Schools advised they can open to more pupils from 22 June if ready to do so
Monday, June 15, 2020
Schools in Lancashire will be encouraged to take the decision to reopen to more pupils from 22 June if they are ready to do so, after the county's Director of Public Health judged that enough progress has been made in the county to revise his advice.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi had issued blanket guidance to schools to delay reopening to more pupils because his professional view was that two of the government's five coronavirus tests were not being met in the county.
However, a reduction in the rate of confirmed coronavirus infections combined with our readiness to support the local implementation of the national NHS Test and Trace Programme means that enough progress has now been made to adjust the advice.
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.
As has been the case throughout the emergency, all schools continue to be encouraged to admit vulnerable pupils and those of key workers as long as their risk assessments suggest it is safe to do so. The government says that children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 can now be welcomed back. For secondary schools and colleges, the government is keen for teachers to have some face-to-face contact with specified year groups.
Each school in Lancashire is different, and head teachers will consider a number of factors as they reach their decision, including their ability to introduce measures to encourage social distancing and ensure schools are Covid-secure. The county council will work closely with schools to provide advice and support.
The advice also applies to early years settings such as nurseries and childminders.
Dr Karunanithi said: "I am now satisfied that there no longer needs to be blanket advice given to Lancashire's schools to delay reopening to more pupils. We are seeing encouraging signs that there is a reduction in the rate of new infections and thankfully there are now fewer deaths from this virus – but it is important to stress that the prevalence of coronavirus is still higher in Lancashire than elsewhere in the country so the room for manoeuvre is limited.
"Each school should now take into account their own individual circumstances to determine if they can welcome more pupils to Covid-secure schools from 22 June. There are a number of factors they must consider and one of the most critical is whether or not they are able to introduce effective measures to encourage social distancing.
"That is also important advice for us all. This virus has not gone away, and there is still a risk that we will face a second peak. That makes it vital for us to maintain social distancing, wash our hands regularly and, if contacted by NHS Test and Trace, follow the instructions given. Failure to do this could see some of the measures to ease restrictions on our lives reversed, and could lead to more people dying of coronavirus."
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: "This will be welcome news for many parents and schools. This has been a difficult time for many families across Lancashire and we have continued to keep the health and wellbeing of all our children at the heart of our decisions.
"We are proud that our schools have remained open throughout this crisis for the children of key workers and vulnerable children, and we will continue to support schools as they consider whether they are able to accept more pupils from 22 June.
"We also want to acknowledge the fantastic effort of parents during this challenging time and thank them for their understanding and continued efforts in supporting their children’s education."
County Councillor Shaun Turner, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, added: "It is good to see there has been progress in the local implementation of the NHS Test and Trace system.
"As lockdown measures ease, it's never been more important for everyone in Lancashire to play their part to combat coronavirus. We all need to make sure we continue to abide by social distancing rules, wash our hands regularly and stay at home if we have symptoms or are told to do so by a contact tracer."
The county council recognises these are exceptional times, so if a child is invited back by their school, but parents choose not to send them, the council will not be exercising enforcement powers such as fines.
For the latest information on schools, please visit: www.lancashire.gov.uk/coronavirus-updates/schools
All of the latest government guidance is available from the gov.uk website.
Tagged as: Children, Education and Families