Covid plans in place to support Calderdale schools, pupils and families
Plans are in hand to support schools, staff, children and their families in Calderdale amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when the new school year starts in September.
Calderdale Council’s Assistant Director for Education and Inclusion, Lesley Bowyer, told gthe authority’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board plans were in hand for continued support, including dealing with changing guidance.
She said the council had met with the Department of Education and it was apparent there is still a lot of uncertainty with the situation with COVID-19.
“We are still seeing really high case rates in Calderdale and will have schools and other settings coming back without some of the controls that were there before.
“We want to ensure we stay as safe as possible for children and staff and their families,” she said.
The Department of Education’s priority of attendance is as high as possible is shared and has always been the priority in Calderdale – when it has been lower it has been because of outbreaks of the virus and the legal necessity to isolate, said Ms Bowyer.
A testing process would be in place for the first week in September and in Calderdale settings had been testing much earlier than national guidance had provided for.
For the first two weeks lateral flow testing would be on site and afterwards at home.
Close liasion with schools with the council’s Public Health team would continue.
Vaccines were available for vulnerable children aged 12 and over, with some provision generally for 16 and 17-year-olds, the board heard.
Ms Bowyer said there were concerns schools would not now actively be included in contact tracing, as this had been a tool used to help control the situation.
Self-isolation rules had also changed for under 18s and fully vaccinated adults, she said.
Risk assessment pro-formas had been updated for scholls which were already reviewing their risk assessments, said Ms Bowyer.
Coun Dot Foster (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said she was concerned about contact tracing being taken out of the process as it had been working so well and Ms Bowyer said the team had fed this view back to the Department of Education, with more guidance and clarification expected.
Coun Helen Rivron (Lab, Ovenden) was concerned about digital inclusion including provision and said for some children it would be a great relief to be back at school but some had thrived with online teaching.
Ms Bowyer said vulnerable groups were being looked at to see what had been done positively with the aim of building on those strengths. In terms of digital inclusion, it had to be a society solution in the longer term, not down to schools.
Board Chair Coun Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) asked if every child who wanted or needed equipment and so on now had it.
Ms Bowyer said demand had been met for every child who had been put forward for equipment and the issue was still being worked on with schools.