Hampshire’s educators prepare for pupils’ return

Following publication of the Government’s roadmap for leaving lockdown, primary and secondary schools across Hampshire are gearing up for a safe full return to face-to-face education from 8 March. Early years settings have remained open throughout the pandemic and schools have been open to vulnerable children and the children of keyworkers

Mar 1 2021

Councillor Roz Chadd, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “We welcome the announcement that the return to education is being prioritised in the Government’s plan for a gradual and cautious easing of restrictions over coming months. From early years to secondary level, access to high quality, face-to-face learning brings so many benefits for children and young people, not only in terms of academic progression but also for their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, through opportunities to socialise with their peers and get regular exercise through walking or cycling to school and taking part in sports. 
 
“The County Council is working with headteachers to ensure that schools are supported to extend their opening successfully, with appropriate COVID safety measures in place to reduce the risk of transmission and protect staff, pupils and communities. This includes lateral flow testing for staff in all schools and secondary aged pupils. This will mean a flexible return for secondary schools while testing is rolled out. It is very important to note that testing is not a substitute for other protective measures: everyone must continue to follow ‘hands, face, space’ guidance throughout the school day, while parents and carers should observe social distancing in the playground and around the school gates during drop off and pick up.
 
“I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding dedication and hard work of all our headteachers, school staff, nursery staff and childminders throughout the pandemic – and their remarkable creativity and resilience in continuing to meet the needs of children and young people during exceptionally challenging circumstances. We look forward to seeing everyone back in the classroom from next week.”
 
From 8 March:
 
- all children and students can return to face-to-face education in schools. There will be a staggered return for secondary schools to allow for testing to be established.
- early years providers remain open for all children, as they have throughout lockdown. 
- after school clubs and children’s sports activities can resume in some circumstances.
 
Lateral flow testing 
 
- Lateral flow tests are for people without symptoms of coronavirus and involve a swab of the nose and throat. Around 1 in 3 people who have COVID-19 do not have any symptoms and can spread it without knowing, so this type of testing will help to identify more positive cases quickly and reduce the chance of the virus spreading.
- Testing in school is voluntary and no child or young person will be tested unless they are willing and informed consent has been given by the appropriate person.
- Secondary school pupils will take three tests at school, after which pupils will be expected to carry out twice weekly testing at home.
- Whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, will be able to test themselves twice every week from home.
 
Schools are communicating specific guidance to parents and carers around testing and wearing of face coverings. All COVID-19 measures will be implemented in accordance with Government guidance and in the most appropriate way for each setting.
 
For more information and guidance on lateral flow testing in educational settings, visit gov.uk
 
Any child or young person displaying symptoms of coronavirus should not attend nursery or school. They must stay at home, follow self-isolation guidance and book a test. The rest of the household must also follow self-isolation guidance.