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Message from the Leader, Cllr Dan Thomas: Update for the parents and carers of Barnet’s school children

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There has been much press speculation recently about when and how the reopening of early years and schools will occur, so I would like to set out the situation for the parents and carers of Barnet’s school children. Education of our children is an absolute priority and schools in Barnet are some of the best in the country.

Message from the Leader

Message from the Leader

Firstly, schools have worked extremely hard during the COVID-19 crisis to keep open when possible, providing places for the children of keyworkers and vulnerable children. It is to the credit of our dedicated school staff that we have been able to continue to support students, as well as offering a range of virtual lessons for most pupils.

The Government has now directed schools to plan to get many more children back into the classroom, starting from June. Our priority is to ensure that Barnet’s learning spaces are safe for all to be in. Every school is first looking at the potential risks of returning more children to the classroom and how they can reduce the overall risks for pupils and for staff.

The plans for the return of pupils will vary from school to school. Headteachers will work with school staff, governors, and unions to devise arrangements that will allow for social distancing where possible, and a range of other measures to minimise the risk of infection. We need to remember that each school is different. They will take into consideration things like the layout of their buildings and the age groups they teach and will only open when they are confident that they can provide a safe environment.

This means it is likely that the return to school will happen in phases, and that different age groups could well return to school at different stages from June. Currently, Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and 6 pupils are scheduled to return first in primary schools. Secondary schools have been asked to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year. Schools will consult with parents and carers on arrangements and will keep them informed of how they will start returning their children back into the classroom. 

If you are a parent or carer of a schoolchild, then please check with your school how and when they plan to reopen. There is guidance issued by government for parents. It is likely that things will change quickly and frequently, so do check in regularly. You will also be able to find up to date information on our website: www.barnet.gov.uk/schools-and-education

Lockdown has been an extremely stressful and difficult time for parents, guardians, and children alike. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and a helpful reminder that it’s OK not to be OK. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties with mental health then there is free help available, whatever your situation. You can find more information here: www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/

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