COVID-19: Schools Update - 20 May

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schools update

Latest update for all schools - 20 May

dan barton

Dear Colleague,

Let me start by recognising the immense effort which has been put in over the last two months by you, and all your staff, to make education available to our most vulnerable children and children of key workers. We recognise also that many of you and your staff have been directly and personally affected by the situation. Cumbria owes you and your staff its gratitude.

As has been made clear in previous communications on the subject over the last week, the broad approach being adopted and recommended by Cumbria County Council in relation to reopening schools is local decision-making, by Headteachers and Governing bodies, driven by sound risk-assessment.

You will find in today’s communications our risk assessment proforma which all Local Authority maintained schools must use, and which we recommend all schools in the county adopt to support a consistent approach.

We have produced this in liaison with other Health and Safety providers in the county and it has been reviewed by Trade Unions, with a view to avoiding any potential difficulties relating to this process later.

This is now about working with you to implement the national DfE guidance locally, in a safe and sensible way that works for our circumstances. We are here to support you in that task, with advice and guidance as you require it.

We have included below a copy of the letter to parents/carers, which will also be shared across our social media platforms, which advises them of our approach, and which we hope will support you in conversations with them over the coming days and weeks.

With thanks,

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills
Cumbria County Council

Risk assessment proforma for reopening schools

Given the wide diversity of schools in Cumbria there will not be one single approach to reopening that applies to all schools. Instead, individual schools, and school clusters, will make their own decisions following a risk based assessment process. 

We are clear that safety must be the most important factor for schools deciding when and how to open. We are working with Public Health England, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, and the NHS to ensure schools continue to get the best advice.

As the employer in maintained schools, Cumbria County Council, in consultation with our Trade Union colleagues and internal partners have developed the following guidance together with model risk assessments (School Premises and School Operations).

These should be used as a basis to enable you to develop, tailor and consider the key issues and recommended control measures to plan for your settings and activities to operate safely, as far as is reasonably practicable, in line with current guidance. 

All maintained schools (where the Local Authority are the employer) are required to complete the Council’s model risk assessment templates and follow any guidance issued. Support will be available to schools from across council teams and from public health experts to assist you to complete your assessments.

Letter for parents about schools reopening

Please find attached a copy of a letter to parents/carers, which you can share with parents at your school and which will also be shared across our social media platforms. 

Guidance on staff returning to schools

Following the announcement on Sunday 10 May that schools may be able to welcome back more children to early year’s settings, schools and colleges. Primary schools have been asked to welcome back all children currently in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 from week commencing 1 June. The DfE has published guidance this week to support schools in planning for this phase of return.

This has brought up some concerns and issues in relation to staffing which we hope will be addressed in this guidance note using the DfE guidance and HR advice from the local authority.

If you need any further support or guidance you can contact your own HR provider.

If you have any queries in relation to this guidance note then please contact Kerry Anderson, HR Business Partner – Education and Skills

Public Health guidance for when a child, staff member or parent develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus

Our Public Health team has created a guidance note on what to do if a child, staff member of parent from your school community develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus.

The following advice is informed by the government guidance ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings’. See here.

Education and childcare settings should encourage staff, parents and carers to notify them if they, their children, or any other household member develop symptoms of coronavirus, or test positive for coronavirus. If you have not already proactively contacted staff and parents/carers regarding this, it is recommended you do so and provide details of who to contact.

Plans for May half term

In order to prepare for the upcoming half term holiday can we kindly ask that all school hubs and standalones schools please let us know by 5pm tomorrow (Thursday May 21) whether you will be open over half term?

Please email our Business Support team in Carlisle to notify us of your plans: 

The latest list of school hubs

The updated list of all school hubs, standalone schools and early years settings can be found on the Cumbria County Council website.