Plans are in place to ensure children and young people continue to receive face-to-face education in North Yorkshire, whilst minimising the spread of the Omicron variant in schools.
As pupils return to the classroom for the new term, schools in the County have updated their risk assessments to ensure children and young people continue to receive education in the classroom where possible.
Yesterday, we held a webinar for school leaders, to run through the updated guidance from the Government and outline the support which will be in place.
Under new Government guidance, secondary school pupils will need to wear face coverings in the classroom in a bid to reduce the spread on the Omicron variant. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said face coverings will be required until January 26, when the Government’s Plan B will be reviewed.
Arrangements are also in place for students in Years 7 and above to have a coronavirus test in school on their return from the Christmas break and after that will be strongly encouraged to continue twice weekly home testing.
We have updated risk assessment templates for schools and other education settings, to reflect the new government guidance. We are also making advice and guidance available on human resources, property issues, health and safety, legal issues and education, as well as providing access to Public Health colleagues.
If rising infection rates cause staffing problems in schools, staff can be used more flexibly to ensure schools remain open, which could include combining classes or teaching groups, as recommended by the Government. Appropriate support will remain in place for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
If this isn’t possible, high quality remote education can be used as a last resort.
Stuart Carlton, Corporate Director for Children and Young People’s Services said: “Schools and other education settings in the county are working extremely hard to make sure they remain safe places for everyone and to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant. With these measures in place we are confident that we can minimise any disruption to pupils’ learning as we head into 2022.
“Our priority is to keep schools and other education settings open for children and young people so they can continue to receive the benefits of face-to-face education and the social and emotional interaction they need.”
Cllr Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Education and Skills said: “We would like to thank pupils and their families for continuing with Covid testing and for keeping to the latest guidance on face masks in classrooms.
“Measures are in place in schools and classrooms across the county to reduce the spread of the virus and to enable pupils to continue their education in the best possible environment for them, which is in schools, surrounded by the support of teaching staff and friends.”