Letter in lieu of Mailbag 12 May 2020

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Dear Parents and Carers

I hope this letter finds you well. It’s hard to believe that the end of Term 5 is already in sight!  


I want to set out the next few weeks for you and how the school will respond to the new government guidelines from June 1st.  


Before I do that, I'd like to take a moment to say how utterly brilliant you have all been at supporting your children’s home learning. I can’t imagine how you have been managing to work out the logistics each day and keep up their motivation - many of you whilst working yourselves. It must be particularly for those of you with more than one child. 


I know that each household has its own particular strengths and challenges. We are all coping with these strange times in our own ways and doing the very best we can.  


However you are approaching home learning - whether you are accessing your own resources, using the Daily Tasks on Seesaw, Tapestry or the website or just enjoying family time and encouraging your child to lead their own learning - the expectations remain the same: do what suits you and your child, and what you can comfortably manage. Children are adaptable and resilient and learning comes in many forms. 


All of our children will return to school having had different levels of engagement, routine and expectations. It is up to us as a school to support them when they return and we will be working very hard to fill any gaps in their learning. 


I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to those of you who have completed our online survey (if you haven’t already, you can do so here). The feedback so far is really helpful and we have taken your comments into account in our plans for the next few weeks:

  • Daily Tasks will be uploaded to the school website Learning At Home page, Seesaw and Tapestry (for Reception) the night before.                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Teachers will continue to upload support videos to help your child.                                                                                                  
  • Teachers will comment on all work uploaded to Tapestry and Seesaw.                                                                                              
  • Yr 1 - 6 Teachers will continue to hold weekly Zoom check-ins with their classes.                                                                        
  • Teachers will phone parents every two weeks for a catch-up.                                                                                                        
  • Teachers will not be providing Daily Learning Tasks over half term (Mon 25th May - Fri 29th May) but will provide Small/Big Plate Homework for those of you who would like to continue tasks in the holidays.                                                                           
  • The school will remain open during half term for those key-workers’ children whose families have exhausted all other childcare options.                                                                                                                                                                            
  • If you need any exercise books/stationery please let us know and these can be collected from school.                                       
  • If you would like to borrow a school iPad to help your child access on line learning resources please email your child’s teacher.                                                                                                                                                                                           
  • The Book Barn will be open between 7.30 and 3.30pm Monday to Friday. If you are returning books please place them in the ‘quarantine box’ by the main entrance.





You probably heard in Boris Johnson’s ‘road map’ for lifting the lockdown that, subject to the government’s five key tests being met, primary schools may be asked to re-open, to some children, after half term. 

These answers to frequently asked questions are based on the Department for Education Guidelines (HERE), which were released yesterday. (Information in green italics is taken directly from the government guidelines.)  


Which year groups may be returning to school on June 1st?  

Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. 

The guidelines state that children in these year groups will return to school after half term ONLY if the 5 key tests set by the government are met and justify the changes at the time.


Will the class numbers be reduced?  

Yes. We will be splitting the classes into groups of 15, 8 or 7.


Why not simply spilt the class into two equal groups of 15?  

This is because, as well as the class teacher, we will be asking teaching assistants to support the teachers.


Will my child always have their usual class teacher?  

No. The children will have their class teacher one week and then be taught by teachers from another year group and/or a teaching assistant. We will let you know which adult will be teaching your child on which days on Friday 15th May.


Who will be setting the work for my child?  

The class teacher will set the work for all of the children in their class and oversee the learning.


How will drop off and pick up work?  

Each group of 15 children will be allocated an entrance/exit that they will use until further notice. Please arrive at this entrance/exit at 8.45am or 9am, where the adult in charge of your child will meet you. Please do not come in through the gate. You can collect your child either at 3.15pm or 3.30pm depending on which group they are in. Click HERE to download a plan of the school a map showing the seven entrances/exits. We will let you know which group your child will be in, and which entrance/exit they will use, on Friday 15th May.


Will the school be staggering break times and lunch times?  

Yes. We aim to stagger these, as far as possible, to reduce mixing between groups.


Will my child need a packed lunch?  

As far as we know at present, our catering provider, Chartwells, will provide lunch as they did before the lockdown.


Will we be asking parents to report pupils’ temperatures at the start of each day?  

“Parents, carers and settings do not need to take children’s temperatures every morning. Routine testing of an individual’s temperature is not a reliable method for identifying coronavirus.”   


Should I keep my child at home if they have an underlying health condition or live with someone in a clinically vulnerable group?  

“Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.”  


What other safety measures will the school be putting in place?  

  • Chairs at a 2-metre distance in the classroom and/or hall  
  • 2-metre distance marked out around the teachers’ desks  
  • Cleaning hands more often than usual - washing hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and drying them thoroughly or using alcohol hand rub or sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered  
  • Ensure that bins for tissues are emptied throughout the day  
  • Where possible, all spaces should be well ventilated using natural ventilation (opening windows) or ventilation units  
  • Prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation  
  • Ensuring good respiratory hygiene - promote the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach  
  • Cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as detergents and bleach  
  • Accessing rooms directly from outside where possible  
  • Considering one-way circulation, or place a divider down the middle of the corridor to keep groups apart as they move through the setting where spaces are accessed by corridors  


Will breakfast club and after-school club still be operating?  

Yes, but numbers are limited and we will be allocating places to key-workers’ children first. Breakfast Club is 7.30-8.50am and Earlygators is 3.30pm-5pm.


Will the staff be wearing personal protective equipment?  


“Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended. Face coverings may be beneficial for short periods indoors where there is a risk of close social contact with people you do not usually meet and where social distancing and other measures cannot be maintained, for example on public transport or in some shops. This does not apply to schools or other education settings.”  


Can I send my child in with a mask and/or gloves?  

This is entirely your choice.


Does my child have to wear school uniform?  

No, and this may make it easier for washing and drying. Staff may also wear clothing that can be washed easily.


Is it compulsory for them to attend school? 

“We strongly encourage children and young people in the eligible year groups and priority groups (such as children of critical workers) to attend, as requested by their school or college, unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as shielding due to health conditions).  

You should notify your child’s school or college as normal if your child is unable to attend so that staff are aware and can discuss with you.  

Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.”  


If my child (who is in Reception, Year 1 or Year 6) does not attend school, will we still have Home Learning Tasks and support videos?  

No, as the class teacher will be in school teaching. However, we will provide a plan at the beginning of the week to reflect the learning in school. Specific details of this will follow in due course.


Will the Home Learning Tasks continue for Year 2-5?  



Will the school still be open for key-workers’ children who are in Yrs 2 - 5?  

Yes, but, as I am sure you can appreciate, the number of teaching staff will be significantly reduced as they will be needed to support Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.  If you have exhausted every other childcare option we will do our best to facilitate this and continue to provide childcare.


What if the school only get limited numbers of children?  

In this event, we may be able to have one class teacher in school and the other setting Home Learning Tasks but, until we open during the week of June 1st, we will not know if this is possible.


We have had key-workers’ children in school now since Monday 23rd March. During this time we have implemented our own safety measures, many of which are listed in the government guidelines. 

We have found during this time that while it is very difficult to ensure that children, even small groups, are 2 metres apart throughout the day, we have ensured that the other recommendations can, and will, continue to be followed. 

It is all a lot to take in and I am sure there may be questions we have yet to answer. 

Please continue to use the email address: staff@hillcrest.bristol.sch.uk and write FAO [class teacher’s name] if you have any questions you would like your child’s teacher or myself to answer.

Kind regards