Bristol schools are preparing to welcome back all students from next week. Returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Many children have been home schooled for several months due to the pandemic, and will now be preparing to transition back into the classroom.
Bristol City Council has launched a new hub of resources to support parents, carers and children as schools reopen to all students.
The UK’s Chief and Deputy Chief Medical Officers have stated that parents and carers can send their children back to school safe in the knowledge that they face an ‘exceptionally small risk’ from Covid-19. Schools have been provided with guidance from the government on the safety measures they should implement to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, which includes increased handwashing, staggered break times, and children being separated into ‘bubbles’.
Parents and carers are also encouraged to plan their journey to and from school with safety in mind, and to walk or cycle where possible. If you need to use public transport, check your school or bus company’s website to plan your journey and follow the rules. Parents, carers and students can use Better by Bike and TravelWest for journey planning, and more information on new and upcoming walking and cycling routes is available at: www.bristol.gov.uk/covidroadchanges.
Councillor Anna Keen, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “After a very challenging period for parents, carers and their children, it’s fantastic that schools are to imminently open to all students in September – offering structure, routine and of course reconnection with friends and teachers.
“While schools can’t wait to see all children back, we understand the importance of this happening safely, and the emotional issues that surround this too. We want to reassure parents, carers and children that it’s perfectly normal to feel anxious about going back to school, and that your school is there to support you through the changes and get everyone back settled and feeling safe.
“It’s very important that children attend the first few days back, as this is when new safety measures and procedures will be explained. If parents and carers do have any concerns, please do speak to your school. This way you’ll better prepare your child – and yourself – for the new measures and changes in place, as each school will be different.
“Children with special educational needs and disability may need extra support to settle back into the school routine and get used to new or different rules. Almost all of the city’s children with SEND have school places and those schools are putting appropriate support in place, based on what they already know about each child’s needs. If there are things that have made a pupil with SEND more vulnerable because of Covid-19, they’ll consider this when planning for their return. Parents and carers can contact their school if they have any specific concerns or questions.”
Christina Gray, Bristol’s Director of Public Health, said: “The classroom is the best place for children to be and my advice for parents and carers getting ready for the transition, is to be as prepared as possible.
“Keep communicating with your children about the changes they can expect in schools, and vitally, talk about what they should do if they develop symptoms of the virus. If your child develops symptoms at school, they should tell a teacher, go home, and you should arrange for them to get tested. As with adults, symptoms typically include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and/or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste. Most people with the virus have at least one of these symptoms.
“Bristol will support the revised government guidance on face coverings in schools (for staff and children in Year 7 and above). On reopening to all students in September, schools will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas if they believe it is right in their individual circumstances.
“Please be mindful to keep to the guidance within households and in social situations. This is as important as the arrangements within school. Guidance currently permits you to only socialise indoors with members of up to two households. When outdoors, you should socialise in a group of no more than six people from different households, or up to two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household).”
Jon Angell, Principal of City Academy, Bristol and Chair of Bristol Area Secondary Heads and Principals, said: “Some parents and carers will be feeling worried about their home schooling during lockdown and how this might impact on their child’s learning. We want to reassure you that teachers are experts in helping children catch up, and that you’ve done a brilliant job in such difficult circumstances. Every child’s experience has been different and what’s important is that children are back in the classroom.
“Schools have been working extremely hard to respond to the latest government guidance to do everything they can to be ready for the start of the new academic year. A big thank you to all of our teachers and school staff for their support – we can’t wait to see you all back in the classroom. And to parents, carers and children – get ready for a warm welcome back, in a safe, well-managed environment.”
For tips and resources on returning back to school, read our new resources online.