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Gloucestershire Business News

Schools prepare for pupils' full return in September

At the end of a challenging academic year, schools are working with Gloucestershire County Council to prepare to welcome all children back to school.

As COVID-19 infection rates continue to fall, the government issued new guidance to schools on how they should continue to help to reduce the risk of transmission when pupils go back in September. 

This includes keeping children in set 'bubbles' of classes, year groups or phases, regular cleaning and handwashing; as well as reducing the flow of children around the school and not holding 'all school' assemblies.

Exactly how they will operate within these guidelines continues to be a decision for each individual school. 

This needs significant planning by schools to work with the children, staff and space they have. This means it is unlikely any school will look the same as another. 

Schools in the county have successfully brought back over 18,000 children since the start of lockdown and, with the council's help, staff are now working hard to build on their existing arrangements so that all children can get back to their education in the safest way possible.

To support their planning, the county council is helping schools to identify their individual risks and what measures need to be put in place to tackle these, as well as making it easier for them to access personal protective equipment (PPE). The council is also considering how they can support schools to make transport arrangements safe.

In addition, as part the Local Outbreak Management Plan, the council has created specific action plans for schools, so that they know exactly what they need to do if a child or member of staff displays the symptoms of Covid-19.

A wide-ranging curriculum, within the restrictions of the new guidelines, will be crucial to pupils' return plans. Schools will focus on making up any gaps in children's learning in the best way they can - with the council helping them to support the most vulnerable young people in our county as they get used to a life at school again.

Cllr Patrick Molyneux, cabinet member responsible for education, said: "Head teachers and teachers in the county have done an outstanding job of supporting children and their families during these very challenging times. There is no doubt that school will look very different in the new academic year, but it is important that all young people have the opportunity to continue to learn and thrive. I want to thank parents and carers for their support and patience as schools work out their plans, and assure them that schools are doing everything they can to keep children safe from September and we will continue to help them to do so."

Ninety per cent of schools in the county have remained open to children of key workers and vulnerable children since lockdown began, with more youngsters from specific year groups returning after May half-term. Twenty one per cent of children are currently attending schools in the county.

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