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Director of Public Health supports decision to open primary schools as planned

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WARRINGTON’S Director of Public Health Thara Raj is supporting the Government’s position that Primary schools should open as planned tomorrow, January 4, despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the town

Meanwhile, Warrington Borough Council’s Chief Executive Steven Broomhead, MBE, has written to all school heads with a “position statement” from the local authority in a “rapidly changing situation” which includes proposed rapid COVID-19 testing in local schools.
In his letter issued today, Sunday, Mr Broomhead wrote: “At this point in time the Director of Public Health supports the Government position which is to keep Primary schools open. This situation will be kept under constant review as updated data emerges, especially on the new variant.
“We will share data with you as we receive it.
“The following information is intended to give you a brief overview to the changes to guidance which have emerged over the Christmas break –the key of which are to update your risk assessments in respect of Clinically Extremely Vulnerable staff and pupils and staff who are pregnant.”
Implications for the start of the school term
All guidance has been updated to reflect the staggered start of the school term for secondary and college pupils. School leaders should read guidance in light of Tier 4 restrictions and update setting risk assessments accordingly, including consideration of:
• the changes to Extremely Clinically Vulnerable pupils and staff and how this impacts workforce and the remote education offer
• staff who are pregnant
• Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
School leaders should ensure that any changes to practice are communicated to staff and parents as soon as possible to help them prepare for the new term.
Schools should resume completing the daily educational setting status form. Colleges do not need to resume completing the form and will be provided with further instruction when colleges should resume completing this form.
Following the announcement on 30th December that Warrington will move to Tier 4, and an announcement by the Education Secretary to invoke the contingency framework for education and childcare settings plans for England, the council has confirmed the following changes to the start of the Spring term for schools and colleges in Warrington:
• Early years settings and childminders will remain open from 4th January
• Primary schools will be fully open to all pupils from 4th January
• Special Schools and Alternative Provision will be open from 4th January, although there may be some staggering of return to allow some special settings to roll out rapid testing
Secondary and FE colleges:
• Vulnerable children and the children of critical workers in secondary schools and colleges will be provided with face-to-face education from 4th January
• Exam years will receive remote education for the first week of term and return to face to face education during the week commencing 11th January
• All students in secondary schools and colleges are expected to return to face to face education on 18th January
This is a rapidly changing situation which requires constant review. We will continue to work with school leaders to ensure the best course of action for pupils in Warrington based on the evidence available and will keep schools informed through the daily briefing and school leaders’ meetings.
Rapid testing in Warrington schools
Some Primary schools have decided to test all of their staff on return using Lateral Flow Tests. If this is something a school wants to do please contact the council through the Education services inbox which is education@warrington.gov.uk and they will arrange for tests to be delivered to your school.
Mr Broomhead added: “We will be working closely with School Leaders in secondary, specialist and FE colleges to launch the rapid testing programme in Spring Term. The vast majority of settings have taken an additional INSET day on 4th January to plan for this and have sent out information to parents in preparation for the programme.
“We expect further lateral flow device (LFD) tests to be delivered to settings on W/C 4th January between 8am and 10am and settings should ensure that someone is available to receive them. It is aimed that weekly testing will be available for all secondary and college staff and daily serial testing will be offered to staff and students in close contact of positive cases as an alternative to self-isolation as soon as possible in the spring term.
“Resources for school leaders are emerging and can be found at schools and colleges document sharing platform.
Mr Broomhead added:”Supplementary documents for specialist provision have also been made available guidance. The first School Leaders meeting on January 5th will consider the roll-out of the programme and the logistics for implementation.
“We will of course be available to support as always and please be assured that we are in this together. The daily briefs will continue to be shared and the Education task force will continue to meet,” he concluded.”
The full letter and relevant links can be found here CLICK HERE

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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