Schools reopening plan revealed – year group ‘bubbles’, staggered breaks and no assemblies

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WHOLE year groups will be put into ‘bubbles’, pupils will have staggered breaks & there will be no assemblies when schools fully reopen, it was revealed today.

As HOAR previously reported, bubbles will be made bigger from 15 to 30 pupils to ensure there’s room for all kids to return, guidance revealed this morning.

Each year group will go into a bubble – and they can’t mix with other years

Kids will be told to stay apart if they can – but strict social distancing won’t be in place

Start times and breaks will also be staggered – to minimise germ spread – and fringe subjects can be dropped at the start of the school year, it was confirmed today.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed the plan this morning to get kids safely back to school in September.

The Education Secretary will give a statement to MPs in the House of Commons and give the Downing Street press conference tonight too.

The plan in full includes:

  • Staggered breaks and start times
  • Year group ‘bubbles’ to minimise spread and whole schools could have to isolate
  • Fringe subjects can be dropped to focus on Maths and English at the start of the year
  • Kids will HAVE to go back to school from September, or their parents will face a £120 fine again.
  • Nursery class size limits scrapped
  • All kids can attend summer clubs but only in groups of 15
  • Adapted class rooms to social distance
  • No school choirs or assemblies

Speaking today, Mr Williamson reassured parents and said “nothing can replace being in the classroom”. 

He said: “I want to reassure parents and families that we are doing everything we can to make sure schools, nurseries, colleges and other providers are as safe as possible for children and staff, and will continue to work closely with the country’s best scientific and medical experts to ensure that is the case.”

Double bubble

Current 15 person restrictions on bubbles will be lifted to 30, as the infection rate continues to fall.

For nurseries, childminders, and other early years providers, restrictions on group sizes will be lifted from 20 July, increasing capacity from the start of the summer holiday.

Gavin Williamson will reveal the schools plans today
Staff at Orchard Community Primary school have erected two large marquees on its playing fields for use as temporary classrooms

It can welcome back all of its pupils before the end of the summer term

Stay apart if you can

Schools should implement class or year sized bubbles, as well as encouraging staff and pupils, where they can, to keep their distance from each other and avoiding touching.

But strict social distancing won’t be possible in schools, the Government has said.

For those pupils travelling on home to school transport, pupils should sit with others from their group and remain in their class or year group “bubble” wherever possible, the guidance says too.

Isolating kids

Where there are two or more confirmed cases in a two-week period, health protection teams may ask a larger number of other children or young people to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure.

That could mean that whole year groups or even schools have to isolate.

Mobile units will be sent out to the school, and testing will first focus on the person’s class, followed by their year group, then the whole school if necessary.

Mandatory attendance

Kids will HAVE to go back to school from September, or their parents will face a £120 fine again.

For the last few months of the pandemic, the Government has turned a blind eye to worried parents who don’t want to sent their kids in.

Only if a child or young person is unable to attend school or college on medical advice or they are living in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, will they not be fined.

They should discuss that with their school first.

Pupils will be expected to face the front in all lessons

And kids have to sit with their classmates on the bus – and not mix with other groups

No assemblies or singing

Groups should be kept apart, meaning that schools should avoid large gatherings such as assemblies with several bubble groups, the guidance says.

Singing, wind and brass playing should not take place in larger groups such as school choirs and ensembles, or school assemblies, either.

Staggered breaks

Schools should also consider staggered break times and lunch times (and time for cleaning surfaces in the dining hall between groups).

Kids can sit exams in autumn if they disagree with grades

Exam boards will be providing students with calculated grades this summer.

But there will be an opportunity for students to sit exams in the autumn if they don’t agree with their grades – and Ofqual has confirmed these exams will be available in all subjects.

Curriculum switch-up

Schools will be able to ditch subjects like art and drama to focus on catching kids up on core subjects in the first few months and weeks back.

But all schools should aim to return to the normal curriculum in all subjects by summer term 2021.

Extra cleaning

Like other workplaces which hav ereopened, schools will need to have extra cleaning, and reduce sharing items.

Kids will need to have minimal contact with each other in corridors – and hanging around outside school gates will be discouraged too.