Advice to schools in Preston and Lancashire has been updated to begin welcoming more pupils back from Monday 22 June.Advertisement
Lancashire County Council has updated its guidance after the weekly review to encourage headteachers and nursery operators to expand the number of reception, year one and year six pupils – as well as early years provision.
The county’s director of public health Dr Sakthi Karunanithi had previously said the risk of further coronavirus infections and another of the government’s five tests for reopening – the supply of PPE and the set up of track and trace was not yet ready.
But the county council has now said enough progress has been made on tackling Covid-19 in Lancashire for schools to reopen.
Any parent who chooses not to send their child back to school will not face a fine – the county council has restated its advice on this issue.
Dr Karunanithi said: “I am now satisfied that there no longer needs to be blanket advice given to Lancashire’s schools to delay reopening to more pupils. We are seeing encouraging signs that there is a reduction in the rate of new infections and thankfully there are now fewer deaths from this virus – but it is important to stress that the prevalence of coronavirus is still higher in Lancashire than elsewhere in the country so the room for manoeuvre is limited.
“Each school should now take into account their own individual circumstances to determine if they can welcome more pupils to Covid-secure schools from 22 June. There are a number of factors they must consider and one of the most critical is whether or not they are able to introduce effective measures to encourage social distancing.
“That is also important advice for us all. This virus has not gone away, and there is still a risk that we will face a second peak. That makes it vital for us to maintain social distancing, wash our hands regularly and, if contacted by NHS Test and Trace, follow the instructions given. Failure to do this could see some of the measures to ease restrictions on our lives reversed, and could lead to more people dying of coronavirus.”
Cabinet member for children, young people and schools, county councillor Philippa Williamson said: “This will be welcome news for many parents and schools. This has been a difficult time for many families across Lancashire and we have continued to keep the health and wellbeing of all our children at the heart of our decisions.
“We are proud that our schools have remained open throughout this crisis for the children of key workers and vulnerable children, and we will continue to support schools as they consider whether they are able to accept more pupils from 22 June.
“We also want to acknowledge the fantastic effort of parents during this challenging time and thank them for their understanding and continued efforts in supporting their children’s education.”
Cabinet member for health and wellbeing, county councillor Shaun Turner, said: It is good to see there has been progress in the local implementation of the NHS Test and Trace system.
“As lockdown measures ease, it’s never been more important for everyone in Lancashire to play their part to combat coronavirus. We all need to make sure we continue to abide by social distancing rules, wash our hands regularly and stay at home if we have symptoms or are told to do so by a contact tracer.”
Full guidance to schools and nurseries is on the county council website.
What do you think about the decision? Will your children be going back to school or nursery on June 22?