The Christmas period saw a rapid spread of the omicron variant of covid-19, and a huge increase in the number of cases being reported. However, the governmnet has not imposed any additional restrictions or safety measures for primary school pupils. Children are expected to attend school as usual if they are well, to stay at home if they are unwell, and to self-isolate if they test positive for covid-19.
For those in school, there will be lots of handwashing, no sharing of equipment, additional cleaning, open windows for ventilation, and adults wearing masks in corridors and shared spaces. Children are not expected to wear masks, and teachers may remove masks for teaching in their classrooms. We are not required to keep children in class bubbles. We are not holding any whole school assemblies yet, limiting numbers in the hall to a maximum of two year groups.
As always, the most effective safety measure is to stay at home if you feel unwell. The symptoms of omicron may be milder than the delta variant, and often seem to present in the same was as a common cold. A case of the sniffles may well turn out to be covid. Therefore, we ask parents to be cautious, keep children at home and do a LFD test to rule out covid before sending children in to school. If we observe children feeling unwell in school, we will ask parents to come and colelct them, rather than risk spreading covid throughout the class.
At HJS we will aim to keep all classes open in school, as long as we have sufficient staff to do so. The governmnet guidance issued on 2nd January acknowledged that staff shortages may affect many schools this term, and suggested that schools may use support staff to cover, or may combine classes if there are insufficient teachers. Neither of those are options for us. We do not have spare support staff, and we do not have suitable spaces big enough to put two classes together. Therefore, our plan of last resort would be to ask children to stay at home so that those staff who are available can teach them remotely. We very much hope that we don't have to do this, but our Teams platform is constantly ready, just in case.
Full details of our arrangements for this term can be found in this guide for parents.
Our Covid-19 Action Plan
The trustees and senior leadership team of Henleaze Junior School is keeping the pandemic response under constant review. In response to the daily changes in the national and local situation, we are doing everything possible to maintain a safe environment for our staff and pupils, and to provide continuity of learning.
All of our actions are underpinned by detailed risk assessments. We receive regular advice from the Department for Education, and updates from Bristol 's Education and Public Health departments. We update our procedures in accordance with any recommendations made in these communications.
We aim to keep our community informed by sending out clear guidance to parents by email and publishing documents on the website. You can find the documents we have sent out below. We also include the latest news in our weekly HJS Update, which is emailed out every Friday afternoon to our mailing list.
Our remote learning plan
We hope to keep all children in school, but we are prepared for three scenarios:
- All classes are in school, all staff are available, planning for in-school teaching and learning.
- A class, a year group or the whole school is in lockdown, staff plan for teaching and learning at home.
- Most of the children are in school, but some children are absent due to suspected or confirmed Covid-19 in their family.
From September 2021, we expect the third case to be the most likely. With all our staff working full time to meet the needs of the children in school, we do not have the capacity to offer a full home learning service to healthy individuals who are stuck at home in isolation, but we will make all of our lesson plans and resources readily available to anyone who is unable to attend school.
We are using Microsoft Teams as our learning and communication platform. All children have an account and parents have received instructions on how to access it. We recognise that some of our families will face challenges accessing online learning, and we will support them in whatever way we can.
Here is a summary of the way we use Teams.
Children in school
Teachers post messages, news and reminders in Teams every week on the General and Class channels.
Teachers may post questions or challenges for the children to respond to. These may be homework tasks, or an extension of discussions that have started in class.
Children may post relevant questions or suggestions in their Class Channels and provide answers for each other.
Lesson plans and resources are uploaded every week to the Subject channels.
Some children at home
Teachers put the resources they are using in school into the Team Files so that children at home can use them. This includes any slides or websites that are displayed on the screen in the classroom and worksheets or other printed resources that are handed out. It includes lesson plans, written in a format that is easy for children and parents to follow at home.
Children are able to access these resources from day 1 of their absence, and can keep in touch by contributing to the discussions on the Class channel.
We keep a record of all children whose parents report suspected or confirmed cases of Covid in the household. If children are at home and well enought to work, we add them into a Chat group especially for all those stuck at home, and a member of staff monitors the group. If they have any questions about the work, children can post a message in the chat, and someone will get back to them quickly.
Partial or whole school lockdown
All home learning is managed in Teams. Plans and resources are adapted by teachers so that they are more easily understood by parents and children, without the need for the teacher to explain.
Some of the resources are "narrated" by recording the teacher talking over a Powerpoint presentation, or demonstrating in a video clip.
All children are expected to log in for a live registration meeting every morning. During the course of the week, smaller groups are invited to a Team meeting where they may chat about how things are going at home.
Teachers arrange some timetabled live "lessons" which may be recorded for the benefit of children who are not able to tune in at the time, or who want to watch again later.
Children are able to submit their work and receive personal feedback in Teams and they are able to have individual meetings or chats with their teachers.
We do not expect children to sit in front of a screen all day. We schedule online lessons so that children in different year groups are not expected to be online at the same time.