With rising rates of infection and demand for places being significantly higher than during lockdown last year, parents and carers in Knowsley are being asked to consider whether it is absolutely essential for their children to attend school (including nurseries located at school).
Government guidance, issued on Friday 8 January, states that even if you are a critical worker, if your child or children can remain at home rather that attend school or Nursery, on some, or all days, then they should.
All schools in Knowsley are open to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers during lockdown. However, schools are already reporting a significant increase in demand for places compared to the first lockdown in 2020.
This increase is proving challenging as schools are trying to keep their class bubbles to a smaller size to minimise people from different households mixing, reduce transmission of the virus and the impact of someone testing positive in that bubble.
In addition, schools are facing reducing workforces as more staff are self-isolating as well as staff being diverted to deliver lessons remotely and supporting pupils at home.
Given Knowsley’s rising infections rates (which now stand at 1,270 per 100,000), the Council’s Leader (Cllr Graham Morgan) and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services (Cllr Margaret Harvey) have today written to parents and carers urging them to access remote learning wherever possible.
They warn that school leaders may, as a last resort, have to prioritise the return of children based on individual need and to ensure the schools remains safe for all pupils and staff.
Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, said: “Our schools continue to work so hard to support families throughout this pandemic but we already know that many of our schools and settings are experiencing high demand for places.
This is placing additional pressure on them to manage demand and deliver high quality remote learning alongside on-site provision. And of course, that all comes along with their ongoing work to keep school environments safe and keep bubbles as small as possible to reduce transmission of the virus. It is a big challenge.”
Cllr Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, added: “We know that school places are absolutely essential for some of our families here in Knowsley.
We have many parents and carers working on the frontline in our hospitals and many hundreds more in the care sector. We also know that maintaining face to face learning for some children is essential to their wellbeing. That’s why our schools are working so hard to maintain this provision.
Our Headteachers are having to prioritise places so we are asking parents to request critical worker schools places only if it is absolutely necessary. If you can keep you child or children at home, then please do.
High quality remote learning is being provided by schools so that pupil learning can continue at home and our school staff are available to support families with this.”