Schools ready for safe return next week
Gloucestershire schools are ready to return next week and have completed extensive work to ensure the safety of children, staff and parents.
Gloucestershire County Council has offered extensive support to schools over lockdown and has offered more intensive support recently to prepare them for all children returning. This has been in interpreting national guidance and implementing measures to keep children safe and well as they return.
Over 18,000 children attended school throughout the summer term and schools managed this in a way that was safe. Building on this success, schools have made more changes in line with national guidance to ensure this continues as numbers increase. These include:
- Using bubbles to reduce contact between children – bubbles will usually be class or year group sized depending upon the size of the school.
- Not holding assemblies and using one way systems, staggered start/end times and playtimes depending upon the layout of the school to reduce the number of children who come into contact with each other.
- All schools will increase handwashing, cleaning and ventilation.
- School buses will only serve one school at a time and the county council will supply all children receiving free school transport with two washable face coverings.
- Schools have been given advice on the steps to take if they suspect a child or member of staff is showing symptoms of COVID-19. PHE and Public Health at the county council will support individual schools to ensure the right action is taken to manage this – including advising which families and staff may need to self-isolate or get tested as a result.
Schools have risk assessed their plans and will keep them under constant review as children return to ensure measures are working well. Most schools will publish their risk assessment on their website to reassure parents of the measures they are taking.
Parents of children who use public transport are being encouraged to find alternative transport to school if they possibly can. This will help to make public buses even safer by keeping numbers low and reducing children coming into contact with members of the public. Many schools are supporting cycling or walking as an alternative. Those who need to use public transport will be required to wear a face covering in line with Government guidance.
Attendance at school will be compulsory but we know that some children and young people are likely to struggle with returning so the county council is working with schools and support services to ensure that they receive the help they need. This will include support to catch up on missed learning, returning to a structured environment, and responding to increased anxiety and mental health issues.
Cllr Patrick Molyneux, cabinet member for education, economy and skills, said: “Schools have worked really hard to ensure all children in the county can safely return to school. As a council, we have supported schools to to be ready for September. We’re supplying face coverings for children who need them on public transport, extra support for children and young people struggling with their mental health and help and advice to schools and headteachers. All of this combined will provide a safe environment for children to get back to learning. If your child is anxious in any way please speak to your school - they will work with you to ease those anxieties and enable your child to return successfully.”
Parents can find a list of frequently asked questions about school re-opening at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk