Devon County Council plans safety measures for children’s return to school

County Hall. Ref exe 04-17 5978. Picture: Terry Ife

County Hall. Ref exe 04-17 5978. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Devon County Council has said it is working in close cooperation with headteachers to put in place all the Government guidelines on safety in schools and has answered key questions about their reopening.

Boris Johnson said the Government intended to reopen schools for early-years pupils, reception, year one and year six on June 1.

It then hopes to reopen secondary schools from June 15, beginning with pupils in year 10 and year 12.

Schools have been closed since March 20 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but around 300 of Devon’s 370 schools – including special schools – have remained open throughout the pandemic for key workers’ children and vulnerable children, and the county has had a higher than national average amount of children in school.

Devon County Council’s head of education and learning Dawn Stabb said: “The county council is working in close cooperation with Devon headteachers to put in place all the Government guidelines on safety in schools.

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“When all the necessary safety and risk assessments have been completed, we will fully support schools in offering more places for children in reception, year one and year six.

“The timing of when places become available will vary across the county and individual schools will be in touch with pupils’ families about the measures they are taking and when they may be able to offer a place to their child.

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“Parents will reach their own conclusions on when it is best for their children to return to school and it is only right that they do so.

“But we should also remember that education is an important part of children’s development, not just academically but also socially. While we cannot eliminate all risk in every circumstance, we are providing as much information and reassurance to parents as possible so they can take their own informed and balanced decision.”

In an open letter to parents, she added: “To be as safe as possible your school will ask you not to come into the school and to carry on being two metres apart at the school gate.

“Your children will be in smaller classes and will not mix with other groups and may have different break times.

“Attendance is encouraged. If you feel worried about your child or family’s safety, please talk to your school in the first instance. No action will be taken (such as a penalty notice) if you decide it is not safe to send your child to school.

“Each school will provide information on their website and in newsletters so that parents will know exactly when the school will be able to once again offer a place for their children. Schools will provide this information when the safety and risk assessments have been completed. 

“You may also be invited to say whether you will be taking up a place if it is offered.

“It is important to note that clinically vulnerable or shielded children will not be expected to attend school, and those children who live with someone who is medically certified as clinically extremely vulnerable should only attend if stringent social distancing can be adhered to.

“It may not be possible for very young children and older children without capacity to follow instructions on social distancing and in this situation we do not expect those individuals to attend. Children who live with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), may attend school.

“Parents may be feeling a mixture of emotions, that’s understandable. 

“We are here to help and support families. If you need help or support, please contact your school first and they will put you in touch with services who can help.”

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