Returning to School Safely
Following the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, we were delighted to welcome our youngest three year groups and Year 6 back to school this week. While it is wonderful to be back together in familiar surroundings, the experience has been far from normal.
The safety of the children has always been paramount for us, and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure as safe an environment as possible for their return. Following the stringent government guidelines has meant many changes to our daily school life.
Groups of children can be no larger than 15, and the groups must be kept apart at all times. Classes must only be taught by one teacher, and assisted if necessary by one teaching assistant. Highfield Year 6 children have been divided into their normal form groups to offer an element of familiarity with their normal daily school routine, as well as provide a welcome opportunity for them to be together with their friends.
Handwashing is always a regular part of the children’s school day, but now it is a more frequent and regulated event from arrival at school, after using the toilets, after breaks and sporting activities, before eating food including snacks and before leaving school. Those directly supervising children ensure that detailed advice is provided about how to hand wash properly, as well as using sanitiser regularly.
Our focus remains on delivering the best possible education for each child, whether that be in school or at home, in the UK, or overseas.
The remote teaching and learning programme at Highfield is a great success and we are eager not to compromise this - our focus remains on delivering the best possible education for each child, whether that be in school or at home, in the UK, or overseas. However, subject teaching with specialist teachers would be impossible to deliver in person under the current guidelines. As a result, we decided to continue our remote teaching for all Highfield pupils in the morning, with Year 6 only attending the school in the afternoon, to enjoy sporting and creative activities with their friends, albeit while social distancing.
In contrast to the huge variety of sport our pupils usually enjoy, only non-contact sport is currently permitted such as cricket, and racket sports, and all equipment used by pupils during lessons is sanitised afterwards. The schools were deep cleaned before the children arrived this week and continue to be cleaned twice daily, with more frequent cleaning of door handles, handrails and tabletops.
The new normal continues in the Dining Room, usually brimming with excited, hungry children. Now the Catering Team wear masks and gloves to avoid possible cross contamination between groups. They are providing a slimmed down service of packed lunches, which children eat outside as a picnic, or in their form rooms, to avoid coming into close contact with others.
Despite the unusual but necessary constraints, we are very much looking forward to a fantastic half term with all our pupils either remotely or back in school. We are thrilled to have been able to offer most of our Year 6 children the opportunity to return, though of course there are several children for whom this is not yet possible, not least our much-missed international students. Every effort continues to ensure they are all supported and included in school life as much as possible.
It would appear that there is no expectation that other year groups will return to school this academic year, and no prospect of reopening boarding either this term. However, we continue to prepare for a more complete return in September, and have already begun making detailed contingency plans for boarding. We are pleased to announce that Highfield supports and will adhere to the BSA Covid-Safe Charter, and we will bring you further details of these plans shortly.
For more details on how we are keeping safe, please read Safety Precautions for Children Returning to School During Covid-19
Other pages that may be of interest:
Lydia Wetzel, Head of International Development & Strategy
Highfield and Brookham Schools