LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND. Steve Reddy, visits one of Liverpool's children's hubs at Our Lady and St Swithin's Catholic Primary school in Croxteth following school closures across the country to stop the spread of coronavirus. Cunard building, Liverpool on 22 March 2020. Picture: Jennifer Bruce/Liverpool City Council.
Schools in Liverpool will only be open to the pupils of key workers and vulnerable children from the start of June.
Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Steve Reddy, is today writing to parents via schools to tell them that the council does not expect schools to reopen to any other year groups at this stage – and that when they do, the exact date will vary from school to school.
The council will permanently close its network of around 50 childcare hubs which have been providing provision for parents of key workers and vulnerable children on Friday 22 May. The service will instead be provided at each primary, secondary and special school in the city after half term, from Monday 1 June.
In the letter, Mr Reddy writes: “Our guiding principle is that schools can only re-open to other pupils when it is safe to do so and not a moment before. Only once we can be sure that schools are safe for both children and staff will they be able to open to more children. The safety of your child, and of our staff, is our top priority.
“Some parents have asked me when schools may fully re-open. This will vary from school to school. Each headteacher has to rigorously assess the risks of fully re-opening for their particular school. The size and layout of the school building, and the availability of staff, will affect their assessments. It will be the case that the schools will do it differently. Your child’s headteacher will be in touch with you in due course.”
He adds: “We will not be pressuring anyone to send their child to school since you know your children and personal situation best. Once you have all the information, you will be able to make an informed decision.
“The government has made it clear they will not be fining parents for not sending children into school during this term. However, if you are supported by a social worker and your social worker advises that your child needs to attend school, it is important you follow this advice.”
He has also thanked staff who have been running the network of childcare hubs over the last couple of months and reiterated the importance of schools as the heart of the community.
He concludes: “I think many of us have grown further in our admiration for those who work and teach in our nurseries, schools and colleges. We now recognise even more the important role nurseries, schools and colleges play in our lives, and in our communities. They are much more than places of learning! They have become care providers, meal voucher distributors, PPE manufacturers, providers of sanitary products – in short, they continue to be the beating heart of local communities.
“But these are unsettling times. We must all keep looking out for our children, and how they are reacting. We must all watch out for their emotional and mental health needs, even if they seem to be coping well for now. My team is working with many professionals across the city to ensure the right support is in place in schools for everyone who needs it.
“There is no guarantee to what the ‘new normal’ will look like in our schools. But I want you and your child to know that when they do return to school, my colleagues and I are working hard to ensure they return to an even better place than when they left. I am unflinching in my commitment that your children – Liverpool’s present and future – get the best possible care and education.”
Earlier this week, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said he was “minded to resist” the June 1 reopening date because of safeguarding concerns.
Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Steve Reddy said: “We have been working really hard with heads and trade unions over the last few days to look at how and when we can reopen our schools safely and I would like to thank them for their support.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we simply cannot reopen schools in line with the suggested timetable outlined by the government. The layout of every school is different and they all have different challenges to overcome in terms of maintaining social distancing and hygiene.
“Together with heads, we are committed to keeping parents up to date, and each school will be communicating with them when they are in a position to know more. All I can say at this stage is that we do not envisage primary age pupils being able to return until mid-June at the very least.
“I would like to thank staff in our childcare hubs who have worked so hard over the last couple of months to provide consistent care for the children of key workers. From 1st June, eligible pupils should go to their usual school.”