Schools across Doncaster have unanimously taken on board the local public health advice and recommendation of Mayor Ros Jones and kept their doors closed to wider age groups today. This advice is supported by our Director of Public Health.
We wanted to take this opportunity to update parents on where we are up to with the wider reopening of schools across Doncaster. You may remember that Mayor Ros Jones outlined three key points in her recommendation:
👉Access to local data
We have yet to receive any Doncaster specific data from national Government that we can properly analyse. Death rates in Doncaster are slowly decreasing and we are confident we are past the peak of the infection but death rates don’t give us much insight into community transmission levels. We have started to create our own data analysis systems which we believe will give us a better insight of infection rates locally
👉Access to PPE
To date Doncaster Council has co-ordinated the delivery of over 170,000 pieces of PPE to 150 schools and childcare providers across the borough. Schools are also being supported with training around how to safely use the PPE they have. This has been a fantastic effort from all involved and Doncaster schools are well placed from a PPE perspective and are happy they have the equipment that is needed to keep staff and children safe. The next steps will be around making sure all school staff have had the necessary training on how to use this PPE safely.
Our priority remains making sure there are enough school places available for our vulnerable and key worker children. Numbers of both groups have significantly increased over the past 11 weeks, with the highest numbers seen over the last week. This is something we have been working hard with schools on as it is really important that children classed as ‘vulnerable’ are being seen in a school setting for their health and wellbeing. What this means for the wider reopening of schools is that when schools do reopen they will have to do so in different ways due to the space available, number of children in classes and the physical distancing guidelines. It will not be a one size fits all approach and different schools will have different approaches.
In addition to these 3 key points, there is also a number of other elements under constant review:
– The success and impact of the newly launched track and trace system
– The potential widening of the education gap between children from different backgrounds – we know that COVID-19 isn’t the only current risk to children across the borough and we have to weigh up all the risks
– The importance of the transition for all ages, particularly for Year 6 pupils preparing for high school, needs to be a key consideration. We are working really hard to make this as easy for children as possible. There will be more detailed information about this coming out shortly and we will share as soon as we have it.
What does this all mean for opening?
We are not quite at a point where we believe we can put a definitive date on when schools will reopen across the borough. Our decisions will continue to be based on evidence and safety rather than committing ourselves to dates. However, we have made some great progress since Mayor Ros’ announcement and schools continue to work hard to get themselves prepared for children to return safely. We are continuing to monitor our progress and will keep all parents updated on a regular basis.