28/08/2020 - Luton Council responds to schools opening
An open letter to Luton parents and carers ahead of schools opening full time from 2nd September 2020.
Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader Luton Council
Cllr Aslam Khan, Portfolio Holder for Education and Skills
Cllr Khtija Malik, Portfolio Holder for Public Health
Amanda Lewis, Luton Council’s Director of Children, Families and Education
Gerry Taylor, Luton Council’s Director of Public Health
Last month marked the end to an extraordinary school year. Schools and colleges had to respond to necessary measures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, meaning they closed to the majority of pupils on 23 March. June then saw the return of some pupils, largely on a part-time basis. Throughout, we have been incredibly proud of Luton’s response.
The government has said education settings can return to full-time opening for all students from the beginning of September, and have released guidance to those settings about how to open safely.
In preparation for wider opening, we ask that parents and carers read the government’s guidance on what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term and speak to their children about the important role we must all play in reducing the spread of the virus.
Outside school and college, and as a wider population, we must all remain vigilant and observe social distancing measures. It is vital we all play our part if we are to ensure we avoid further restrictions that will impact society.
Luton Council has been working with schools, colleges and partners to prepare for this return, and measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools and colleges are in place in September. These may include pupils being kept in class or year group-sized bubbles, older pupils being asked to socially distance where possible, the staggering of start, end, break and lunch times, and regular hand-washing.
The disruption to children’s education since partial school closures in March has the potential to have a long-lasting impact. It is therefore vital that all children and young people are supported to catch up on any lost learning and to return to the structure and routine of school and college as soon as possible.
However, we also recognise the significant impact that COVID-19 has had on many families’ lives, and that some families will need more support during this time. We will therefore be asking all schools and colleges to work with families who are anxious about their child returning to the classroom to understand the individual circumstances and the concerns they have.
The government has made it clear that attendance will be mandatory for pupils of compulsory school age from September. If any parents are still not sending their child back to school after the school has made contact to explain their risk assessment and measures that are in place, or if levels of attendance were low prior to the lockdown, then it remains within the headteacher’s discretion to refer the case to Luton Education Welfare Service for legal intervention.
We have been working with schools and public transport providers to help children return to schools safely. There will be additional buses running on the busiest routes at peak time and some routes have been switched to dedicated school buses. It is important to ensure:
- you and your child (if over 11 years old) should wear a face covering for the whole length of the journey, unless you are exempt
- you have purchased a ticket on-line or have the exact money available as change will not be issued
- you plan your journey in advance and allow more time to get to school
- on public bus routes, where possible keep a 2 metre distance from others and avoid facing other passengers
We are frequently updating our website with information on return to schools including FAQs.