St Helens Council message to parents ahead of school reopenings

With school and college attendance once again mandatory from Monday, March 8, St Helens Borough Council has relaunched a campaign in a bid to safely get pupils back into the classroom.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 10:11 am
Updated Friday, 5th March 2021, 10:12 am
Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills & Business

All In’ has been developed to stress the importance of children and young people returning to a learning environment - and to assure parents and carers that a range of measures have been put in place at education settings to keep pupils and staff safe.

While schools in the borough have continued to provide education to pupils of certain needs and requirements – as well as the children of key workers – it is the government’s intention that all year groups will return to education from Monday, March 8.

St Helens Borough Council will work closely with schools to monitor and support them with attendance.

To accommodate facilities opening to all year groups:

Secondary aged pupils (year 7 and above) should take part in symptom-free upon their return in the week of March 8.

Children and young people should not mix with others outside school time until full lockdown measures have been lifted

Consider active ways of travel to and from school, such as walking and cycling. Secondary school pupils should wear a face covering on public transport, unless exempt for health reasons

Keep your child away from school if they are displaying Covid-19 symptoms or have been asked to isolate due to potential exposure to the virus

The government has confirmed twice-weekly testing using rapid lateral flow tests will be given for free to all families and households with primary, secondary school and college aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, to help find more COVID-19 cases and break chains of transmission. Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders. Full guidance can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/2madcm96St Helens Borough Council and teaching unions have also worked together with schools and colleges to put control measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in order to provide a full educational experience for children and young people.

These control measures may include:

Grouping children together in ‘bubbles’ to limit the number of pupils and staff in contact with each other

Arranging classrooms with forward facing desks, with the teacher at the front of class, and pupils sitting at well-spaced desks, all facing forward

Students in year 7 and above being required to wear face coverings in classrooms. if 2m social distancing cannot be maintained, until Easter. This will be kept under review and guidance will be updated

Travel to school patterns differ greatly between schools. Schools or colleges may introduce staggered starts or adjusting start and finish times to keep groups apart as they arrive and leave school. Staggered start and finish times should not reduce the amount of overall teaching time

Children and young people will be asked to clean their hands more often than usual, including when they arrive at school or college, when they return from breaks, and before and after eating - this will be done with soap and running water or hand sanitiser

Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned more often

Jo Davies, St Helens Borough Council’s Assistant Director Education and Learning, said: “It is vital that children and young people return to school and college for their educational progress, for their wellbeing, and for their wider development. Experts say Covid-19 is a low risk to children and keeping them away from their educational setting will cause more harm than good.

“As a former St Helens-based headteacher myself who now works closely with primary, secondary and college heads in the borough, I know just now how hard they work for the benefit of our communities - and we will continue to work with them to ensure they have everything in place to safety provide quality education for our children and young people.”

Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills & Business, added: “Our children and young people have, through no fault of their own, missed out on months of face to face teaching, as well as the social benefits of school and extra-curricular activities. At the same time, home-schooling has been incredibly hard for lots of families and I pay tribute to all parents and guardians who have supported their children’s education during an extraordinary year.

“It’s really important that we get young people back to school and college, but if we are to keep them there and avoid further disruption, we must continue to comply with all of the lockdown rules and minimise contact with anyone outside our households.

"The new arrangements for testing staff and pupils, and the vaccination programme which continues at pace, will help to keep rates falling in St Helens Borough, but we can’t afford complacency if we want to keep our community safe and keep children in school.”

A small number of pupils may still be unable to attend in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves, or because they are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19).

If your child is unable to attend school or college for this reason, you should talk to your school or college about what support is in place in terms of remote education.

To support you during self-isolation, you could be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment if you live in England and meet all the following criteria which can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/4bh2ne6hFor more information, including a list of FAQs covering what would happen in the event of a coronavirus outbreak in a school or college, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/backtoschool