Coronavirus: Shropshire schools update – Monday 4 January 2021
A statement from Ed Potter, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children’s services.
“A good education is vitally important for all children. We want children to be in school wherever and whenever possible and all of our schools have robust measures in place to ensure the safety of their pupils, and their staff. There are of course risks to children not being in school, not least the impact on their mental health and wellbeing, as well as their future life chances.
“At the present time we don’t see it necessary to direct schools to close, and we encourage schools in the Shropshire Council area to remain open to all pupils where adequate staffing levels are available.
“The headteacher and governing body of each school will make decisions based on their school’s circumstances and we will support heads with the difficult decision that they have to make.
“If a school does need to move to remote learning then arrangements will be made to provide face-to-face learning for children of key workers and vulnerable children, as well as other staff providing remote learning for other children.
“We’re encouraging all schools to revisit their risk assessments for staff and students – and to reinforce the safety measures of social distancing, hand washing, access to fresh air etc. We’re also advising schools to audit their stocks of PPE and ensure that appropriate PPE is available for staff when required. We will, of course, support schools in the supply of PPE and Department for Education advice regarding PPE remains unchanged.
“We have made routine testing available for staff and are encouraging young people with the milder symptoms to come forward for testing.
“Many school have a planned PD day today [Monday 4 January] and we’re working with our schools today to gather a fuller picture of the current situation. We continue to communicate with our schools regularly. We recognise the challenging circumstances that schools and headteachers are operating in and will continue to provide support.
“We strongly encourage children to attend school, and will continue to work with schools and families to ensure that all children can access their education in the most appropriate and safest way possible.
“Since schools fully reopened in September 2020, pupil attendance in Shropshire has been consistently high when compared to other local authorities in the West Midlands and nationally. The council has worked closely with families and schools to support them to make the best decisions for their children, taking into account the individual circumstances in each case. It has therefore not been necessary to issue any penalty notices due to COVID-19-related absence so far.
“At the present time, Shropshire Council does not anticipate the need to issue any fixed penalty notices to parents/carers for Covid-19-related absence.
“It’s important to remember that the Shropshire Council area is currently a Tier 3 area. Whilst COVID-19 rates in the area have increased they remain much lower than many other council areas, especially the Tier 4 areas. At present, only 8% of our known cases occur in the under 18s, and the rate is below the level that it has been previously when schools remained fully open
“However we do know that the new strain is a factor to consider and a key concern for both the council and our schools is the safety of pupils and staff, but also the impact of school transmission rates on the community.
“Any schools closures will be reported via our website, and parents are also encouraged to check their school’s website for up-to-date information.”