Children will be taught in classrooms where safety, hygiene and social distancing are ‘absolute priorities.’ This is the message from Oxfordshire County Council as schools carry out risk assessments in preparation for welcoming back more pupils in June.
This week, the council delivered hundreds of thousands of personal protective equipment (PPE) items to Oxfordshire schools:
IIR Masks: 151,000 (these are surgical, close contact, water resistant masks),
Sanitiser: 7,500 litres.
This PPE equipment will help all local schools manage an immediate response in the unlikely event of a pupil becoming unwell.
In addition, support is being provided to over 900 early years providers regarding supplies of PPE.
Since the lockdown began in March, 94% of Oxfordshire schools have remained open for children of key workers.
In preparation for receiving more pupils back to the classroom, schools are now being asked to complete a risk assessment in conjunction with staff and union representatives.
The risks and challenges will vary, so what works in one school may not work in another. This means that some schools will be able to welcome more children, or more year groups than others. Each school will act in the best interests of each child and family.
Local testing arrangements are in place; and everyone over the age of five can access them if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
The council is committed to supporting disadvantaged pupils; existing free school meals arrangements will continue.
Ansaf Azhar, Director of Public Health, Oxfordshire County Council, said:
“Oxfordshire County Council and the Public Health team are working with schools and other partners to coordinate the ongoing response to COVID-19, helping local residents in staying safe.
“Whilst current scientific evidence shows little COVID transmission among children, we will never be complacent. The health of children, teachers, support staff, and parents will always come first in Oxfordshire.
“That is why all schools are now carrying out risk assessments to decide what provisions they need to put in place, and how many pupils they can teach whilst ensuring safety and social distancing.
“Safety, hygiene and social distancing are absolute priorities. And where community testing indicates clusters of COVID-19 – schools will close.”
County Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Cabinet Member for Education and Cultural Services, said:
“The health and safety of pupils, teachers and support staff is our number one priority.
“The teaching teams are incredibly dedicated. They have tirelessly provided education and assistance to pupils throughout the county, often through online learning, over these past few months.
“We will continue to support them by ensuring schools are safe, with the necessary social distancing and sanitation provisions in place, as increasing numbers of pupils come out of lockdown and return to the classroom.”