Buckinghamshire schools to welcome pupils back
After six months away from the classroom, schools across Buckinghamshire are looking forward to welcoming pupils from all year groups back to face to face learning next week.
Buckinghamshire Council has been working with local schools to implement strict new measures to protect students and staff and arrangements are now in place ready for the start of the new school year. The autumn term begins at most schools from next Wednesday, 2 September, with all schools in the county being 100% open by Friday 11 September. All schools have carried out a risk assessment so parents and carers can be assured that every care has been taken to ensure schools are as safe as possible.
Parents and carers will find many changes when their children go back to school next week, with arrangements tailored to each individual site. These will be communicated by the schools themselves directly to parents and carers. There will also be a strong focus on the emotional well-being of pupils, as well as their need to catch up with their studies.
We have tried to find consistency where appropriate and many schools will have similar new measures in place, such as:
- staggered start and finish times to the school day;
- pupils being put into ‘bubbles’, maybe within their class or year group, so they mix with the same children but are distanced from others outside their bubble;
- avoiding whole-school gatherings like assemblies;
- extra cleaning especially around high contact points;
- installing hand sanitisers;
- making PPE available
We would also ask parents and carers to do their bit as we all work together to get children back into school safely. Where possible, please can parents/carers:
- consider how you travel to school and walk or cycle where possible;
- if you drive, park sensibly and responsibly and where possible, a walkable distance away from school to avoid too many crowds around the school site;
- respect social distancing at all times and avoid staying and chatting during drop off and collection times;
- wash school uniforms regularly during the week and items like water bottles and lunch boxes daily;
- avoid letting your child go to school with any unnecessary items like toys, unless there’s a good reason for bringing something in.
Most importantly, if your child or a member of your household or support bubble shows any symptoms of Covid-19, please do not send your child or children to school; please inform your school as quickly as possible, and please book a test as soon as soon as you can.
Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said:
“It’s essential we get our children back into the classroom and Wednesday will be a great day for Buckinghamshire schoolchildren when they can finally start working with their teachers again in the classroom. We know this has been an incredibly difficult and uncertain time for children of all ages, from exam stress in older year groups to children in Reception who started school last September, only to have their education interrupted. Every child has had to cope with a huge change and we are acutely aware of that, and will make sure together with our schools there is appropriate support in place.
I also want to reassure parents and carers that the number of coronavirus cases in Buckinghamshire is currently low and we are constantly monitoring our local position. We have very clear plans in place should there be any change in the local data, and what we will do if there is a positive case at a school.”
Where school transport and getting your child to school is concerned, we would ask parents and carers to consider walking or cycling where possible. We are adding extra public bus services on busy routes, but we would ask you to avoid using buses if possible to avoid traffic congestion. Children using public transport should be confident with managing social distancing, their face covering and hand hygiene.
As for the council-run school buses, we are working with schools where possible to create ‘bubble-friendly’ seating arrangements, and although it’s not mandatory, we would still ask that children over the age of 11 use a face covering and practice social distancing from anyone outside their bubbles.
Up to date bus timetable information is available on the Buckinghamshire Council website, (see the link below) and for those who have bus passes issued by the Council, they should all arrive by the start of the term but there will be an one-week ‘amnesty’ in case of any delays. (This means children will be able to board the bus if they don’t have their pass during the first week of school and up to 11 September).
David Martin, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Logistics said:
“We have worked really hard with schools to consider how children should safely travel to and from school, as well as the arrangements for them once they’re on site. We have plans in place to mitigate the risks as much as possible and we do ask that parents and carers talk through these arrangements with their children, especially those old enough to travel to school alone. Parents and carers will find lots of helpful and important information on safe travel to school during the autumn term on the Council’s website so please do take a look at the guidance.”