Tameside schools advised to delay wider reopening

TAMESIDE schools are being advised to delay wider reopening until at least 22 June in response to the regional rise in the R rate and the associated increased risks to public health.

The borough’s schools were due to start welcoming more pupils back from Monday 8 June following the half term holiday.

However Tameside Council Director of Public Health Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy has today (Friday 5 June) written to all headteachers to strongly advise them to delay the wider reopening until there is further assurance that the Covid 19 infection rate is reducing and the R rate is firmly below 1.

This follows new data published today showing that the regional R rate has risen above 1 as well as local information that infection rates remain higher and health services are stretched.

In addition to the advice to schools, all Tameside residents are being urged to stay at home where possible and continue to observe strict social distancing measures – particularly now the weather has changed and people may be tempted to gather and socialise indoors.

Schools will be contacting parents and carers to inform them of their individual plans in response to the new advice.

All settings will continue to remain open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers as they have been since the start of the national lockdown.

The situation will be monitored and reviewed on a weekly basis.  

The letter from Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy states: 

“Tameside Council understands that this is an extremely challenging time for all who live in our borough but recognises fully the many acts of kindness which local residents have undertaken to support each other. We would like to pay special tribute to the work of headteachers, staff, school governors and childcare providers for their fantastic work in supporting children and families during this and your brilliant contribution to the Borough’s response to Covid 19. 

“Nationally, the government is requesting that schools and childcare settings start to increase the numbers of pupils attending over the coming weeks. Our local approach, as you know, has been to focus on making safe and sensible decisions and maintaining, wherever possible collective approaches which can inform local decisions. Headteachers and their staff, in partnership with the Local Authority, have done excellent preparatory work undertaking and completing risk assessments in their schools. 

“Members of SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies) and the Association of Directors of Public Health advised caution and concern about the too rapid easing of lockdown and the increased risk of a second pandemic wave. Balancing this concern, the national R number being between 0.7 to 1.0 and estimated at 0.73 in the North West and the importance of having our children back at school, I supported the limited increase in the number of children attending planned in the Borough from Monday 8th June. 

“However information released at 2pm today estimates the R value is now above the critical value of 1 for the North West, at 1.01. 

“Because of this change in R, and despite the excellent work undertaken, I am therefore strongly advising all schools and childcare settings to delay wider opening until at least 22  June for us to be more assured that the rate of infection is reducing and R is firmly below 1. 

“All settings should continue to remain open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers as they have been since the start of the national lockdown. 

“I will continue to monitor what is a fast-evolving situation very closely and keep my advice to you under constant review. I will write to you all again next Friday with a further update and advice on wider opening.” 

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