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Schools’ commitment to staying Covid-safe praised by education chiefs

Published on Thursday, December 3, 2020

Close up of a pupil writing in class

EDUCATION bosses across Leicester have praised the city’s schools for their work to keep staff and pupils safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Leicester has 128 schools and colleges, which are attended by 57,000 pupils, 3,800 teachers and 5,900 support staff, and which have worked hard to ensure their sites are as Covid-safe as possible.

While almost all of the city’s schools have recorded one or more cases of coronavirus, the numbers of pupils reported as testing positive for the virus is just one in a hundred - showing how effective schools’ procedures are for containing the virus from spreading further. Around one in 20 members of staff across the city have tested positive during the pandemic.

Schools use a combination of methods to minimise the risk to staff and pupils, including limiting how learning bubbles mix with each other, ensuring any child who tests positive remains at home, and identifying any close contacts so they can self-isolate away from the school.

All have provisions in place for remote learning to ensure pupils who are self-isolating can continue to be part of school life.

Leicester City Council’s Strategic Director of Social Care and Education, Martin Samuels, said: “I cannot praise highly enough the commitment and hard work of school staff across the city during this incredibly difficult and completely unprecedented situation.

“We realise what a vital role school attendance plays in the welfare of children and young people, and parents should feel reassured that all schools are dedicated to ensuring that can continue wherever possible.

“Some schools have had had to close for short periods where there are significant numbers of staff or pupils absent, but it is vital to know that these are almost always due to individual infections brought in from outside, rather than outbreaks at the schools themselves.

“The stringent measures that are in place are very effective at ensuring that any positive cases are contained and the virus cannot get a hold in the wider school community.”

One such is example is Soar Valley College. Its Principal, Julie Robinson, said staff had been working hard to ensure the highest standards of learning could continue, with the school’s curriculum amended to address any gaps identified as a result of the first national lockdown earlier this year.

She said: “This term, teachers are not only teaching lessons in school, but also ensuring those who may have to self-isolate for a period of time at home do not miss out, with a mixture of live lessons and work set online.

“We have also been working really hard to make sure that, despite the restrictions in place, a spirit of togetherness and mutual support continues to permeate all we do. 

“The House system has been highly effective as a vehicle for students working together, for example, planning and taking part in activities to support local and national charities. This is just one indication of the tremendously positive approach which students continue to show constantly in school.”

Leicester assistant city mayor responsible for education, Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, added: “We’ve worked closely with schools to ensure that they can continue to provide safe, engaging surroundings for both pupils and staff.

“The efforts schools have made to ensure that children and staff face as little disruption as possible has been outstanding, both through making schools as Covid-safe as possible, and also by putting remote learning options in place to ensure any pupils who do have to self-isolate do not miss out on their education.

“We should be very proud of the dedication our school staff are showing in the face of such difficult circumstances to ensure pupils’ education and the safety of their school communities is their top priority.”

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