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Parents told not all Shropshire schools will fully reopen by June 1

By Dominic Robertson | Bridgnorth | Education | Published:

Parents have now been told that not all of Shropshire's schools will be ready to welcome pupils by June 1.

School classrooms will look very different when they re-open on June 1

Earlier this week the Shropshire Star revealed that schools in the Shropshire Council area would be allowed to take a 'phased approach' to reopening, meaning that a number will not meet the government's initial request to be ready for reception, year one and year six pupils by the start of next month.

The council has now written to parents to say risk assessments are being carried out and that "schools will only invite pupils back once the protective measures outlined by the government have been put in place".

The council also says that packs of PPE are being sent to schools as the prepare to reopen.

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The letter to parents adds: "As a local authority we acknowledge that not all schools will be able to meet the governments ambitions immediately. Capacity in schools will vary and many schools will need to introduce a phased re-integration. This might affect the year groups that can attend and the days available."

It also outlines how schools "will work very differently" when pupils return, with small groups of pupils forming a "social bubble" where they only socialise with the children in their bubble.

It adds that it recognises "that attending school during this period is a parental choice".

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As the preparations continue, Shropshire Council says it arranging "the distribution of emergency packs of PPE to all schools and academies which will meet the current national requirements for the reopening of schools."

The council says that individual schools will have different circumstances and buildings that could make it harder to reopen in line with guidance.

Constraints

A statement from the authority says: "Before schools open up to wider cohorts, each school will undertake a risk assessment which will determine whether wider reopening can be achieved and if a phased re-integration is necessary.

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"We do not expect schools to open more widely until the risk assessment has been completed and agreed. Shropshire Council recognises that for many schools a phased re-integration will be appropriate. We will support schools’ judgement in this matter.

"Shropshire Council recognises constraints such as staffing and buildings place limitations on some of our schools. Some classrooms may not allow for the class size of 15 as suggested by the Government. This may impact on the number of children who are initially able to access education and the days available to different year groups or pupils.

"We expect therefore that schools will have different levels and patterns of attendance to meet their local context."

The council says plans should be reviewed each week.

The authority explained there would be considerable differences in the way schools operate, saying: "Class sizes will be small and schools will implement social distancing as far as possible. This means lessons may run differently, break times and lunch times may be staggered, school start and finish times may be different.

"If your child requires home to school transport, these arrangements will change as strict safety and social distancing arrangements will be applied on the vehicles.

"This will not be a one size fits all approach but will be tailored to your child’s school. Inside the classroom pupils will form a ‘social bubble’ – spending time with the same group of children during lessons, break and lunch and working where possible with the same members of teaching staff. This is to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and protect pupils and staff."

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