Coronavirus - latest
28th January 2021
This term, school has been directed to close to most pupils, but we remain open for children of Critical Workers and also those children who are defined as Vulnerable. These children have been invited in to school and no further invitations can be issued. Remote learning is in place for the majority of Worstead children via Google Classrooms, and is the priority work of our class teachers whose classes run from 0900-1500 every day. Children in school undertake the same learning as those at home.
We have now begun Covid-testing all staff, twice weekly, in order to further bolster the Covid-secure status of our school site and support good community health. We have maximum numbers in our two Critical Worker/Vulnerable bubbles that we can allow at the moment, and monitor this closely from day-to-day.
If you have any issues with broadband access or devices, or any other household circumstances that are preventing your child from taking part in remote learning at home, please do get in touch with us straight away. We can help.
The latest announcement from the government is that a further decision on full school reopening will be made on 22nd February. The earliest proposed date for return to school is therefore 8th March which would give two weeks' notice. We are likely to hear any announcements about education at the same time that you do, and the guidance we follow is available on the government's website.
We are very much looking forward to school reopening fully - it's not the same without everyone here!
Wednesday 16th December:
This week there have been some significant announcements from the government and the DfE which impact on schools, including advice on early closure and mass testing. Their latest Q&A for parents came out today, and describes the likely situation in the spring term. You will note that, as throughout the pandemic, the evidence points to primary age children being at a lower risk of catching or passing coronavirus to each other.
Monday 14th December
Please read this week's newsletter for last minute news about how to get safely through this final week of term, and responsibilities to report in to school over the first weekend of the holidays, so that we can do our duty in supporting the contact tracing effort. Our attendance remains very high and we still have had no known coronavirus cases amongst the children this term; a record we would like to keep up and which is down to clear, simple measures that are easy to follow on the school site.
Also, copied below is the Local Authority's 'Covid 19 compliance code for all educational settings' which sets out in 45 pages, their advice and guidance which was used in formulating our own risk assessment which enabled us to fully open our school. This risk assessment is periodically updated to reflect new advice as it emerges. An example of this is that Public Health have now downgraded some isolation periods from 14 to 10 days. Therefore a compliance code such as this is not designed to be a description of practice in every school, but a foundation of good advice that schools take into consideration when considering how to keep safely open.
Thursday 5th November: Start of national lockdown
Detailed guidance for continued school opening was released last night to be enacted by Monday 9th November. Although this needs further checks to ensure we remain compliant with national guidance, from the point of view of parents and children, very little will change at school.
The only initial points to note at Worstead are:
- At drop off/pick up please maintain 2m social distance, wear a face covering and do not congregate.
- Swimming for Y5/6 is now under review.
- Newly restarted dance and choir clubs after school may need to close - sorry.
- Inform us immediately if you suspect you or a family member may have coronavirus - we will be able to access the latest guidance and advise you of what to do.
5th October 2020: An Update
Children, staff, parents and governors have all now had ample opportunity to get used to the 'moving parts' of our system which keeps school open safely, so it's worth summarising our approach at present. There was of course a great deal of detail in the background and the reopening of school in September was subject to extensive consultation, checking and double checking, with school governors giving our plan final approval. The risk assessments that were carried out did not form an 'end product' but rather an ongoing process, which is constantly in review. Since the start of term, refinements and suggestions from staff, parents, governors, and of course, Worstead children, have been constantly incorporated to try to improve the education and safety we deliver.
- The school is split in two throughout the day and although they share some areas, the two groups do not meet. These two groups are Infants (Robins and Swifts) and Juniors (Herons and Kestrels).
- The groups are not only split physically by where they are taught, but also in time if they have to share a resource. This is the 'staggering' approach. We have staggered drop-off and break times in the morning, staggered lunchtimes in the hall and outdoors, staggered assemblies and home-times. The two groups cannot accidentally encounter each other within school time, nor do their staff groups come close to each other.
- Enhanced hygiene is promoted by the presence of touch-free sanitising and soap stations throughout the school which cannot be avoided. Easy availability of sanitiser for example, prevents infection moving from one area of the school to another, or into or out of the school building. Disinfectant sprays, wipes, kitchen towel, tissues are all available in each classroom and area, as are lidded bins for disposal of these kind of materials through the day. Children are of course reminded and encouraged to 'catch it, bin it, kill it' and to wash hands regularly.
- The entire school is cleaned after school every day of the week and checked over and ventilated first thing in the morning. Additional cleaning of high touch areas is carried out throughout the day, including the shared areas of the school.
- Each classroom only has a maximum of two staff members within it and staff in school do not work closely with each other, although they can work more closely with children if necessary. Staff separation is promoted through expanded staff rest areas.
- We do operate breakfast club and after school club as a service to parents, but these are a pre-booked fixed group of children who do not vary.
- Due to issues with the size of our servery and the status of contracted staff, we can currently offer packed lunches only. This is planned to change after half term when we will return to serving hot dinners.
- Additional part time staff who visit for certain lessons or hold certain roles within the school e.g. music, sports, SEN follow our clear procedures. These staff always remain the same.
- No unnecessary visitors, or parents/carers are admitted to the school building. A member of staff comes to the gate each morning to discuss urgent matters at drop off. If contractors visit the school we ask them to wear a mask and gloves.
- Parents/carers must send only one family member to drop off or pick up and there is a clearly marked circulation route on the school drive. Parents are encouraged to arrive promptly and depart quickly to minimise congestion.
- We have an isolation area and PPE equipment in case of a suspected coronavirus symptom in a child or staff member. We ask that parents immediately collect their child, or staff go immediately home, if symptoms are suspected.
- As far as possible, we have lessons or playtime outside, and windows and doors are kept open to encourage fresh air ventilation.
If there is anything that you are unsure about with regards to our safe opening, or if you have a suggestion, please do get in touch with us. We always welcome feedback.
Wednesday 22nd July:
We are expecting to open fully in September, following final planning checks. This week, parents/carers will be emailed with details of what to expect after the summer holidays, when all children return to school on Monday 7th September.
Watch your inbox, and thank you for all the good wishes and positive messages which have kept us going through partial opening this summer term!
Monday 6th July:
Please see the letter below, following the government's announcement about reopening schools in September.
Monday 1st June:
A new half term! Critical childcare continues for key worker parents/carers, but next week we aim to widen our opening to Year 6 pupils. Depending on numbers, Y6 children will be in either one or two classrooms to minimise risk. They will need school uniform and a packed lunch; nothing else.
Staff have made a special message for children and families in our video section, which we hope you enjoy as much as we did making it:
Frequently Asked Questions:
There are many issues parents would like to explore, which cannot go in the normal messages we send home. Please read on and hopefully they will be addressed below.
Will the number of children allowed to come back to school gradually increase this term?
We do not know. Under current guidance and according to our risk assessment, this seems unlikely, unless something changes which sheds new light on safety at school. By disregarding social distancing and following the government's maximum recommended number of 15 children per classroom we would need to double the number of classrooms and staff.
When will my child be able to return to school?
It depends on many factors. Although the government decide policy, safety in schools remains the direct responsibility of the headteacher and governors. Only once risks to pupils, staff and families have been well-understood and minimised as far as reasonably possible, can schools fully reopen.
What does the government say?
Their ambition is for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to start to return in June, and all primary pupils to have a month at school before the summer holidays. For safety reasons, this may not be possible. The proposed date of 1st June is the earliest this could happen, not a deadline by which it will happen. Already many schools and Local Authorities around the country have made it clear they cannot open on the 1st.
Which groups of children are the government's priority?
Children of Key Workers and vulnerable children are the government's first priority. Worstead staff have been providing critical childcare for this children throughout the school closure period. Following these, the guidance states clearly that if numbers must be limited, the youngest children are the priority - i.e. Reception first, then Year 1, then Year 6. The government has set out its reasoning behind this, which you can read on their website.
What guidance are you working from?
The key documentation is that issued by the government and updated/amended on a regular basis. You are able to access the exact same guidance on their website. Other organisations who have direct responsibility for safety and education in schools then interpret that guidance with the practicalities in mind.
What about Year 6? It's their final year!
We know. Although we would love all pupils to come back before the summer holidays if it were safe, we hope that the government's guidance will change to allow us to get Year 6 pupils back in, in some form even if for a limited time. This would also depend on Year 6 parents being generally in agreement. We have not forgotten any of our pupils, especially our Year 6s. Transition arrangements with High Schools are in discussion and we will let them know how we think the Y6 children would have done in their SATs if they had taken them.
What about September's new Reception class?
Parents and carers of these current pre-schoolers have already been invited to induction mornings. As the number of young children who would be in school for this is quite similar to those already here in childcare, we feel it can be done safely, although attendance is not compulsory.
Who can access critical childcare?
This remains open for the children of Key Workers and vulnerable children, however the government's message has changed from 'stay at home' to 'go to school' (if possible). If you have a childcare offer, and would like to send your child in, please contact us immediately to discuss this.
I have issues with the reopening of schools - who do I contact?
Your local MP, Duncan Baker can be contacted with any comments about general policy. If you have any feedback specific to Worstead School, please do email the office and it will be passed to the relevant person.
Can you guarantee the safety of everyone if you reopen?
Not right now. There are always risks at school. Through the risk assessment process we mitigate these risks until they are at a level we can accept. Presently, the risk of coronavirus spreading through the local community is not something that we are confident we can work around. We are still waiting on deliveries of sanitising stations and portable barriers for example. Legislation that governs safety in workplaces has evolved over many decades. The coronavirus pandemic is a new situation that presents new risks that will take time to work through. This is why it was far quicker to close schools than it will be to open them.
Will parents be fined for their child's non-attendance?
No. The government have made it clear that schools will not be asked to chase parents for absent children and parents will not be warned or fined during this period. Therefore it is the parent's choice over whether their child returns to school, if they are offered a place.
I'm struggling with my child's home learning - help!
Home learning is nothing like school. Parents are, we know, doing the best they can, just as our teachers are doing their best to deliver learning from their computers in a way that's totally alien to them, and the rest of our staff are either delivering frontline childcare or are at home in the 'back office'.
It's hard for all of us but we do know that parents have the toughest job right now. If there is something we can do to help, please do get in touch. We are here. The best way to do this is email firstname.lastname@example.org and your enquiry will get through to the right person - the phone is not always manned but email is monitored every day. We are hoping as a school to do more over the coming weeks to personalise how we appear to children and we want to become more interactive.
What will school be like when it does properly reopen?
This is the big question for us. We want to get it right. At the moment we are thinking about a 'recovery curriculum' which will enable children, who will have been through a strange and unsettling time, to remake themselves and reconnect with each other. Our school motto is "Let all that you do be done in love," and we strongly believe that the priority, when children get back, will be to rebuild our community and how we socialise with each other, not just catch up with missed lessons. It could be an opportunity to do something amazing for our school and our whole village community.
I'm worried my child will get 'behind'!
We are strong believers in equity for all. No child is getting behind during school closure, because everyone is in the same boat. Some children and their families may find it more difficult to get back into their routine when they return and we recognise this. SEN children may have found this period harder than others, because of the lack of school routine and support. We know this and will tackle it as soon as we can. Some families may have done more 'learning' with their children at home but we will take this as it comes. We will be actively looking for inequities and doing our best for every single child at Worstead, just as we always do. Children are incredibly resilient to adversity, and we will make sure they bounce back.
What are 'bubbles' again?
Bubbles are the most manageable way to promote infection control in our school. This means small groups of children with a single adult, who do not cross over with other groups at all. This is broadly the approach that we have applied with our childcare facility (only one bubble!) and it seems to work well. It can never take the place of normal full time education though. What we do before the summer holidays will only ever be a stop-gap measure - the best we can make of a difficult situation.
Why are so few children expected to be able to return to Worstead before the summer holidays?
This is simply due to the size of our school. It is physically small anyway, for the number of children and adults normally on site, and once social distancing is invoked, it becomes challenging to consider more than around 20 children and the staff they will need. Whatever social distancing measures are taken, nothing will increase the size of our only corridor to wider than 75cm, nor change the fact that the classrooms have one door, or our toilets accommodate around 3 children at time. No amount of hand washing and staying alert can alter the physical environment. Whilst our smallness is charming in many ways, the proximity that we all normally enjoy and value is currently a major obstacle to reopening.
What about annual reports and parent/teacher contact?
We are working on how best to do this, but rest assured, you will get a report this year, and we may be able to do parent/teacher meetings via video conferencing.
Tuesday 19th May:
Advice and guidance from government, the Department for Education, the Local Authority (Norfolk) and the professional unions is constantly being updated to try to find a way that schools could reopen safely, in line with the government's stated ambition of reopening to more pupils. School leaders supported by governors are currently working hard on viable plans and parents will be informed each time we know more. This is the letter dated 18th May 2020, which explains our current thinking. An FAQ to address parents' more detailed concerns, is above. Please respond to this letter, which was emailed to all parents and carers, by replying to email@example.com by Wednesday 20th May. This will help us to refine our plans. Thank you.
Monday 11th May:
Monday 27th April:
Summer term newsletter for parents
A brilliant book to read with your children!
Tuesday 14th April:
All the staff at Worstead School hope you are having a happy and peaceful Easter. Despite the speculation in the media about schools reopening, and when, why and how this might happen, we have had no official notification or guidance on such a move. When we do, parents and carers can be assured that we will contact you directly via email. Also, just to be absolutely clear, we will definitely arrange something special for our current Year 6 pupils, whenever we come back to school.
The plan remains the same for the summer term. On Monday 20th April, teachers will resume the management of their class's online learning between the hours of 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday. The school building will re-open for the small number of children of key workers who have responded to our request to book places, operating between the hours of 0830 and 1515. Please note, children may not turn up unannounced as we have to plan the staff that will be asked to come into school to run this provision.
In the meantime, the government has published its own list of recommended resources. These are not endorsed by Worstead School, but may be of use to parents and carers. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-online-education-resources-for-home-education
Wednesday 1st April:
Today is the last day of the spring term, so it's worth giving a quick summary of our current status:
- School (i.e. education for our 109 children) remains closed for a large majority of our children until the government asks us to reopen. However, we have been providing online learning, monitored daily by class teachers during term time.
- Critical childcare for key workers has remained open until today, and will resume again for the summer term, commencing 20th April. These parents/carers have been individually contacted with the information they need.
- The school site is entirely closed during the Easter break for deep cleaning.
We hope that school will completely reopen before the summer holidays, but this is impossible to predict. If, as a key worker, you find that your shift pattern, home circumstances or nature of your work change during the holidays such that you have no alternative but to seek emergency childcare for your primary age children (not pre-schoolers), please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . It is important that you do this - we may be able to advise or come up with a solution. This will be monitored once per day during the holidays. It is for no other purpose - children remain their parents' responsibility during school holidays. No other communication method will be monitored.
One last thing - please add my class to your child's Google Classroom - the code is vly35rg - finally I have a captive audience for my stories! Right now you will find Chapter 1 of 'Dark Towers' (Look & Read) on there, which is well suited to Years 3 and 4 but Years 2 and 5 might well enjoy it too. There is also the continuation of my reading of 'Rebecca's World' by Terry Nation, for my Year 3 story group at school - we are now onto Chapter 17. I hope it all works as planned!
I wish you a happy and peaceful Easter.
With kind regards,
Monday 30th March:
Week 2 of school closure - key worker childcare planned at least until Wednesday 1st April - the last day of the spring term. Guidance and advice changes daily over whether this childcare will be able to continue through the Easter holidays. If we are able to offer this to key workers, we will make contact directly. During the Easter holidays, Google Classrooms will not be updated or monitored by teachers, until the summer term begins on 20th April. We hope you are all keeping safe!
Headteacher's Message 30th March 2020
Friday 27th March:
Closure of nurseries/pre-schools
We are aware of local nursery and pre-school settings closing and have passed this concern directly onto the Local Authority, as unfortunately we cannot accommodate pre-school children at Worstead School. Parents should call the LA central telephone number 0344 800 8020 and the Early Years team will work with families in finding alternative provision.
First day of school closure:
For your convenience, the headteacher's message and the setup document for Google Classrooms, just in case of teething troubles! Please look in your child's Home Learning book for all their logins and passwords, printed and ready for use. Good luck!
Monday 23rd March:
Good morning! Unless you have already received a conditional offer for emergency childcare via email on Friday, please DO NOT come to school. Worstead School is CLOSED.
A letter to all parents will be issued by email today to give further information. Please do not make any non-emergency calls or enquiries prior to this, as I hope to answer all your questions. We have no office staff.
As usual, I will try to text out to alert you to an incoming email.
Sunday 22nd March 2020:
Worstead School is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak until the Government instructs us to re-open. It is not safe for schools to be open. The virus is rapidly spreading and the number of deaths is increasing daily.
Please protect our NHS and other frontline workers. Children we offer an emergency care space should only attend if absolutely necessary because their parent/carer has a vital role in the fight against the coronavirus. We have been asked to log the details of each child accessing the emergency care with the Department for Education and Children's Services daily for their monitoring purposes.
If the infection is passed on by a child attending the emergency care sessions, we would be forced to close the provision, leaving hospitals and other key services understaffed. If staff have to self-isolate or become ill and we cannot safely supervise children, we will have to close this service.
You may need these staff. They may be the difference for you or a family member between life and death. Think carefully about using an allocated emergency care place for your child.
Please stay inside and keep children home and safe.
The safest place for your child is at home.
If your child has an underlying medical condition, including asthma, the guidance says they should stay away from others for 12 weeks. It would not be sensible to send them into school or another provision as they are at an even more serious risk if they catch the virus.
Everyone should be socially isolating unless it is essential to leave the house. Please do not let your children go out to meet friends or go to the park etc. We can only stop the spread if people follow all of the guidance.
Please take all recommended precautions. We want to keep our community safe and protected.
Coronavirus Letter 20th March
Thursday 19th March:
Letter issued at 3pm; no guidance received from government so far. Key Workers are still undefined.
Tomorrow children will be shown how to use Google Classrooms, which will be our online learning platform for the foreseeable future. They will also receive an exercise book which will have all their logins necessary, and instructions for parents. Any children currently self-isolating or absent for other reasons will have this posted out, unless someone is able to come and collect from the school at home-time. We will leave them on the outdoor stage for collection.
Wednesday 18th March, evening update:
You may have seen the news earlier this evening - schools will close to most children from Monday onwards, in an effort by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus. We received this news at the same time as you. Although we have some emergency plans in place, mainly to try and deliver online learning of some kind until the end of this term, this is an unprecedented situation and small primary schools like ours are not set up to take this in our stride easily. However, you can rest assured we will do our best.
You will have many questions, and so do we. We hope to answer them before the weekend.
Once the details of the expected partial closure are received, and full guidance from the government and local authority is issued, we can begin to plan further. In particular we will need clarity over which children will need to be undertaking their online learning at school, during normal school hours, from Monday onwards. As soon as possible, you will receive further information via email.
Wednesday 18th March:
We will be issuing a text and a follow-up information letter to all parents via email, this evening, following a government announcement expected at 17:00. The actions we have taken so far this week are in compliance with the latest school-specific Local Authority advice in order to maximise staff availability in school and minimise the number of visitors entering the school building. Plans for offering online learning are underway.
Tuesday 17th March:
We continue to follow government guidance and this includes daily cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas before and after busy times e.g. door handles and door push plates at break, lunch etc. Children are reminded regularly about hand washing with warm soapy water and we continue to supervise them to ensure they do so.
As you can imagine, there are many 'moving parts' to a school that are not apparent to children or parents. To maximise the number of staff available on site and concentrate our resources on classrooms and children, all training courses, meetings, events, assemblies etc. have been cancelled until Easter at least. From tomorrow, all non-essential visitors will be cancelled, including our many volunteers. We expect that as we near the end of the week, our staffing will gradually reduce.
For the time being, breakfast club and after school clubs and care are still open, although these are vulnerable to low staffing. Swimming and trips are still expected to go ahead unless these are cancelled by the providers, or the school is not open at that time.
Rest assured, we expect to remain open whilst it is safe and manageable and we have not been directed to close. We are not making a 'big deal' of coronavirus to the children at school, apart from enforcing the basic safety routines to children, so as not to worry them too much. Thank you for your messages of support for us in this tricky time!
Monday 16th March - evening update:
Following the latest government announcement this evening, the advice has changed.
If anyone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus (cough or fever) the whole household must self-isolate for 14 days. In this case, your child should not attend school for this period. Please call, leave a message or email to let us know in the morning.
Monday 16th March:
We follow in full the advice given below.
Updated guidance for education settings on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Today, the Department for Education and Public Health England have issued updated guidance for education settings on COVID-19. This guidance will assist staff in addressing COVID-19 in educational settings. This includes childcare, schools, further and higher educational institutions.
What you need to know:
The updated guidance can be found here:
Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.
The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the impact of closing schools on both children’s education and on the workforce would be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be. Decisions on future advice to education or children’s social care settings will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggests children are a lower risk group.
Friday 13th March:
You will all be aware of the PM's announcement yesterday that there will be no blanket school closures for now. We follow this evidence-based advice given by the government and Public Health England. The wellbeing of our children, staff, families and the wider school community is more important that anything else.
Our current stance is this (and will be updated in response to new health guidance):
- If your child has the cough or fever symptoms please keep them at home for at least seven days.
- If you have these symptoms or have been to any of the affected areas, please do not come onto the school site.
- If school staff / volunteers / governors feel that they have these symptoms they will be expected to self-isolate and work from home if this is possible.
- Visitors to the school will be asked to confirm that they have not visited the affected areas and have not had the symptoms before being allowed into the building.
- High touch areas of the school are regularly cleaned and everyone is reminded of the rules around hand-washing, coughs and sneezes.
- We cannot give health advice as we are not medical professionals, nor can we reinterpret the public messages that are being given by the government. Everyone must make their own decisions based on what is known at present.
- We will not be cancelling forthcoming school trips or events, as at this stage it does not seem that these are considered a high risk.
We are proud of our important role in the local community and we will not close unless we are directed to; or if the safe management of the school or general health is put at risk. It would be irresponsible to stay open in these circumstances. If this happens, we will do the very best we can to provide home learning that is as easy to access as possible. Please ensure the office has your latest mobile number and email address.
We await further advice from the government, Norfolk County Council and the health authorities.
Thursday 12th March:
We continue to follow advice from Norfolk County Council and daily bulletins from Public Health England. It now seems possible that widespread school closures may be ordered and the situation may be out of our hands. We are working within our school and coordinating with other Norfolk schools in trying to plan for this.
As a precautionary measure it would be useful to us to know how many children have internet access and a laptop or tablet they can use if some form of online learning has to be delivered temporarily. Parents will be texted out today.
Monday 9th March:
Welcome to our temporary page about coronavirus. Worstead School receive daily information bulletins from Public Health England and take health decisions based on this advice. The children have been taught about how to wash their hands and prevent spreading coughs and sneezes around, as they are every 'flu season'.
You can help to slow the spread of Coronavirus!
- Make sure you and your children follow these general principles to prevent spreading any respiratory virus:
- Wash your hands often – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or an alcohol-based sanitiser if soap and water aren’t available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you feel unwell, stay at home and don’t attend work or school.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home.
- If you’re worried about your symptoms, please call NHS 111 – don’t go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.
Department for Education Coronavirus helpline - this helpline has been set up to answer questions about the virus related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline.
- Phone: 0800 046 8687
- Email: DfE.email@example.com
- Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)