Yesterday the Prime Minister confirmed that the Government would be moving to the next step in their recovery plan, which includes the re-opening of schools and early years settings to more children.
As we set out in our statement last week, the prime concern for the Council and Headteachers throughout has always been the safety of children, their families and school staff. Schools and early years providers have remained open to the children of keyworkers and vulnerable children throughout the lockdown and we want to say thank you again to all the staff who have worked tirelessly to make this happen.
We have been clear that the decision to open to additional priority year groups (Nursery, Reception and Years 1 and 6) must be based on when it is safe to do so. From 1st June, schools in Waltham Forest will begin to open to priority groups and by the end of next week the majority of our primary schools will have some pupils in the priority age groups attending.
We are very aware of the challenges families are facing throughout the borough, and the importance of ensuring that children return to school when possible, which is why we have been supporting schools to open more widely when it is safe, and they are ready to do so.
The Council is here to support schools to make the arrangements appropriate for them, not tell them what to do as we know a one size fits all approach will not work. We have been working with Headteachers, Governors and staff to ensure that schools are progressing at the right pace for them and their pupils. Both I and the Deputy Leader have met with local trade union representatives and we will continue to have an ongoing dialogue with them about staff safety.
Individual schools are communicating directly with parents and carers about the specific arrangements they have in place, and no one will be fined for the non- attendance of their child until we return to normal.
If any member of the school community develops Covid-19 symptoms they should follow the NHS advice to access a test. Plans are in place to respond to potential or confirmed outbreaks at individual schools.
Cllr Clare Coghill
Leader of Waltham Forest Council