Simmonds school uniform shops in Tunbridge Wells, Paddock Wood and Newnham Court Maidstone reopen with an extended returns policy
One of Kent's oldest school uniform suppliers is introducing a 100-day returns policy to help families plan for school in September whilst the government's exact arrangements still remain uncertain.
Simmonds, first founded in 1837, supplies close to 100 schools across Kent and the south east.
Having now reopened its three branches with a contact-free uniform service, the family-run business has also taken the decision to extend its returns policy from 30 days to 100 as question marks still hang over over how and in what way pupils may return to classrooms in September because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Whilst Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to see all pupils back in school full time from next term, the Department for Education has yet to outline how this will be managed whilst taking into account current restrictions on mixing large numbers of pupils and social distancing.
Simmonds managing director Simon Smith said he felt families were in a tough position knowing how much to prepare - and consequently budget - for a return to school and said he hoped the move would 'take the pressure off' if customers know they can return any items they may be subsequently told they don't need.
As the firm, which also runs 16 specialist school shops, approaches what is its busiest time of year he said he felt planning was harder for schools and for parents than it was for his company.
He explained: "It's not really an issue for us. We will be ready regardless. The difficulty is for schools and for families. Full time school or part time?"
For pupils who have returned to school, government advice is that all clothing must be washed daily because coronavirus can live on fabrics for an estimated 72 hours.
Mr Smith said the school uniforms were manufactured like work wear and would withstand regular washing.
He added: "School uniform is built to be washable.
"Government is asking schools to keep an eye on the uniform they are asking for to make sure it can be cleaned regularly and children can come in with clean uniform every day."
Simmonds branches in Tunbridge Wells, Paddock Wood and a pop-up at Newnham Court Shopping Village in Maidstone, are now welcoming families by appointment and with the help of 10,000 disposable tape measures, social distancing and 'safe zones' within stores families with uniform lists for the new term can begin ticking off what they need.
A new website is also offering parents a free click and collect system through which staff will bring orders to waiting cars or a free delivery service - with staff having also filmed videos to show families how to measure for specific items like a school blazer before purchasing.
Mr Smith added: "We understand this is an anxious time for parents and carers in particular. Buying a new school uniform and being assured it fits correctly is part of the exciting ritual of preparing for a new term. It’s clearly something that parents and carers want to get right.
“We’ve thought through every eventuality and our new contact-free service means we can still offer our expert advice online through straightforward videos, over the phone or in-store, from a safe distance. We are doing everything we can to ensure a smooth, contact-free purchase, whether parents would prefer to stay at home and order through the post, by click and collect or come into our stores.”
To learn more about Simmonds fitting service and to purchase uniform or to make an appointment to come to a store please visit https://simmonds-ltd.com/
Is your child's school consulting on uniform changes or changing its policy for September because of current coronavirus regulations? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org