We are very happy that schools can reopen fully for the 2020-21 academic year, and we take seriously the potential risks surrounding the ongoing situation with Covid-19. There will inevitably be quite a lot of change to get used to but the benefits of all being back on site, learning in real rather than virtual classrooms and having the opportunity to take part in a full range of school activities will compensate for this.
Our planning has been driven by Government guidance and essential measures include:
- A requirement that people who are ill stay at home.
- Robust hand and respiratory hygiene.
- Enhanced cleaning arrangements.
- Active engagement with NHS Test and Trace.
- Formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible and minimise potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable.
Our pupils, staff and parents have all received detailed information about the implementation of safety measures and what these mean in a practical sense and on a day-to-day basis. They include the following areas.
Teaching and Learning
St John’s pupils will be taught in year group ‘bubbles’ and, while in school, will not interact with pupils in other year groups. Each year group will have a dedicated zone where their teaching and pastoral care will take place, and will also have a designated outside space for use during break and lunchtime. With the exception of subjects where specialist equipment is required e.g. art, design and engineering, some science lessons etc. pupils will remain in their designated area of the School to reduce movement around the site.
Classrooms have been adapted so that desks are at one metre distance, meaning pupils are physically distanced during lessons and all face forwards. The layout of classrooms, offices and other areas where staff work have been designed to allow for social distancing in line with the requirement that adults at school should ‘ideally, maintain two metre distance from each other, and from children.’
Wider School Life
We have temporarily suspended access to houses – where pupils would normally be mixing across year groups – but pastoral care will continue in its normal way with tutor groups based in the relevant year group zone, and tutors and Housemaster/mistress (Head of Year and Lower School for Lower Third and Upper Third) remain the primary points of contact for families.
Our co-curricular programme continues but within year group bubbles and some activities will run on rotation for different year groups. Sport will also be delivered in year group bubbles and internal fixtures will be played until it is possible to schedule local external fixtures. We remain as ambitious and enthusiastic about performing arts as ever and will be running rehearsals in year group bubbles and live streaming events to create a vibrant, if different, approach.
Lunch will operate on a rotation basis from three venues for pupils, and staff will be allocated to one of three areas. Hot food will be available, alongside other options including salads and sides. To maintain social distancing and reduce unnecessary contact, staff meetings continue to take place remotely wherever possible.
Travel to and from School
As we have a large number of pupils using the School bus service, we will not be staggering the start and end of the School day but will enable physical distancing by introducing designated entry points determined by the mode of transport used. To maintain safety on the School bus service, there will be additional cleaning of vehicles, pupils will sit in year groups in designated seats, they will use hand sanitiser when boarding and disembarking and they will use a face covering while on the vehicle.
Year group time slots will be assigned for pupils who arrive at school by car. Pupils will leave school via the designated location. All pupils will wear masks onsite until they reach their year group zone, where they can remove them. They will also wear their mask offsite at the end of the day.
The already comprehensive cleaning schedule has been enhanced to ensure cleaning can take place when and where it is most required. Buildings will be cleaned throughout the day and at the end of the day, with ‘high-touch’ areas being cleaned more frequently than normal. We have electrostatic disinfecting units, and high use areas such as the Dining Hall and corridors will be sprayed daily.
Handwashing and hand hygiene remains a key control measure and we have additional handwashing facilities and temporary toilets in place to make it as easy as possible for pupils and staff to access washing facilities whenever required. Hand sanitisers are available around the School and increased signage reminds staff and pupils to regularly wash or sanitise their hands throughout the day.
Managing Covid-19 Related Symptoms
Any pupil or staff member with a Covid-19 related symptom (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a change to their sense of taste or smell) must self-isolate and be tested for Covid-19. If the test returns negative then, assuming they feel well enough, they can return to school. If the test is positive they must continue to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of their symptoms and then return to school only if they do not have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste. The School must be informed immediately of a positive Covid-19 test result. St John’s will then contact the local health protection team to rapidly risk assess the School community and determine those who were in close contact who will need to self-isolate for 14 days at home.
Details of updated Covid-19 related policies can be found on the policy pages of our website.