22nd October 2022

Dear Parents,

Re:  Dismissal time for Reception Classes

In response to some enquiries regarding the above, I would like to take the opportunity to answer those queries and hopefully address any concerns.

The earlier dismissal for Reception children has proved to be a valuable strategy for ensuring our youngest children are dismissed into a relatively quiet yard at the end of what is, for them, a very long day. As you will be aware, during the pandemic, staggered start/finish times were also recommended by the Government as a measure to reduce the spread of covid. We have always been advised that the risk of infection was significantly reduced when outdoors, particularly if the on-going government guidelines re “Hands, Face, Space” were observed, and so on balance, staggered starts/finishes could be used as an acceptable covid restriction.

We are aware, however, that this is not ideal for parents, and were hoping to revert to our usual practice of aligning dismissal times after half term. Unfortunately, we have been very challenged by a number of positive cases in school in recent weeks and have, following advice from Public Health, reintroduced some additional restrictive measures during the school day. Taking all this into consideration we thought it advisable to continue with the current system for a little longer, as this does greatly reduce the congestion inside school towards the end of the day. We completely understand concerns regarding colder (and wetter) weather, and we will do all we can to adapt our procedures as soon as possible to take this into account.

As a school we have done our best to support our families during periods of covid restrictions, providing “wrap around care” when Zone4Kids was unable to stay on site in the summer of 2020 and welcomed siblings of Nursery/Reception children into school early during the term in which our staggered starts/finishes were more spread out. Our teaching staff work hard to provide the best possible educational experience for all our young pupils from the moment they enter school each morning. We are fully aware of the impact of recent lockdowns and have put robust strategies in place to address any identified gaps.

Restrictions on our school routine are unfortunate, and inconvenient for all concerned. We must however, balance this against the impact of an on-going pandemic, and feel this is an appropriate measure to keep in place until the situation eases locally. We will, of course, keep this under constant review, and as soon as the situation eases, as we all hope it will, we will adjust dismissal times accordingly – before Christmas if at all possible.

I hope this has addressed some of your concerns and ask that you bear with us for just a little longer as we try to steer our way through these challenging times.

Kind regards,

Mandy Elkin

Acting Headteacher

Whitley Lodge First School