A message from Julie Webster, Wirral’s Director of Public Health
As many of you will know, our nurseries, schools and colleges are preparing to welcome back all children and young people during September, when education will once again be compulsory.
Our public health and children’s services teams have worked closely with schools to make sure that they are as safe as possible for our children to return.
While the back to school plan will be slightly different, and tailored to the needs of each school’s staff, children and visitors, one thing that’s certain is that all schools will be a bit different this year.
Various new measures including class bubbles, staggered start times, increased hand hygiene and more have been introduced across the board, as well as action plans to enable us to move swiftly if there is a case in a school.
As of 25th August national guidance changed to say that face coverings will now be mandatory in communal areas (primarily corridors) of secondary schools where local lockdowns are in place.
Wirral is not currently a lockdown area so face coverings are not mandatory at this time.
I understand that the return to school can be an unsettling time for some families at the best of times – as young people start school for the first time, return to a new year group or move to a new school.
What I’d like to assure our parents and guardians is that all providers and schools supported by the council have worked tirelessly over the last few months to ensure all settings are following Covid-19 measures.
I want to thank our schools and colleges publicly for their work in putting together their plans and acknowledge their commitment to the education of Wirral’s young people.
COVID-19 has brought with it many challenges - not least of which the impact it’s had on our children and young people’s education. And while there are no ‘risk-free’ options when it comes to reopening, there must be a balance.
Additionally, a statement this week from the UK Chief Medical Officer on education settings reopening stated his confidence, “that there is clear evidence from many studies that the great majority of children and teenagers who catch COVID-19 have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.”
But, of course, we must manage the risks and so early identification and quick management of potential outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools is an essential arm of our local response – our education providers are aware of this and clear on the plans in place.
For me, it’s about the importance of education for our children and young people. School improves health, learning, socialisation and opportunities for our young people. A good education is the key to a great start in life so it is vital that our children and young people return to education in September.
Alongside our school colleagues, we have prepared some frequently asked questions and answers which we hope will be helpful for parents and carers. You can read these at wirral.gov.uk/backtoschool.
Thanks again for reading my updates and please, stay safe.