From this week, Warrington schools will welcome children and young people back to classrooms for the start of the new school year.
Schools and colleges will be open for students across all year groups, with safety measures in place to help stop the spread of viruses, like coronavirus (COVID-19).
To manage the risks, things will be a bit different when children and young people return to education. Schools and colleges have had to put in place a range of protective measures to help reduce the risks, and to ensure classrooms are as safe as possible for everyone. These include:
- Ensuring that everyone cleans their hands frequently – including on arrival at school, when returning from breaks, and before and after eating
- Promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach to ensure good hygiene
- Enhanced cleaning – including cleaning frequently touched surfaces more often
- Staggering school start and finish times to ensure social distancing
- Staggering lunch and break times
- Reducing or removing the use of shared equipment
- Introducing one way systems around buildings – including at entrances and exits
- Managing any confirmed cases of coronavirus in line with current public health guidance
- Students aged 11 and over must wear face coverings on school or public transport
Work has also been undertaken with the council’s highways team to ensure that the areas immediately around schools are safe for children, parents, and carers to allow for social distancing.
Schools and colleges are also working closely with the council’s public health team to ensure government guidance is followed to keep students safe, including the use of face coverings in secondary schools.
Students will also be encouraged to minimise contact and maintain distance as far as possible. Each school will be different in their approach, but it will involve asking children and young people to:
- Stay within specified groups or ‘bubbles’
- Maintain distance between one another
It is likely that with younger children the emphasis will be on separating groups, and for older children, it will be on social distancing.
Schools will be ensuring that social distancing is maintained as far as is possible, which will support the efforts that families should be making at home to adhere to the national social distancing guidelines.
Cllr Matt Smith, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Schools and colleges across the borough have clear plans and risk assessments in place for the full reopening of schools to all year groups for the new academic year. Our schools have been fantastic in following the guidance and adapting to new ways of working to prepare for welcoming students back.
“We will continue to work closely with all of our schools to ensure they reopen safely. I have absolute confidence that schools are well-prepared, they have undertaken appropriate risk assessments and have robust plans in place to support and protect children and staff.
“We know that for some this will be a worrying time, but we believe our collaborative way of working with school leaders, unions, and public health colleagues will ensure that the re-opening of our schools and colleges takes place safely and successfully.”
The government has issued guidance for parents, carers and students about returning to school safely, which can be viewed on the on the government’s website.
For more information about the reopening of schools in Warrington, visit: warrington.gov.uk/education-schools-and-childcare-coronavirus-update