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Council asks for evidence behind Government decision to reopen schools

The council’s education lead has written to the Government asking for the evidence behind the decision to reopen schools in June.

Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyne Hill), lead member for children’s services, wrote a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson on Thursday, May 14, stating that he understands why many in the education sector ‘cannot reconcile’ the public health guidance to reopen primary schools to early years students.

In last week’s Maidenhead Advertiser, Dave Rooney, executive principal of Lowbrook Academy in Cox Green and Holy Trinity School in Cookham expressed concerns over staff safety and lack of classroom space for when schools reopen.

In the letter to Mr Williamson, Cllr Carroll said: “I am writing to seek your support to urgently share the scientific evidence behind the recent guidance relating to the reopening of schools.

“I would encourage you as a matter of urgency to share that evidence so the teachers and parents can be reassured that what we are asking of the sector is safe and proportionate for all involved.

“The clearly related topic is about the use, or not, of PPE in a school setting. Once again I urge you to share the scientific evidence about the effectiveness of PPE to further reassure the sector.

“We are specifically asking for feedback on the potential use of part-time timetables, responsibility for education of those whose parents choose not to attend open provision and guidance of the use of external visitors such as education psychologists or sports coaches.”

Speaking to the Advertiser yesterday, Cllr Carroll revealed that he has been working with schools across the borough to work out how ready they are to reopen and assess their varying circumstances.

He said: “The guidance has the right intention, which is it's important that as soon as it's safe and as soon as it’s possible that children go back to school because it’s very important for mental health.

“Each school has different circumstances, the buildings themselves, the ergonomics of each school is different. For some schools it’s a lot more practical and straight forward to put in guidance for social distancing, but for other schools it’s more challenging.

“We have to look at it from a human point of view. Some schools will have staff with underlying conditions or teachers approaching retirement.

“I am working with each school individually to make sure the guidance can be rendered safe.”

Issuing a public briefing on Saturday, Mr Williamson announced that the Government had five tests for assessing whether to invite more children back to school.

He said: “School staff can already be tested for the virus, but from the first of June we’ll extend that to cover children and their families if any of them develop symptoms.

“Together these measures will create an inherently safer system where the risk of transmission is substantially reduced for children, their teachers and also their families.@

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