SERIOUS concerns are being raised by Warrington Borough Council about additional COVID-19 pressures secondary schools and colleges will be under in the run-up to the New Year and the next academic term.
This follows a national announcement that secondary schools and colleges should begin to roll out testing from the first week of January and should also deliver remote learning to the majority of pupils when term begins.
New national guidance has been published which sets out steps that secondary schools, including special schools and colleges, should address, including:
·Providing remote education to most pupils and only opening for face-to-face education for vulnerable children, children of key workers and those in exam years, from 4 January
·Offering a lateral flow testing (LFT) regime to as many secondary school-age pupils and students at further education colleges as possible, from 4 January.
It is expected that all pupils should then return to school for face-to-face education on 11 January.
Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Matt Smith, said: “This is a logistically mammoth operation for schools to arrange the week before they break up and I have real concerns that this puts undue pressure on our education colleagues who have already gone above-and-beyond this year. Our schools will need to implement testing plans, train staff and also make arrangements for a staggered return to face-to-face learning when terms starts in January.
“To ask schools to establish these new testing regimes, ensuring there is also a remote education offer for the first week of next term, leaves our schools colleagues under a lot of additional strain.
“We understand the absolute importance of our schools remaining as COVID secure as possible, and keeping schools and colleges open is a priority, but our education leaders have been given a very small window of opportunity to put in place the necessary infrastructure to meet these new expectations.
“Our education services colleagues at the council are on hand to provide additional support and guidance to our school leaders. We will work together and are determined to find solutions, but this is a huge, technically complex and potentially difficult issue that we need to resolve within a very short space of time.”
The latest guidance for schools re-opening in the New Year can be found by CLICKING HERE