As you will be aware, schools have been asked to prepare to open to children from selected year groups from Monday 1st June 2020. We all very much want children and staff back in school and things to go back to normal, but only when it is safe to do so.
I would like to briefly explain how implementing some of the safety measures may change the way school operates. Due to limited group sizes and distancing requirements, children may not be supervised by their own class teacher or teaching assistant and may have to be taught in other areas of the school. Children will be socially separated into groups or ‘Pods’ in order to further limit any spread of illness. Each group/pod will have between 5 to 15 pupils, depending on the room size. This will allow us to try to maintain some form of social distancing although full 2 metre social distancing cannot be guaranteed. Children will stay in their group/pod with their designated adult for the majority of the day to avoid cross contamination. There will be a rota for breaks and time outside.
I fully recognise that this is an extremely unsettling time for you all, and that the decision whether to send your child back to school will be causing you concern. We recognise and respect that you know your child and your personal circumstances the best so we will not be pressuring any parents/carers to send their child in to school. Nor will families be penalised for keeping their child at home.
The actual decision on whether some children will return from the 1st June is still reliant on the scientific tests/targets set out by the government being met. The government’s roadmap says: “It is possible that the dates will be delayed if these conditions are not met. Changes will be announced at least 48 hours before coming into effect.” The government has set a review date of 28th May.
We will shortly be texting parents who have children in the specified year groups to ask if they would like their child to be considered for a school place from Monday 1st June. If you receive a text we would be grateful if you could reply to the text with either Yes of No or alternatively send a private message on our Facebook account including your child’s name or Contact Us. When we have an idea of numbers we can continue to plan for a phased reopening and we will contact you all with further information in due course.
We are working hard to find the best way to put government safety advice into place within our school setting and can assure you that we will do utmost to keep our school community safe.
Mr S Cornforth
Even though the Prime Minister indicated there could be a return to school for certain children after half term, the current guidance for schools remains unchanged.
Schools remain closed and ‘every child who can be safely cared for at home should be’.
We will continue to provide childcare for those parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response and only for those that cannot be safely cared for at home.
As yet, schools have not received any further information on how this phased return of certain year groups would work. We will need clear guidance from government to plan how it is possible to social distance in schools and keep children, staff and families safe. Please be assured we will not reopen until we are satisfied that this can be achieved.
For the time being there will be no change to current arrangements. Our teachers will continue to provide work packs (the next one will be ready this Friday) and we will keep you updated with any new information as we receive it.
Willington Primary School
WORK PACKS AVAILABLE FOR ALL CHILDREN
Work packs for the next two weeks are available to collect today from school for ALL children (Nursery to year 6). Please enter the school main yard and they are available to collect from tables outside the dining hall up until 1pm. From 1pm – 3pm they will be available from the school main office due to the rain forecast this afternoon Thank you.
This site was created for young people, carers and professionals to pool together lots of helpful resources from across the internet that are available to help support your mental health and well-being. We hope that you find it helpful. Click here to access the site.
Advice in County Durham is a new initiative making it easier for you to access the right advice and support. You will find a wide range of advice guides as well some useful links to help you find the information you need. Click here to access their site.
Many families are finding this period of time difficult. Most have all family members at home and this is impacting on the family food budget. If you need the support of a local food bank, please contact our school’s Parent Support Advisor, Julie Bray. Julie can arrange a food bank voucher for you. The service is confidential. Julie can be contacted on 07825 341 243 or email@example.com
Talking to Children about COVID-19
Resources for Schools, Parents, Children and Young People
We understand how difficult it can be trying to talk to children and young people about global crises. As psychologists we are often asked about how much to tell children, how and when to talk to them, and how we can feel prepared for challenging conversations. We have therefore started to compile a list of resources and helpful websites for you to use over the coming weeks.
Outlined below are a range of resources to support schools, parents, children and young people. Note this is not an exhaustive list.
BBC: How to protect your mental health
ChildMind: Talking to Children
CBBC: Video and Questions
Young Minds: Feeling Anxious about Coronavirus
Anxiety and world news from Hey Sigmund https://www.heysigmund.com/about/>
Talking about world trauma with kids https://www.heysigmund.com/how-to-talk-to-kids-and-teens-about-world-trauma/>
This is a great website for parents/carers containing the latest psychological news and research https://www.heysigmund.com/anxiety-in-children-after-world-trauma/
Supporting Students Experiencing Childhood Trauma: Tips for Parents and Educators from the National Association of School Psychologists
American Psychological Association: Information on Pandemics (a wide range of resources)
ELSA: Coronavirus Story for Children
Smiling Mind is a great mindfulness app/website for the whole family (Age 7+). Many children use Smiling Mind in class as a way to help calm and focus their brains and bodies https://www.smilingmind.com.au/
Cosmic Kids combines Yoga and mindfulness for kids ages 3+. This is a great resource and many children have experience of using it in UK classrooms https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga
Something Bad Happened: A Kid’s Guide to Coping with events in the News. How to process different world events by Dawn Huebner (Ages 6-12).
What To Do When You’re Scared & Worried: A Guide for Kids. A help guide to processing fears and worries by James J Crist (Ages 9-13)
Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud -Encourages positive behaviour and expressing kindness and appreciation
How are you Peeling: Foods with Moods Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers Explores how emotions look through pictures of Foods. Despite the title it is a good way to talk about emotions with young kids.
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain Explores Feelings. A good way to talk about emotions with young children.
Some resources on bereavement include:
- The Day the Sea Went Out and Never Came Back by Margot Sunderland. A story for children who have lost someone they love (ages 4-12).
- Always and Forever by Durrant & Gliori (ages 3-5)
- The Baadger’s Parting Gift by Susan Varley
- Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies. A beautiful book that shows how those who are dear to us remain near to us – however far away they may seem
About Death for Teenagers: How to cope with losing someone you love by Earl Grollman
Dying, Death and Grief: Working with adult bereavement by Brenda Mallon
Useful websites and organisations:
- Winston’s Wish is a useful website which has practical activity suggestions which could be used in schools. You may also wish to make use of general activities about feelings and relationships if working with a bereaved child.
- If the child has particular additional support needs you may wish to seek advice from national organisations such as the Scottish Down’s Syndrome Association, or NAS in the case of a child with an autism spectrum disorder.
- You may also wish to access the Childhood Bereavement Network. Sometimes children need more support to cope with death/loss/change. Once this has been assessed to be the case ‘Seasons for Growth’ and ‘Give us a Break’ are examples of group programmes which schools may run, they require trained staff. Family or individual counselling maybe appropriate.
Further support for School, Parents & Carers
A sample letter an overseas Educational Psychologist shared with me. Good to draw from which gives parents strategies to build resilience and have reassuring conversations with their children. You can use or modify this document to fit your school’s needs: Sample letter to parents can be accessed at https://iscainfo.com/resources/ISCA%20Coronavirus%20Suggestions%20to%20Parents%20(1).pdf
SCHOOL MEALS VOUCHER SYSTEM
Dear Parents/ Carers,
The government has issued guidance about the free school meals voucher system that will replace the packed lunch bags currently being provided at school.
If you are entitled to free school meals THROUGH THE BENEFITS SYSTEM (details of this provided below), the following arrangements will apply:
From week beginning MONDAY 20 APRIL (after the Easter holidays), we will have the new government voucher scheme up and running. This will entitle the parents of each child who is eligible for free school meals UNDER THE BENEFITS SYSTEM, to receive a weekly voucher worth £15.
There will be two ways for eligible parents to access the vouchers. The easiest way will be for you to send us your email address. We will then be able to send you a code which you will be able to use to generate an e-voucher (clear instructions will be provided on how to do this) for a supermarket from the list below:
Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S Food.
Alternatively, if you have not got access to an email account, the school can generate the voucher on your behalf for your chosen supermarket. The voucher will then be available for collection from school at a pre-arranged time.
You will shortly receive a text asking for you to supply us with an email address or to let us know if you do not have access to one. We will give you further details in due course. Please reply to the text message with your email address and names of all your children you wish to claim a voucher for who are in reception to year 6. Alternatively please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, send a PRIVATE message on the schools Facebook page or contact us via our website.
This is a positive development which means that after the Easter holidays, you will no longer have to make the journey to school every day to collect packed lunches. I would, however, like to say a big thank you to our kitchen staff who have provided our children with packed lunches up to this point.
Please note that there will be NO packed lunches available during the Easter holidays.
Your child may be able to get free school meals if you get any of the following:
o Income Support
o income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
o income-related Employment and Support Allowance
o support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
o the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
o Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
o Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
o Universal Credit – if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
If you do not receive a text message and you believe you are eligible please contact us via a private Facebook message, email email@example.com or our website.
Firstly, I would like to thank you for your patience and understanding during this very challenging time. As a school we will do our best to keep you supplied with activities to enable your children to practise key skills throughout the time they have to stay at home.
Your child must NOT come to school next week unless this has been pre-arranged with Mr Cornforth.
As far as next week is concerned, school is closed for almost all pupils. The only children in school will be those whose parent(s) have spoken to Mr Cornforth and explained how they cannot complete their crucial role in the COVID-19 response without child care on certain days.
From the perspective of the school, local authority and public health, the most important message for parents is that any child who can be at home should be at home. This is the best way to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
We will keep in touch with you all using Facebook, Dojo, text and school website and you can email questions to the school email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please follow public health guidelines regarding social distancing and isolation as this will help contain the situation and enable a speedier return to normality.
Thank you and stay safe.
Mr Cornforth and the staff of Willington Primary.