Below is a statement from Northamptonshire County Council regarding school re-openings.
Since lockdown began, schools in Northamptonshire have been going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that education is still accessible for local children.
The government has asked schools to prepare to begin to open for more children from 1 June. At Northamptonshire County Council, we believe that it is important for children to resume their education so they can learn and interact with their peers. However, this needs to be done in such a way that we minimise the risks to pupils, staff and parents as much as possible.
To decide what is feasible, we are asking schools to carry out an initial comprehensive risk assessment so that leaders can evaluate potential solutions on how they can safely and effectively accommodate eligible pupils. We want schools, in the first instance, to take a phased approach to how many pupils they take back and from when.
Schools have different numbers of vulnerable and key worker children, different numbers of staff who will not be able to attend school in person because they or a family member are in a vulnerable category and therefore shielding, and different abilities to implement social distancing.
We can expect therefore, that there will not be one county-wide model for the initial phased re-opening of schools. However, Northamptonshire County Council will support schools to work towards gradually increasing pupil numbers at a pace their individual circumstances allow.
I would like to reassure our residents that the most important factor for us is the safety and wellbeing of our children, teaching and support staff, and the wider community including parents, grandparents and carers.
It is also important to note that schools have been open throughout the past two months, providing education in person for vulnerable children and key workers’ children - in addition to providing education and pastoral care to those children at home. This has been a phenomenal task and we thank everyone involved.
Northamptonshire has realised an average of 93 per cent of Northamptonshire schools remaining open or have made alternative arrangements for children of key workers. Additionally, 14 per cent of vulnerable learners have still had access to schooling, compared to only 9 per cent nationally.
This position has been commended by the Department for Education and is testament to the hard work that has gone into ensuring local children are still able to learn in these unprecedented times.