Update: September Reopening

SAST Key Principles

September Reopening

The Government has announced the plan that all pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. The Trust supports this ambition because:

Returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Time out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children. This impact can affect both current levels of learning and children’s future ability to learn, and therefore we need to ensure all pupils can return to school sooner rather than later. There is also the long term impact on their economic prosperity and long-term health. Children benefit hugely from being at school.

Judgments will be made at a school level about how to balance and minimise any risks from coronavirus (COVID-19) with providing a full educational experience for children and young people.


  • The prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased. In Dorset and surrounding areas cases and  infection rates have been very low.
  • NHS Test and Trace system is running.
  • Public Health England is clear about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments within schools.
  • Returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing -we know that school is a vital point of contact for public health and safeguarding services that are critical to the wellbeing of children and families.
  • The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus is low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school.
  • Lower academic achievement also translates into long-term economic costs due to having a less well-qualified workforce. This affects the standard of living that today’s pupils will have over the course of their entire life. For many households, school closures have also affected their ability to work. As the economy begins to recover, we need to remove this barrier so parents and carers can return to work.

Key summary messages:

  • The guidance sets out things that we must and should do, depending on circumstances. This will vary from school to school. We will use the guidance to ensure that schools can safely open to all pupils in September.
  • Schools will revisit their risk assessments to ensure that safety is a priority.
  • Many of the safety measures currently in place will be in place from September as well.
  • Attendance is compulsory from September. All pupils (with shielding exceptions) will be expected back.
  • Pupils will be expected to be in uniform.


Prevention –  all schools, all the time will:

1.     minimise contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school
2.     clean hands thoroughly more often than usual
3.     ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
4.     introduce enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents and bleach

In addition schools will put in place measures that suit their particular circumstances to minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible.


Response to infection – All the schools will:

1.     engage with the NHS Test and Trace process
2.     manage confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst the school community
3.     contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice


Other details

  • Keeping groups separate – All our schools will be looking at how they can arrange manageable bubbles that will allow the school to remain open for most pupils should there be a Covid-19 case.
  • Staff will adhere to social distancing where it is possible, although the guidance acknowledges that this will not always be possible. It is important to remember that it is not ‘all or nothing’ – some measures, rather than all, will still make a difference in reducing transmission.
  • Arrangements for in school catering will be decided locally – most schools will provide packed lunches or a grab and go service
  • Before and after-school provision will be available in some schools. Schools should carefully consider how they can make such provision work alongside their wider protective measures, including keeping children within their year groups or bubbles where possible. If it is not possible to maintain bubbles being used during the school day then schools should use small, consistent groups.
  • Staff, as a rule, will be expected to be in school, including those who are in the clinically vulnerable and extremely clinically vulnerable groups. This will be possible because of the safety measures that schools have in place, and declining rates of transmission.
  • Schools will avoid large gatherings. Assemblies may take place using remote technology or for smaller groups.
  • Many of our pupils and students rely on school transport to get to and from school. It is anticipated that this will operate as normal but further national guidance is expected and local arrangements being organised.
  • Each school will endeavour to offer pupils a suitable curriculum. It will continue to be broad, but will reflect the gaps in pupils’ learning, particularly in core subjects, and help them to catch up.
  • A national catch up package has been announced. We are awaiting details on the amount of funding per school and any details on how it can be used.
  • Exams will take place in the summer term 2021. Ofqual is currently consulting on how these exams may be adapted to reflect the disruption that has occurred, and is still likely to occur in the next academic year.

In summary

We are looking forward to welcoming all our pupils and students back into their schools. We are being asked to implement sensible and proportionate control measures which follow the system of controls to reduce the risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level.

Essential measures include:

  • a requirement that people who are ill stay at home
  • robust hand and respiratory hygiene
  • enhanced cleaning arrangements
  • active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
  • formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible and minimise potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable

How contacts are reduced will depend on the school’s circumstances and will (as much as possible) include:

  • grouping children together
  • avoiding contact between groups
  • arranging classrooms differently where possible
  • staff maintaining distance from pupils and other staff as much as possible

Link: What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term.

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