Welcome Back! School Re-Opening Letter

Read Mrs Butterworth’s Welcome Back letter for parents / carers.

School reopening: Thursday 3rd September 9.00am
The staff and governors of Bells Farm are very much looking forward to welcoming the children back from Thursday, and I hope that you have enjoyed the holiday as best you can despite the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Thank you for your responses to the survey on returning to school. I would ask you all to have another read of the handbook before we return, as it seems a long time since the end of that very strange summer term!

The main point that I need to stress is that it is essential that you follow the procedures for dropping off and picking up. Please ensure that you come to the allocated entrance for you children. Just another reminder:

Front entrance – Bells Farm Close:
1. Reception children, including those with siblings.

If the siblings are in Year 1, the parent/carer will be permitted to bring their child onto the playground from the front side gate for the first 2 weeks until the children are settled. This should be done once your reception aged child has been handed over to staff. All other siblings must walk round to the playground from this gate on their own. There will be staff available to guide them round.

2. Year 6 who come to school on their own or who have no siblings at school.

1. Years 1 – 5 (where there are no reception aged children in the family)

2. Children in Year 6 with siblings in school, who do not come to school on their own.
The gates will be open at 8.45 am. Parents and carers are asked to use the playground entrance directly on Brockworth Road OR the pathway behind the Woodland Walk which leads to the gate at the far end of the playground on Wynstead Covert. Obviously if you live on or near this covert you can access the gate from this direction. The choice is yours – depending on which is nearest for you, or which you judge to be the clearest way through.

Brockworth Road playground gate: Please either drop your child(ren) off at the gate, or go as far as the orange playground markings and walk out through the car park to avoid doubling back.

The car park will be staffed for health and safety requirements.

Wynstead Covert Gate: Please drop your children off at this gate and either exit back onto Wynstead Covert or back through the path to Brockworth Road.

Parents and carers will not be allowed on site in the morning, which I know is unfortunate at the start of the year but we have to keep reducing the risk.

At the end of the day, one parent or carer can come onto the site but must wait at the sign for the class of their youngest child.

Re-opening Survey
Thank you for completing the survey. A few questions were raised and I will answer them now but will clarify with individuals as I see them or if you wish to contact me at school.

Is there an option to home school?
Children are expected to return to school where we will minimise the risk for them as set out in the handbook. Unfortunately there is not an option to home school. The government have made it clear that if parents or carers choose to home school their children, that this is a very specific path and that the school place will not be able to be kept open. Children have already missed so many months of being in school and we have been advised by the government that attendance is required. A ‘blended learning’ package is being put together in the event of a future school closure and this will be shared with you. Blended learning just means a combination of work set to be done at home and online teachings.

Can both parents come to school to drop our reception child off on the first day?
Unfortunately, I have to say no, simply due to the numbers of adults who will be around the site at both entrances. As Year 6 children without siblings (there are 17 in total) will be using the front entrance as well, and most will be accompanied by a parent or carer, there will already be many people at the front and we cannot risk this becoming unmanageable. Year 6 are using this entrance to prevent them from having to go through the whole school to get to their classroom and also to cut numbers down at the Brockworth Road entrance. I know that first day at school is very special, and you may want to share the occasion by one of you coming to Stay, Play and Chat and the other doing the first drop-off. It does grieve me to have to make this decision, but it is all about safety for us all, minimising risk and working hard to try to avoid staggered start times for children.

Will my children have to wear face masks?
There is so much in the news about this as you know, but at the moment there is no requirement for primary aged children to wear face masks. If and when this changes, we will inform you, but at the moment children won’t wear face masks. If you wish them to wear them as far as the school gate, this is obviously your choice but the children will need to remove them when they are in school.

Have the bubbles been allocated?
Yes, as set out in the handbook, children will be in Reception whole class bubble, Years 1 and 2 bubble, 3 and 4 bubble and 5 and 6 bubble. Mainly each class will be kept apart from the other class in their bubble when they are learning or in the playground. The main reason for pairing up classes is to enable them to use the dining hall in the same sitting. We have reorganised the way we serve dinners: there will be a hot choice or sandwich choice and the kitchen staff will make these to order once they receive the list from the teachers. This is so that the dinners can be quickly allocated and children do not have to queue up. I will be overseeing the dining hall arrangements from day one and want to assure you that hygiene measures will be of a continuing high standard.

Will children’s temperature be taken?
If a child feels or seems unwell they will have their temperature taken using an infrared non – contact thermometer. Any rise in temperature will mean that the child’s parents or carers will be contacted to collect their child. It is essential to stress again that if your child is unwell in the morning, they must not come to school.

My child is feeling anxious about returning and about the handwashing routines. How will this be dealt with?
The school staff have spent a great deal of planning time to deal with the fact that most of the children have been out of school for so long. We will deal with all issues in class, in small groups and individually. All teachers and assistants, and Mrs Johnson, the Learning Mentor will be dealing with concerns as a matter of priority from the moment the children are back. There will be a lot of talk about feelings, being back and getting used to school again. We will contact you by phone if we are at all concerned about your child. If you have a particular concern about an aspect of your child’s mental health or a family issue, please don’t forget to email us at enquiry@bellsfrm.bham.sch.uk on 1st or 2nd September, and we will call you back.

I urge you, however, not to request a phone call to answer a question about a procedure that is in the handbook. We are keen to reserve time for those parents and carers who have specific issues which they wish to discuss about their children. So please ensure you read the handbook thoroughly and if you are still unsure about something, email us and we will reply by return email.

Will my child receive the same extra support for their special educational needs?
Rest assured that as far as teaching and learning and support for your children’s needs are concerned, it will be business as usual! We are desperate to have the children back, assess how they have coped in lockdown and begin to catch up on any gaps.

Your child will receive the extra support they need, in a small class group or individually as before. Although we said goodbye to Mrs Knipe, her replacement, Mrs Stoiber, is highly experienced and has had many meetings with Mrs Knipe to discuss the individual needs of children with SEN.

If I have missed any question or concern you raised, please email and I will get back to you.

So last checks before the children return:

1. Keep reassuring them that we are here for them and their needs, and are so happy to be welcoming them back.
2. Make sure your contact numbers are up to date.
3. Make sure you inform us if you have recently returned from a different country.
4. Make sure you do not send your child to school if they are ill in any way.
5. Label everything! It is more vital than ever that we do not get items mixed up. So please label:
• Uniform
• PE kit – please also add something warm – a top and bottoms to your child’s PE bag. This does not have to be anything special – just loose and warm, as we want to do as much PE as we can in the fresh air – weather permitting.
• Lunch boxes
• Water bottles

If water bottles and lunchboxes are not clearly labelled with your child’s full name (please also add their year group to lunch boxes as these will be collected and laid out ready for them in their assigned dining seats) we will have to label them ourselves with markers and this is not a good use of staff time!
I realise that you have been bombarded with information and am hugely grateful for the positive support and feedback you have given myself and the whole staff since this whole sorry business started! But please do keep reading the messages and letters asking for clarification if needed, so that we can all do our bit to get our wonderful school going again. The Bells Farm community is truly in this together and we all want the children back for good, enjoying their learning and their friendships.

I will continue to write to you at the end of every week and sending updates via the School Gateway app, school website, email and school Twtter feed if needed earlier. Until then, stay safe and well.

Best wishes,

Barbara Butterworth

Tags: Coronavirus

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