Calderdale Council Advises Local Schools NOT to Reopen to More Students on June 1
Schools in Calderdale are being urged NOT to reopen until they can meet more safety guidelines.
Despite the Government expecting children in reception and years 1 and 6 to return to school from June 1, Calderdale Council has “major concerns” and has advised schools not to reopen until they are “confident” that staff and students will be safe.
Currently, Calderdale schools are closed to all apart from the children of key workers.
Unique challenges such as Victorian buildings – usually without large, open plan classrooms and flexible spaces – mean that new safety measures such as smaller class sizes and social distancing could be difficult.
Young children will struggle to keep to social distancing guidelines, risking the spread of further infection.
Leader of the council Tim Swift said: “Education plays a crucial role in making sure children have a good start in life, laying the foundations so that they are able to enjoy a long, healthy and fulfilling future.
“However, the Council has major concerns that the Government’s tests are not currently being met within Calderdale, and for this reason we are advising our schools against opening more widely on 1June.”
Deborah Harkins, the council’s director of public health, said: “We know how important it is for children to attend school but our priority at the moment must be to do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus. More children should only return to school when we are confident that it is safe, we should not put them, their families and our communities at risk.
“The current evidence within Calderdale indicates three of the Government’s five tests are not met and unfortunately we are not assured that this will change before 1 June. This means that we cannot advise our local schools that it will be safe to re-open yet.”
The three tests that have not been met are:
Test 3: The rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels
Test 4: Ensure the supply of tests and PPE can meet future demands
Test 5: Be confident any adjustments would not risk a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS
Councillor Adam Wilkinson, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said the safety of staff and pupils is paramount.
“I know that many young people will want to see their friends again and resume learning,” said Councillor Wilkinson, “However, for now, our priority must be to make sure we keep ourselves and each other safe by staying at home whenever possible.”
Calderdale Council is holding a Facebook Live Q&A on COVID-19 and children’s health and wellbeing with an expert panel tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 20) at 7pm. You can watch live and submit questions to be answered. Find out more here.
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