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Message update – 1st June

I know most of you will have heard the Prime Minister‘s announcement on Sunday 10th May, with regards schools potentially reopening on a partial basis as of June 1.

Since then there has been lots of speculation, expert opinion and reaction in the news from a variety of sources.

I thought at this point it might be helpful to give you an update on what we’ve been doing since my last general message to you all, and our reaction and response so far to the Prime Ministers announcement.

Since closure in March the school has been open to children of key workers and our most vulnerable pupils. All teaching staff have willingly and quietly worked to make sure that provision has been maintained for those children and their families, including throughout the bank holidays and Easter holidays. They have also provided online resources for the majority of you who are in lockdown at home with your children, and I hope you have found those resources useful.

Last week we met as a teaching staff to discuss the Prime Ministers announcement. All teachers have committed to support me in being prepared to reopen the school as of the 1st June, if directed to do so, for those parents who would welcome that provision. In the first instance this will be for pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

At this point I must state I am incredibly proud of all the teachers of Wombridge Primary School. I am very grateful for their continued teamwork and commitment to each other and the children, both in how they have responded so far to this pandemic, and their determination and positivity to work together to help me ease as best we can the anxieties we are sure you will have as we prepare  for the next phase of the national response to COVID-19.

What we are doing now is adapting the school as far as possible to facilitate the return in the first instance of Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, in small groups of no more than 15. We intend to redesign how we work to isolate those groups as best we can from each other. At the moment I have to say that the concept of guaranteeing social distancing of 2 metres within those small groups of 15 is proving challenging but our ideas are developing as the days pass and we work through all the scenarios we can think of.

I reiterate at this point, guaranteeing social distancing of 2 metres within those bubbles of 15 children is proving challenging, however we will consider carefully national guidance as it is released and updated and combine that with our own ideas.

For the last 10 years the school has been guided by principles of everybody having the right to feel Safe and Happy. Those principles now more than ever will guide how we react to this situation.

We as a teaching staff believe many of you will want us to reopen the school as soon we are allowed to do so. Therefore we are planning to be ready to reopen as of the 1st June, albeit in a form very unlike business as usual. We also understand some of you will be extremely anxious and want to keep your family at home a bit longer until there is greater clarity on the ‘scientific evidence’. We want to support you all, and hope you will continue to work with us as calmly and positively as you have so far.

The guidance at this point, clearly states that parents will not be penalised for non-attendance of their children. Currently the government says it “encourages parents to send their children back to school”.

That may change, but as it stands I am not being instructed to enforce any parent to return their child to school and I would strongly resist doing so until there is a full reopening of schools nationally supported by publically scrutinised scientific evidence. The only exception to that, would obviously be in the event that we become aware of safeguarding concerns regarding a family.

The last thing I want is for our children and for you to have your anxiety exasperated by concerns that we are going to have any part in enforcing any child to return to school as things stand from the 1st of June onwards. I do hope that helps reassure you.

Obviously we are very keen to see all the children back in school as soon as is safely possible. We all look forward to the day we can see them all mixing with their friends and being allowed to play and learn together in the safe and happy environment we all know as ‘normal’. We will need to continue to work together as a school community for a while yet, as we have so far, before we see that day again, but we will see it some day soon.

As we move towards the date of the 1st June we will start to contact parents of Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children to explain in a bit more detail, what a school day might look like before we break for summer.

We will work with you in those conversations to gain an idea of how you feel about returning your child to school, hopefully alleviating anxieties you may have as best we can and to work with you in your decision process as a family.

In the meantime our very best wishes to you all, keep yourself safe and look after each other.

Best wishes,

Neil Satoor

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