Skinner Lane, Pontefract, West Yorkshire WF8 1HG

01977 794 179

St Giles C of E Academy

Growing Together


Return to School FAQs


Returning to school FAQs Wednesday 27th May 2020

We have had one or two questions already which will be answered below.  Please see below some questions that we have anticipated that we thought might be useful to share and answer for you.

The Government has recommended that children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 return to school from the 1st June.  We appreciate that there will be many different views on this decision and that for a variety of reasons you may not wish your child to return.  We have already been communicating with parents from these year groups to try and establish your wishes for a place. We hope that by sharing some of our thinking to date it will help you to have similar conversations at home and also prepare those children who are likely to return or make the decision to keep your child at home presently.  


 1. Which year groups are returning to school?

The Government has asked primary schools to welcome back children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 alongside priority groups. The Government's ambition is to bring all primary school year groups for the last month of the Summer half term if conditions nationally make it feasible. This will be kept under review. 

Having taken advice from the Local Authority, we have opted to take a cautious approach to reopening school which will involve a phased return, with Year one returning first, followed by the reception, then year six. A week later we will introduce our Nursery children.  Again, this will be kept under review.


2. Why aren't all the children coming back?

The DfE have based this on the need to reduce the rate of transmission of the virus. So have taken account of the need to reduce numbers returning as a gradual process and smaller groupings in classes can be maintained. 


 3. If one of my children is eligible to return can’t their sibling come back too?

Sadly, the answer to this is ‘no’.  Siblings cannot attend unless they are in another of the selected year groups. This would raise the number of pupils attending the school.

4. Does my child have to attend?

No, this is a decision that must be made by families. Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time, the schools will not be held to account for attendance levels. If you have said no to a place but your circumstances have changed please contact the week at least a week before you would like your child to attend so group numbers can be altered accordingly. Also, no one with symptoms should attend for any reason. All children in the selected groups are encouraged to attend unless self-isolating or shielding.


 5. I am worried that my child is vulnerable or that a family member is, should I send them back to school?

Children and young people who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should continue to shield and should not be expected to attend.

Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.

Children and young people who live in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should only attend if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and the child or young person is able to understand and follow those instructions.

Children and young people who live with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable) as defined in the social distancing guidance and including those who are pregnant, can attend. DFE May 2020


6. How big will the classes be? 

The DfE is recommending class group size should not exceed 15 pupils per small group and one teacher plus a TA where required. Where there are not enough teachers, Teaching Assistants will lead a group. Desks should be as far apart as the room allows.

Having received parent feedback, completed audits and risk assessments, we will have classes of around 10 as we believe that this is what our setting can safely accommodate.


 7, How will you guarantee that social distancing takes place e.g. keeping children 2m apart?

We will of course do our best to support distancing, but parents must understand that in returning to school there is a very real likelihood that children will touch adults and one another and come into close contact. The nature of the school site and the age of our children is such that this is unavoidable and we cannot be expected to respond to complaints around this when it inevitably happens.   We cannot alleviate every risk and parents must understand what we are able to do and use this to inform their decision making.


 8, How do I explain social distancing to my child?

Be open and honest, using language they will understand. Explain that they are helping others by their actions. Use drawings if needed and use a positive tone. Try to make the children feel safe. 

For younger children, you and your child can find out how the Gruffalo handles social distancing .

There are some great stories and simple explanations to help::

Time to Come In, Bear: A Children's Story About Social Distancing

Written by Kim St. Lawrence Read by Ryan St. Lawrence Note from the author: No children's story should be written in a weekend, but I wanted to get this out ...

How to Explain Social Distancing to Kids

Check out more at-home resources for kids (and their grownups): Missing out on normal activities is hard, but it's very important…..


 9, What hygiene measures will be in place to keep my child safe?

We will –

  • Follow the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance
  • Ensure that sufficient handwashing facilities are available. Where a sink is not nearby, provide hand sanitiser in classrooms and other learning environments
  • Clean surfaces that children and young people are touching, such as toys, books, desks, chairs, doors, sinks, toilets, light switches, bannisters, more regularly than normal
  • Ensure that all adults and children:
  • Frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly. 
  • Clean their hands on arrival at the setting, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing
  • Encourage pupils not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose
  • Use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and use bins for tissue waste (‘catch it, bin it, kill it’)
  • Ensure that help is available for children and young people who have trouble cleaning their hands independently
  • Consider how to encourage young children to learn and practise these habits through games, songs and repetition
  • Ensure that bins for tissues are emptied throughout the day
  • Where possible, all spaces should be well ventilated using natural ventilation (opening windows) or ventilation units
  • Prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation
  • Reduce the school day to ensure that ‘deep cleans’ can take place


10, Will children be confined to the same classroom environment most of the day?

Government advice on the scientific evidence shows that the outdoor environment is much more manageable in terms of virus transmission. With the summer weather coming we will be moving towards more of an outdoor learning approach, where possible.   However outside of this we will keep children where possible within one set classroom for the day.


 11, How will lunch time work to ensure children are safe?

The schools will run a staggered lunchtime to maintain as much spacing as is possible on the playground. Children who are at school will have their meal in their classroom. Lunches will return as the government has requested “schools are expected to reopen their kitchens and ensure that meals are able to be prepared and served safely”, although we will only be serving cold meals. Free School Meal children will continue to receive meals, vouchers or food parcels if they are not attending school. 


12, How will you make school safe for my child?

In addition to social distancing and hygiene measures mentioned above, we will

  • Give children a designated classroom and group (which we are going to refer to as their bubble) for lessons and play, to minimise the opportunity for mixing.
  • Regularly cleaning the setting and resources will take place.
  • Regularly clean the children’s personal resources (pencils etc)
  • Not allow children to bring in their own resources such as pencil cases.
  • Use PPE such as gloves, aprons, masks, hand sanitiser and anti-bac wipes as identified in our Risk assessments. (E.g. when providing first aid).
  • Confine resources to rooms to minimise sharing and when sharing is essential, clean resources before transference
  • Organise lunchtimes and playtimes differently
  • Staggered start and end times of the school day to ensure minimum contact with other parents and careers.
  • One parent/ carer allowed on site to drop their children off (Year 6 to be dropped at the school gate).
  • A one way system introduced around the school to enforce social distancing. Please make yourself aware of your child’s entrance to the school building – this will also be their exit.
  • Carry out a corridor protocol- one way system and keep clear corridor spaces as far as is practical to allow maximum width space for walking
  • Be vigilant in identifying children with symptoms, isolate them and ask parents to collect them
  • Employ a set of agreed non-negotiables on safety in the classroom. These will make every attempt to maintain social distancing for staff and pupils and limit any potential contact.
  • Removal of unnecessary items from classrooms
  • Removal of soft furnishing, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean.


13, Will my child be expected to share resources, such as pens and pencils?

Where possible, children will be given their own equipment, which they must not share with anyone else. They must not bring any equipment in from home. Any resources that are shared (e.g school laptop) will be thoroughly disinfected after use.

14, Will everyone arrive at school at the same time causing an increase in risk?

The schools will organise a staggered drop off and collection time for pupils. The approach to classrooms will be marked out with a 2m queue and drop off zone from where the teacher will invite pupils in. We will be familiar with the queuing systems from visits to the supermarket. 

Only one parent or carer should accompany the child to school to minimise risk. Parents will not be invited to enter classrooms but will drop off as described above, on the playground.  Schools have no power under the law to enforce social distancing with parents other than to make that request. If you need to speak to your child’s teacher please contact them by Dojo our call the school office on 793179

15, Will the school have assembly/collective of worship?

Little groups will have an opportunity for reflection within their daily session, but there will be no mass gatherings or daily acts of worship as a school.

16, My child is feeling anxious about coming back to school, how can I prepare them?

You will need to prepare your child by talking about what school was like and what it will be like now.  It will be different.  We will help you to prepare for this by putting pictures on our website to show what you and your child can expect.  

Sharing social stories can be really helpful for young children and help to express the situation in a clear factual way, reducing emotional responses. 

It will be important to encourage your child to talk about their experiences in ‘lockdown’ and that this period is now ending.

17, Will children go straight back into normal lessons following the national curriculum?


We will of course ensure that skills in English and Maths continue to be developed.  Learning in school will follow the same topic based approach as home learning has done up to this point.   Also we will be on supporting personal, social, health and emotional aspects of learning to support children’s well-being.  They have all gone through an incredible period of change and experienced loss on a number of different levels.  All have had changes in routine, loss of communication etc. and some may have sadly even experienced the loss of a family member. 

18, How will you support my child’s emotional well-being? 

In addition to that mentioned above, we have a team of staff, (Mrs Firth, Mrs Brown, Mrs Winwood and Mrs Houchin) who are available to provide support. 

There will be plenty of opportunities for children to discuss their feelings, play, rebuild friendships and have ‘break out’ or ‘chill out’ spaces for times when they may feel overwhelmed.  


19. Will staff and children wear masks or PPE?

The Government guidelines state, ‘The majority of staff in education settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain a distance of 2 metres from others. PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases including:

  • Children, young people and students whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs should continue to receive their care in the same way
  • If a child, young person or other learner becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in their setting and needs direct personal care until they can return home. A fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained. If contact with the child or young person is necessary, then disposable gloves, a disposable apron and a fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult. If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn.’

However at the moment school`s thinking is that this is an individual family and staff member decision.   If parents or staff insist on wearing face masks we will not prohibit them from doing so, apart from when it becomes a danger to the child. Parents will need to exercise their own judgement around this and MUST understand that we cannot guarantee that your child will keep a mask on or wear it properly and should be able to put it on and off themselves.  If parents wish their child to wear a face mask they must provide this themselves.

20. Will my child need to wear a school uniform?

No, we would ask you NOT to send your child back in uniform as we do not think it is necessary for children to return to school wearing school uniforms. Please send your child into school in sportswear:  joggers, t-shirt and trainers.  This means that they will not need to bring in a PE kit and can carry out all activities without having to change. Please do not purchase any new clothes.

21. Will the breakfast club and after school club be open?

No. These bring too many children into contact and mix the school groupings.

22. Will we allow visitors and volunteers into school?

No until the situation is deemed to be safe, we would prefer to minimise additional adults coming in and out of school. During lockdown we have continued meetings with outside agencies via, Zoom, TEAMs or conference calls.

23. Will extra-curricular clubs run (football club, dance club etc.)?

No. These bring too many children into contact and mix the school groupings.

24, Will the school office be open?

Yes but you will have to call the office on the school telephone number 01977 794179.   This is a very busy time of year with new admissions and leavers, please bear with us in the office and try to be as organised as possible. We will not be accepting late arrivals to school via the main front office and do not want parents to come into the school reception unless this has previously been agreed. Where possible I would ask that parents ring/email the school as opposed to presenting in person. You can post any letter through the letter box in the the main office to drop off anything you need to hand in at the office. If your child required medication please give it to them with a note to hand to their allocated teacher. We ask you to also call the school office to inform us of the required medication.

25, Will you continue to provide online home learning activities for children who do not return to school?

We will continue to set home learning activities, during term-time, so that all children have access to provision to support their learning. These will be what the children in school are working on in school anyway. With school reopening to a greater number of pupils we will need to be mindful that teaching staff will not be as responsive to parent emails during the time children are within school.

It may be that we establish a small remote learning team to deal with queries and provide support to those that remain at home who can be on call throughout the day as required.   When we have a better idea as to the number of pupils and staff in school versus at home, we can put things in place.

26, Will children and young people be eligible for testing for the virus?

The government advice is: 

When settings open to the wider cohort of children and young people, all those children and young people eligible to attend, and members of their households, will have access to testing if they display symptoms of coronavirus. This will enable them to get back into childcare or education, and their parents or carers to get back to work, if the test proves to be negative. To access testing parents will be able to use the 111 online coronavirus service if their child is 5 or over. Parents will be able to call 111 if their child is aged under 5.

27. Will teachers and other staff be able to get tested if they have symptoms?

Access to testing is already available to all essential workers. This includes anyone involved in education, childcare or social work – including both public and voluntary sector workers, as well as foster carers. See the full list of essential workers. Education settings as employers can book tests through an online digital portal. There is also an option for employees to book tests directly on the portal.

28, What will happen if a child in the class shows symptoms?

We will follow the Government guidelines set out below. 

If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in an education or childcare setting, they must be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance.

If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age of the child and with appropriate adult supervision if required. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.

If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.  PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child 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, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

If a member of staff has helped someone who was unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves (and in which case, a test is available) or the child subsequently tests positive (see ‘What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?’ below). They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.

We will inform you if a child/adult in your child’s bubble has been sent home with suspected symptoms to allow you to have the choice whether or not to send your child back into school until results are received.

29. What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in school? 

We will follow the Government guidance set out below. 

When a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.

As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the cohort or in the wider setting, Public Health England’s local health protection teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases a larger number of other children, young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.

30. Will the school take my child’s temperature every day?

No, but we may use a non-invasive thermometer which points to the forehead if we suspect a child of having symptoms. 


31. What if another child ‘coughs’ deliberately in someone else’s face?

School will take this very seriously and it will be classed as an assault. We will explain to the child the dangers and consequences of these actions. Parents will be telephoned and may have to come and collect their child resulting in a fixed term exclusion. 


32. Will there be any swimming lessons or trips once school opens on June 1st?

No. There are no plans to take the children out of the school grounds until further notice.


33, How can I speak to the class teacher if we are socially distancing? 

You can contact your child’s class teacher by using Dojo. If you are unable to do this, you can email or call the office who will then pass the message on. 


34. What should my child bring to school each day?

We do not want your child to bring anything into school with them other than a lunch box if they are packed lunches.  

Please do not bring PE kit, rucksacks, book bags or pencil cases.  

Water bottles should be brought into school on a Monday and can stay in school and then be taken home on a Friday. 

35. Where can I find more information about returning to school?

The Government information is provided here