We have pulled together some frequently asked questions from parents and families regarding the re-opening of schools in Doncaster to hopefully address some of your questions.
As this is a continually changing picture, we will add to these questions as we receive further information and will provide regular updates when possible on our website and social media channels.
There may be some questions that we can’t answer and will be best directed to your child’s/children’s school. If you do you have an urgent question which is not answered below, you can fill in the form at the bottom of this page and we will try to add this to the list of questions as soon as we can.
Health and safety
What health and safety practices will there be in schools, will staff and pupils have/need to wear PPE?
All schools in Doncaster have submitted their own individual health and safety assessments to us as a council who will review them, and there will not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to this. For specific details, speak to your child’s/children’s schools directly. It is the school’s responsibility to conduct and carry out the assessments and any actions arising from them.
What are the consequences of not sending my child/children back to school?
Will my child have the same teacher/classroom/classmates as before?
This will be a decision each individual school will make, however, due to the need to limit the class numbers for health and safety reasons, there is likely to be an element of disruption for your child/children. Class sizes will also depend on the size of the school and their classrooms.
What happens if a child or staff member shows COVID 19 symptoms once school has reopened, will the whole school have to close again? Does that include relatives of staff/pupils?
More detailed guidance is available on the government website HERE
What will happen if my child needs first aid at school such as an injury at playtime)? Will they be cared for at school?
Yes, schools have responsibility to look after children who need first aid at school.
Under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, employers are responsible for providing adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. Educational settings are expected to conduct risk assessments to determine their own requirements.
The Government strongly recommends schools consult advice set out by the Health and Safety Executive on coronavirus, including:actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak
How are schools planning the cleaning of classrooms? Will every surface be disinfected after each day?
- Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using standard cleaning products such as detergents and bleach;
- Ensure that wherever possible children and young people use the same classroom or area of a setting throughout the day, with a thorough cleaning of the rooms at the end of the day. Schools and colleges have been asked to consider seating students at the same desk each day if they attend on consecutive days;
- Clean surfaces that children and young people are touching, such as toys, books, desks, chairs, doors, sinks, toilets, light switches, bannisters, more regularly than normal;
- Ensure that bins for tissues are emptied throughout the day;
- Where possible, make sure all spaces should be well ventilated using natural ventilation (opening windows) or ventilation units;
- Prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation;
- Get in touch with public sector buying organisation partners (for example ESPO, YPO, NEPO) about proportionate supplies of soap, anti-bacterial gel and cleaning products if needed;
- Ensure that outdoor equipment is not used unless the setting is able to ensure that it is appropriately cleaned between groups of children and young people using it, and that multiple groups do not use it simultaneously. Read “COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings”: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings
- Reduce the use of shared resources such as limiting the amount of shared resources that are taken home and limit exchange of take-home resources between children, young people and staff. Also seeking to prevent the sharing of stationery and other equipment where possible. Shared materials and surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected more frequently.
- Practical lessons can go ahead if equipment can be cleaned thoroughly and the classroom or other learning environment is occupied by the same children or young people in one day, or properly cleaned between cohorts.
Will there be testing in schools for children and/or staff? If so, how often?
"All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus” (PHE).
“As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the child or young person’s cohort or in the wider education or childcare setting, Public Health England’s local Health Protection Teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases, a larger number of other children and young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure - perhaps the whole class, site or year group”.
Will my child be supervised when handwashing to ensure that they are doing it correctly, and is there enough soap and hand gel?
PHE are advising schools to:
- Supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands more often than usual. They should do so thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use alcohol hand rub or sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered;
- Ensure that sufficient handwashing facilities are available. Where a sink is not nearby, provide hand sanitiser in classrooms and other learning environments;
- Ensure that help is available for children and young people who have trouble cleaning their hands independently;
- Consider how to encourage young children to learn and practise these habits through games, songs and repetition.
The ‘R’ rate in Yorkshire is still quite high compared to some other areas in the country. How can you be sure that it is the right time to be sending children back to school?
The decision by the Government to open schools has taken into account the ‘R’ number in the UK, which includes Yorkshire and the Humber Region. The current ‘R’ number range is 0.7-1.0 in the UK. It is an estimate based on latest data available to determine infection and transmission rates.
For more information and explanation about the 'R' rate, please visit the government website HERE.
School travel, holidays, school meals and after school clubs
Will after school/breakfast clubs be running?
Will the school holidays still be taking place?
How will my child get to school if the buses are not running their usual service?
Many public transport services in Doncaster are continuing to run, but to ensure that strict social distancing rules are adhered to, a reduced number of passengers are able to use these services. South Yorkshire Transport are therefore encouraging families to choose public transport only when no other option is available to them, and to walk or cycle for short journeys.
Parents are asked to plan ahead and allow extra time for travel. Social distancing may mean that buses may get full more quickly and pupils waiting at a bus stop may see buses drive past with ‘Bus Full’ signs on their destination screens. When buses have reached capacity (when approximately one in every four seats is taken) the driver will only pull up at the stop to let a passenger get on if a passenger needs to get off. A strict ‘one-off, one-on’ policy will be in place. Pupils will need to allow extra time for their journey and be prepared to wait.
You can find more information about changes to public transport in South Yorkshire .
Will Free School Meals still be provided?
Free school meals are continuing to be provided to those who are eligible.
Children of key workers and vulnerable children
I am a key worker but haven’t sent my child to school during lockdown. If I return to work but my child isn’t in Nursery, Reception, YR 1 or YR 6, can I now send my child to school?
Yes – as it has been throughout the current pandemic, school places are open to all children of key workers and vulnerable children. Speak to your child’s/children’s school for more information.
Who is a vulnerable child?
A vulnerable child could include any child that has an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan), an allocated social worker or a child protection plan. Other children do also fall within the ‘vulnerable child’ category on an individual case basis.
Why are you not making sure that all the vulnerable children are going to school?
Throughout the pandemic, ALL children classed as vulnerable have been offered a place at schools. We have been doing all we can to encourage families to take up that place, but this is down to each family’s decision. We will continue to work with families on this.
School re-opening plans, fines and catching Up
Will my child be back in full-time school?
With each school being very different, the offer of a return to school will also be different. This is due to different logistical issues being dealt with by schools, such as schools size, classroom size, staffing and other factors.
As you can understand, where a school’s places may be limited for these reasons, priority will be given to the children of key workers and vulnerable children. This may mean that your child will be offered a return on a part-time basis, such as 1-2 days a week.
Other school year groups which are identified by the government – nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will also be prioritised and your child’s/children’s school will communicate this with you.
Are all schools going to be doing the same thing?
Will home schooling packs continue to be sent to those children who can go back to school but don’t?
Yes – schools will continue to provide school packs for those children who remain at home.
If I have a child in Nursery, Reception, YR 1 or YR 6 and a sibling in another year, can they come to school as well?
Unfortunately, it may not be possible to send all children in your family to school at the same time. We understand this may be frustrating for some families, but this is due to varying capacities such as schools size, classroom size, staffing and other factors.
When will the other year groups go back to school?
My child is not in one of the year groups set to return in June. I am worried about their education, who can I talk to about this?
We completely understand your worries and frustrations around this. We would advise you speak to your class teacher/school about your concerns.
Are children going to repeat this school year?
Further information and updates
Where can I find out more information?
We will continue to provide updates through the council’s social media channels (below) as regularly as we can, and will be updating these frequently asked questions as we receive more information. Don’t forget to also check your child’s/children’s school website and other communications channels for updates.
More information for parents is also available on the Families Information Service.
Questions for individual schools
There are some questions we have been asked that would be better directed to your child’s/children’s individual schools as they may have different approaches. These include questions such as:
- How will social distancing be managed throughout the school day and at pick up/drop off?
- I can’t afford to supply stationary and books how will the school supplies be sanitised?
- Will children be expected to wear school uniform and if so how will teachers know it has been washed and fresh to prevent spreading germs?
- My school are staggering the school day, can I chose which time my child starts (or what days they attend if they are attending part-time)?
- My school is only opening on a part-time basis, what will happen the rest of the time will there be an element of home schooling too?
- What happens if I don’t send my child to school but then change my mind?