When can Hertfordshire school children return to classrooms?

Published: 14 May 2020

The majority of Hertfordshire’s schools are currently open and have never actually closed their doors.  Instead they have been welcoming vulnerable children and those who have a parent who is a keyworker each day, even during traditional holiday periods.

Almost all children who are not attending a classroom each day are receiving distance learning and schools have seen an amazing ground swell of support from parents and carers, working shoulder to shoulder with teachers to keep learning fun and on track.

Between now and June, schools will be in touch with parents about the arrangements for their own children and the school’s overall plans for phasing children back into the classrooms. On Monday (11 May) the government announced that primary schools would be opening on 1 June for all nursery aged children, reception, year one and year six.

Secondary schools, sixth form, and further education colleges have been asked to begin some face to face support with year 10 and 12 pupils, although it is not expected that these pupils will return on a full-time basis at this stage.

It is important to be clear that it may well not be possible for every child in each of these age-groups to return to school full time at this point. This depends on the circumstances of each school, and the extent to which the safety of the school community can be assured. The government has also asked early years settings to reopen, but not all providers will be able to do so immediately.

The government has been clear that reopening is subject to progress in managing the Covid-19 epidemic remaining acceptable. Hertfordshire County Council continues to work closely with schools and early years providers to help them plan for and manage school safety and the phased return to classrooms for more pupils.

There are many challenges to be planned for in terms of ensuring safety for pupils and staff with more children on site than there is currently and how appropriate social distancing can be assured. In this, safety is paramount. The Schools will be completing risk assessments about logistics, grounds, classroom space, looking at ways to manage staff and child safety using PPE if someone develops Covid-19 symptoms, along with how to keep small groups of children together throughout the day to reduce contact across the whole school population. 

Parents and carers will be asked to play their part by agreeing to enter and leave the school premises as directed, observing social distancing and not gathering at the gates. 

Terry Douris, Cabinet Member for Education, Libraries and Localism said:

“I would like to stress that a huge amount of effort and great work has been demonstrated by our teachers, support staff, parents and children over the recent weeks and months. I would also add my thanks to all the education staff working for and with the county council.

“The creation of Oak National Academy and the resources of BBC Bitesize coupled with the social media #iSchoolation campaign has shown each week a huge variety of work being undertaken both in school and through distance learning with work set by teachers remotely. My thanks to all of you for your support and forbearance through this challenging time.

Now it is time for us to pay back all that hard work by supporting each of our schools.  I ask parents and carers to partner with your child’s school to support the phased return, adhering to the measures they arrange to keep everyone safe. Your child’s teacher would not for a second want to put a child or themselves at risk, so you can rest assured the systems and procedures they agree to put in place will be as safe as possible.  Please continue to support your local communities, as we are all this together.”