Spring Term School Reopening Frequently Asked Questions – Parents / Carers

Posted: March 1st, 2021

Please note that all quotations have been taken from the DfE February 2021 ‘Schools Coronavirus (COVID-19) Operational Guidance’
Table of contents:


1. Is it safe for all staff and students to return to school in March?

The document states that ‘Based on the recent ONS data, the risks to education staff are similar to those for most other occupations.’ However, we do need to be aware that it is essential to implement the system of controls as this creates a safer environment for pupils and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. The way to control this virus is the same, even with the current new variants.’

2. What are the key points to consider in supporting the prevention of Covid-19 in school?

Pages 7  – 8 of the DfE February 2021 ‘Schools Coronavirus (COVID-19) Operational Guidance’ state that is we all ‘follow the system of controls, you will effectively reduce risks in your setting and create an inherently safer environment.’

In terms of prevention, the document states that we must always:

  • Minimise contact with individuals who are required to self-isolate by ensuring they do not attend the school
  • Ensure face coverings are used in recommended circumstances.
  • Ensure everyone is advised to clean their hands thoroughly and more often than usual.
  • Ensure good respiratory hygiene for everyone by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
  • Maintain enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents.
  • Consider how to minimise contact across the site and maintain social distancing wherever possible.
  • Keep occupied spaces well ventilated.


3. What are expectations in terms of ventilation?

The guidance states, ‘When your school is in operation, it is important to ensure it is well ventilated’.

We will still be keeping classroom doors and windows open.

4. What are the changes in terms of the wearing of masks to further support the prevention of Covid-19?

We will be asking for masks to be worn in all indoor areas where a distance of 2m cannot be maintained, which will include in classrooms. If staff are able to retain a distance of 2m (by teaching from within the designated 2m box) then a mask can be removed.

Please note that if you are working in an office alone, you can remove your face mask.  However, where you are in a room / an office with another member of staff, we ask that a face mask is worn.

The guidance states:

‘Where pupils in year 7 (which would be children who were aged 11 on 31 August 2020) and above are educated, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils when outdoors on the premises.

In addition, we now also recommend in those schools, that face coverings should be worn in classrooms or during activities unless social distancing can be maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons.’

5. Is there specific information regarding the use of face masks with regards to lip reading and/or hearing difficulties?

Yes. General information provided by Occupational Health includes:



‘Where there is a requirement or recommendation to wear a face covering, exemptions may apply. Exemptions include where someone is communicating with someone who needs to lipread. Schools and colleges are expected to think about the needs of deaf children and young people’ – see the link below for further information:


A student may request that a teacher removes their mask when speaking to the class but must maintain a strict 2m distance from the class.

6. Are the rules still in place regarding the safe wearing and removal of face coverings?

Yes, the guidance states, ‘Safe wearing of face coverings requires the:

  • cleaning of hands before and after touching – including to remove or put them on
  • safe storage of them in individual, sealable plastic bags between use.

Where a face covering becomes damp, it should not be worn, and the face covering should be replaced carefully. Staff and pupils may consider bringing a spare face covering to wear if their face covering becomes damp during the day. We would appreciate your support in ensuring that non-disposable face coverings are washed regularly.

We have been advised to instruct pupils to:

  • not touch the front of their face covering during use or when removing it
  • dispose of temporary face coverings in a ‘black bag’ waste bin (not recycling bin)
  • place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag they can take home with them
  • wash their hands again before heading to their classroom.’


7. What additional health and safety measures will be in place?

‘Rapid testing using Lateral Flow Devices (LFD)s will support the return to face-to-face education by helping to identify people who are infectious but do not have any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. For secondary school staff and pupils, we are moving to a home testing model (for pupils, following the first 3 onsite tests).

Once pupils have been tested 3 times at school, they will be provided with home test kits for regular testing.

Testing remains voluntary but strongly encouraged.’

We have once again reviewed our health and safety risk assessments and will be on our website from Monday 8th March

Just as in the Autumn Term, we will have robust hand and respiratory hygiene measures in place (hand washing and hand sanitiser, cleaning equipment in each classroom, tissues and lidded bins in each classroom) and there will continue to be enhanced cleaning arrangements.

8. What are the requirements in terms of home testing kits?

‘Both pupils and staff in secondary schools will be supplied with LFD test kits to self-swab and test themselves twice a week at home. Staff and pupils must report their result to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed either online or by telephone as per the instructions in the home test kit.’

Once students return, they will be provided with home testing kits which they must complete twice a week, the results of which must be shared with NHS Test and Trace and the school. Further details will be provided to all parents/carers ahead of the test kits being sent home.

9. Is attendance compulsory?

Yes. The guidance states, ‘School attendance will be mandatory for all pupils from 8 March.’ However, the guidance does recognise that, ‘A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice to self-isolate because they:

  • have symptoms or have had a positive test result
  • live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive and are a household contact
  • are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19).


10. When do students need to stay at home?

The guidance states that ‘pupils, staff and other adults must not come into the school if:

  • they have one or more coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
  • a member of their household (including someone in their support bubble or childcare bubble if they have one) has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
  • they are required to quarantine having recently visited countries outside the Common Travel Area
  • they have had a positive test.

They must immediately cease to attend and not attend for at least 10 days from the day after:

  • the start of their symptoms
  • the test date if they did not have any symptoms but have had a positive test (whether this was a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test).’


11. What if a student becomes ill during the school day?

Again, as per the DfE guidance, anyone developing Covid-19 symptoms during the school day will be sent home.

The guidance states:

‘If anyone in your school develops a new and continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), you:

  • must send them home to begin isolation – the isolation period includes the day the symptoms started and the next 10 full days
  • advise them to follow the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection
  • advise them to arrange to have a test as soon as possible to see if they have coronavirus (COVID-19).

Other members of their household (including any siblings and members of their support or childcare bubble if they have one) should self-isolate. Their isolation period includes the day symptoms started for the first person in their household, or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms, whether this was a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test), and the next 10 full days. If a member of the household starts to display symptoms while self-isolating they will need to restart the 10 day isolation period and book a test.

 If anyone tests positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develop symptoms during the isolation period, they must restart the 10-day isolation period from the day they developed symptoms.’

We are insisting that a test is taken if a student is sent home.

12. What is the expectation in terms of engaging with the NHS Test and Trace Process?

‘Staff members, parents and carers will need to:

  • book a test if they or their child has symptoms – the main symptoms are:
  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • self-isolate immediately and not come to school if:
  • they develop symptoms o they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • anyone in their household or support or childcare bubble develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • they are required to do so having recently travelled from certain other countries o they have been advised to isolate by NHS test and trace or the PHE local health protection team, which is a legal obligation
  • provide details of anyone they have been in close contact with, if they test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or if asked by NHS Test and Trace.’


13. How do I book a test?

Tests can be booked online through the NHS testing and tracing for coronavirus website, or ordered by telephone via NHS 119 for those without access to the internet.

14. What happens if the result of the test is negative?

If someone tests negative, if they feel well and no longer have symptoms similar to coronavirus (COVID-19), they can stop self-isolating and return to school.

15. What happens if the result is positive?

We will contact the local health protection team. This team will also contact schools directly if they become aware that someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) attended the school – as identified by NHS Test and Trace.

16. Do household members of those sent home due to ‘close contact’ need to self-isolate?

No. The guidance states, ‘Household members of those contacts who are sent home do not need to self-isolate themselves unless the pupil or staff member who is self-isolating subsequently develops symptoms, unless they have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or their public health protection team, in which case they must self-isolate.’

17. Where does the student sit when awaiting collection?

As per the arrangements during the Autumn Term, the student will wait in the isolation room, with the window open. If a student requires the toilet when waiting to be collected, the toilet by the new Reflection room will be used. This will then be cleaned before being used by anyone else.

18. Will the school buses be running?

Yes, the service will resume on Monday 15th March 2021. However, the DfE guidance states, ‘Pupils and staff may use public transport where necessary, but we encourage them to walk, cycle or scoot to and from school wherever it is possible and safe to do so.’

19. Will I need to wear a face covering if I travel to school on public transport?

Yes. Face coverings are required at all times on public transport (for children, over the age of 11).

20. Are there any other rules about travelling on the school bus?

Yes. Students will be asked, where possible, to sit in their year group bubbles and sanitise their hands upon boarding and/or disembarking.  Students will still have to wear face coverings.

There will be staff on bus duty at the end of each day, and will ensure that hands are sanitised prior to getting on the bus at the end of the day and students board one year group at a time. However, students will be required to provide their own supply of hand sanitiser (alongside face masks) when boarding the vehicle in the morning.

21. Are we continuing to teach in year groups bubbles, including each year groups having assigned classrooms, dining and toilet facilities?

Yes, the same rules regarding year group bubbles will continue.

The guidance states, ‘Minimising contacts and mixing between people reduces transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19)… You must do everything possible to minimise contacts and mixing while delivering a broad and balanced curriculum. The overarching principle to apply is reducing the number of contacts between pupils and staff. This can be achieved through keeping groups separate (in ‘bubbles’) and through maintaining distance between individuals.’

As per the Autumn Term,  toilet facilities within blocks will continue to be year group specific and all sinks / cubicles / urinals are still labelled to make it clear of the year group to use the facility.

Just as a reminder, to reduce the need for different year groups to move out of their zone, the following toilet arrangements will be in place:

Upper School Girls: Far side = Year 10 and 11.

Upper School Girls: Near side = Year 7. 

Upper School Boys: Block by entrance = Year 10 and 11.

Upper School Boys: Block by water fountain = Year 7 only.

Lower School = Year 8 and 9 (again, specific sinks / cubicles / urinals have been allocated to Year 8 and others Year 9).

Again, as a reminder, the year group zones / classrooms are as follows:

Year Group Rooms
Year 7 Room 28
Room 29
Room 19 (Conf)
Main Hall – Tutor only
Year 8 Room 31
Room 33
Room 34
Room 35
Year 9 Room 9*
Room 11*
Room 12
Room 13
Room 14
Room 15
Year 10 Room 20
Room 21
Room 22
Room 23
Room 24
Room 25
Room 26
Year 11 Room 1
Room 2
Room 3
Room 4
Room 5
Room 6
Room 8 *

As a reminder, the following will be in place to restrict the mixing of bubbles:

Different Entrances and Exits will be used:

Year 7: Conference Room (red) (Sports Hall at the start and end of the day)

Year 8: English (orange)

Year 9: KW / ST (blue)

Year 10: Pod (yellow)

Year 11: Student Entrance (green)

Different gates will be used in the morning:

Year 7: High Street

Year 8: Station Road – student entrance

Year 9: Station Road – car entrance

Year 10: Station Road – car entrance

Year 11: High Street

Students will purchase their food from different locations and at different times:

Year group Break Lunch
Year 7 Food: 10:05 – 10:20
Social: 10:20-10:30
Food: 12:20 – 12:45
Social: 12:45 – 1:15
Year 8 Social: 10:10 – 10:20
Food: 10:20 – 10:30
Social: 12:30 – 12:50
Food: 12:50 – 1:15
Year 9 Social: 10:10 – 10:20
Food: 10:20 – 10:30
Food: 12:30 – 12:50
Social: 12:50 – 1:15
Year 10 Food: 10:10 – 10:20
Social: 10:20 – 10:30
Social: 12:25 – 12:50
Food: 12:50 – 1:15
Year 11 Food: 10:05 – 10:15
Social: 10:15 – 10:30
Social: 12:50 – 1:15
Food: 12:50 – 1:15

Students will have different locations at lunch / break:

Indoor Space:

The main hall will be split into three sections: Year 7* will have a third by the stage, Year 8 the middle section and Year 10 will have the section close to where the benches. **

Year 9 will have the use of the new hall.

Year 7 will have the use of the main corridor.

*In the event of a wet lunch / break, it may be necessary to also use the Sports Hall for Year 7.

**Year 7 will walk on the carpet area above the steps in the hall, Year 10 will walk on the wooden floor of the hall, next to the steps.

Outdoor Space:

Year 7: Year 7 Yard

Year 8: Year 8 Yard

Year 9: Quad

Year 10: Upper School Yard (right – back to Rooms 1 – 7)

Year 11: Upper School Yard (left – back to Rooms 1 – 7)

Students will purchase their lunch from different locations:

Year 7: Main Hall – access from the library door.

Year 8: Main Hall – access from the Pod door

Year 9: New Hall

Year 10: Pod

Year 11: New Hall

Doors, corridors and staircases are to be assigned to different year groups:

Year 7: The bridge (28, 29), Conference Room stairs and the PE corridor.

Year 8: Door by Pod

Year 9: Corridor by Room 9, Room 14 and art / technology.

Year 10: Upstairs, main hall and PE corridor. DT staircase.

Year 11: Room 1 – 7 corridor, IT and music corridor.

In terms of break and lunch times, certain year groups will continue to finish their lesson a little early to allow time for movement to their area.

Year 7 will have an early lunch (12.20pm, rather than 12.30pm).

Year 8 will have an early break (10.05am, rather than 10.10am).

Year 9 will not have an early break or lunch as they are the smallest year groups and have been allocated their own area indoors.

Year 10 will have an early lunch (12.25pm, rather than 12.30pm).

Year 11 will have an early break (10.05am, rather than 10.10am).

The member of staff teaching the students Period 1 (the lesson before break) and Period 3 (the lesson before lunch) will escort their class to the allocated recreational zone and remain with the class until the end of the lesson.

22. Do staff still need to retain a distance of 2m from students?

Yes. Every classroom will still have a teaching zone for staff, which will be 2m from the first desk. Staff will teach from within their zone.

The reason we are doing this is because the DfE guidance states, ‘It is strong public health advice that staff in secondary schools maintain distance from their pupils, staying at the front of the class, and away from their colleagues where possible. Ideally, adults should maintain 2 metre distance from each other, and from children. We know that this is not always possible, particularly when working with younger children, but if adults can do this when circumstances allow that will help. In particular, they should avoid close face to face contact and minimise time spent within 1 metre of anyone.’

23. Will we be having assemblies?

No.  The DfE guidance states, ‘You should avoid large gatherings such as assemblies or collective worship with more than one group’.

24. Will we be able to have peripatetic music teachers in school?

Yes. The guidance states, ‘You can continue to use supply teachers and staff.

Supply staff and other temporary or peripatetic staff can move between schools. Such staff and visitors must follow your school’s arrangements for managing and minimising risk based on the system of controls. They should also have access to information on the safety arrangements and be provided with this as soon as possible after the booking.’

We are asking for peripatetic music lessons to commence from Monday 22nd March, which allows one week of face-to-face teaching to have taken place.

25. Can students borrow pens and pencils?

No. The guidance states, ‘For individual and very frequently used equipment, such as pencils and pens, staff and pupils should have their own items.’

Please ensure that your son / daughter arrives to school with all necessary equipment.

26. Will students be required to wear school uniform?

Yes, the guidance states, ‘We would encourage all schools to maintain their usual uniform policies. Uniform can play a valuable role in contributing to the ethos of a school and setting an appropriate tone.’

From Monday 15th March the academy uniform policy will be expected of all students. As was the case in the Autumn Term, on the days that students have PE, they should wear their PE Kit instead of the normal uniform. We are also recommending the regular washing of school uniform.

27. Will the school kitchen be open?

Yes. As was the case in the Autumn Term, students will order their food (both break and lunch) through Microsoft Forms. The menu choice will be emailed directly to students and staff at 6pm and students / staff will need to have placed their order by 8.30am.  Please support your son / daughter in ordering their food for the following day.

28. Will we be allowing students to have cash for their school lunch?

As was the case in the Autumn Term, to avoid the handling of cash, the preference will be for all money for school lunch payments to be uploaded in the evening on Parent Pay. The area of the school where the cash loader is situated is in the Year 9 bubble, therefore not all year groups will be allowed access to this area of the school.

29. Are we still limiting visitors on site and will we be holding face-to-face meetings with parents / carers?

We are still going to be limiting the number of people on site at any one time, therefore we are asking staff to avoid face-to-face meetings during the school day.

30. Can I arrive on site without a prior appointment?

We politely request that you do not arrive on site without a prior appointment, unless in the case of an emergency.

31. Will students be allowed in the building as soon as they arrive in the morning?

No. We are unable to allow all students in the building until we have full levels of staff supervision.  We will be asking students to wait in a year group-allocated yard prior to going into school, therefore please ensure that your son / daughter has a suitable coat.

If students could arrive between 8.30am – 8.40am, it will prevent large numbers of students waiting on site for a prolonged period of time before the doors open.  We understand that this is not always feasible, particularly where students rely on public transport.