Coronavirus (COVID-19)


COVID-19 Wider opening of Schools

COVID-19 Wider opening of Schools / September 2020

Government guidance

Government Guidance relating to September 2020 opening

Guidance for full opening - schools – GOV.UK

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Guidance on the wider opening of schools

Preparing for the wider opening of schools from 1 June - A planning guide for primary school leaders to help prepare them to open their schools for more pupils during the coronavirus outbreak.

Preparing for the wider opening of early years and childcare settings from 1 June A planning guide to help providers prepare for opening their setting to all children from the week commencing 1 June 2020.

Planning Guide for Secondary Schools from 15 June 2020 - GOV.UK This guide is designed for mainstream and alternative provision secondary schools (including those with a school sixth form).

Supporting children and young people with SEND as schools and colleges prepare for wider opening Guidance for special schools, specialist colleges, local authorities and any other settings managing children and young people with complex special educational needs and disability (SEND).

Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 - Latest guidance on how educational and childcare settings should prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020,

Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings - GOV.UK - Guidance for education and childcare settings on how to implement protective measures

Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care - Preventing and controlling infection, including the use of PPE, in education, childcare and children’s social care settings during the coronavirus outbreak

Free school meals guidance for schools – updated with information on school wider opening

Buckinghamshire Council guidance

Full Opening - September 2020

Buckinghamshire Council have been working with schools and Public Health to produce a working document for you.

We hope that this will aid your planning and preparation work as well as answer some of your questions.

A framework which breaks down the guidance

A checklist against the key categories for planning

Out of School Settings Guidance - ‘Protective measures for out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’.  This has been produced by the Early Years team, but all schools and settings may find it of use.

Identification of key duties

Wider Opening 1st June (for reference)

School guidance

Early Years guidance

Transition support

The Educational Psychology Team have produced an information pack is to provide advice regarding how schools and families can support children and young people in managing this transition back to school.

Transition support information pack


Frequently asked questions

Thank you for all your questions regarding the re-opening of schools.  We are working with the DfE to get answers for many of these questions and will keeping updating the below FAQs as soon as we know more. 

Please see below FAQs from schools.  We have used the government guidance for the below answers, please refer back to the government guidance for more detail.

Do I need to keep my school open or put on summer activities for key workers children who did not access school this term?

Government guidance does not currently require schools to open during the summer holidays.  Buckinghamshire Council is mindful that all school staff have worked exceptionally hard during the pandemic and will need a complete break and, as such, have no expectations that Buckinghamshire schools will be open for any groups of children or type of provision over the summer holidays.  It should be noted, however, that government guidance is being updated frequently in response to the changing situation during the course of the pandemic and we will let you know if government guidance on summer opening changes.

Should a school decide that they would like to offer some form of provision over the summer then they will be responsible for the decision to open and the management of this provision.  Any decision to open out of normal term time will need to be made with the approval of the Governing Body and fully risk assessed.

Can I use community resources to house more children returning to school?

In the government document Planning Guidance for Primary Schools it states:

If schools have access to space on other school sites (for example, local secondary schools, if that is feasible alongside the secondary offer) they may use this, taking care to ensure children stay in allocated groups. However, other community buildings (such as village halls) should not be used to expand capacity this term, while they remain closed in line with the government’s roadmap.

We note that this guidance only relates to the summer term and will let school’s know as soon as this guidance is updated, both for over the summer holidays and for the Autumn Term.

When will school's re-open?

Government guidance on the 11 May

From the week commencing 1 June 2020 at the earliest, we will be asking primary schools to welcome back children in Nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups. We will ask secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year, alongside the full time provision they are offering to priority groups.

We are also asking nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, to begin welcoming back all children. Alternative provision settings should mirror the approach being taken for mainstream schools and also offer some face-to-face support for years 10 and 11 students (as they have no year 12). Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools will work towards a phased return of more children and young people without a focus on specific year groups.

Prime Minister's announcement on 24 May 

Secondary schools should plan on the basis that from the week commencing 15 June, they can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools1) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, subject to the government’s 5 tests being met.

They are asking secondary schools to offer this face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 pupils, which should remain the predominant mode of education during this term for pupils in these year groups.

Their assessment, based on the latest scientific and medical advice, is that we need to continue to control the numbers attending school to reduce the risk of increasing transmission. Therefore, schools are able to have a quarter of the year 10 and year 12 cohort (for schools with sixth forms) in school at any one time.

Any plans that secondary schools have made for pupils to return earlier in June should be amended to commence from 15 June.

Schools should refer to the guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings to support their planning to welcome back year 10 and year 12 pupils. This document provides information on the approaches we are asking all schools to take to minimise risks as children and young people return to school.

This guide is designed for mainstream and alternative provision secondary schools (including those with a school sixth form). Some of this information may be helpful to those leading special or hospital schools, although it has not been developed with those settings in mind. We have also published guidance for further education providers, including sixth-form colleges.

On 1st June the guide was updated to reflect the announcement by the Prime Minister that the government’s 5 tests have been met and confirmation of wider opening of education and childcare settings from 1 June, and updated information on testing for coronavirus.

How should I be planning for the return to school?

The government have created the framework Opening schools for more children and young people initial planning framework for schools in england

  • to help school leaders and trusts to start to think through the steps they might need to take to open their schools for more pupils
  • as a starting point from which schools and trusts may choose to develop their own plans

This framework will be developed further and we will work with the profession to produce more detailed guidance ahead of 1 June 2020, alongside updates to existing guidance as necessary ahead of 1 June. The government will also be producing operational guidance for childcare settings and colleges, in addition to further advice for schools.  Please read in conjunction with continuity planning models above.

My school has been closed for many weeks – what do I need to do to prepare the site?

Please see the property section

If your whole school site or buildings have been closed for many weeks, or if parts of the building have been out of use for a long period, then you should consider undertaking a health and safety check of the buildings concerned.

Read more about managing school premises during the coronavirus outbreak.

You might also need to make adjustments to your fire drill and practise it in the first week when more pupils return. Refer to advice on fire safety in new and existing school buildings.

I cannot get enough cover in place for children of critical workers and vulnerable children and for the priority groups. I have considered all possible approaches. What do I do?

The government guidance states: We trust headteachers to make the best decisions they can. If you still cannot get enough cover in place and an arrangement which enables eligible children to attend consistently at another local school is not manageable, schools should focus first on continuing to provide places for priority groups of all year groups (children of critical workers and vulnerable children). Then, to support children’s early learning, you should prioritise groups of children as follows:

  • early years settings - 3 and 4 year olds followed by younger age groups
  • infant schools - nursery (where applicable) and reception
  • primary schools - nursery (where applicable), reception and year 1

Who do I provide free school meals for?

Children in reception and year 1 should have the option of a free meal under the universal infant free school meals policy. Meals should be available for all pupils in school, and these should also be free of charge for pupils that qualify for benefits-related free school meals.

Planning for lunches

The government guidance  Providing free school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak states:

As schools prepare to open more widely, they should speak to their school catering team or provider about the best arrangements for school meals. Schools should ensure that they are supported to return to school to provide food both for those children attending school and for those remaining at home who are eligible for free school meals.

We have published a planning guide for schools to help schools prepare for children returning to school. This includes suggested approaches to help school leaders in their decision making around school meals, including working out arrangements for lunch so that children do not mix with children from other groups.

This could mean having several lunch sittings or serving lunch in more than one location, including if appropriate in a classroom, or asking your caterers to look at other flexible ways of giving pupils access to lunch such that it can be eaten in the small group setting (for example taking cold or ‘packed’ lunches to children in the areas they are in for the day).

Our local secondary school has already put plans in place to close their school for 1 day so that  Yr 6 can  attend for a transition day. Is this allowed ?

In year 6 it is unlikely that many of the end of term traditions will be able to take place, for example, whole year or class assemblies with parents, school journeys and trips. Schools should provide opportunities for children to discuss this as it may be a source of anxiety or sadness.

Though visits to secondary schools for induction will not take place this year, some secondary schools may have capacity to undertake remote induction briefings or other types of sessions for pupils, for example to meet form tutors, heads of year, or other key staff, or have a tour of the school virtually. You should discuss the options with your secondary schools.

Do I need to adapt my Behaviour Policy in light of changes to school routines ?

Ahead of opening for more pupils, schools will need to update their behaviour policy to reflect the new rules and routines, and communicate these changes to staff, pupils and parents.

Think about if and how your school rules need to change. There are some example new school rules given in annex a which you could adopt or adapt.  Any revised rules will need to be referenced in the revised behaviour policy with sanctions.

Consider how the new rules and routines will be communicated to pupils and parents/carers. Best practice suggests this includes:

  • proactively teaching new rules to staff, pupils and parents
  • regularly and rigorously reinforcing behaviour throughout every day
  • consistently imposing sanctions when rules are broken, in line with the policy, as well as positively reinforcing well-executed rules through encouragement and rewards

Display the posters in annex c, which are suitable for reception, years 1 and 6.

Prepare guidance for staff (see a model in annex b) and ensure all staff are trained in the new rules and routines, including the use of sanctions and rewards, so that they can support pupils to understand them and enforce them consistently.

Staff will need to explicitly teach and supervise health and hygiene arrangements such as handwashing, tissue disposal and toilet flushing.

What do I need to do about uniform?

There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a school. Uniform that cannot be machine washed should be avoided.

You will want to think about leeway for any child who has grown out of any parts of their uniform since March but whose parents cannot currently replace it.

Can I open up to more year groups if I feel that I can do this safely?

No. The guidance states that only pupils in the eligible years (reception, years 1 and 6) plus vulnerable children and children of critical workers should come in to school from the week commencing 1 June.

How can I use outdoor learning in the wider opening of schools?

Onsite:  The best place for outdoor learning will be the school/academy grounds. The Government have relaxed the lockdown measures to include unlimited outdoor activity. Spaces, distances and tasks will still need to be managed as will the area each bubble/class/year group will be allowed to access.

Offsite:  Walking from the school site and travel in vehicles will be highly restrictive if social distancing is to be maintained. Careful thought and consideration needs to be given to the risk assessment process if this is to be undertaken.

Health and Well-being:  Having spent a significant time in isolation with only ‘family’ members a return to a location where there is greater contact with others has to be managed sympathetically, as will undertaking activities in outdoor settings or off-site locations. It must also be recognised that some pupils have had no regular access to a garden or green space during Lockdown and will really value opportunities to access such spaces.

The confidence of staff will also vary according to their experiences over the last few weeks and how comfortable they feel about undertaking and managing outdoor activities. Staff and children may also value areas for reflection and ‘peace and quiet’.

The HR FAQs have new section on HR implications of the wider opening of schools. 

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