Following a period of consultation with local school staff, parents, and trade unions, Wirral Borough Council has today issued a statement confirming that children will not be expected back into schools on June 1st, despite the Prime Minister’s announcement on May 10th that they would be reopening.
Commenting on the decision, Labour Group and Wirral Council Leader Pat Hackett said:
Whilst we recognise the importance of schools supporting more children, we want to be absolutely clear that we are taking a measured and cautious approach. Our priority will always be the people we represent, and we therefore do not expect schools to support more pupils until it is safe to do so.
In the coming weeks, childcare providers and schools will be considering how best to move forward. This will require consideration of how children can be kept safe, building layout, hygiene control and size of classes. They will also need to consider how best to support teachers, teaching assistants, childcare workers and support staff to stay safe.
Following the announcement, Councillor Tom Usher, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education commented:
We support schools, parents and carers if they take the decision that now is not the time to safely return to school. We are still continuing to plan for the safe reopening of schools but our priority will always be the safety of staff and children.
Tom also placed on record has thanks to staff at schools that have remained open in recent weeks for the children of key workers.
Our Deputy Group Leader, Janette Williamson has been a vocal supporter of the Trade Union position, echoed in recent days by parents and school staff. Speaking following the announcement, Janette said:
This is the right decision and one that I have been pushing for. We should not pressurise schools to reopen until they are confident they can care for their staff and pupils.
The news has also been welcomed by local Teaching Unions. Ann Rycroft, Secretary of Wirral NASUWT told us:
NASUWT welcomes the decision by Wirral Borough Council to adopt a safe approach to widening school opening. This will enable us to consult on all aspects of any increase in the number of pupils attending school. It will give schools time to assess what staff are available to work, in line with shielding guidelines, to properly risk assess all aspects of school life and to develop the new systems that will be needed to minimise the risks Covid-19 poses. NASUWT has issued schools with our expectations regarding the health, safety and wellbeing of teachers and the wider school community.
Everyone at Wirral Labour Party would like to thank and congratulate the Labour Group leadership, Trade Unions, school staff and parents for working together on this issue. We look forward to seeing how all groups continue to co-operate to ensure that the reopening of schools is done in a way that is safe and secure for children and families across the Borough.
If you would like to contact Councillor Tom Usher, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, you can do so by emailing email@example.com.
To contact Wirral Council’s Coronavirus Helpline call 0151 666 5050