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Welcoming children and young people back to school

Returning to school

Blackpool’s primary and secondary schools will be reopening for the start of the new academic year in September.  

Things are significantly different than they were at the end of the last school year with the removal of bubbles and face coverings. With the removal of the need to automatically isolate if a child or adult is a close contact of a positive case, school staff will be dealing with a new set of requirements regarding track and trace and testing.

Schools are maintaining proportionate protective measures such as testing, ventilation and extra hygiene precautions that help keep children and staff safe and minimise disruption to face-to-face education.

Where there are a number of cases within a particular school, local and national teams will support school leaders to work up an appropriate response. 

Testing remains important in reducing the risk of transmission of infection within schools.

Secondary school and college pupils should take two COVID-19 tests in school at the start of term and then continue to test twice weekly at home.

We still believe that school is absolutely the best place for children and young people to be.

Attending school is vital for:

  • Children’s educational progress
  • Wellbeing
  • Wider development

This is why we need to ensure all pupils attend school, where possible. 

The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school.

As a council, we are continuing to offer our support every step of the way, including providing round the clock access to any public health support that is required.

We encourage everyone to play their part by practicing good hand hygiene, regularly testing at home and getting a PCR (lab) test if you have symptoms of COVID-19, and self-isolating if you test positive for COVID-19 . This will help to break the chain of transmission, drive those rates down and help to keep children in the classroom to learn, develop and have fun, safely.

If parents have any concerns, then they can either get in touch with the individual school directly or contact the Pupil Welfare Service by emailing pupilwelfareservice@blackpool.gov.uk

  • Safety measures

    We understand that some parents will have concerns about their children returning to school. The safety of children and young people in Blackpool is a priority for the council.

    There is clear evidence that the risk to children from COVID-19 infection is lower than in the general population.

    Schools

    Schools have been working hard to put in place a range of protective measures such as staff and pupils cleaning their hands more often, ensuring good respiratory hygiene (for example, adopting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it' approach with coughs and sneezes) and introducing enhanced cleaning including for frequently touched surfaces.

    A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result.

    Parents

    Transmission rates are continually under review and should the need arise for a school year or school to close then plans will be in place for pupils to ensure that they receive an education away from the classroom.

    Protective measures

    Blackpool Council is helping schools to reopen by offering assistance with risk assessments and support for governance, information on local testing availability, public health advice and other safety measures.

    Guidance

    Blackpool Council will be offering support through its Outbreak Management Hub in collaboration with Public Health England to respond to cases that might occur within a school.

    If parents have any concerns, then they should contact the individual school directly and have a chat through those worries with the teachers.

    Testing for schools

    Secondary and college students

    Symptom-free testing has now been introduced for secondary school and college students.

    Secondary school and college students will take rapid Covid-19 tests twice a week at home, after they have completed 3 initial tests on their return to school/college.

    Primary school children

    Primary school children will not be regularly tested due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children, but they will still need to come forward for tests if they have symptoms.

    Testing for families and the wider school community

    Whole families, households and bubbles with primary school, secondary school and college age children in them can now test themselves twice every week from home.

    Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders.

    Getting your tests

    You can order home test kits online OR collect tests via a local or regional testing site.

    There is no need to book an appointment - you can just drop-in.

    Find your local site for collection

    You will be able to:

    • Collect 2 packs of 7 rapid self-test kits to take home, per individual collecting (up to a maximum of 4 packs e.g. for very large or extended families). The testing regime is twice per week per person.
    • Take the tests at home.
    • Register the test and record the results at home, using the NHS website or through the 119 call centre for positive, negative and void results.
    • If you have a positive self-test result, you will be asked to take a laboratory Covid-19 test to confirm the result by either ordering one online or by booking an appointment to attend a local test site.

    Symptom-free testing is voluntary, but it can help give you peace of mind and protect families and schools.

    Anybody in a household or bubble with someone who goes to school will be able to pick up 2 packs of 7 test kits just by giving their name and contact details when they visit a collection site.

    Blackpool residents can currently collect kits from the Yeadon Way testing site: Get local site collection times

    From Monday 22 March, you can also collect test kits from any of Blackpool's symptom-free testing sessions at local hubs: Get details of symptom-free testing hub venues and times

    If you cannot collect tests from a test site, order rapid test kits online.

  • Attendance

    Missing out on more time in the classroom risks pupils falling further behind.

    Those with higher overall absence tend to achieve less well in both primary and secondary school.

    School attendance is therefore now mandatory again. This means that the usual rules on school attendance apply.

    You can be prosecuted if you do not give your child an education. You'll normally get warnings and offers of help first.

    Blackpool council can give each parent a fine of £60, which rises to £120 each if you do not pay within 21 days. If you do not pay the fine after 28 days you may be prosecuted for your child's absence from school.

    If you're having trouble getting your child to attend, the school and Blackpool Council can help.

    Blackpool Council have a pupil welfare team that help parents improve their child's attendance at school. Your school will be able to put you in contact with the relevant pupil welfare service officer.

  • Parent preparation

    For many families, back to school planning has been different this year than it has been in previous years. Your school will have new policies in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    Whatever the situation, the checklist below is intended to help parents, guardians, and caregivers, plan and prepare.

    Transport

    For mainstream schools, Blackpool Transport are aware of the needs of the children and we are well planned.

    The council's in house transport provision for children with special educational needs will also be fully operational from the start of the new school academic year.

    Rigorous hygiene, cleaning and reporting procedures have been put in place to minimise the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and risk assessments have been completed by transport services and schools.

    If you are planning to travel to school or college by bus then make sure that you are aware of the important changes that Blackpool Transport are making to help you get to and from class as safely as possible.

    You should not travel at all if you:

    Cleaning on school transport

    Blackpool Transport have provided the following information:

    • In service cleaning will be carried out by a team who operate around the town, meeting vehicles at terminus and timing points and conducting touch point sanitation
    • We have notices on our vehicles asking passengers to follow government guidelines

    Face coverings on board

    Face coverings are recommended at all times on public transport (for children over the age of 11).

    Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 3 or those who may find it difficult o manage them correctly. For example, primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions.

    Some people don't have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons.

    Face coverings

    Face coverings are recommended at all times on public transport (except children under the age of 11), when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient, or when in a shop or a supermarket. They are also recommended to be worn by pupils in year 7 and above when travelling on dedicated school transport to secondary school or college.

    Uniform

    Full uniform is expected to be worn for all schools. Check with the individual school for the uniform requirements.

    There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a school. Uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often or differently than usual.

    School meals

    Following the return of pupils from 8 March, the national voucher scheme for children on free school meals came to an end with schools providing free school meals as usual for those who are eligible.

    The normal legal requirements will apply about provision of food to all pupils who want it, including for those eligible for benefits-related free school meals or universal infant free school meals.

    Extra-curricular activities

    Schools will be permitted to run breakfast and after-school activities. Schools will need to make sure these can be delivered in line with the wider guidance on protective measures, so they may need to run things differently and adapt over time.

    You should talk to your child's school about whether or not they will be able to run breakfast and after-school activities immediately.

    Resources

    See the latest update from the Department for Education