up to the school without prior arrangement.  If you need to collect an ill child, you may be asked to wait outside, and staff will bring your child to you. We will telephone you first.

I am concerned about my child sharing school resources. How can this be safe?

Priestlands students are expected to have their own stationery and it is important that you provide these.  Classroom based resources, such as books and games, can be used and shared within the bubble;  these will be cleaned regularly, along with all frequently touched surfaces.  Resources that are shared between classes or bubbles, such as sports, art and science equipment will be cleaned frequently and meticulously and always between bubbles.  These practical subjects have their own detailed cleaning routines in place.

Will my child’s ‘bubble’ have separate toilet facilities?

Most bubbles have their own toilets but we will be cleaning the toilets regularly and children will be encouraged to wash their hands to mitigate against the risk of sharing facilities.

Will my child still receive the full curriculum?

Yes! We are running the normal timetable.  Some subjects have adjustments e.g. less practicals in science due to students staying in one block rather than moving across the whole site.

Will my child be doing PE?

Students will be required to come into school in PE kit on the day they have PE.  They should bring their normal uniform in a bag.  They will only change if they get wet or muddy.

Will my child be in the same classroom all day?

Students will stay in the same building for most lessons but will move between rooms within this building.  We will be adopting staggered break times and lunch times and have time for cleaning surfaces in the dining hall between groups.  Passing briefly in the corridor or playground is low risk.

What will happen if I don’t send my child to school?

From September onwards, the usual rules on school attendance will apply.  Priestlands is responsible for recording attendance and following up pupil absence.  The aim would always be to work with parents/carers to resolve any issues or concerns around attendance.  Please contact your Head of Year if you have concerns.

Can my child attend for just a few days each week?

As a rule, no, as all pupils of compulsory school age are entitled to a full-time education.  In very exceptional circumstances there may be a need for a temporary part-time timetable to meet a pupil’s individual needs.  For example where a medical condition prevents a pupil from attending full-time education and a part-time timetable is considered as part of a re-integration package.  A part-time timetable must not be treated as a long-term solution.  Any pastoral support programme or other agreement must have a time limit by which point the pupil is expected to attend full-time.

Are clubs re-starting?

Yes, Priestlands will be restarting some clubs although we will try and keep students within their bubble groups.

How will children with additional needs be supported in planning their return to school?

Our SEN and pastoral teams have been working to ensure students who need support still can receive this within their bubbles.  Students will not be withdrawn from their bubbles but support will be deployed to the bubbles.

I have just returned from holiday abroad, what should I do?

Details about which countries can be visited without quarantine restrictions on return are constantly being updated, check for the latest position on travel quarantine on the government website. If you find that your family is required to quarantine then your child must isolate at home for the necessary period.  You should contact us so that homework can be provided.

I am considering home educating my child rather than sending them back to school. What do I need to consider?

As schools reopen fully in September we are aware that a number of families may be thinking about Elective Home Education.  We encourage families to think carefully about this and discuss with us first to ensure you make an informed choice.

Will school transport be running in September?

All school routes and timetables will run as they did prior to the lockdown with no reduced capacity due to social distancing and students should go to their bus stops as they normally do.

When will my child receive their bus pass?

New bus passes for returning and new Year 7 secondary school students are being sent to school and we will distribute.  There will be no issue with students travelling without their pass in the first week.  If you are not entitled to a pass but will be using public transport we recommend purchasing a Key card

Will there be social distancing on school transport?

There will be no social distancing on contracted transport because all of the passengers will be attending the same school but students will need to sit in their ‘year group bubbles’ on the bus.  On public transport students will be expected to respect distance from other members of the public.

Will my child be required to wear a face mask on school transport?

Face coverings should be worn whilst on the vehicle; this includes any students that are brought to school by taxi/minibus.  Students will be asked to remove their masks safely and sanitise their hands at the school gate.

If my child feels unwell are they able to travel on school transport?

If your child becomes unwell they should not travel on school transport.  If they are already at school, you will be contacted to pick up your child from school.

Does my child have to use transport if they are entitled to a pass.

You may want to consider whether cycling, walking or car sharing is a viable option.  If dropping off please do not come on to the school site but drop off a 2 minute walk away to avoid congestion.

Will school lunches still be available?

Yes, the school kitchens will be fully open from the start of the autumn term.  School kitchens are required to comply with the guidance for food businesses, which has been put in place to ensure safe practices.  To achieve this, lunch and break times will be staggered but a daily food service will be available.

We do though encourage students to bring packed lunches to school.

What if my child is anxious about going into school?

It will be normal for some children to be worried about returning to school. Talk to them about their concerns and use these FAQs to help answer any questions they may have. If your child seems particularly anxious, talk to your Head of Year or Pastoral Support Manager.

I’m really anxious about my child returning to school

This is a time where everyone has anxieties.  Be assured that we will be following Government guidance and taking every precaution to ensure the safety of everyone working within the school.  This includes all children, all staff and any visitors to school.

Can I contact my child during the school day?

Rules on mobile phones remain the same. They are expected to be turned off and away during the school day. If you have an urgent message then please contact reception. Everything else can wait till the end of the school day.

My child has been shielding, can I keep them off school?

No, shielding advice for all adults and children paused on 1 August, after a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of Covid19.  This means that even the small number of pupils who will remain on the shielded patient list can return to school, as can those who have family members who are shielding. If you have concerns, you may like to talk to the consultant/paediatrician working with your child as well as our pastoral teams.

My child has a serious medical condition which has required them to be shielded, will they be safe at school?

Yes, your child’s school will be following Government guidance and taking every precaution to ensure their safety.  However, you may like to talk to the consultant/paediatrician working with your child for more specific information.  Your school will work with you/the medical professionals to ensure any additional safety measures are put in place.

My child has a serious condition and the medical professionals have advised against a return to school. Will I get in trouble?

We would like the medical professionals to confirm this is the case.  This could be by letter, phone call or email from the professionals.  Then, and because they are complying with medical/public health advice, we will look to set up remote education.  Absence in this case will not be penalised.