Probably one of the most affected people hit hard by these unprecedented times are children, parents and schools. The lovely Genevieve from Grange Primary School tells us how the team at one of Felixstowe’s much-loved primary schools, not only provided fortheir children but also the staff and parents... a gorgeous example of supporting the community.
On Wednesday 18th March 2020 schools across England were told to close in 48 hours due to the COVID19 pandemic. The last few days of school being fully open were a whirlwind. We created learning packs for every child in our school, arranged food hampers for children and their families, set up online learning platforms and lessons, continued to teach the children in our school and also prepare them for school closing, knowing the effect it could have on them.
School shut on Friday 20th March at 3:15pm, we were not sure what the future would hold, there were tears both from the children and staff. On Monday 23rd March we held a socially distanced staff meeting in school to pick through the advice from the Department for Educationand brainstorm ideas for our new way of school life.
Our school was open to provide provision for our vulnerable and key worker children. Due to the COVID guidelines we had to set up a large classroom in the school hall and taught outside as much as possible. We were very grateful for the amazing weather we were blessed with! A field kitchen was quickly assembled in our hall and'Beanz & Bagels'opened, providing a hotbreakfast for all children in school and staff. Tasty treats were on offer each day and baked beans were very popular!
Our key worker and vulnerable children enjoyed school life during lockdown. They continued with traditional school learning and took part in various activities and projects including gardening, forest school activities, music, cooking, PE and art activities. They particularly enjoyed making their t-shirts to wear for the Thursday night Clap for Carers and salt dough rainbow making.
Even though our school was closed for children other than key workers or vulnerable children we continued contact with all of our children and families. On Mondays families would come to collect their school hampers provided by our kitchen staff. We continued to make learning packs for all our children at home and distribute them if families were unable to collect. Families were phoned regularly to check they were safe and well. Our online learning platforms were updated weekly with a variety of lessons and activities. Our children were amazing and learnt to use video conferencing very quickly enabling us to have weekly class Zooms which they really enjoyed.
On Monday June 1st we were delighted to open our school to our wider school community.Children from Reception, Year 1and Year 6 returned. School was very different. We worked inmicro-bubbles, our outside space was separated into zones, corridors became one way and children were seated socially distanced at desks with their own resources. Although it wasstrange at first, children and staff quickly became used to the 'new normal' and settled intoschool life. It was amazing to see their smiles and hear their laughter in our school again. As aschool we quickly realised that we could open safely for more children as we arefortunate withour school layout and outside areas.
On Monday 29th June we welcomed back children from all years for the last few weeks of the summer term. The children were delighted to be back and arrived happy and smiling that morning. Over the next few weeks they enjoyed school life, transition events and farewells to their friends. As a school we continued to provide online learning for children at home, weeklyZooms and hampers for families.
Our school closed its doors to all children on Thursday16th July for the summer holidays. The future is still uncertain and when the children return in September for the new term, measures will still be in place to keep both staff and children safe. With teamwork and the positive Grange spirit, we will continue to grow and learn in these unprecedented times.