Education is of paramount importance for children and it is the government’s plan that all children and young people, in all year groups, will return to or start school full time from the beginning of the autumn term.
The prevalence of COVID-19 has decreased since schools restricted their opening in March, the NHS Test and Trace system is up and running and more is now understood about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments in schools.
Scientific evidence shows that COVID-19 presents a much lower risk to children than adults of becoming severely ill, and there is no evidence that children transmit the disease any more than adults.
Schools in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are continuing to work closely with the Local Authority and Public Health. They have risk-assessed their sites in relation to government guidance and have put key prevention and safety measures in place. These include:
1) Minimising contact with individuals who are unwell - staff and pupils that have any COVID-19 symptoms, or who have someone in their household with symptoms will be asked not to attend school, to self-isolate and to seek testing immediately.
2) Cleaning hands thoroughly and more often than usual - many schools have introduced new sinks or have created hand washing zones/sanitising areas within classroom or year group bubbles.
3) Keeping good respiratory hygiene by promoting ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’, though anyone who has cold like symptoms should not be in schools until they have had them checked out.
4) Enhanced cleaning including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often with detergents and bleach.
5) Minimising contact between individuals and maintaining social distancing where possible. Children will be in a bubble as a class or a year group and will have zones to be in which will not overlap with others.
6) Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) where needed; this will apply to first aiders and some members of staff who work with pupils with additional needs or who have conditions themselves.
We understand that some parents and carers will be anxious about their child starting school at this time, but please help us by reassuring them that the safety of their children is a key priority as they start their exciting journey into primary school and that everything is being done to support the safety of all.
In addition to the communication that schools will have had directly with families, the Local Authority will be sharing further information with parents about the safe return to school via social media, the websites and newsletters. Thank you for your support.