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Council to host live Q&A session as children prepare to return to school from Monday

Swindon Borough Council supports schools and settings to welcome more children back from Monday 8 March.

Published: Tuesday, 2nd March 2021
Graphic with details of the Back to School Q&A session on 3 March at 5.15pm

Schools and education settings across Swindon have preparations in place to safely welcome children back from Monday (8 March), in line with government guidance.

Ahead of the reopening, Swindon Borough Council will be hosting a live ‘Back to School’ Q&A session on Wednesday (3 March) at 5.15pm with Annette Perrington, the Council’s Director: Inclusion and Achievement, and Steve Maddern, Swindon’s Director of Public Health as well as a few Swindon head teachers to talk through their preparations for full school reopening.

Parents and carers have been encouraged to submit their questions about the reopening of schools via the Council’s Facebook page ahead of the event. At 5.15pm on Wednesday (3 March), residents can then join the event, which will be hosted on Microsoft Teams, by clicking a link available on the Council’s Facebook page. Residents do not need to have Microsoft Teams to be able to join.

The full opening of education settings is being prioritised in the Government’s roadmap out of the current national lockdown, as set out by the Prime Minister on Monday, 22 February.

Primary school children, secondary school pupils and college students, as well as university students on practical courses who need access to specialist facilities and equipment, will all return to education settings from Monday (8 March). Many vulnerable children and children of critical workers are already receiving face-to-face education.

Swindon Borough Council is working closely with education settings to make sure pupils and staff are safe through the use of social distancing measures, frequent hand-washing and regular COVID-19 testing for staff and some students. The following people in England will have access to regular rapid lateral flow testing made available to them as education settings reopen:

  • Secondary school pupils
  • Further Education students
  • Those attending college as adult learners
  • Primary and secondary school staff
  • Households, childcare and support bubbles of primary and secondary-age pupils
  • Households, childcare and support bubbles of primary and secondary staff

Primary school pupils will not be asked to test at this time. Further information on how this testing can be accessed will be provided in due course. Rapid COVID-19 testing helps identify those who have the virus but may not be displaying symptoms, helping to stop the chain of transmission in the community. All testing is voluntary and for some children and young people, it is recognised that testing would not be appropriate. Secondary schools and colleges are able to phase the return of students next week (w/c 8 March) to support with this testing.

Government guidance states that secondary school students should wear face coverings in classrooms and during activities unless social distancing can be maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, such as in PE lessons.

In primary schools, guidance outlines that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible. Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering.

The Department for Education has launched a national ‘Back to School’ campaign which the Council is also supporting.

Councillor Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to parents and students for their enormous efforts to home school during these difficult times. I am also very grateful to teachers and support staff for working so hard to ensure that schools are safe.  

“I know there may be some anxieties about going back to school so it is important that everyone continues to work together. There is a Q&A Session on Wednesday on Facebook which will give more information on how schools will be covid-secure so please do join in to learn more – you can find out more at www.facebook.com/swindonboroughcouncil.”

Any parents or carers who would like specific information about the safety measures in place should speak to their school or education setting for more information. The Education Welfare Service will also provide a free consultation service to help provide support and guidance to all families, pupils, and schools. This service can be contacted at: AbsenceEnquiry@Swindon.gov.uk.

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