I hope you are well. I am sure you share with me in my delight at plans for a full re-opening of schools in September. We are very much looking forward to welcoming back all our pupils in September and those who are joining us as new pupils. New pupils will be in on 4 and 7 September, with all pupils required in from 8 September. To help prepare for that return, we thought it would be helpful to put together a Q&A to address some issues on which you may need reassurance. Conversely, if there are issues here that we have yet to address, then please do notify our all-new COVID enquiries hotline address on email@example.com and your email will be forwarded to the correct person.
Our underpinning principles for the re-opening are as follows:
- The health, safety and wellbeing of all members of the school community.
- An impassioned commitment to ensuring that all pupils are able to engage fully from September with a broad and rich educational experience, both inside the classroom and outside of it.
- Enhanced positioning on interactive digital education, in the event of a second spike or local lockdown.
- Keep the show on the road, as long as possible: we will contain and target self-isolation in the event of a pupil, community contact or member of staff with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 – we aim to keep the School and whole year groups as fully operational as possible for as long as possible.
The overarching Government Guidelines can be found here. Key areas and activities of the School are currently constructing tailored and detailed Risk Assessments that will flow into the overarching Risk Assessment.
The overarching Risk Assessment and bespoke Risk Assessments for specific activities are available on request either from the COVID enquiries hotline or the leaders of specific activities, such as Schola, Sport, CCF, Drama, etc.
The implementation of these and other relevant documents will be monitored regularly and kept under review by weekly meetings of the School’s Health and Safety Committee.
As you may have noted, the Guidelines do allow for a relatively wide degree of discretion in their implementation, and so we reserve the right to adapt accordingly, in response to changing circumstances.
We very much hope that the following FAQs and responses offer reassurance.
You may find the following guidance helpful:
- DfE Guidance: What parents need to know here.
- In the meantime, I very much look forward to a full re-opening of the School, in line with the specific Transition Arrangements available on the website and in your letters.
At last . . .
Section A: September Re-opening
1. What will happen before all pupils return in September?
- The School will have a deep-clean and sanitisation of all of its indoor environments. All classrooms will be set out for instructional style teaching, with desks facing the front, as distanced as is reasonably possible.
- From attendance at School, we infer that neither pupils nor their families have:
- Shown any symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days before their return to school;
- Wittingly been in direct or proximity contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19
- Are not currently subject to quarantine restrictions due to travel arrangements
- If this is not the case, then please notify your child’s Housemaster in the first instance. Teachers and LOS staff have been asked to give the same reassurance.
2. Is attendance compulsory in September? What happens if my son/daughter is unwilling to return because of safety concerns?
- Yes. Attendance is compulsory. We will continue to report our attendance data to the LA, who will review it accordingly.
- Attendance below 90% will raise an initial concern and initiate possible intervention at borough level.
- Given that we are satisfied that we comply with all guidance on the re-opening of schools parents can have full confidence in a safe return to school.
3. Will there be any change to pick up and drop off arrangements?
- We ask that parents use their judgement in reducing congregation at gates at drop-off and pick up times. Drop-off and pick-up times will remain the same. Parents are advised to stay in cars, where you are using these. Pupils will be encouraged to exit in a distanced, orderly fashion, supervised by staff.
- Junior House parents are asked to respect social distancing at the front and back gates during drop-off and collection.
- Pupils are not permitted to store bicycles or scooters at School due to on-site cycle storage constraints.
4. How do I report my child’s absence?
- Telephone Reception on 0207 385 0102.
5. Will we have staggered start and finish times to the School day?
- No. Arrival at school is already staggered as a result of dispersed transport arrangements; transition in the new academic year is similarly staggered. From 8 September, pupils must congregate in their usual areas outside, prior to going to classrooms. There will be a lengthened lunch, but the timings of the school day (beginnings and endings – and curriculum time) will remain the same. This is to enable us to implement enhanced distancing and hygiene measures in the Houserooms at lunchtime.
- The revised timings are:
- 12.55-14.00: Lunch
- 14.00 – 14.40: Period 7
- 14.40 - 15.20: Period 8
- 15.20-15.30: Statutory PM Registration
6. What PPE will be issued or used?
- The guidelines advise that PPE is not generally required in schools, except for staff who are in close proximity to an individual who displays possible COVID-19 symptoms. Neither pupils nor staff will wear facemasks while in school.
7. Will pupils wear School uniform?
- Yes. Government guidelines advise that pupils should wear their school uniforms. The requirement for a daily change and laundering of clothing is no longer a stated requirement.
8. Can my child wear a face mask when in School?
- If H&F goes into lock-down, and face masks are required outside of classrooms in order to keep the School open, then we will review the position; except in these circumstances, face-masks are not to be worn on School premises.
- If using public transport to and from School, then pupils are required to wear a face mask. This must be removed prior to arrival at School – you may wish to supply your children with a plastic bag in which they can keep their face masks for return journeys, or have an additional face mask for the return journey.
9. What additional cleaning and sanitising will there be?
- We have been in constant and detailed liaison with our cleaning contractors. We have engaged additional cleaning staff and identified areas, times and methods of cleaning to ensure a clear hierarchy of priority areas and times.
- Sanitising wipes, tissues and sprays will be widely available including classrooms, Houses, entrances to buildings and other areas. Pupils will be reminded regularly of the need to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently. Pupils can continue to bring in their own water bottles – they will not be able to use water jugs in the dining room. We are installing filling stations in School – these will replace the water fountains.
10. What if the school has to close due to a second wave of COVID-19?
- We will revert back to intelligently scheduled live interactive digital education, a well-rehearsed drill. We will continue to develop this provision as a vital back-up to in-school provision.
Section B: Catering
1. Will catering be provided to all pupils?
- Yes. Hot lunches will continue to be provided, with scheduled year group access into the dining room. Lunch will be extended from 12.55-14.00 for the first half term.
- Pupils will need to bring their water bottles rather than having jugs and beakers on the table. (The shop will soon be supplying LOS water bottles – until such time, pupils are to bring their own water bottles, ensuring they are to be used sensibly and at specified times and in specified places – i.e. not during lesson time or in rooms other than the Houseroom at lunchtime).
- Social distancing criteria will be applied. Serving staff will be set back from the pupils, sneeze screens will be in place and pupils will choose and collecting pre-plated options.and then have it cleaned prior to that row being populated with pupils.depart
- ‘Rolling seating’ arrangements will be in place, whereby pupils fill up one row, eat,
- Caterers will be in specific ‘bubbles’.
2. Will Breakfast Club, snacks at Morning Break in the Sixth Form Common Room and the vending machine still be available?
- Yes. Breakfast Club will continue via cash payments, until such time as contactless is installed by our contractors.
- Snacks will be available to Sixth Formers at Morning Break – again, this will be via cash payments, until such time as contactless is installed by our contractors.
- The Sixth form Common room vending machine will be available, with a hand sanitisation station next to it.
3. What about large meetings: Assemblies, Chapel, Mass, Theatre?
- Until such time as we are able, gatherings will take place on a socially distanced basis, by part of House or by year group. Some Assemblies may be virtual, live-streamed from the Theatre into classrooms.
- Prospective Pupil (Open) Evenings will be online (except for Junior House, which is small enough to be ‘in-person’).
- Plans are also afoot for live-streaming from the Theatre for theatrical productions, with socially distanced seating and live-streaming ticketing/viewing in place.
- Chapel will continue on a ‘part of House’ basis according to a revised rota.
- Guidelines on Mass at the Brompton will be followed, but we do not anticipate holding whole school masses for the first half term, regardless of current Calendar entries (the Calendar went to print in July – in a spirit of optimism . . . )
- We will be reviewing how Parent Teacher Meetings might best be conducted. This may be via MS Teams, if restrictions on distancing and gatherings apply.
Section C: Procedures to manage suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19
1. What happens if a pupil shows symptoms of possible COVID-19, such as a high temperature?
- If at School (see below); if at home, then remain at home and engage with the Test and Trace process. The School will be provided with a test kit. Pupils will be isolated in the Medical Office until collected and taken home.
2. What will happen if there is a case of COVID-19 in the School?
- If a pupil, or member of staff test positive, then they will be required to quarantine for 10 days. All other members of the household will be required to quarantine for 14 days, either at home or at school.
- Targeted pupils and/or staff may also have to self-isolate: we aim to minimise the disruption caused by this to specific parts of cohorts, rather than whole year groups, or the whole school
- As required by all schools, the School will engage fully with the NHS Test and Trace process here.
- Inform the School (Housemaster or RNY)
- Engage with the Test and Trace process
- Self-isolate for 10 days from when the symptoms began; all other household members must self isolate for full 14 days (including siblings)
4. If my child has a suspected case of COVID-19, whilst at school, then:
- Your child will be isolated in the Medical Room and temperature will be checked
- You will be required to collect your child immediately
- The School may be able to issue a testing kit (subject to demand)
- If confirmed – then as above for confirmed COVID-19 cases; if not, then until symptoms of other illness (e.g. flu) subside
5. If a child with whom my child has been in direct or proximity contact has a confirmed or suspected case, then:
- The School will inform you and may require your child to self-isolate for up to 14 days and/or engage with the Test and Trace process through a school testing kit. We will be implementing a tight and trackable Seating Plan strategy to enable testing and tracing.
6. If my child has to self-isolate due to a targeted outbreak in the school, then do others in my household, myself included, have to self-isolate?
7. If a member of my household (other than my LOS attending child/children) has a confirmed or suspected case, then:
- Your children must self-isolate for 14 days
8. I understand that guidance on clinically extremely vulnerable, clinically vulnerable and shielding has eased and that, in the vast majority of cases, my child is expected to attend school. What if my child falls into one of the aforementioned groups and I still think my child is at significant risk?
- You must contact the Housemaster in the first instance with your reasons.
9. What education will my child receive if shielding, or in self-isolation but without symptoms of COVID-19?
- We are reviewing how we can best manage this. We will do our best to ensure education continues as we would with any long term absence. As a minimum, this would be static materials on SMHW; if possible, given staffing, etc, it may include live interactive elements through MS Teams.
10. My child has been required to self-isolate for 14 days. S/he has developed symptoms. What should I do?
- Inform the School. Test. If negative, then remain in the 14 day isolation period. If positive then alert the School immediately and continue isolating for at least 10 days, or until the symptoms have subsided. You may have to isolate also, until such time as you are clear as to whether or not it is COVID-19.
Section D: Arrangements to reduce pupil mixing
1. How will social distancing be managed?
With upwards of 1350 pupils and 140 staff and/or community contacts using the site daily, ‘social distancing’ in school cannot meaningfully be interpreted in the same way as ‘social distancing’ outside of school. That said, we have introduced a number of mitigating and minimising measures to reduce the potential spread of infection, namely:
- Year Group ‘bubbles’ during most of the day, within which no social distancing (except from staff) is required
- Minimisation of movement through the School, with JH, First and Second form pupils remaining in their class base for the majority of their lessons (except for specialised curriculum lessons, e.g. DT, Science, Art, Games and Music)
- ‘Consistent’ bubbles for activities where pupils go across year groups
- Enhanced ventilation provision
- Enhanced sanitation provision
- Lengthened lunch time (12.45-13.10) to enable scheduled flow of year groups through lunch queues, minimising degree of year group overlap
- Socially distanced Chapel sessions
- Year group Assemblies
- Strategies for year group and cross-year group assemblies
- Enforced one-way systems around the campus
- Year group areas on the Playground
- Pupils will congregate across Year Groups in the Study Hall (sixth form, Sixth Form Common Room and in the Houses (on a managed basis) at lunchtime (on a managed basis)
- Some co-curricular activities will be across year groups, but with enhanced risk mitigation measures, e.g. ventilation. This includes Schola, Music, the gym and Drama. Risk Assessments for these activities will be available on request from activity leaders
- Inevitably, there will be some cross-year group interaction when transitioning throughout the School between lessons. Pupils will be reminded to keep their distance by staff supervising those activities and the transitions.
2. Will there be changes to movement around the School?
- A detailed one-way system is already in operation (see Rules and Regulations Handbook). Transitions will be supervised and pupils will be encouraged to distance themselves from pupils in other year groups.
- Wet weather arrangements are already year group-specific.
3. Is my child allowed to bring in their own tissues and hand gel?
- Yes. Pupils are encouraged to bring in for each day. The School supplied hand gel will be alcohol-based – sufficient strength to kill the virus - so please be aware of any skin irritation issues in relation to this.
4. What provision is in place to support pupils’ wellbeing and mental health?
- A return to regular routines is the best antidote! Housemasters, Mr Mantio and Mr Marty remain the first point of call, with referrals and drop-ins available with the Time to Talk team. Pupils will be fully briefed on this on their return.
- We have scheduled enhanced counselling provision for the first two weeks of term. The Time to Talk team can be accessed via Housemasters, Mr Mantio, Mr Marty, or via specified drop-in times via Reception.
5. What about First Holy Communion and Confirmation – for those who missed out 2019-20, and those due to receive the sacrament 2020-21?
- The bishops are currently formulating their plans on these.
- Worship is currently restricted to 30 people in a Church for the sacraments of baptism and confirmation.
On our options as they currently stand:
- Option 1: 2 x separate masses, on the same day (Saturday or mid-week), at the Brompton Oratory/(School?), in the Michaelmas Term, with guests likely to be highly restricted.
- Option 2: Preparation for Communion and Confirmation to take place through the school for all recipients – this year’s and last – with sacraments celebrated in individual parishes.
- Option 3: Trinity Term: either 4 x dates at the School chapel (FHC for 19-20 and 20-21 + Confirmation 19-20 and 20-21) or 2 x dates at the Brompton Oratory, combining year groups and guests for FHC and Confirmation.
6. My child has significant risk factors, and, in spite of the measures advised, I do not wish them to attend school.
- Please contact the School (Housemasters) directly to discuss this, in the first instance.
Section E: Curriculum
1. What news on the GCSE and A-level exams for 2021?
- These will start after May Half term, and finish later in July. (They have been pushed back by 4 weeks).
2. Will there be support sessions for those pupils who are:
a. Still on roll, but will sit Autumn Exams (i.e. those fifth form pupils progressing into our sixth form);
b. No longer on roll, but will sit Autumn exams
- Formalised (scheduled) support will be contingent on numbers and overall staff commitments. Staff will be focusing on consolidating learning for those still on roll following courses, delivering routine teaching, assessing and reporting on earlier examinations for fifth form and lower sixth in September/October and ensuring additional ‘catch up’ sessions take place for those in need of more focused support. Informal arrangements in the gaps may be possible.
- If you are on roll at an alternative school, and in the lower sixth/Year 12, then the examination will be administered by that school; if you are an upper sixth leaver, then subject to numbers/demand (currently low) we will host the Autumn Examination.
3. Will there be any adjustments to the curriculum?
- We will be running a full subject-based, pastoral and co-curricular curriculum, although some activities will need to be adapted to comply with Government guidelines. The assessment cycle has been adjusted to enable enhanced baseline and consolidation testing.
4. Does the School plan to offer all GCSE subjects as normal?
5. How will the School consolidate and assess academic progress made during this period?
- Building on the summer baselines, internal examinations for incoming fifth form and upper sixth have been brought forward to w/c 14th September. Focused support will be offered in the run-up to these and throughout the year, as per usual.
- Those in KS2 and KS3 will have baseline testing once in the School, early on in the Term.
6. Are there arrangements in place for ‘catch-up’ and targeted support for specific groups?
Section F: Co-curricular
1. Will there be a co-curricular programme, including Schola, Music and Drama?
- Yes. We are constantly innovating to ensure that these can happen. Specified activity Risk Assessments are available on request.
2. When and where will pupils change for Games?
- We have a contingency plan for on-site changing, as a year group, prior to departure for Barn Elms.
3. What will the sporting provision be?
- A mix of on-site and off-site sports will be offered in the first half term, depending on circumstances. Whilst we are guided by the guidelines of appropriate bodies, we have taken the view that recreational sport in school is not subject to the same limiting conditions it is for competitive, club based sport outside of it. We await advice from the relevant National Governing Bodies regarding a date to start competitive fixtures.
- Gyms re-opened nationally from 24th July. We will be re-opening the gym to a hierarchy of sanitation and infection spread controls.
4. What reassurance can you give regarding the reduction of infection when pupils travel to Barn Elms via contracted coaches?
- Pupils will need face masks for this; they will also need a named plastic bag in which to store their face mask, whilst engaging in support. The coach company has shared its Risk Assessment with us – this is available on request.
5. Will there be trips and visits this academic year?
- Yes – but there will be no residential visits in the Michaelmas Term, domestic or foreign.