An academy chain which runs 19 schools has revealed its nursery children will not return to class straight after the half-term break.
Latest Government guidance expects schools to be ready to open to nursery, reception, year one and year six classes from Monday, June 1.
But the Longton-based St Bart’s Multi-Academy Trust has ruled out bringing nursery and reception children back at the same time.
Another major change will see all of its schools shut at 1pm on Fridays for a coronavirus ‘deep clean’.
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Vulnerable children and the children of key workers – who have been attending school during the lockdown – are unaffected by this week’s announcement.
The trust’s schools include Belgrave St Bartholomew Academy, in Longton; Cranberry Academy, in Alsager; St Nathaniel’s Academy, in Burslem; Knutton St Mary’s Academy; Park Hall Academy; Meir Heath Academy; St Saviour’s Academy, in Talke; Kingsland Academy, in Bucknall; Weston Infant Academy and Weston Junior Academy, in Weston Coyney; and Woodcroft Academy, in Leek.
In a letter to parents, trust chief executive Chris Brislen said: “The Government is asking schools to open for nursery, reception, year one and year six pupils. We have considered this request most carefully and weighed it against the guidance and our own risk assessments.
“With the additional actions we intend to take we believe we can make our schools as safe as possible. However, as you will appreciate, despite all the measures we may put in place, the school environment can not be entirely risk free.
“As parents you will have to decide if you can accept the risks at this time and return your children to school. We will do our very best to make this work and be safe for your children and our staff, but we are not able to guarantee complete safety.
“As part of our risk assessments we have concluded that we will only take children from reception, year one and year six on June 1 together with the current children of key workers.
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“We have concluded that returning nursery children at the same time as reception children compromises safety, particularly in open-plan school settings. We are therefore planning a phased return for nursery children at a later date which will be decided once reception children have settled back.
“We have also decided that all schools will close at 1pm on Friday afternoons to allow for a deep clean. This decision has been taken following extensive consideration of the medical evidence and health and safety at work guidance available and we believe it will greatly aid and support infection control measures.”
Parents with pupils in reception, year one and year six are now being asked whether their children will be going back to school on June 1. It comes as fines are not being imposed for non-attendance.
The letter continued: “It is really important that everybody understands that their school will not look the way it normally does, particularly for our youngest pupils when they return.
“There will be a significant change to the way children are organised and children will not necessarily be with the teacher or teaching assistant that they were with before schools closed to the majority of children.
“We will need to change the layout of classrooms and children may not be in the classroom they are used to and it will not be possible to allow free movement or play. This is due to the guidance that schools are expected to adhere to.
“Furthermore, the curriculum will be modified to meet the needs of the children, with an increased focus on personal, social and emotional well-being.
“It is not compulsory for your child to attend and there will be no sanctions for non-attendance. We will endeavour to follow all the guidelines and take all the precautions we can to keep your child safe should you decide to send your child to school.
“However, we understand that you will want to make your own decision about what is best for your child under these circumstances and we will support and respect whatever you decide.”