The path to the safe reopening of our schools

On the evening of Sunday 10 May the Prime Minister announced the government’s plans to re-open schools for some year groups after the May half-term break. This means that if the infection rate of Covid-19 remains on a downwards slope then all schools across the country will open for children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children on Monday 1 June 2020. At the same point students in Years 10 and 12 who are studying for their GCSE, A Level and BTEC qualifications will be given some time in school to have face-to-face time with subject teachers. The ambition from the government is that before the end of the Summer Term other year groups may be able to return.

Since Friday 20 March our schools have been very different, only remaining open for the children of critical key workers unable to leave their children when they attended work, children with allocated social workers and children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). The majority of children have been able to complete work at home set by teachers, but they have missed out on the enormous social, emotional and educational benefits of normal school life. We believe children belong in schools and we are very much looking forward to welcoming children back to school when it is safe to do so. At this stage we are planning for this to be 1 June 2020 as per the government’s guidelines.

At Penk Valley Academy Trust, all of our schools are working towards a common goal – to ensure our schools continue to be ‘Covid-19 safe’. This means safe for parents, safe for teaching staff, safe for office staff and, safe for children. The government has issued lots of good clear guidance that we are following to the letter. They have given us an implementation plan – a checklist to ensure no stone is left unturned – and we are incorporating this into our own individual school risk assessments to ensure each and every school and classroom meets the requirements and is as safe as it can possibly be. Our school offices are being tested against the government’s workplace guidance and we are ensuring that our support staff – our cleaners, our catering staff, our lunchtime supervisors, our minibus drivers and our site supervisors – are given the equipment, the training and the safe workspaces they need to carry out their vital roles. The bottom line of our risk assessments is if it is not safe, we won’t do it.

On 1 June we will take the next step on the road to recovery together. We will play our part in getting things back to normal with sensible, planned out steps and the right precautions in place. As a trust we are strong together, drawing on the expertise of all of our school leaders, enabling us to have a clear path to ensuring our schools can welcome children back only when it is safe.

To help you understand more about how our schools will re-open and what measures we are taking,  we are putting together a list of frequently asked questions. This list, available on the Penk Valley Academy Trust website www.penkvalley.co.uk, will be added to as and when we know more. We promise to keep you informed along the way, following the guidance from the government at all times.

As ever, we will continue to be stronger together.