School advice to be reviewed weekly

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The guidance given to schools about whether they should welcome more pupils will be reviewed weekly by Lancashire County Council's Director of Public Health.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi will review his advice on Monday 8 June, and if it changes, schools will be encouraged to take the decision to reopen to more pupils from 15 June. If the advice does not change, the guidance will be reviewed again on 15 June.

The decision to welcome back more pupils to Lancashire's schools lies with head teachers, in consultation with their board of governors, taking into account their individual circumstances. The county council works closely with schools to provide advice and support. As has been the case throughout the emergency, all schools are encouraged to admit vulnerable pupils and those of key workers as long as their risk assessments suggest it is safe to do so.

Dr Karunanithi also gave more details on how he reached the decision to advise schools not to reopen to more pupils. Last week, he advised schools not to reopen to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils because his felt two of the government's five tests were not being met in the county.

The advice also applies to early years settings such as nurseries and childminders.

He said: "I appreciate this advice has caused concern to some people. We all want to see children back in school as quickly as possible, but we must make sure we safeguard the health and wellbeing of children, families and staff.

"Having reviewed the statistics which showed there had been an increase in confirmed positive cases of coronavirus at a time when the NHS Track and Trace system had launched, but was not fully operational, my professional opinion was that it was not yet safe for schools to open to more children

"As we work across Lancashire and with our partners in the NHS and Public Health England to build a responsive and effective track and trace system, I will be reviewing this advice and updating guidance to schools and parents as appropriate."

County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: "Our schools have been doing a magnificent job throughout this crisis to remain open to the children of key workers and vulnerable children. They have also been in regular contact with parents and pupils to ensure that during this extraordinary time they do all they can to ensure that no child is left behind.

"We all want to see children back in school as soon as possible, but that must be done in a safe way and by following the advice we have been given. By regularly reviewing this advice, and giving parents and schools the time to plan their lives as schools return, we can be confident that we are all doing the best for Lancashire's children."

County Councillor Shaun Turner, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, added: "It is absolutely right that we listen to our experts, and we support Dr Karunanithi's decision to issue this advice.

"We are also supporting our officers to have in place an effective test and trace system as soon as possible, which is in the interests not only of our children, but of all of the people of Lancashire."

For the latest information on schools, please read our schools coronavirus webpage.

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