Don't be taken in by hoax messages about schools testing children for Coronavirus.
Getting back to school and college safely from 8th March
Following last week’s Government announcement, schools and education settings will reopen to all pupils on Monday 8 March.
Here at Sheffield City Council, we’re supporting schools as they prepare to welcome pupils back by putting systems in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and keep children, staff and their families safe.
We want to reassure you that we are working closely with all schools to allow them to function while reducing the risk of the virus.
Working together with nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges we have developed robust health and safety risk assessments and plans for what to do if an outbreak occurs, which will be kept under close review.
Schools have worked extremely hard to adapt to the changing situation and implement measures that are essential to reduce health risks and control the spread of the virus in their setting.
Many of these measures will now be familiar to children, families, and staff, such as:
• continuing to use protective bubbles to help manage risk. A bubble is a group of pupils who spend their day together often with the same small group of staff.
• social distancing will be in place where it can be
• staggered start and finish times help with the flow of pupils
• managing confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the setting, in line with current public health guidance, and minimise contact with anyone who is required to self-isolate
• ensuring that everyone cleans their hands thoroughly more often than usual, including when they arrive, when they return from breaks, when they change rooms and before and after eating
• promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach, to ensure good respiratory hygiene
• enhanced cleaning and ventilation, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces more often
• face coverings worn in secondary school settings
Parents will be contacted this week by email or post to explain what their school is doing and when their child will need to return. Whilst all primary school pupils will return to school on 8th March, secondary school pupils may return on different dates to help schools manage the offer of Asymptomatic Lateral Flow Device Testing (LFD).
Rapid testing using LFD’s will support the return of pupils into secondary schools by helping to identify staff and pupils who are infectious but do not have any coronavirus symptoms. Those who test positive will need to self-isolate, helping to reduce transmission of the virus and keeping other pupils and students in face-to-face education. Testing is voluntary but is strongly encouraged to help break the chain of transmission. No child will be tested unless consent is obtained from a parent or carer, or from the student directly, if they are over 18.
Following guidance from Public Health England, pre-school children and primary aged pupils do not need to be regularly tested. However, staff will be taking part in the asymptomatic testing programme to help reduce transmission of the virus and keep everyone safe.
If you’re a member of a household, childcare bubble, or in the support bubble of a staff member or a pupil, you can also get a two LFD tests a week. More information on how to get these tests is available on our website, visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/backtoschoolsafely.
Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said:
“It is great news that pupils will return to the classroom next week, I know everybody in the school community cannot wait to welcome them back.
“Being in school is the best place for our children socially, academically and for their health and wellbeing; but I know that some pupils who have not been in school for a long time may feel worried about going back. I want to reassure our young people and their families that schools are working hard to do all they can to ensure your return is as safe as possible. If anyone has any concerns, no matter how big or small, I urge them to get in touch with their school as soon as they can.
“As we move into this next phase, I’d like to give a heartfelt thanks to parents, carers, teachers, and school staff who have gone above and beyond over the last few months to support our children through such a difficult time. From juggling jobs and home - schooling to keeping schools open for our key workers and most vulnerable children – your unwavering commitment has kept our young people safe and well.”
For more information about getting back to school safely visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/backtoschoolsafely
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