Preparing For Distancing

May 29, 2020

Preparing For Distancing

We wanted to take a moment to update you on changes that we have made to adapt our building for safe distancing.

Staff have been working tirelessly in removing and rearranging furniture, planning and marking demarcation zones and devising schedules to make our school a safe-distanced place to learn.

Starting in the classrooms, we have removed and rearranged furniture so that each class has a student separation of at least 2 metres, and to achieve this we have reduced the number of student desks to 10. There is a clear teaching zone identified at the front of each classroom which is marked with perimeter tape.

In a small number of rooms where a slightly different size or shape has meant that the 2m limit becomes quite tight we have taken the decision to reduce to 8 tables to be secure in our spacing.

All classroom furniture is hard surfaced and easy to clean. Every classroom in the building is fitted with sliding sash fittings in every window which give the greatest rate of natural ventilation.

Outside in the corridor we benefit from generous spacing in our new build along every corridor, meaning that there is no corridor that is rendered unusable under safe-spacing requirements. We have marked centre lines on the corridor floors, and where students line up to enter a classroom we have placed 2m spaced markings. As corridors are the most enclosed spaces that students are likely to use, we have taken steps to stagger timings, minimise student movements, and space students in distribution around the school.

Toilets may have been an area of concern for some parents, and again we are blessed with an abundance of toilet facilities in our new building. Each toilet has an easy clean push button flush and is obviously in an individual cubicle with an easy to clean lock. Every tap is percussive (push once for a timed flow) meaning that when you have finished washing your hands you do not need to touch the tap, and hand driers are zero touch fully automatic units. Numbers of students in toilets will be very strictly limited and each toilet block uses forced extraction ventilation for a rapid rate of air change. Outside each toilet is a staffed sanitisation station where each student will be supervised in the application of antibacterial gel.

Finally, we know also that parents may be concerned about how arrangements in the Dining Room are going to work, and we can reassure parents that we have taken a very cautious approach indeed. When first designing the Dining Room, we worked hard to make it a very social space, recognising the importance of lunch time as a chance to relax and socialise with friends. This meant that a radical departure was necessary to meet distancing requirements, and we have taken the step of removing all of the existing furniture and placing chairs at strict distancing on clearly marked positions.

Queue control has been carefully planned with 2 metre marked spacing throughout the queuing areas, and the provision of 'grab bags' to facilitate speedy service. Biometric fingerprint readers have been taken out of service, so no student will be required to touch them. The Dining Room has multiple sets of opening double doors leading directly outdoors to help promote circulation, alongside forced extraction and climate control.

Naturally, these comprehensive physical changes cannot be completely effective without behavioural change, and just as we have all had to learn to queue outside supermarkets, students must learn and abide by the new rules on safe distancing.

Every student will receive an induction on day one attending school under the new arrangements. During this induction students will learn what the new rules are and why they are important. The school behaviour for learning policy has had an addendum scrutinised and approved by Governors that sets out the new requirements. Students will be sent home until further notice if they do not follow instructions and follow social distancing requirements.

Further information on policy will be published shortly, but for now we wanted to give you an insight into the changes that we have put in place, and we hope that you take confidence from them. We are very much looking forward to welcoming students, albeit in smaller numbers, back into our school on Monday.