Following discussions between the council, teaching unions, school heads and the Cheshire East parent carer forum, Labour led Cheshire East Council has agreed to implement a programme of phased wider opening of education settings which will make the safety of children, school staff and the wider community an absolute priority. This will see a two-week period (reviewed on an ongoing basis) to allow staff to prepare classrooms and implement the significant changes that need to be made to ensure safe working practices with smaller numbers of children and young people.
From 15 June, all eligible nursery-aged pupils will be able to attend schools on a limited and controlled basis where staffing capacity and space allows. Similarly, all primary school reception class pupils will be able to attend.
All year one pupils will be able to attend their primary school from 22 June and from 29 June, and where capacity permits, all year six pupils will be able to return to school. Social distancing should be observed in all cases and year six pupils will have the opportunity to say ‘goodbye’ to friends and to receive support in preparing for transition.
Secondary schools will be able to prepare classrooms and testing arrangements, with the council and school heads awaiting further guidance from the Department for Education regarding pupils in years 10 and 12. In the meantime any face-to-face contact is expected to be by live online conference calls.
Colleges will offer one-on-one support for some learners from 1 June on a risk-assessed basis and parents will be encouraged to allow their children to return to special schools from that date, again on a strictly risk-assessed basis.
Independent schools and alternative education providers will be expected to follow the same approach, applying a phased return and wider opening.
Labour Councillor Kathryn Flavell, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “Firstly, I want to extend my sincere thanks to our education team at Cheshire East Council, to teaching staff and teaching unions for the professional manner and dedication they have shown in achieving an agreed phased return to learning in our schools in what has become the biggest disruption to education since the war.
“I am conscious that there will be many parents who are anxious about sending their child to school, but I can assure them that safety is paramount and all necessary measures will be put in place to follow government guidelines around social distancing, staggered start and finish times and phased lunch breaks.
“I also want to emphasise that, where parents do not feel comfortable about allowing their child to attend school, the council will not compel them to do so and there will be no fines issued while this initial re-introduction of school life continues.”
Picture credit: Educators.co.uk