Since September, Harlow Green Primary School has been able to open to all our children and provide an education with greater normality. Having children in school so that they can take part in lessons across all subjects, attend clubs, begin to represent school at sports events etc. has been such a positive time for everyone. To achieve this, behind the scenes, there is a great deal of planning and assessment of risk, in conjunction with the council, which I am sure families can appreciate.
Although everyone hoped that Covid-19 would be gone by now, we are all too aware that this is not the case. Across the North East, and in Gateshead specifically, there has been clear messaging from councils that infection rates are high and that hospitalisations are increasing. The issue of Covid-19 hitting the flu season is of great concern and, as a result, councils are doing all they can to minimise the spread of infection in many ways.
In respect of schools, there continues to be many systems and restrictions in place which are being managed in a manner that children are not overtly aware of. Our aim is to ensure that children can feel that school is a safe and engaging place to be, rather than worrying about the potential of becoming unwell. Nevertheless, schools are establishments with large numbers of people, and this requires careful management to keep everyone as safe as possible.
The council’s Public Health team along with Health & Safety representatives and Head Teachers work closely together to try and implement Covid-19 systems which allow schools to provide quality education whilst reducing the risk of infection which, if not managed, could lead to many children being absent from school. It is important for us to share with families what this will mean during the second half of this autumn term.
What will school be like for children?
At Harlow Green, our Covid-19 structures have remained in place which means there will be no difference to what the children are currently experiencing on a day-to-day basis.
Children work with their classmates during the day but also have the chance to play outside with the children in the parallel Year Group class on a fortnightly basis.
Afterschool clubs will still be in place because they are organised within classes, on a half termly basis.
There will still be no whole school events due to the large numbers this would involve (e.g. whole school assemblies). However, smaller groups will come together in the hall with classes sitting separately (e.g. Year 5 and Year 6 in assembly).
Playtimes and lunchtimes are still staggered to allow each class to have the time and space to have their breaks, safely.
Events and curriculum visits/visitors will still be organised to support teaching and learning but this will continue to be done in classes/Year Groups, unless there is a specific need to do this in a different way.
Children will see staff walking around the building with face coverings, but these will not be used by staff in classrooms or when working with children.
What does this mean for parents/carers?
On a daily basis, the same systems are in place that are currently used. Children will come into and out of school from their specified entry/exit points. Parents/carers are asked to use the site carefully, keeping their distance and leaving the site swiftly. Face coverings are encouraged for all adults on the school site.
Unfortunately, we are still unable to invite parents/carers into school for events. This has been very clearly stated in the council Risk Assessment for all schools.
Inevitably, this means that Christmas events cannot be attended by parents/carers. We know that this will be disappointing, but the main focus is to ensure that children and staff can attend school as safely as possible and to minimise the possibility of absence or class closures.
However, it is important to understand that we will still organise Christmas activities in adapted ways, it is just that we cannot invite family members into school.
It is essential that we continue to provide experiences which children enjoy over the festive period. We will ensure that children will have events that help them see the magic of Christmas and the enjoyment it brings. Although we will provide further details closer to the time, we will be organising the following:
- Christmas lunch (with Christmas jumpers)
- Christmas parties
- Virtual pantomime (one for EYs/KS1 and one for KS2)
- Participating in a school nativity play recording which can be watched by families online (acted out by Reception children with singing by Year 1 to Year 6)
A Safe Christmas Holiday
It is the responsibility of Harlow Green Primary School to do all we can to help families get to the holidays safely so that they can enjoy Christmas together. Even within the continuing pandemic, we believe we can provide an environment in which children will learn but also have experiences which engage and enthuse.
We thank you all for your understanding and co-operation in this matter.