A SCHOOL in Ellesmere Port has given an insight into the lengths it is going to in order to minimise the risk of coronavirus ahead of a potential reopening on June 8.

Whitby Heath Primary School has updated parents and carers on the measures that will be in place for the possible inclusion of Early Years, Year 1 and Year 6 children.

The school on Wyedale, Whitby, says it is working towards a phased reopening from June 8 but is not yet in a position to confirm a definite return date.

Headteacher Rebecca Jewitt concedes that she is unable to offer any "assurances or guarantees" about the safety of a child at school in relation to coronavirus, adding that it is ultimately down to parents and carers to decide whether their child returns.

However, she does promise to do the utmost to "keep children, staff and families as safe as possible" which is why a number of measures –mainly relating to the physical layout of the school building, hygiene and ventilation – have been put in place.

This includes:

– Children returning on a part-time basis with one class from each year group attending on different days to the others to limit the numbers on site at one time.

– Pupils being put into groups of 10-15 – known as 'bubbles' – that will stay together throughout the school day with the same staff.

– Parents and carers not being allowed in school at any point and only one adult accompanying their child for drop-off and collection, which will be staggered and have a pedestrian one-way system in place.

– The removal of unnecessary items such as soft furnishings and toys that are hard to clean.

– Additional cleaning across the school day including toilets, tables and frequently touched areas.

– Doors and windows being opened throughout the day, wherever possible, and toilets being organised to ensure minimal numbers of children using them at any one time.

In an update posted on the school website today (May 22), Mrs Jewitt said: "We aim to be in a position to be able to open for a phased return of some children from the three identified groups on a part-time basis from week beginning 8th June.

"We will continue to review this over the next two weeks. Due to the constantly changing updates and announcements, 8th June is a date we are working towards only and is not a confirmed date for any return for any year groups as yet.

"The measures we are putting in place mean that the way school will operate and feel will be very different than prior to lockdown.

"Our plans will continue to be constantly reviewed with regards to the local R rating and local and national guidance but rest assured we will continue to complete our best endeavours to keep children, staff and families as safe as possible as we move forward.

"That said, it is not my role or within my gift to be able to offer you any assurances or guarantees about the safety of your child at school in relation to Covid-19 and it is for you as parents and carers to make your own decisions regarding whether your child does return when school is in a position to reopen in a phased manner."

In relation to to the measures, she added: "I am sure you understand and recognise that social distancing of two metres is not possible within a school building but we are able to minimise mixing across groups of children and staff, and change the physical layout of classrooms to help to reduce risks associated to this.

"Therefore, when children do return to school this will be in a phased and part-time basis to limit the numbers of children and staff on site at one time.

"One class from EYFS, Y1 and Y6 will attend school on Monday and Tuesday each week and the other class from each of the three year groups will attend on Thursdays and Fridays.

"Wednesdays will be used to provide separation between these class groups and their associated staff on site, and will included preparation and clean down of resources, equipment and all areas in school.

"Each class will be split into ‘bubbles’. Each bubble will remain together throughout the school day with the same allocated staff to limit mixing across bubbles.

"Due to the varying size of some of our classrooms and the different provisions required for different age ranges, ‘bubbles’ will be of between 10 and 15 at most.

"This will ensure tables and furniture can be spaced as far apart as possible within each bubble classroom. Children from different bubbles will not be allowed to mix with other bubbles, even if they have siblings in that group.

"Lunch and break times, including lessons outdoors, will be staggered to support this. Each bubble will eat lunch in their classroom or outside wherever possible with school lunches being brought to their bubble rather than being collected from the kitchen by children – school lunches will be packed lunch bags rather than hot school meals.

"There will be no breakfast or after school club provision provided by S4YC on site apart from for key workers to ensure children from different ‘bubbles’ do not mix."