That’s the message from Liverpool City Council as pupils return to the classroom in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
This week some schools have re-opened to accept the children of key workers and vulnerable residents, who had previously used the city’s Childcare Hubs.
The city council is working closely with primary and secondary schools to encourage social distancing at the school gates.
And one of the biggest ways parents can help is to leave the car at home and walk their children to school.
Measures being considered to encourage greater social distancing include installing barriers of footways to create space and even closing roads at school drop-off and pick-up times.
As well as helping to prevent the spread of the virus, such measures may also help improve air quality around the schools.
The big message from the council is: do not drive to school if you can possibly avoid it. The space taken up by cars means less space for people to walk and maintain the correct social distance.
The advice from the council is clear for those returning their children to school this week – plan ahead.
Parents/carers should consider how they will get to school and give themselves more time to walk or cycle in.
Those with older children, Year Four and over, are being asked to encourage them to walk some of the way independently. This could help children to become more aware of the roads. Parents could agree on a meeting place each day away from the school gates, which would reduce the number of people congregating outside school.
The council is urging everyone, except adults and children with mobility issues, not to drive to school. If you have to take the car, then plan in advance and find a suitable spot away from the gates to park.
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills Cllr Barbara Murray, said: “Children returning to their schools this week will find their classrooms very different places to the ones they left before lockdown.
“We have encouraged all our schools to undertake a full risk assessment and ensure that all the necessary safety measures have been put in place.”
“We know many of our children will be looking forward to returning to school but it must be done in the safest way possible. We would urge everyone to follow the advice and respect the social distancing rules at all times.”
Cllr Sharon Connor, who is the council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Highways, added: “Residents of Liverpool have risen to the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak. They have worked with the council and other agencies responded to our requests for their support and looked out for one another.
“People have also responded by walking and cycling more around our city and we would ask everyone to continue to do this as the schools return.
“Leaving the car at home will leave more space for everyone outside schools, it will also help you to become more active and could help to make the streets and roads around our schools safer for children. If you are sending your children back to school this week, let’s all stay safe at the school gates.”