Covid-19: WF Schools and Early Years Extended Opening Plan

Waltham Forest information and guidance for early years settings and schools to prepare for a phased return from 1 June 2020. 


'OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government's COVID-19 recovery strategy' was launched on the 11 May 2020 which includes a reference to a phased return for early years and schools from 1 June 2020,

Waltham Forest Key Principles of Wider Opening

Following conversations with headteachers of both maintained schools and academies to discuss their first thoughts about the safest and most appropriate ways to open to more children. The following principles will be followed:

  • Safety of children, families and school staff remains at the heart of every decision
  • Vulnerable children and their families continue to be a priority for schools and the Council
  • Schools will continue to provide crucial support to the community’s response to COVID by providing places for children of key workers  

Opening Models

  • Waltham Forest does not expect all schools to be open to a full-time basis to all year groups identified by the Government from 1 June.  It does not expect all schools to re-open to all additional year groups later in the Summer term. We would support schools opening in a gradual, phased manner, with appropriate groups of children
  • Waltham Forest does expect schools to develop plans for opening that support the needs of their community and plan for a safe increase of pupil attendance, following appropriate risk assessments. It expects schools to plan based on the size of their school site and the numbers of staff they have available. Based on these considerations’ schools may decide to be open for one or more-year groups, on either a full or part time basis. There cannot be a model that fits all schools.

Priority Year Groups

  • From 1 June we support all Waltham Forest schools to continue to be open for vulnerable children and those of key workers.  Those schools that have not been open on their own site for these children are expected to do so from 1 June, if this presents a problem to any Heads please do contact us to discuss.
  • We do not expect all schools to be open to all year groups identified as priorities by the Government from 1 June.  Nor is there any expectation that schools will collectively implement the re-opening of schools to all additional year groups later in the Summer term.
  • We do not expect you to strictly adhere to the order of year groups as prioritised by the Department.  You know your schools best and what can be safely achieved.    
  • We do expect you to increase pupil attendance in your school safely, following appropriate risk assessments and consideration.  This may be for one, or more, year groups, dependent on school specific contexts. Safety through the maintenance of “bubbles” should be paramount in your thoughts. 


  • Following national advice that it is not necessary for staff or pupils to use PPE unless there are already being used as part of existing education provision or duties (such as when changing nappies or other personal hygiene activities) Waltham Forest does not expect schools to have a blanket approach to the use of PPE.  
  • Schools will be expected to ensure that appropriate steps are in place to reduce risks to pupils and staff. This will likely include creating ‘bubbles’ of no more than 15 children and a member of staff, hand washing facilities throughout the school and staggered play and lunch times.  


  • Delivery of a full national curriculum will continue to be difficult. Waltham Forest schools are expected to continue to provide access to educational activities to both children on site and those who remain at home. However, it is expected that following the lockdown period, schools will need to focus on social, mental and physical well-being, positive engagement with learning and returning to a school environment.  
  • Regarding the curriculum for vulnerable children going forwards, we do believe that this should now be in line with the curriculum that you will be offering for the other returning year groups 

Using these principles, we trust and support our Governing Bodies and Headteachers to agree appropriate models for a safe return to school for their pupils.

We understand that this will result in many schools having different delivery models as it will depend on the space available on the school site and the number of staff the school has.  

Information and Guidance

Below is a wide range of information, guidance and good practice which has been gathered both locally, nationally and internationally to support schools within Waltham Forest plan for wider opening. 

DfE Guidance 

Department for Education has produced the following guidance for schools and childcare settings for wider opening:

Waltham Forest Guidance on wider opening

Waltham Forest guidance to assist schools on return from 1 June 2020. The guidance includes specific DfE advice as well as key recommendations covering the following:

  • Covid-19 infection control and social distancing
  • Communication - parents
  • Communication - pupils
  • Curriculum - home
  • Curriculum - school
  • Finance
  • Governance 
  • Health & Safety
  • Human Resources
  • LA/Trusts
  • Phased return of pupils
  • Premises
  • Safeguarding
  • Staffing
  • Transition of pupils
  • Vulnerable pupils

A list of FAQ'S has been published following meetings taken place with Headteachers

Waltham Forest Wider Opening Action Plan

The action plan is designed to support schools in identifying key actions that they need to undertake to ensure that schools open as safety as possible. The document is not a directive from the LA. 

The document can be amended to suit the schools process so that you have one comprehensive document to work from. 

Wider Opening Plans 

Wider opening plans and guidance

Health and Safety

Waltham Forest Health & Safety Wider Opening Guidance

Waltham Forest Health & Safety Team have produced local guidance  to assist schools in the wider opening. The guidance can be used to support schools completing risk assessments and maintaining health and safety of the staff and pupils. 

The guidance covers:

  • Building requirements
  • Safe entry and exit to the school
  • Maintaining social distancing in classrooms
  • Maintaining social distancing in social situations
  • Maintaining health, safety and well-being for all
  • What does this mean for current and future capital building?

The guidance not a directive from the LA however it contains useful information to support school return. 

Mock up classrooms 

Guidance for mock up classrooms has been produced based on 2 meter social distancing 

Whilst we acknowledge that this will not be effective for school schools given smaller class sizes, schools will need to make a judgement on how to effectively maintain a distance between children and for staff to safely circulate around the room. 


Waltham Forest Servicestore are providing standard and decontamination cleaning services for the following:

  • Reactive Cleans -Sanitisation process includes cleaning all surfaces, focusing on high contact points including furniture, equipment, desks, phones and any other area specified by the customer.  In instances where there has been a confirmed case a trained supervisor will recommend the most appropriate clean cycle. Information obtained during the initial assessment and survey will help inform the areas that need to be cleaned and equipment which will be used.
  • Proactive Cleans - Provide scheduled daily and weekly cleans for anyone requiring the highest level of hygiene. This is most appropriate in cases where different groups of people are expected to share offices or classes at different times. Proactive planned cleans help mitigate the risk of multiple groups coming in to contact with contaminated items.

Booking and Pricing - Servicestore recognise each site is different and therefore a survey of the area is necessary. To book a survey where there has been a confirmed case or proactive daily visits either email Servicestore or call 0208 496 5525. 

 A quote and carry out a clean can usually be provided on same day as well as out of hour cleans which includes evenings and weekends.

The cleans are fully compliant with Public Health England (PHE) guidance and only approved enveloped virus eradicating chemicals are used. Staff are fully trained, and DBS checked.

Hand Sanitiser 

  • It is suggested that they have a sanitisation station at access and egress points, with units fitted in reception, toilets and in areas of high traffic e.g. dining halls. Long corridors. Schools can purchase 1ltr bottle of hand sanitiser and hand dispensers from Waltham Forest facilities management 

Emotional Well-being

Some key resources to support children, families and staff with emotional wellbeing 


Education in time of crisis: The potential implications of school closures for teachers and students - Research carried out by the Chartered College of Teaching which considers the impact that both the school closures and the wider crisis may have on students' academic achievement and socio-economic development, as well as their impact on teachers.

The report also includes recommendations for planning schools reopening and approaches taken in other countries across the world are summarised. 

Examples of local toolkits 

Star Academies have shared the following toolkit that has been produced to support leaders as they extended opening across their school sites:


Last update: Thursday 2nd of July 2020 02:40:12 PM