Your Essex - Back to school edition

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autumn trees with the sun shining

Back to school support and guidance

Open letter to parents and carers

Dear parents and carers of Essex schoolchildren,

July marked the end to an extraordinary school year. Throughout, we have been incredibly proud of Essex’s response. Many parents and carers have had to provide childcare and assist with education on top of their work commitments. Teachers and education staff have had to deal with making sure settings were kept safe. Pupils have experienced disruption to their routine, education, exams and social interactions. We do not underestimate the sacrifices that have been made, the uncertainty that’s been felt, and the hard work that’s gone into your response to this crisis.

Education settings can now return to full-time opening for all students. This is possible because the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community has decreased since settings restricted opening in March, NHS Test and Trace is now up and running, and settings have a better understanding of the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments. While there will still be risks as long as COVID-19 remains in the community, scientific evidence shows that COVID-19 presents a lower risk to children than adults of becoming severely ill, and that there is no evidence that children transmit the disease any more than adults.

We ask that parents and carers read the government’s guidance on what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term and speak to their children about the important role we must all play in reducing the spread of the virus. Essex schools and colleges have been communicating their individual plans with their parent communities; it’s crucial we support our county’s schools and colleges by understanding and adhering to the protective measures they put in place.

Cllr David Finch, Leader Essex County Council
Cllr Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education
Clare Kershaw, Essex County Council’s Director of Education
Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex County Council’s Director of Wellbeing, Public Health and Communities

Read more of the open letter to parents and carers of Essex schoolchildren on the Essex County Council website.

New walking and cycling maps for schools and colleges in Essex

Chelmsford High School cycling and walking map

With the new school and college term here for children and young people across Essex, Stop.Swap.GO! has created a whole host of new information to support parents and young people with social distancing on their journey to school.

The Stop.Swap.GO! website is packed with information to help you avoid traffic chaos, like walking and cycling maps around many schools and colleges. They include 'Drive and Drop' zones to help you avoid heavy traffic areas. The website also offers the latest information for families who use school transport provided by Essex County Council.

So while buses are running at reduced capacity, try something new and give walking, cycling or scooting to school or college a GO!

Essex mum encourages families to seek back to school support

Every Family Matters - mother helping a young boy with his school uniform

An Essex mum is encouraging other parents and carers to find out about the support available for any children or young people who may be struggling, particularly as they return to school.

Nikki’s son, Ernie, 10, received support through Safe in Essex (The Children’s Society East) to help improve his self-esteem. The help he received was the first step on a journey to feeling more confident.

“The overall experience was helpful, cathartic and reassuring," said Nikki. "We would recommend other families seek similar help if they need to.”

Help is available across the county to support children with transitioning back to the classroom. Visit the Staying Well: Children and Families section on our website to find out more.

Keeping children safe online

online exploitation

The Essex Safeguarding Children Board (ESCB) is raising awareness of the dangers of online exploitation. They're encouraging parents and carers to create an open and supportive network around their children where they feel safe to talk about their digital world.

Visit the ESCB website for information and guidance about online exploitation.

Coronavirus news

Rise in coronavirus cases prompts appeal from Public Health Chief

Essex County Council’s Director of Public Health is reminding residents of the importance of social distancing and urging those with symptoms to stop the spread by self- isolating and booking a test. Over the past two weeks around 225 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Essex.

Dr Mike Gogarty said: “Over the last few weeks we have seen a rise in confirmed cases across the county. Obviously, this was expected but is still concerning.  I would urge everyone to continue to be vigilant. Coronavirus has not gone away. It is extremely important to maintain social distancing guidelines, keeping at least two meters from others, and to maintain hand-washing. This is even more important now that schools have restarted.

Read Dr Mike Gogarty's full appeal on the Essex County Council website.

Remembering loved ones

St Paul's Cathedral has set up a national book of remembrance to remember people who have died due to the coronavirus pandemic. Paying tribute online may help while mourning rituals, funerals and memorial events are still restricted.

Anyone can post a tribute and it is free to do so. Leave a tribute to a loved one on the Remember Me 2020 website by St Paul's Cathedral.

You can also visit our website for more remembrance ideas and information about funerals and mourning during coronavirus.

Staying safe at religious events and ceremonies

With religious and cultural festivals like Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Dashain and Halloween coming up, we'd like to remind you of the guidance on gatherings.

The rules may have eased but be sure to follow social distancing and hygiene advice to stop coronavirus spreading.

Check the latest advice for places of worship and faith communities in the Coronavirus and Faith section of our website.

More information

Please visit the coronavirus section on our website for the latest information about:

  • our services
  • the local outbreak plan and tracker tool
  • support for residents and getting tested for coronavirus
  • support for employers and businesses

Staying active

Get cycling to win prizes!

Are you keen to start cycling or get back on the saddle? Cycling can make you happier, healthier and wealthier – plus it can make Essex cleaner, greener, safer and more liveable.

This month there are two exciting ways you can be rewarded for cycling, so get involved and double your chances of winning big prizes.

Close-up of the front wheels on two bikes as people ride them through the park

Start your 60 Day Challenge!

Do you fancy moving more and driving less? Stop.Swap.GO! challenges YOU! to complete small walking or cycling tasks to be in with the chance to win great prizes.

Log each task on our handy app and you'll be entered in weekly prize draws. What's more, you'll be part of a community of hundreds of Essex residents who are taking on the challenge and already feeling the benefits of walking and cycling.

Sign up to the 60 Day Challenge on the Stop.Swap.GO! website and GO! meet the community over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Join Cycle September

Love to Ride has just launched Cycle September, a global bike challenge where you can win prizes for cycling and encouraging others to ride. It doesn't matter if you ride every day or haven't been on a bike in years - just 10 minutes puts you in the running to win.

Join Cycling September on the Love to Ride website. You can also follow Love to Ride on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

two women wearing bike helmets and taking a selfie

Boost your family's health with the Daily Mile

The Daily Mile logo

Just 15 minutes of jogging a day can boost your physical and mental health.The Daily Mile aims to make it fun for everyone to try jogging and stick to it.

You can sign your child's school up, join the adults' Stay Fit For Life initiative, or do The Daily Mile At Home to stay fit as a family.

Find out more on The Daily Mile website, and keep an eye on the Active Essex Facebook page for Essex-wide updates coming soon.

Strengthening our communities

The strength of Essex is its people. Here are a few ways you can spread kindness in your community.

Help a good cause in Essex and be in with the chance to win

woman riding a horse

One lucky player of the Essex Lottery recently won £2,000 while supporting a cause close to her heart.

"I've been involved with Barrow Farm Riding and Carriage Driving for the Disabled for many years. I play the Essex Lottery to support them, as they get 50% of all the proceeds from ticket sales on their page, with an extra 10% split between all the good causes taking part."

"I've already started spending my prize money by sharing a take-out meal with some of the staff and volunteers as a thank you for all their hard work during lockdown. We're so glad to partially reopen and have a few of our participants riding again!"

It costs £1,500 a month to feed and provide bedding for the horses and ponies. A representative from Barrow Farm said that they are very grateful to people who play to support them.

Sign up to play and support a cause you love. Good luck!

Share your home and make a difference to a young person’s life

There are lots of children and young adults in Essex who need foster care or supported lodgings at the moment. You could be the person who transforms their life.

Josh (pictured with his girlfriend Lucy) first went into foster care at the age of 8, carrying all his belongings in a black bin bag. Iain, his soon-to-be foster parent, was in the army and on tour in Baghdad. 

When Iain returned, he and his wife Karen helped Josh open up for the first time. They would often just sit and talk together. Josh recalls how he was carrying a lot of baggage, but Iain would never judge and would always make things seem better.

Watch Josh and Iain's story in our video on the Essex Fostering website.

Josh and his girlfriend Lucy taking a selfie

Essex County Council Fostering is rated Outstanding by Ofsted and you can earn up to £483 per week as a foster carer.

Come along to one of our online fostering events to hear from people who foster, chat to social workers and learn about some of the children who need homes.

Events with Essex 2020

Essex 2020 logo

Essex 2020 continues to celebrate the scientific and creative innovations of past and present pioneers that shape Essex’s identity. Here are some opportunities to get involved this month.

Manifesto for Essex

Manifesto for Essex is a creative platform for young people to express their thoughts and ideas for tackling climate change. They can submit an Earth Poem or make bunting which will be exhibited at Essex Heritage Open Days.

Essex Heritage Open Days

This is a packed programme of free events and activities to celebrate Essex's proud heritage. Over 10 days, you can enjoy virtual visits to some of the county's great buildings, online talks, outdoor events, hidden nature walks and self-guided trails.

Thurrock Festival

Thurrock Festival is a celebration of culture and creativity. Inspired by the motto of Thurrock, "By Thames to all the people of the world", the festival brings together the work of both local and international artists.

Visit the Essex 2020 website or follow Essex 2020 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to discover more exciting events.