For many across Sevenoaks and Swanley, this week marks the start of a new school year and I’m sure there will be parents reading this who are worried about what the following few months will bring. But I want to reassure you that there is a very low risk from coronavirus for the majority of children, and that huge efforts have been made by local schools and teachers to make schools safe.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has been clear that the risk to children of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 is low. We also know that children’s health and wellbeing suffer when they are not in the classroom. Schools are a vital point of contact for public health and safeguarding services, and the return of all children is vital to minimise, as far as possible, the longer-term impact of the outbreak on their education, wellbeing and wider development.
From speaking with headteachers across the constituency, I know the hard work all our local schools and teachers have put in to ensuring the right protective measures are in place. I have also been in close contact with the Schools Minister and am reassured that the Government guidance to help schools prepare is comprehensive and coherent.
While much of the process of returning to school will be the same, the environment will feel a bit different. There may be one-way systems in place, hand sanitiser in classrooms, staggered movement at lunchtimes and keeping children in cohorts or ‘bubbles’. I am sure this will feel strange at first, but they are all measures designed to keep staff and pupils as safe as possible and reduce transmission of the virus. For more information on planning your child’s return to school, I would urge parents to visit gov.uk/backtoschool.
The past few months have full of uncertainty, however going back to school this year is more important than ever and I will be working hard to help schools in any way that I can. If you have any concerns regarding sending your children back, please do not hesitate to contact me on email@example.com. My team and I are here to support you all.
Nothing can replace being in the classroom, and together we must now ensure every pupils across Sevenoaks and Swanley is given the opportunity to thrive and fulfil their potential.