Barking and Dagenham releases details of coronavirus safety measures ahead of schools reopening
PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:26 25 August 2020
The man behind the borough’s response to coronavirus has sought to reassure parents that everything is being done to make schools safe before pupils’ go back next month.
Barking and Dagenham’s director of public health, Matthew Cole, was speaking as the town hall released details of safety measures meant to guarantee staff and students’ safety.
Mr Cole said: “Parents should rest assured that schools have in place several measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus, including staggered start and end times as well as enhanced cleaning regimens.
“The health of our young people and school staff is the number one priority for the council and we are doing everything we can to make sure staff and pupils remain safe.”
A council spokesperson said that headteachers, school governors and the town hall’s public health team have worked hard over the summer holidays to put measures in place.
These include staggered breaks, start, and finish times. Hand sanitiser is being made available for staff and pupils with beefed up cleaning of surfaces throughout schools.
Controls on who is allowed through the gates, described by the council as “strict”, and one-way systems for those moving around school have also been brought in.
If a pupil or member of staff falls ill or shows any of the symptoms of coronavirus – a dry, continuous cough, a loss or change to their sense of taste or smell, or a high temperature – they will be advised to go home, book a test by calling 119 and isolate for 10 days.
The council would then work with the school and the government agency, Public Health England, to contact any of the other students or members of staff who could have come into contact with the sick student or staff member and they will be advised to isolate and get tested too.
Anyone worried about their child’s return is recommended by the council to contact their school.
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The spokesperson said schools will be working closely with Barking and Dagenham’s public health team. Secondaries and primaries will be best placed to give advice in line with the government’s coronavirus measures, he added.
After months of lockdown, parents are being encouraged to send their children back to school when they re-open in September.
For some pupils, this could be their first year at a new school while for many others it will be the first time they have gone back to school since March.
Parents are being reminded that it is important for children’s development that they get back into the classroom.
Prime minister, Boris Johnson, has described the reopening of schools to all pupils as a “moral duty”.
Mr Johnson said on Monday, August 24: “The risk of contracting Covid-19 in school is very small and it is far more damaging for a child’s development and their health and well-being to be away from school any longer.
“This is why it’s vitally important that we get our children back into the classroom. Nothing will have a greater effect on the life chances of our children than returning to school.”
Barking and Dagenham Council leader, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “As a parent and grandparent of school-age children, I share many of the same concerns parents may have about sending their kids back to school.
“I want to reassure parents that both school staff and our public health team have been working tirelessly to bring schools into line with the government’s coronavirus advice for schools.”
Cllr Evelyn Carpenter, who is in charge of educational attainment and school improvement at the council, said: “Whilst this is a worrying time for all of us, I think it’s important for parents to remember the key educational skills children will have been missing out on, out of school.
“Not only does school give children vital education to help them lead successful lives, it also provides them with the basic social skills they will carry with them throughout their lives.”
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