Redbridge Council issues safety guidance on re-opening schools while boycott looms

Redbridge council issued guidance on schools that are opening up next week. Picture: PA/Jacob King

Redbridge council issued guidance on schools that are opening up next week. Picture: PA/Jacob King - Credit: PA

With some students set to return to school next week Redbridge Council laid out safety measures for re-opening while some parents are calling for a boycott.

Following the prime minister’s announcement yesterday, Thursday, May 28, council leader Jas Athwal said his position on the issue hasn’t changed and he only supports schools opening once it is clear proper measures are in place to keep children and staff safe.

The decision as to when and how a school is opened lies with the headteacher and school governing body but the council said it has provided risk assessments, advice, guidance and PPE to schools which are considering re-opening.

He has also advised that the class intake should be limited to no more than 10 pupils, five less than the government recommendation.

Cllr Athwal said: “We have advised local schools to only provide spaces for more students, in addition to the children of key workers, if they are certain the numbers can be managed safely.

“A number of local primary schools have made the decision to delay expanding pupil numbers until Monday, June 15, at the earliest, following the independent Scientific Advisory Group of Experts’ report that was published last Friday.”

Some parents and union members are planning to boycott schools next week.

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A leaflet sent out by Parents4SafeReturn calls for schools to not re-open until the five tests set out by the National Education Union have been met.

A parent of a Reception child at Redbridge Primary School, which will not be re-opening until June 15 and then only to Year 1 and Year 6 pupils, said some parents are desperate to send their children back but are scared of saying so.

The parent, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “I work in a hospital so I understand the risk but I just think there is now a blanket rule and some parents are pressuring others to vote against opening their schools back up.

“The PTAs are very powerful and some people go along with the herd and are scared to speak up for fear their kids won’t get invited to parties.”

The leader of the Conservative group Cllr Linda Huggett (Monkhams) said while it is vital that children are able to return to school as soon as possible “it must however be up to the parents to choose whether they want to send them back and we will respect their decision”.

Cllr Huggett criticised the previous statement put out by Cllr Athwal and said his letter was “not a council decision”.

Cllr Athwal reiterated there will be no penalty for families or teachers who choose not to return to school next week.

The council laid out the five safety measures it has provided guidance on:

•Implementing staggered school start and finish times to reduce the number of people entering and leaving school grounds

•Specific timetables for cleaning, hand-washing and hygiene breaks as part of the school day

•Continuing to prioritise key worker pupils and vulnerable pupils with either an education, health and care plan (EHCP) or a social worker, before considering which year groups might return and how the school can prioritise among those year groups

•Using some “non-pupil days” for additional preparation and vital staff training where necessary, before opening up to more pupils

•Daily deep cleans of schools.