Reassurance for pupils returning to school
Education and health chiefs are reassuring parents and students of their safety in the run-up to schools re-opening next week with increased testing and safety measures.
Most children have been out of school since the Christmas break with headteachers and staff working tirelessly to continue to provide education for those in school and at home, while ensuring sites are safe and prepared to welcome children back from 8 March.
Each school will have its own measures in place and parents are being reminded to check with their school about their own localised plans.
Primary children will be in class bubbles as defined by their school. Children will not receive lateral flow tests, but staff will be tested twice a week. Parents and carers are asked to stick to social distancing guidelines and wear facemasks on school grounds.
Students at secondary school will be returning from March 8, but staggered starts are more likely and depend on each school’s own plans.
Secondary school pupils and staff will be part of a mass testing programme from the first week of return and parents are being urged to authorise the testing of their child. Each school will be communicating this to parents and students through their usual channels.
Secondary and college students are now expected to wear face masks in all areas where social distancing cannot be maintained, this includes classrooms, communal areas and school gates.
Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people said:
Our headteachers and staff have done an incredible job of providing learning for students over the last few months and have worked hard to make their sites safe and welcoming places to learn.
We know this is a time that many parents and carers have eagerly awaited and our schools are very much looking forward to welcoming pupils back so they can enjoy school learning and socialising with their peers.
It’s really important that pupils and parents feel reassured about the return to school. I speak as a mum as well as a councillor when I say I have full confidence in the measures our schools have put in place to protect pupils, staff and parents.
I would ask parents to familiarise themselves with their school’s policies and we are heartily encouraging all parents to give permission for their secondary school children to be tested to help keep our schools as safe as they can be for everyone.
Parents and carers and anyone else living with a school age child or young person are among the priority groups being given access to free home lateral flow testing kits to test themselves.
Information on how to access these can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/rapid-lateral-flow-testing-for-households-and-bubbles-of-school-pupils-and-staff
All are strongly encouraged to have a lateral flow test at a local testing site prior to starting home testing, to know how a test is undertaken.
Twice weekly testing will help detect hidden asymptomatic cases and help keep pupils and staff safer in school.
Anyone unable to do home testing can book a test at one of the Dudley lateral flow testing centres. These are at Dudley Leisure Centre, Saltwells Education Centre, with pop-up sessions at Holy Trinity Church Community Centre in Wordsley, Lifecentral Church in Halesowen, St Andrews Church in Sedgley, St James Church in Wollaston and the Salvation Army Church in Lye.
There is also testing at more than 30 pharmacies across the borough. For details on where you can get a lateral flow test and to book visit www.dudley.gov.uk/symptom-free-testing
To continue to reduce the spread of coronavirus, it is important all families adhere to the latest government advice which can be viewed online at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
People must isolate and book a test if they or their child are showing symptoms. Children must be kept out of school if they or anyone in the household is awaiting a test result. Anyone who has a positive result in their household must follow isolation rules and should report to the school as soon as possible.
People with other symptoms such as upset stomach, sore throat, tiredness or headaches are also asked to seek a covid-19 test in Dudley borough in order to reduce the risk of spread in the area.
To book a Covid-19 test call 119 or visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus