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Has your school been told this if schools are closed?

(51 Posts)
drspouse Mon 16-Mar-20 10:01:10

We are looking for a new school for my primary aged DS (he's in a PRU and can't remain there indefinitely).
We booked two school tours this week, waiting on a call back from a third, one of the schools said "yes, let's get it out of the way in case schools are closed". The other was fine but rang today to say no external staff are being allowed in (no sports coaches etc.) I asked if we could have a tour while closed if they were closed, based on the teachers I'm seeing commenting that they have been told they'd be in school if the children are off, unless they have to stay home for some other reason.
The school said no, if the school is closed all teachers will be off and will be self-isolating and that this is the advice they have received!
I'm struggling to find anything that says this, official advice is only "schools remain open". I'm not sure the secretary really understands what "self-isolating" means.
This could leave us with no school for September (he's supposed to do a transition over the summer term, though that would be delayed if the PRU is closed).

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Bflatmajorsharp Mon 16-Mar-20 10:03:37

Our school has stopped all 'non-essential' visitors so no parents evenings, school concerts etc. I'm sure that they wouldn't be showing parents round either.

drspouse Mon 16-Mar-20 10:09:57

Oh I appreciate that, but it's clearly a school by school decision; it's the "there will be nobody in if the school is closed" issue that seems odd and I can't find that anywhere, especially given the teachers saying they will be in school with stuff to do.

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drspouse Mon 16-Mar-20 10:17:52

Not surprisingly the other school has also just rung - same policy this week but seemed to think that if the schools closed it's possible staff will be in. So either neither secretary has any idea and both are making it up, or there is some policy but only one knew about it.

I actually think for DS it would be good to look round if the school is closed (or after hours) initially as he gets very overwhelmed in new, noisy places.

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Bflatmajorsharp Mon 16-Mar-20 10:19:19

Individual schools don't know how they'll be affected though. There may be teachers in or they may all be unwell and self-isolating.

I'm sure that the school is doing what it thinks to be best at the moment.

How will you be left without a school for September though? As you say, at some point you child will move onto another school and that will be co-ordinated with his current school.

Likely in a different time frame to what you'd anticipated, but your child will still have a school place come September, from what you've said? Or have I missed something?

Bflatmajorsharp Mon 16-Mar-20 10:21:44

drspouse this is obviously very, very stressful for you, but it's not true or fair to say the secretary's are 'making it up'.

Schools, like pretty much every other institution in the country, are having to adjust rapidly to a new reality.

They're not making anything up - just trying to advice you as much as they can with the information that they have at the moment.

drspouse Mon 16-Mar-20 10:23:59

We can't send him to a school we (and he) haven't seen. He's supposed to start transitioning next term, so he can go full time to the new school. So if we can't see any schools, we can't choose a school (and then apply for it, and then be rejected because all suitable schools locally are full in his year, and then appeal because he has an EHCP).

So basically it sounds like both schools that say "all staff will be in and working as best they can" AND schools saying "all staff will be home and self-isolating" are talking mince guessing. Not any kind of policy.

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drspouse Mon 16-Mar-20 10:25:36

But it's not a policy to keep all staff home self isolating - so telling me it is a policy is not true.

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michaelbaubles Mon 16-Mar-20 10:25:40

There's no official policy on any of this yet.

If there was and even one person had received it, it would be all over social media because every single school and teacher wants to know it! The fact nothing's been leaked tells me there is NO official policy therefore.

drspouse Mon 16-Mar-20 10:28:44

Very true!
And of course there are loads of "this isn't official policy but I've been told" and "I think this should be official policy" all over the place.

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TheMagiciansMewTwo Mon 16-Mar-20 10:29:10

Have you asked the LA for advice for your specific situation in the current climate? I don't think it's fair to say schools are talking mince. It's a rapidly developing situation that is impacted by the health and availability of everyone involved.

Bflatmajorsharp Mon 16-Mar-20 10:31:16

All schools are up in the air as to whether they'll be open or not for the rest of the school year.

From what you've said, he needs to transition from his current school. That will obviously only be able to happen if both his current school and the new school are open.

Of course you can't choose a new school until you've seen them, so this transition will likely be - as you said in your OP - delayed.

You're right - there aren't clear policies for these unprecedented times, I'm afraid. But it's not school's fault not that of those who work in them.

In your position, I think I would be speaking to my child's current school about this and the delay it will put on his transition.

Clangus00 Mon 16-Mar-20 10:33:34

I would say if schools are closed, there will be no staff in.

caulkheaded Mon 16-Mar-20 10:36:29

We have moved to no non-essential visitors. If school closes no staff are allowed in and we have to set work from home.

It’s a trust decision though so may be different at other schools dependent on their trust/LEA

CuckooCuckooClock Mon 16-Mar-20 10:39:27

The union advice to teachers is that if schools close then teachers shouldn’t go in (most won’t be able to anyway for childcare reasons).
If schools close it’s either for deep cleaning - no one but specialist cleaners should go in, or it’s to prevent social contact so clearly visitors won’t be allowed.

drspouse Mon 16-Mar-20 10:42:51

That's interesting Cuckoo though of course not all teachers are in a union.

Schools may be closed NOT to avoid any social contact but to avoid large gatherings in which case teachers in doing work, deliveries, buildings work, tours with one teacher and two parents etc. wouldn't be problematic. It depends on the reasoning behind the closure.

caulk I wonder if this is our LEA advice - both are maintained schools.

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Riv Mon 16-Mar-20 11:11:50

I think you will find that the vast majority of teachers are in a union. It's the main way they can get professional insurance and legal cover which, although not compulsory, is really needed for teachers in schools these days. A teacher would be very foolish to go into a class and not have full personal insurance.
Most teachers can do most of their work from home if their classes are not in, including preparing, delivering and marking on-line lessons for their pupils . They have to work from home most evenings and weekends anyway.
Most teachers will also have childcare issues and other home responsibilities that can best be met by them being at home if schools are closed.
I realise that you are very worried about your child and the need to find an appropriate school for September. It's tough in the current climate. However; this is an emergency situation and we just don't know how it will pan out. You won't be the only parent in this situation. It's very likely that contingency plans will be put in place for people in your situation once the national situation is clearer. You child has to be provided with a school place or EOTAS (education other than at school) by law if they are of school age.
If schools do close, there's no guarantee that they will be open in September anyway. Currently, the admin staff will be giving you advice based on their current assessment of the situation and their professional judgement. Teachers will be assuming that they will have to work in the school building as that is what their terms and conditions state, whilst hoping that they will be allowed to work form home as that is what seems most sensible .

NeurotrashWarrior Mon 16-Mar-20 12:52:52

I would speak to the senco or someone who is handling your case in the LA. They may not have an answer but you need to make them aware that not being able to see the school is holding up your decision. I too can't personally see why going in after school couldn't be arranged.

We've closed to all external visitors and volunteers.

Tbh, now would be the better time to see a school but that would be my individual judgement as a teacher.

I believe the schools will be used as a tap to be turned on and off over the summer to counter peaks, so it could be possible you get to see around at a later date.

Your case isn't going to be the only one like this.

NeurotrashWarrior Mon 16-Mar-20 12:54:35

I'm an sen teacher so kind of seeing the magnanimity of the issue for your son over all this, as he sounds like the type of child I teach. I would bet ours would allow a visit tbh.

NeurotrashWarrior Mon 16-Mar-20 12:55:35

All immune compromised pupils have been taken out of school as far as I know. Not staff as yet.

nachthexe Mon 16-Mar-20 13:05:24

You are attempting to find an answer where none exists. It’s pretty futile. A school can literally give you the answer you want to hear and change its mind ten minutes later. No one knows. You are going to drive yourself crazy trying to make sense of this. smile
FWIW, I had an email at 3.32 yesterday from school (the fourth of the weekend - they started numbering the updates to keep track) telling us that school was open, but all kids should bring packed lunch. Less than an hour later I listened to scheduled health service update and the first thing announced was complete cancellation of all classes. It took another three hours to get email number five of the weekend from the school board. I have no idea whether the teachers are in school or not (and they probably don’t either).
I work in a PSI. The same announcement stated no classes may run in PSIs. Today is going to be a shit show.
When even the schools and staff have no way of knowing what is going to happen in the next hour, the only thing you can do is take this whole period minute by minute. Nothing is predictable. Be kind to yourself by accepting that literally everything is changing, all the time. You are being fair to yourself or the school staff by trying to know the unknowable.

Grasspigeons Mon 16-Mar-20 13:15:17

Put it this way 2 weeks ago we didnt have a plan at all. Now we have a 4 stage plan and are on stage 2. The HT has made this plan up by talking to the LA, other head teachers and the governors. A few heads are sharing the same plan - other heads have a different plan. We have been told it depends why the school is closed on whether we will be allowed back in so to prepare for both.

drspouse Mon 16-Mar-20 13:29:11

That's a good point grass and of course neither of the schools I spoke to could say why they might be closing as they don't know yet!

Of the two schools, the one that said we may be able to tour an empty school was more flexible anyway.

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drspouse Mon 16-Mar-20 13:34:19

@NeurotrashWarrior we have only just been able to start talking to him about the fact that he almost certainly won't be going back to his old school. If his PRU does stay open at least he is happy and settled (and the steps they are taking to make him calm, which the old school PAID THEM TO RECOMMEND but they didn't listen to) are making him settled and calm.

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Fennelandlovage Mon 16-Mar-20 19:31:12

Haven’t read all answers so don’t know if already suggested b it could you ask to have a tour by FaceTime or similar with a staff member walking you round the school with iPhone or other device? Could be a way of seeing and meeting staff without crossing threshold? Think these times call for creative solutions. My family is self isolating at the moment and my daughter had a music lesson by FaceTime today - went brilliantly. Just a thought. Good luck - hope you can find the right environment for you dc.

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