Coronavirus

Frequently asked questions

Last updated: 1st March

In opening our schools to more children in the autumn term 2020, each Compass School conducted a thorough COVID-19 risk assessment in line with government guidance and has implemented safeguards and procedures so that we achieve an environment that is as safe as we possibly can, whilst understanding that we will not be able to eliminate all risks. Nearly all Compass schools were open during the 2020 national lock down period and have well established procedures for managing the learning of children in an environment that is as safe as we can possibly maintain.

These FAQs aim to show you how we have responded to government guidance and how we aim to maintain our environments in accordance with that guidance, which we keep under review as and when new guidance is published. It is important to emphasise that no environment is completely risk free. We are aware of the risks and these FAQs show you how we aim to control them as best we can.

From 8th March, all children should attend school.

Where pupils are unable to attend school in line with public health/clinical advice, absence will not be penalised.

Children who are symptomatic or live with someone who is symptomatic will be expected to follow the self-isolation guidance and not be in school. This is exactly the same for adults in school.

Shielding advice is currently in place . Staff and pupils who are clinically extremely vulnerable must remain at home during this period. If children cannot attend due to clinical or public health advice they will be offered access to remote education.

 

You can read the guidance ‘What parents and carers need to know during the Coronavirus outbreak’ here.

You can read the guidance ‘Schools coronavirus operational guidance’ here.

You can read the staying at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus here.

You can read the Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are  clinically extremely vulnerable here.

We are working to the requirements set out in the latest government guidance  ‘Schools coronavirus operational guidance’, which builds on the control and protective measures that have already been established in our schools:

  • requirement that people who are ill stay at home
  • robust hand & respiratory hygiene – ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’
  • enhanced cleaning arrangements
  • active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
  • reducing contacts and maximising distance between those in school wherever possible

Reducing contacts may include, as far as is practicable, grouping children together, avoiding contact between groups, staff maintaining distance from pupils and other staff.

We will continue to work together with your children to maintain good hygiene practices, with children washing their hands throughout the day for at least 20 seconds with soap, when they arrive in school, when they return from breaks, when they change rooms and before and after eating. Catching coughs and sneezes with tissues and encouraging children to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

 

Resources will not be shared between children in different bubbles until they have been cleaned, and frequently touched objects will be wiped regularly by staff. In the early years, resources will not be shared between groups of children.

 

The Government has recognised that ‘unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff’. Furthermore, there are some children for whom, in order to keep them safe, it will not always be possible to maintain the recommended distance of 2 metres. We have therefore worked through the Government’s ‘hierarchy of measures’:

  • avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms
  • frequent hand cleaning and good hygiene practices
  • regular cleaning of settings
  • minimising contact and mixing

We will continue to welcome fewer visitors in school than usual, who will mainly be providing ongoing maintenance services, safeguarding/therapeutic support. Any external people entering school will be providing essential services. They will be expected to follow our COVID -19 visitor protocols and will only work in areas of the school where children and staff are not present. We have protocols in place in order to receive deliveries.

Pupils who share a household with people who are shielding are able to attend school unless they have been advised otherwise by a clinician. Pupils and staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable must not attend school. Pupils who are required to shield will have access to remote learning.

You can read the guidance on shielding here.

You can read the guidance for schools during the coronavirus outbreak here.

Handwashing is built into the normal school routine. Staff will monitor the pupils that they are working with and ensure that they are washing their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds when they arrive in school, at regular periods during the day especially after breaks, when moving from one location to another, that they are catching coughs and sneezes with tissues and then washing hands, and that they are washing their hands before and after eating. Staff will also encourage children to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. There will be posters reminding children of how to wash their hands in the toilets and staff will supervise handwashing after children visit the toilets. Younger children and those with complex needs will be supervised closely.

The school will ensure that it monitors its supplies of hand sanitiser, soap and other essential products that are needed to maintain good hygiene. The Trust has purchased main items centrally. The Department for Education are aware that some items will be in high demand and have a contact email for schools should they have difficulty in sourcing key products.

No. This is not recommended by government or their advisors. We will only take a temperature if a child reports they are unwell whilst at school.

Some of our complex children who may spit, or dribble, will have their temperature taken as an additional precaution, as identified on their individual risk assessment.

We ask that families ensure that they keep their children at home if they are exhibiting the symptoms of the virus, which are:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

It is also important that children isolate for 14 days if a member of their household develops COVID 19 symptoms from the first day these symptoms occurred. See the staying at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus here.

Staggered start and finish times continue. Your school will communicate its specific arrangements with you directly.

Hot food is available across all of our sites through our new catering company Chartwells. All children in Key Stage 1 and reception are entitled to a meal funded by the government at no charge to parents, and we encourage all families to take up this offer of a hot meal during the day.

If your child is not in school because they are isolating or are clinically extremely vulnerable, they will be able to access learning at home.

The Government does not (based on current evidence) recommend the universal use of face coverings in schools. This evidence will be kept under review. In primary schools where social distancing is not possible in areas outside of classrooms between members of staff or visitors, for example in staffrooms, adults will be asked to wear face coverings in these circumstances. We ask that parents, carers and secondary-age siblings wear a face covering, unless they are exempt, when entering the playground to collect or drop off their child.

Based on current evidence and the measures that schools are already putting in place, such as the system of controls and consistent bubbles, face coverings will not be necessary in the classroom even where social distancing is not possible.

Face coverings are required at all times on public transport, in shops (for children aged 11 years or over) or when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient.

You can read the full guidance here.

We request that parents, carers and secondary-age siblings wear face masks when dropping off or collecting their children from school, unless they are exempt. It is also important that all adults respect social distancing guidelines and maintain distance from other adults. The start and finish times of the school day are staggered to help to reduce the amount of people at the gates at any one time. Please support your school by arriving at the time of your child’s allocated drop off and pick off slot.

All children can be tested, including children under 5, but children aged 11 and under will need to be helped by their parents/carers if using a home testing kit.

Anyone who displays symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can and should get a PCR test. PCR tests can be booked online through the NHS testing and tracing for coronavirus website, or ordered by telephone via NHS 119 for those without access to the internet. Essential workers, which includes anyone involved in education or childcare, have priority access to testing. School staff are strongly encouraged to participate in weekly lateral flow testing for individuals who may be asymptomatic.

As critical workers, teachers and other staff working in schools, can apply for a PCR test through the NHS Test and Trace scheme if they have coronavirus symptoms. They are also able to participate in asymptomatic lateral flow tests that they administer at home, twice weekly. If school staff have symptoms and are due to be in school, they are asked to follow government guidance and self-isolate in accordance with their circumstances. Please see full guidance here. The School maintains a record of staff absences as part of our normal attendance procedures and have adapted this for COVID-19, in accordance with government guidance, in order to support staff on when it is appropriate for them to return.

The Government guidance recognises that ‘unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff’. We have worked through the hierarchy of measures’ as set out in the Government guidance.

Classroom layouts have been adapted to facilitate social distancing with children seated at desks that are as far apart as possible. Assemblies will take place virtually. Break times have been staggered to reduce the number of children using the playground and arrangements have been made for playground activities that will ensure social distancing can continue as far as is possible.

Staff will maintain a 2 metre distance from pupils and other staff as far as it is practicable. This will not always be possible, particularly when working with younger children. Children who are able to understand the concept will be supported to maintain distance and not touch staff where possible.

If there is a confirmed case in school we will follow the Government guidance for educational settings which is here.

If there is a confirmed case in school we will follow the Government guidance and contact the local health protection team. This team would also contact the school directly if there has been a confirmed case through NHS Test and Trace. The health protection team will confirm who was in contact with the person during the period they were infectious and ensure they are asked to self-isolate.

You can read the full guidance here.

We will continue to follow government and local health protection team guidance and direction, and remain in regular communication with the Royal Borough of Greenwich. We will keep our school communities up to date with any changes that may need to be made, giving as much notice as possible.

Staff will continue to help children when they are upset or injured.

If a member of your household develops coronavirus symptoms we ask that you inform the School that your child will be absent due to the fact that you will be following the Government’s staying at home guidance here.

The School is cleaned every day by our contracted cleaning company.

We will regularly wipe frequently touched surfaces and handles throughout the day. We are following the government guidance for cleaning in non healthcare settings. You can read the full guidance here.

Resources will only be used by one child at a time where this is possible and wiped clean at the end of each day. In the Early Years resources will be cleaned at the end of each session.  The use of resources in the Early Years will be restricted so that these can be cleaned at the end of each day. Hand washing after engaging with equipment will be key in the early years.

Classroom based resources, such as books and games, can be used and shared within the bubble; these will be cleaned regularly. Resources that are shared between classes or bubbles, will be cleaned frequently and carefully and always between bubbles, or rotated to allow them to be left unused and out of reach for a period of 48 hours (72 hours for plastics) between use by different bubbles. Outdoor play equipment will be cleaned frequently and similar rules on hand cleaning, cleaning of the resources and rotation will apply.

Staff will supervise handwashing after children have used the toilet.

Staff will supervise the numbers of children entering and exiting the toilets in order to maintain social distancing as far as is practicable.

Playtime and lunchtimes will be staggered in order to maintain social distancing as far as possible, but at the same time enabling children to get fresh air and have a break from the classroom. Staff will remind children about how they can interact with their friends on the playground, according to the class/year group ‘bubbles’ that they have been organised into.

Children will spend the majority of their time in their classroom with individual desks arranged as far apart as possible, and facing forward in most year groups with the exception of Lower Key stage 1.

Your school will provide you with specific guidance in this area.

Staggered start and finish times will continue in September to enable more journeys to take place outside of peak travel times, where this is possible. Walking and cycling to school where possible is encouraged. You may find the Government’s safer travel guidance for passengers helpful, which you can access here.

Home learning will be provided through our online learning platforms. Any children without access to technology will be provided with paper packs. Please ensure that you make the school aware of your situation so that this may be recorded.

We may need to join classes according to staffing available. All decision-making will be routed in ensuring the safety of children and staff. Class sizes will be a maximum of 15 children and these small ‘bubble’ groups will not mix with other small groups. A teacher, and if required, teaching assistant, will be allocated to each small ‘bubble’ group, which they will stay with for a minimum period of a week, this arrangement is to reduce the mixing of pupils and staff.

The Government states ‘We want to get all children back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know it is good for children’s mental wellbeing to have social interactions with other children, carers and teachers’. The guidance also sets out the latest scientific advice to government which is:

  • ‘there is high scientific confidence that children of all ages have less sever symptoms tan adults if they contract coronavirus and there is moderately high scientific confidence that younger children are less likely to become unwell if infected with coronavirus
  • limiting the numbers of children going back to school and college initially then gradually increasing numbers, guided by scientific advice, reduces the risk of increasing the rate of transmission’

You can read the full guidance here.

We are taking all necessary measures to keep our schools as safe as possible.

We recognise that the rules can seem confusing for children and so we will regularly remind them about how to keep themselves safe in school in an age-appropriate way. The format of the school day is also organised so as to best enable pupils to follow the rules. Our principles, values, expectations and standards of behaviour will remain the same. It is important that children feel that these are consistent. We have adapted our behaviour policy to reflect the current context.

Your school will provide you with specific details in this area if they normally run a breakfast and after school club.

We have a bereavement policy that will guide all staff in situations such as these. We recognise that this could be a very traumatic time for children and families and are fully prepared to support everyone who needs it. This may include signposting or referral to specialist services.

We have reshaped our curriculum to ensure children are given more time to explore concerns and issues that may arise or have arisen during this crisis.

If a child or adult experiences coronavirus symptoms in school, they will be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance. They will be advised to self-isolate for 10 days starting from the day after the onset of symptoms, and to arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus, through NHS.UK/NHS 119. Fellow household members should also self-isolate for 10 days from the day after the onset of the person’s symptoms. The child’s parent or staff member will be advised to update the school as soon as they receive the outcome of their test.

If they are awaiting collection, they will be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age of the individual and with appropriate adult supervision if required. If it is not possible to isolate them, they will be moved to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people. PPE will be worn by staff caring for the individual while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs).

In an emergency we will call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk.

We will follow the government guidance COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance

If there is a confirmed case in school we will follow the government guidance and contact the Department for Education helpline if additional advice is needed. We could also be contacted directly if there has been a confirmed case through NHS Test and Trace. The health protection team will confirm who was in contact with the person during the period they were infectious and ensure they are asked to self-isolate. You can read the full guidance here.

The Government has stated that during this period families can form a ‘childcare bubble’, which is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to a child or children aged 13 or under. They can provide the childcare in either or both of the homes from the 2 households. ‘Informal’ childcare means it is unpaid and unregistered.

You can read the full guidance here.