AS FAMILIES are preparing for some children to return to school next month, The Gazette looks at what going back to the classroom could look like, based on guidance from Basingstoke schools.

The Government has asked children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be the first to go back, with a provisional date set for June 1.

We have looked at the published guidance offered to parents at several Basingstoke schools, to see what the new measures might include.

At St John’s Church of England Primary School, in Cranbourne, children will be taught in ‘bubbles’ and not offered physical comfort if they are upset.

Basingstoke Gazette: Teachers won't be able to comfort children if they get upset Teachers won't be able to comfort children if they get upset

Angela Nicholls, headteacher of St John’s, has written to parents explaining how the school will run when children begin to come back.

She said: “This letter has been difficult to write and the school your child will be returning to is not what I, or any of the staff team, feel comfortable with but it comes from a place of protecting all members of the St John’s community as best we can.”

The school, like others, has been asked to limit the number of social interactions children have during the day.

This will include teaching children in bubbles with a maximum of 10 other children and an allocated adult.

The bubbles will remain together for the duration of the day, including at breaks and lunchtime, with no interaction between children in different bubbles.

Ms Nicholls advised parents: “Extra adults will not go in to bubbles (unless it is an emergency) as this ‘bursts’ the protective nature of that bubble.”

Children returning to St John’s will be allocated a set place at a desk, sitting on their own, and only allowed to move to go to the toilet and/or wash their hands.

Basingstoke Gazette: Space separators to keep children apart Space separators to keep children apart

At break times, each bubble will be allocated a space on the field or the playground, where they will need to remain, and only play with the other children in their bubble.

If someone in a bubble has symptoms of Covid-19, they will be sent home and required to self-isolate for seven days, with the rest of their household isolating for 14 days.

The rest of the bubble will be “disbanded” and if the person with symptoms tests positive, the entire bubble will be asked to self-isolate for seven days.

If a child is upset, staff will “comfort the child through talking to them from a social distance but they will not be able to offer physical comfort”.

If an adult outside of a child’s bubble needs to provide first aid, they will wear PPE.

Children who wet themselves will be supervised by a member of staff to change themselves, but not offered any support.

Parents will be given a 10-minute drop off time for their child’s bubble, and those who miss the slot have to ring the office to arrange how to get their child to school.

The school will operate a one-way system, with two metres marked on the paths outside for parents and children.

Parents have been asked to say goodbye to their child “quickly” when reaching a specified section of the playground, to operate a “continuous process in order to get everyone in within the 10-minute slot”.

Children will then be asked to line up two metres apart from other children, which is “designed to improve children’s understanding of how to socially distance themselves”.

Parents whose children refuse to leave them will not be offered any physical support, with the advice stating: “If your child is upset, and unable to leave you, you will need to make the choice about whether to continue by walking around the one way system to try again… or take them home with you.”

Parents will not be allowed into the school building.

Schools are expected to find out on May 28 whether they will be opening for additional children on June 1, however it is not compulsory for parents to send their child in.

Ms Nicholls advised parents to read through all the information, before making a “definite decision about whether you wish your child to return”.

She added: “The choice about whether your child should return to school is purely yours. As a school, we are aiming to provide you with enough information about what school will be like and the measures we have put in place to help you make an informed choice.”

The school will open four days a week, with children in Year 1 attending for mornings only for the first two weeks, to allow the school to “continually evaluate how things are going, alter risk measures” and allow children to re-settle.

Parents have been advised that even if the government decides schools can open on June 1, “local circumstances could still alter that decision”.

St John’s headteacher encouraged parents to talk to their child about the changes they might see in school and how they feel about this.

At St Mark’s School, in Hatch Warren, a maximum of 15 children and up to two adults will be in each bubble.

Parents have been warned that children are unlikely to be with their usual teacher, due to space and staffing restrictions.

“They may not be with their friends, and no guarantees can be made about this,” warned headteacher Charles Applegate.

He said classrooms will be “stripped back to aid cleaning and reduce space” adding: “Children will be kept to their new class only, and will not socially integrate or mix or play with other children (including at break and lunch).”

He said the new social distancing requirements will make “normal teaching very difficult” adding: “Anything used will need to be cleaned thoroughly. Wherever possible, the staff must socially distance themselves from the children. This includes preventing physical contact, which we know will be difficult for the younger children.”

Kelly Dillon, headteacher at Fairfields Primary School, near the town centre, said she understands that there are “risks” involved in sending children back to school, adding: “We will endeavour to keep the children two metres apart and to maintain social distancing within the bubble but we cannot guarantee this at all times due to the age of the children. For this reason, we will not be penalising parents who choose to keep their children at home.”

Children at Fairfields will be taught via Zoom onto the main board in the classroom. This means that those who stay at home will have the same teaching.

Social distancing lines have been marked out throughout the school, with a one-way system in operation.

“We will continue to remind children about this,” said Miss Dillon, adding: “There will not be a punishment but the child’s parent will be spoken to alongside their child if they continue to breach the rules.”

Children arriving at school will have their temperature checked using a “non-contact thermometer” and given hand sanitiser before entering the building.