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Welcoming children and young people back to school

Returning to school

The government are planning for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school and college full-time from the beginning of the autumn term.

Schools in Blackpool will be open to all pupils in September.

Blackpool Council is working closely with school leaders, the Department for Education, teachers, unions and parents and carers to ensure that Blackpool schools reopen in the safest way possible.

Most of our schools have remained open throughout the pandemic to support critical workers and vulnerable children and we have managed this safely. We thank the teachers and support staff for all that they have done.

Returning to school is vital for:

  • Children’s educational progress
  • Wellbeing
  • Wider development

This is why we need to ensure all pupils return to school sooner rather than later.

The opening of schools also allows those who are caring for children to resume their normal working lives.

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.

We will provide regular updates to parents and carers over the summer holidays before pupils return in September.

If parents have any concerns, then they can either get in touch with the individual school directly and have a chat through those worries with the teachers 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 in September. 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.

    The rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased since schools and colleges restricted their opening to most pupils in March, the NHS Test and Trace system is up and running and we understand more about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments in schools.

    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), introducing enhanced cleaning including for frequently touched surfaces and minimising contact and maintaining social distancing between individuals by keeping groups separate with the ‘bubble' approach.

    A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in September in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves, or because they are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Parents

    Parents and carers need to ensure that if their child or someone in their household has symptoms then they should not send them to school.

    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.

    Social distancing

    Social distancing for adults should remain in line with the regulations and guidance.

    Blackpool Council is helping schools to return to full capacity by offering the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, masks, visors and hand sanitiser, screens for reception and dining areas, assistance with risk assessments and support for governance, information on local testing availability, public health advice and other safety measures.

    Guidance

    National guidance states that in the majority of cases staff in schools do not need PPE, even where it is not always possible to maintain a distance of two metres from others.

    Schools are to keep up to date with the latest guidance from Public Health England and the Department for Education on when PPE is required in schools and how to use it and dispose of it safely and appropriately.

    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.

  • 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 will therefore be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term. This means from that point, the usual rules on school attendance will 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 will look different this year than it has 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 for the upcoming school year.

    Transport

    Schools will encourage parents, staff and pupils to walk or cycle to school if at all possible. For some families, driving children to school will also be an option.

    It is hoped that at least 50% of those pupils who usually travel on public transport will shift their journeys to cycling or walking. However, these options will not be suitable for all.

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

    Extra vehicles and staff will be deployed to ensure that all children who have been approved transport can be accommodated in September. Currently there will be six extra buses operating plus additional contracts available if needed.

    Most buses will be operating on a reduced capacity to facilitate the transportation of pupils in ‘bubbles’ as agreed with schools and to accommodate social distancing. Families and carers are being encouraged if possible to walk or cycle as an alternative.

    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.

    Only older young people will use public transport independently and we are working with Blackpool Transport to support this if and when the need arises. Schools will support from day one with expectations about behaviours and parents will be provided with the necessary information.

    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.

    The government is advising that the use of public transport by pupils is kept to an absolute minimum during peak times to reduce demand on the system and ensure that it is available for those who need it most.

    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
    • We have seats isolated within vehicles carrying around 40% capacity under 1 metre social distancing.

    Face coverings on board

    Face coverings are required 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

    to 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

    Public Health England does not (based on current evidence) recommend the use of face coverings in schools. This evidence will be kept under review. They are not required in schools as pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups, and because misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission.

    There may also be negative effects on communication and thus education.

    Face coverings are required 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.

    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

    As all pupils are set to return to school next month, the national voucher scheme for children on free school meals will come to an end.

    Schools will provide 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