Schoolchildren across Medway returned to the classroom last week following the reopening of schools across England on Monday, 8 March.
Our schools team worked closely with headteachers across Medway on their individual arrangements for children to return to school in the safest way possible. This included advice on measures which can be put in place to protect both pupils and staff including staggering the return of some secondary school year groups.
Schools have put their own social distancing measures in place which may include one-way systems in hallways and corridors, staggered arrival and departure times for pupils, staggered break and lunch times and pupils being taught in one classroom. Each school is responsible for putting its own measures in place and has directly contacted families and pupils to advise of its arrangements.
We are also encouraging schools to continue to follow the latest government advice on face coverings. This means that pupils in Year 7 and above, as well as staff in both primary and secondary schools, should wear face coverings when moving around the school in corridors, classrooms and communal areas, where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Primary school children do not need to wear face coverings, in line with government advice.
Children aged 11 and above, who are travelling to school on public transport, are also encouraged to wear face coverings and follow social distancing guidelines on their journeys to and from school. It is also vital that after school young people try and stay within their bubbles. If parents and carers are collecting their children from school, they are encouraged to follow school guidelines on where to wait and to keep their distance from others.
Secondary school pupils, college students and teaching staff are encouraged to regularly take a coronavirus test in line with government guidance, and schools and colleges have testing kits available to assist with this.
Parents, carers and relatives of schoolchildren (at primary, secondary or college age), as well as residents in childcare and support bubbles, are able to access symptom-free home testing kits. The kits are available to collect from your nearest home test collection centre and can also be ordered online. Eligible households are encouraged to take the tests at home twice a week.
Ensuring all of Medway's children have the opportunity to thrive and learn well
Cllr Martin Potter, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools, said: “I am pleased children and young people across Medway have been reunited with their teachers and classmates once again. We have continued to work with Medway’s schools and academies to ensure that all pupils were able to return to the classroom as safely as possible. It’s great news that Medway’s primary schools had 96 per cent attendance last week which is in line with the national average. We will continue to offer our advice and support to all primary and secondary schools, and academies. We are committed to ensuring that all of Medway’s children have the opportunity to thrive and learn well.”
It is vital that families of school-age children continue to get tested
Cllr Josie Iles, Medway Council’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “I would like to thank all of Medway’s schools for their tireless hard work supporting Medway’s children and young people throughout the pandemic. We appreciate that this may have been an unsettling time for our youngest residents, and I am pleased that all pupils are now back at school learning with their friends and classmates. To help keep children in school safely it is vital that families of school-age children and secondary school pupils continue to regularly take coronavirus tests. We are committed to ensuring all children and young people in Medway have the best start in life and achieve their full potential.”
If a child develops coronavirus symptoms parents and carers must ensure their child self-isolates and gets a test as quickly as possible. They must continue to self-isolate until they get the results. If your child tests positive, it is vital that you continue to self-isolate, follow the government advice and inform your child’s school as soon as possible.
Parents and carers are encouraged to visit the government website for information and practical guidance about their child’s return to school.