Schools in Sefton are under pressure to cope with the numbers of children in school during the current Covid lockdown.
Parents and carers in Sefton are now being urged to keep youngsters at home and away from class if possible as they are warned that schools may soon have to prioritise who is able to attend.
They are also being asked not to congregate and chat at the school gates, and to let their children walk or cycle to school if they are old enough to do so.
Sefton’s Director of Children’s Services Vicky Buchanan and Director of Public Health Margaret Jones have written a letter of reassurance and guidance to parents and carers across the borough.
In it they said: “Schools are under increasing pressure to manage the number of children and young people in school due to staff not being able to attend school due to Covid issues.
“Schools may therefore as a last resort have to consider prioritising places for vulnerable children, health workers and school staff.”
Sefton Covid-19 rate rise is one of the fastest in England
Vicky Buchanan and Margaret Jones shared their concerns after Sefton became the seventh fastest growing area in England for Covid-19 cases with infection rates nearing 1,000 per 100,000 people.
The rate of infection here is currently 988 per 100,000, with 3,005 positive Covid-19 cases in the last seven days (5-11 January).
This represents a 76% rise from the previous week, with 1,298 more positive cases this week than last.
Patients admitted to Southport & Ormskirk Hospitals rose by 18.9%.
Vicky Buchanan and Margaret Jones said: “We need to drive down the infection rates in Sefton and indeed the whole country so that we are all safe and secure in returning to everyday life.
“In order to do that it is crucial we all follow the government guidance of staying home unless absolutely necessary. We need everyone to follow this guidance to protect not only the NHS but also ourselves, our families and our friends.
“Hopefully, with the roll out of the vaccine and keeping to the guidance this will happen sooner rather than later.
‘If you can, as the guidance says, please keep your child home then please do so’
“Government guidance for schools and for parents and carers has been very clear about who should access places in schools. ‘Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.’ Full guidance for parents and carers can be found at:
“We would ask that if you can, as the guidance says keep your child at home then please do so.
“Schools are under increasing pressure to manage the number of children and young people in school due to staff not being able to attend school due to covid issues.
‘Schools may have to start prioritising places for children’
“Schools may therefore as a last resort have to consider prioritising places for vulnerable children, health workers and school staff.
“Schools will only do this after considering their Risk Assessment and consultation with their governing body and Sefton Council. This will be continually reviewed as situations change throughout this current lockdown. Your school will keep you informed as to what is happening. “Please do discuss any concerns with your school. Alongside having children in school, schools are providing high quality remote learning for those at home.
“As you can imagine this is placing a very heavy burden on staff to ensure that everyone is catered for.
“Please do remember that all school situations are different and this impacts on how a school will deliver remote learning. There are many different ways that this can be delivered and no one way is the only way.”
‘If you are struggling with accessing online learning please speak to your school’
Vicky Buchanan and Margaret Jones also urged parents and carers in Sefton to appreciate the challenges that local schools are facing as they strive to deliver effective in-school and remote learning opportunities to pupils.
They said: “Some schools may have the facilities to deliver ‘live’ lessons and others may not be able to do so, that does not mean that their offer is any less effective. Please do work with your school to support your child and if you do have any worries then do discuss with the school. All our schools have worked incredibly hard to ensure that what they are offering is helping our children and young people to carry on learning in very difficult circumstances. If you are struggling with accessing online learning please do speak to your school.
“We would ask that you continue to encourage your children to follow the advice of Hands, Face, Space.
‘Please don’t bring children to school if they’re old enough to walk there on their own’
“Our schools will continue to reinforce this message as well as ensuring social distancing, good ventilation, use of face coverings as appropriate, and ensuring people with symptoms do not attend. These remain the most effective ways to reduce the spread of the virus, even with rapid testing in place within schools.
“However, as parents and carers you could further support by not sending children to school unless necessary – stay at home; please don’t bring children to school if they are of an age when they can walk there on their own. If you need to take your child to school please observe hands, face, space, wear a face covering and don’t stand around the playground or school gates. We want to try and minimise people mixing.
“We would ask that you continue to work with and support our schools with the same and consideration you have done so throughout this pandemic.”