10:04PM, Sunday 03 January 2021
The Royal Borough has said it will support headteachers in their decisions amid growing concern over primary schools reopening this week.
A number of local authority areas are being instructed to close primary schools - though this does not apply to the Royal Borough at this time.
In a statement on its website, the council wrote:
"We are aware that many parents, teachers and headteachers are concerned that schools are due to open when the spread of the virus is at an all-time high in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead.
"We at the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead are aware many parents are anxious about the safe return to school for their children and have consulted the professional opinion of our Director of Public Health.
"In the Royal Borough, we’ve been working constructively with our head teachers, to ensure that schools are as safe as possible.
"We have advised schools that if they do not have, or are not sure that they will have enough staff available to reopen safely for all children, that they should prioritise opening for vulnerable children and for critical keyworkers’ families.
"Each school is deciding what it plans to do, so parents should check with their child’s school website, social media profiles or other communication channels to see any latest updates.
"We have sought further clarity from the Department for Education in respect of school opening in the borough. We are aware of a number of Local Authority areas that have been instructed to close their primary schools, something that does not apply to the Royal Borough at this moment in time.
"In addition, we understand the full rationale of advice about vaccination from the Government’s expert group, the Joint Committee on Immunisation and Vaccination, which advises the prioritisation of people across the country who are at immediate or high risk of death from coronavirus.
"We are pushing the Government for clarity as to when the vaccination programme can be rolled out to teachers and school staff and other key workers such as social workers and adult care staff as the next in line, priority vaccination groups.
"To support the effective risk assessments both in terms of the impact of the pandemic on the safety of pupils and staff, in respect of staff availability from Monday 4 January, we will support any school wishing to take two days at the start of term to undertake risk assessments and consult with their staff to enable full school opening.
"However, we would ask that schools wishing to do this make on-site provision for vulnerable learners and children of critical key workers for these two days.
"If schools feel their arrangements have already been reviewed in the light of the continually changing circumstances and wish to continue to open fully, we will also support this.
"We’ll continue to support headteachers in their decisions, including a further operational review on Monday morning.
"In the meantime, we remain committed to working with our schools to find ways of ensuring our young people can access high quality education via the most effective methods while supporting efforts to slow the virus."
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