Firstly let me say a huge thank you for everyone’s patience at this time. I am a parent in North Lanarkshire too so no the anxiety many can feel and the limited number of questions and queries posed to us at this time has been has been very much appreciated. Before the break the school was redesigned and resourced for blended learning. We now have the task of preparing the school for a different model in a very short time scale. Our classroom walls have been moved again meaning the cleaning process begins again. It had always been my hope we could have perhaps got groups of pupils to the school before re-opening but this will not be feasible now.
I will try to address most of the important points we need to know for successfully getting our children back to school within this newsletter. Many of these will be closely linked to measures for mitigating the potential spread of Covid-19 and some will just be practical arrangements to help us run the school and to assist us in socially distancing the adults within the school. Once pupils return we may adapt these or even introduce new measures should the need arise. While reading through this newsletter and while supporting us over the coming weeks and months I would urge you to consider the complexity and challenges of running a school at this time as we strive to support the physical, mental and educational needs of our pupils as well as following public health advice to keep our staff and pupils safe. Some of the following, particularly around how we get to meet and interact with our parents is going to be very different from our usual way of working and we cannot wait for the day when we no longer need these measures. If you haven’t already done so I would encourage you to read the government guidelines on returning children to school and the FAQs on North Lanarkshire Council’s website. Although the decision has been made to return all pupils to school in August the guidance and guidelines show that it is not, unfortunately, ‘business as usual’.
New Stevenston Primary and St. Patrick’s Primary have worked closely to create some consistency where appropriate across the campus. This joint working will continue.
I genuinely feel that if the adults in our children’s lives can support and follow our plans and guidance, many made with a heavy heart, then it will allow us as a school to focus on the job at hand and ensure our pupils thoroughly enjoy being back at schools! That after all should be the priority of us all.
Thank you for your continued support.
Avoiding congestion on the campus grounds
One of our main concerns is the potential congestion of adults in the car park area and in front of the school. The success of opening our schools will depend on everyone doing their part and showing common sense and respect for others. As a joint campus we urge parents wherever possible to let their children walk up to the gates on their own and only to accompany the very youngest of children. Any parent accompanying a child should exit the campus as quickly as possible and we ask that parents do not congregate talking. The same has to happen for any adults who have to collect their child from the school grounds. We are working hard to avoid staggered starts and ends to our day for different year groups but large groups of adults not socially distancing on the grounds will make that other step inevitable. Similarly at the end of the day. If you can arrange to meet your child on the way home please do so and avoid the usual numbers of adults congregating. North Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish Government encourage parents to walk to school with their children and park a suitable distance from the school.
Entering the school building
North Lanarkshire Council have said that parents have not to enter the school building. We look forward to a day when this is not necessary. This will impact arrangements in the past of children being picked up early and is something that parents should discuss with childminders. We unfortunately reached a point last year where many children were being called for just before the end of the school day. This was happening regularly and without prior arrangement. This must now be avoided.
Arrival and dismissal from school (week one)
As you will know the plan across NLC is that pupils attend on the following days for week 1.
Wednesday 12th August – P1, 2 and 3
Thursday 13th August – P1, P4-7
Friday – All pupils
This will allow us to focus on particular year groups for those first couple of days given we haven’t seen our pupils for so long.
Primary 1 please come along at 9:30 on Day 1 as is usually the case. This will allow staff to focus their attention on you once we have managed to say good morning to P2 and 3.
We plan to bring both P1 classes in through the main entrance. This will be the P1 entrance and exit for the foreseeable future to avoid the long walk to their playground from the gates as we won’t be able to use our buddies in the same way initially. We will have staff on hand to guide pupils through the doors to their class. It is unavoidable that some children may become upset as they come in but parents need to trust us to take over. Children very quickly come round once they are in class. We plan to use ‘Little Stevie’ signs on the ground for children to follow to help guide the way and support adults in keeping a distance wherever possible.
P2 and 3 should come in the usual entrance although you will see we are using the double gates rather than the single gate at the side.
Primary 1 will exit back through the main doors and be handed over to parents at 2.30pm for the first day. This will be important to give us experience of dismissing from these doors as this will be new for us. We will be taking our time to get it right. It is important parents stand well back from the doors and also distance from each other.
P2 and 3 will exit from the same area as last year.
It will be unfortunate that we can’t invite Primary 1 parents in to the school but we will provide videos and pictures of our classrooms as well as picture of each child at their desk from week 1 for you to keep.
Primary 4-7 will enter through the double gates beside our usual entrance at your usual, naturally staggered timings.
P1 you will come to the main doors from 8:45 onwards. An adult will be at these doors to manage this area. Parents please stop well before the door and send your child over. This time ‘Little Stevie’ signs will help guide us to the playground via the main entrance for some fresh air before school begins at 9am.
Primary 1 will be dismissed from the main entrance doors. Parents stand well back. Use the available space to socially distance. We’ll send your child to you.
Primary 4-7 will leave from the same area as usual.
Primary 1 as Thursday
P2-7 enter through the double gates.
Exit as previous days
We would hope to use our outdoor spaces as much as possible so we want pupils to be comfortable. We are not limiting the school uniform to the ‘P.E uniform’ as decided when we faced blended learning to help with washing through the week. As the term continues we will have a clearer idea of outdoor activities and this could align with set days. At the moment it will be ad hoc so children should come with an appropriate outdoor jacket for the elements. School blazers are not a set part of our uniform although we know often P1 parents often like one for the start of school. Parents need to be aware that a blazer will not be practical in adverse weather so a common sense approach on any given day will be appreciated. Shoes won’t be changed in school so again should be comfortable for all day use as is the norm for our school. PLEASE HELP US OUT AND LABEL EVERYTHING.
School bags, snacks, lunches and personal belongings
Guidance is clear that personal belongings have not to be brought to schools. This includes toys. We ask that children do not bring pencil cases as the school will provide all necessary resources.
For the start of this session we will ask that children do not bring school bags to school. We are aware some schools are but we have some specific space issues in our school. We do not see our current storage measures for school bags being appropriate at this time and we will not have space under desks for bags. We will review this when children are back at school and as we move in to the term.
Packed lunches can be brought to school and will be kept under pupil desks. This could also be used for snack and water bottles. Water bottles should be filled from home as we will not be using water fountains during the day.
Please think carefully about packed lunches and snacks to allow children to be as independent as possible. Difficult to open packaging should be avoided. Also new P1 children tend to have a fairly large packed lunches that children feel they need to eat all of. Hopefully a light lunch will suffice so the majority of children’s lunch time is spent outside playing with their new friends rather than sat in the dinner hall.
Payment for school dinners is now completely cashless. No pupil should bring cash to school and it cannot be added to an account on the premises.
We request that all children once in school stay in school and do not go home for lunch.
Many parents/carers have already signed up to online payments however for those of you who have not then please see the guidelines below:
Paying through iPayImpact you are able to pay securely online 24/7 using debit/credit card for all school meals and all other school expenses.
Should you have any other questions in relation to the above, please contact the school office or email email@example.com
Breaks and Lunches
A very difficult decision for myself and Mr Dinsmor was to split our breaks and lunches for both schools. These are arrangements we will review and adapt but is designed to give as much play space as possible for children for each school. It will not be our intention to carry this on for a minute longer than needed as our campus prides itself in how our pupils mix and play.
We have hand sanitiser units at each entry point to our school and outside each staff and pupil toilet area. We will encourage pupils to use these regularly and each teacher will discuss how and when to use them with pupils. We will make regular, planned use of our sinks located in the main teaching bays.
Breakfast Club will begin operating on Wednesday 12th August. Times will remain 8:15am until 8:45am. Our usual procedures should not be impacted by current restrictions given our average numbers. Children should arrive at main door and wait for a member of staff.