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Update from Cathi Hadley, NCC Director of Children's Services 28.05.2020

I am writing with regards to the proposed phased reopening of early years settings and primary schools, beginning with early years, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 and children of all ages in special schools as outlined in the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday 10th May 2020. This phased plan aims to beat the virus and provide a road map for re-opening society whilst minimising the spread of COVID-19.

I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that our top priority is the safety of pupils, their families and school staff. We know that this is a worrying time for children, young people and their families and whilst I am sure your children and young people are looking forward to returning to their settings and school, it must be safe for them to do so. Settings and schools will be following and implementing government guidance, as it continues to be updated, to enable this is the case. The Local Authority, the Diocese and those who are responsible for academy schools, will be helping and supporting settings and school leaders in ensuring that your child is safe and their wellbeing needs as well as their educational needs are being met.

With that in mind, it is important to note that every settings and school’s circumstances are unique and settings and schools will not be able to implement the government’s decisions in the exact same way. For some schools, the size of classrooms and play areas may limit the number of children who can be accommodated safely. In these circumstances, there is clear guidance on which children should be prioritised. In others, staffing shortages will limit the speed at which pupils can return. Some of the services that children and parents are used to – such as school meals and breakfast clubs – may not be available immediately in every school. Schools may not be able to teach every subject, if teaching time is limited. Therefore, I respectfully ask for your patience and understanding as schools adjust to the new requirements in order to prioritise keeping everyone safe.

I know that settings and schools are in regular contact with you as parents via a range of different mediums, in order to keep you updated, and I am sure this will continue to be the case. Settings and schools will continue to welcome the children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils in line with national guidance but capacity will be limited especially with more people returning to work. Support for home learning will also continue until guidance for doing so changes.