By Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council.
This week is quite a significant one for many of us. By the end of it, local children will be back in the classroom after five long months away from formal education.
September is always a month of new beginnings, as not only do school-age children return to class but also college and university students get back to lessons and lectures, and many young people start new jobs or apprenticeships.
This year, of course, those new beginnings are tempered with some different emotions – perhaps relief as well as excitement, and maybe some trepidation as well as the usual “back to school” nerves.
Overwhelmingly, my feeling is that the start of this new academic year is something to be celebrated – the last few months have been tough for all of us – our young people included. You won’t be alone if you feel that your sense of routine has gone completely out of the window! I know that many parents and young people are now craving that structure back in their lives – not to mention the opportunity to engage in a little more social interaction and the stimulation of learning again.
I am sure that most parents and carers are in agreement that their children need to get back to education without further delay. But I also know that we all want to be assured that children can do so safely.
If you are a parent/carer and you haven’t yet read through the guide which we’ve prepared, outlining what to expect as schools go back, I’d really urge you to do so. You can download it here. Our schools have been working flat out to ensure that they can safely welcome back your children. From keeping children in social “bubbles”, staggering start and finish times and providing additional hand washing and sanitising stations, they have put in place each and every recommended measure to make schools as safe as possible. If you still have any concerns, please get in touch directly with the relevant school and get the information from them first hand. As with every stage of this pandemic, we’re sadly seeing some very wild and creative rumours being circulated on social media – please don’t believe what you read online when your school can tell you first-hand what to really expect. I know that all of our school’s leadership teams are more than happy to talk to you about whatever worries you may have.
Personally, I’m in agreement with the views of the top scientists that keeping children away from education for any longer is, in fact, a greater threat to their long-term wellbeing than anything else. But, with the safety measures that I know are in place in our schools, I’m confident that you don’t have to choose. It is possible to get back into the classroom and stay safe. Of course, it’ll all feel pretty strange to start with, but our young people are extremely resilient and I am sure that it’ll begin to feel perfectly normal after a few days.
So I’ll finish by wishing every child and young person in this Borough who is heading back to the classroom (or starting school for the first time!) the very best of luck – you’ll settle in to your new years in no time, and I’m sure that you’ll all appreciate your teachers, classmates and opportunity to learn more than ever before!
And, for all the adults out there, a reminder that September can be a great time for you to start learning too. We have a range of adult education opportunities in Knowsley – so why not brush up on your essential skills, learn something new or take up a hobby?