Cheshire East Council is working with schools and colleges to welcome all pupils back to school safely from Monday 8 March.
Around 56,000 pupils attend more than 170 schools and colleges across the borough and the council has been working continuously with school staff over the past couple of months, to make sure they are in the best position to reopen next week.
All schools have been supported with measures to reduce the risks of Covid-19. This includes enhanced cleaning and ventilation, and the wearing of face coverings in communal areas and classrooms for staff and year seven pupils and above, for a limited time until Easter.
Parents and carers can be reassured that school transport will be operational and running at normal times from Monday. Any parents transporting their children by car or walking to school, are reminded to keep the school gates clear and follow social distancing guidelines.
All primary schools, secondary schools, special schools and colleges have been provided with lateral flow devices, so that their staff can carry out voluntary testing twice a week.
To support the return of all pupils, secondary schools and colleges will also be undertaking mass testing of their pupils. Students in year seven and above are encouraged to take three tests in school over the first two weeks, three to five days apart. After this, home test kits together with user instructions will be provided. Students can return to school or college following their first negative test result.
Testing is voluntary and children and young people will not be tested unless a parent or carer has given informed consent. Young people over the age of 18 can decide for themselves if they wish to be tested.
Children will not be stopped from returning to school or college if they choose not to be tested, or are not able to take a test and will return to face-to-face education in line with their school or college’s arrangements. However, the council is encouraging all parents and carers to support the testing of students to ensure the safest return to school for everyone.
Councillor Kathryn Flavell, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “We recognise that the last few months have been hard due to the most recent lockdown measures, dark winter days and the challenges of home schooling.
“I would like to thank all parent and carers for the role you have played in supporting home learning. I understand how challenging this has been and I am delighted that children and young people are going back to school next week.
“I know that schools and colleges are looking forward to welcoming children and young people back and have worked hard to ensure that they are ready for their return by carefully planning, reviewing their risk assessments and safety measures.
“All schools have received increased training in understanding and supporting pupils’ mental health and wellbeing over the past term and are able to help pupils who are experiencing difficulties in this area.
“It is great news that we can now welcome children and young people back to school and college. It remains so important that we do all that we can, together with families, schools and colleges, to ensure that they return to continue their education, for their wellbeing, and for their wider development.”