Dudley Council’s cabinet member for children and young people has said the local authority is looking forward to getting pupils back to school safely this week.
Pupils aged between four and 18 will return to schools and colleges across the borough, with many having been off since March due to the pandemic. From this week it is mandatory for school age children across England to be back in education and the local authority has worked closely with schools, public health and other partners throughout the pandemic to ensure all possible safety measures are in place to safeguard both pupils and staff.
Vulnerable children and children of many key workers have continued to access school based education in the summer term and safety measures already in place during this period will continue to be rolled out. All schools have made their own risk assessments and have a range of safety measures in place appropriate to their setting.
Hales Valley Trust runfive schools across the borough, including Lapal and Lutley Primary Schools in Halesowen, Priory and Woodside school sin Dudley and Hurst Hill Primary in Coseley. The Trust's CEO, Jeannette Mackinney OBE, said:
"Headteachers, senior leaders and all staff are really looking forward to welcoming our pupils back. Whilst our schools remained open for the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils during the lock-down period, we also kept in touch with all our children, providing home learning education and online learning.
"However, our schools felt very different places without all the children and we can’t wait to have full and busy schools once again and we are looking forward to hearing about all the news that we know our children will want to share with us.
"We are really keen to welcome them back into good school routines of learning, play, fun and friendship. We have all worked hard to ensure that we have safety measures in place for pupils, staff and parents and we ask all parents to make sure that they keep up to date with all the local and national guidance to ensure a smooth and safe return to school."
To keep everyone safe the council is encouraging parents to make sure they’re up to date with their school’s latest advice and guidance through each school’s individual website and importantly to make sure social distancing is practised when dropping off and picking up children from school.
Parents are also asked to check timings with their schools and familiarise themselves with any changes to public transport by keeping up to date with the latest details from West Midlands Network. For more information people can visit wmnetwork.co.uk/schooltravel. Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children’s services, added:
"The last six months have taken a strain on families across the borough and the wellbeing of our children and young people now firmly rests on getting them back into formal education this autumn.
"I would like to reassure parents and carers that we are doing all we can to keep everyone safe in schools and there is a wealth of information available on how everyone can play their part in this collective effort.
"We are reminding families to check details from schools and public transport providers. We are also highlighting the importance of isolating and seeking a test if symptomatic, as well as using masks on public transport and practising good hand hygiene. By working together, we will get our children and young people safely back to school for the critical autumn term."
People are reminded of the importance of following government guidance which includes washing hands regularly, distancing where possible and wearing a face covering where required - including on public transport.
If symptomatic, people should get a test and isolate, and isolate if they are in the same household as others who are symptomatic or have the virus.