Peterborough’s education chief ‘extremely grateful’ to school staff and parents as schools reopen

Peterborough’s Director of Education has said he is ‘extremely grateful’ to the hard work of school staff and parents as schools reopened this week.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 4:55 am
Jonathan Lewis, Service Director for Education for PCC and CCC.
Jonathan Lewis, Service Director for Education for PCC and CCC.

Jonathan Lewis, Director of Education at Cambridgeshire County and Peterborough City Council was speaking following the full return to the classroom across the city for schools and colleges for the first time since the third national lockdown.

Primary schools in Peterborough returned on Monday (March 8) while many secondary schools staged a staggered return as students were given lateral flow tests.

Secondary schools and colleges will be required to test people for the first few weeks before handing over responsibility to parents to conduct twice weekly tests.

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Mr Lewis said: “We all recognise the classroom really is the best place for our children, and our schools are delighted to have welcomed their pupils back into the classroom this week.

“They have worked incredibly hard to be ready to receive children and to implement the new covid testing process for pupils and staff at short notice. We continue to work closely with our schools to ensure test and trace processes, and social distancing and hygiene measures continue to be in place and are adhered to.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and adapt as necessary, but I am confident each and every one of our schools and settings remain safe places for staff and pupils alike, and I am extremely grateful to the hard-working teachers and school staff who have remained resilient and committed to the education and wellbeing of their pupils throughout the lockdown period.

“I am already receiving great feedback from headteachers about how happy pupils are to be back in the classroom with their friends and teachers.

“I’d also like to express my thanks to parents and carers; not only for your commitment to home teaching during lockdown but for helping us promote the importance of following covid guidelines to your children.”

Mr Lewis issued a letter to parents last week advising them of a number of key points to note ahead of the reopening. These included the fact that children would be permitted to return after returning their first negative test and that all secondary and college students would be offered twice weekly coronavirus testing.

In addition to this, all members of households, childcare bubbles and support bubbles of primary and secondary school staff and pupils are eligible for rapid coronavirus tests in the community, even if nobody in the household has symptoms.

Testing is not compulsory, however, and children that do not consent to testing will not be stopped from returning to school.

Another major change is that face coverings inside schools have now become mandatory  outside of classrooms.

Children that are confirmed as clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to not to attend school or college until further notice.

The letter said: “To continue to manage the risks of contagion, nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges will continue to implement the range of protective measures which were in place throughout the autumn term.

“We have further strengthened these measures to help decrease the disruption the virus causes to education. Current evidence suggests that these measures are still the right ones to take.

“To keep staff and children safe, we ask that you continue to follow the national lockdown rules.

Specifically -

- Limit visits to schools sites – we request that only one parent bring your child and arrive at

school on time and leave the site promptly.

- Please return home promptly – play-dates and outdoor play or meeting in groups remains prohibited under the current government restrictions. The Local Authority will support schools to take robust action when they consider that parents are not following the rules of lockdown.

- Ensure you follow preventative measures at home including handwashing as soon as you enter your home.

- Ensure your child/children follow the rules if accessing school transport, including wearing a face covering if they are secondary age and above.”

Mr Lewis added: “I appreciate this information may be quite daunting, so please do speak to your child’s school if you have any questions at all.”