At the Trust, we are currently preparing and planning to carefully increase the numbers of children and young people who can attend our services. We have always remained open for children and young people whose parents/carers are key workers and now we are planning to take in more. The staff teams in each service are planning what that will look like. There is still more information from government yet to emerge and so our planning at this stage covers a wide range of different scenarios occurring at different times.  This is a complex process and our plans are still developing as we establish more clarity in respect of a number of the key issues, including the stringent safety measures required for handling more children, young people and staff on the site. Our priority is the health, safety and welfare of the children, young people and staff, especially those who are clinically vulnerable or have any existing medical condition. Where relevant and appropriate, the staff have completed individual risk assessments and are now undertaking environmental risk assessments to plan to implement the social distancing and protective measures required. All decisions to welcome back children, young people and staff will be informed by our risk assessments. The government have provided guidelines which we are reviewing and implementing into our procedures and practices.
Clearly, within the existing support we are providing we will need to review the level of home learning that has been completed and provide further support for future learning. Our intention is to ensure that all children and young people are well supported and able to continue to make progress.  
Here is an update of what each service is currently doing:
Little Learners Day Nursery: The team have been working with families to find out which children are coming back and what their specific needs are. The nursery has been open since the beginning of lockdown so the staff have already introduced social distancing and protective measures which they are now reviewing to take in more children.
 
Doncaster School for the Deaf: The team are now assessing how they can take in an increasing number of pupils and which pupils need to come back as a priority. The government have asked schools to focus on Reception, Year 1, Year 6, Year 10 and Year 12. The school has a small number of pupils in school already and the team are considering how they can manage the timetable, environment and routines whilst ensuring everyone's health and safety. 
Dickson House children's home: The children's home has remained open since the beginning of lockdown to care for those who live on site for 52 weeks of the year. The team are now assessing how they can increase any residential care in line with the government guidelines on residential settings. 
Communication Specialist College: The team are currently prioritising which students need to come back in to complete assessments for qualifications and which students need support to successfully complete their individual transition plans. For those students who have a residential placement, the team are assessing how they can provide for them in line with the government guidelines on residential settings. 
Specialist Employability Service: The team have been providing remote support to all our clients since the start of lockdown and continues to do so. In that time, the team have managed to secure employment for some of the people they support. 
Erasmus 'Spread the Sign': The project team have continued to be operational and have just applied for another European project with a focus on the Tourist industry. The team have also created and  launched the free BSL Level 1 online course which now has over 10,500 subscribers.
The Trust: The Trust has remained open since lockdown and the support staff have maintained key services including Reception, Admin, Cleaning, Catering,  Maintenance and Finance. Social distancing and protective measures are already in place and are being reviewed in line with an increase of people on site. 
You can contact any of our services through the normal routes or you can call Reception on 01302 386700.
I must emphasise the importance of the risk assessment process in making decisions to increase numbers on site. We have a challenging balancing act to pull off as we are trying to increase the numbers of children and young people attending whilst shielding vulnerable staff, maintaining social distancing, implementing protective measures and ensuring everyone's health, safety and well-being. I am asking everyone to be patient with the decision making process. 
We are mindful of the potential for a second wave of the virus and another spike in cases so we may have to take action to reduce attendance in our services if that's the case. Our staff teams and our families must remain vigilant for signs of the Covid-19 symptoms as anyone who attends site with the symptoms will cause a disruption in services for everyone else.
Alexis Johnson
Executive Principal