Hounslow’s 69 primary and secondary schools and its further education colleges are set to reopen their doors next week after nearly six months of partial school closures.
Published: Thursday, 27th August 2020
All schools have put in place a comprehensive range of extra hygiene and safety measures to support pupils’ safe return to the classroom, including one-way systems, staggered start times and extra cleaning to help protect children and teachers from coronavirus.
Together with a whole raft of safe travel measures that will be in place for the new term, parents are being reassured that it is safe for their children to return to school to resume their learning, meet their friends and re-establish normal routines in their lives.
Each school will have communicated the measures it has taken to parents and guardians in their school community, which will vary by setting. Hounslow Council has created new webpages: www.hounslow.gov.uk/back-to-school with useful information and advice for parents.
Cllr Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services at Hounslow Council said:
“As the end of the summer holiday approaches, Hounslow’s schools are excited to welcome children back and I’m sure very many children are excited to get back to school too.
“The last few months have disrupted children’s education enormously - some children won’t have been with their friends and teachers for nearly six months. Although we are all too aware the pandemic is far from over, it’s really important that we are able to give young people and their families back some kind of normality and that they have the opportunity to learn and play with their friends.
“Scientific evidence is clear that the risk to children is very low. While I know there will be many parents and children with understandable concerns, I would like to assure the whole community that all our schools have been planning thoroughly and are taking all necessary measures to protect children and staff.
“I am extremely proud of all the schools in this borough and am confident that the whole community will be able to work together to ensure the children are able to receive the truly excellent education on offer here in Hounslow. I would really urge parents to make sure their children get back to school in September so that they can benefit from the professional teaching and support that their schools offer.”
Hounslow Council has been providing support and advice to schools throughout the pandemic and continues to do so with regular meetings with all school heads. Although schools closed to the majority of pupils in March, they remained open for the children of key workers and for vulnerable children. Children in Nursery, Reception, Years 1 and 6 were able to return from June 1, with some face to face contact for Years 10 and 12 following a week later.
Schools have been provided with ongoing Public Health advice from the Council, throughout the pandemic as well as materials to promote social distancing and handwashing.
Kelly O’Neill, Director of Public Health at Hounslow, said:
“The risk to children from coronavirus is low and it is important to get children back to school because we know that a good education can help to remove some of the health inequalities that can negatively impact children’s life chances.
“The most important thing that everyone can do to prevent the spread of infection is to wash their hands regularly and to catch any coughs or sneezes in a tissue, or their elbow. I’d ask parents not to send their children to school if they are ill, ensure they stay at home, isolate and book a test if they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus – a continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of taste and smell. This will help us to prevent the spread of the virus so that we can keep schools open.
“With flu season just around the corner I would also encourage parents with eligible children to get them immunised to help further protect them and their families.”
Travelling to school safely
Hounslow Council is calling on residents to help children return to school safely by thinking about how they travel. 22 schools across the borough are implementing their School Streets programmes, in partnership with the Council and Transport for London (TfL) where areas surrounding schools are closed to traffic during peak drop-off and pick-up times. This is to enable children to walk, cycle and scoot in safety and to provide space for them to socially distance while doing so. The scheme will be monitored and enforced using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, with residents in the affected areas asked to register their vehicles for exemption. Affected schools have notified their parents and guardians of these changes.
Changes to bus services
In addition, TfL has also set in place significant changes to bus services to help pupils of St Mark’s Catholic School to get to school. Several of the routes will be dedicating every other bus to school travel during peak morning and afternoon times, with some additional buses also being allocated to help children to travel to and from school. This will impact on other commuters using the services who are asked to avoid travelling from 7.30 - 9am and between 3pm and 4.30pm. For more information please visit: tfl.gov.uk/reopeningeducation
Cllr Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport at Hounslow Council said:
“We are all delighted to see Hounslow’s schools reopening next week and we would urge all parents to rethink their travel plans to ensure that their children can travel to and from school safely. Our schools have set in place all necessary measures to provide a safe learning environment for your children, but you are responsible for overseeing how your children access this.
“We are trialling a large number of School Streets programmes across the borough to enable our school communities to walk, cycle and scoot safely and to enable them to socially distance. In addition, the many Streetspace schemes that have been put in place over the past few months are allocating more road space for pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely around the borough and socially distance while doing so.
“This is a great opportunity for everyone to embrace sustainable means of transport at the start of this new school year. If the coronavirus has taught us one thing, it’s the importance of our health. Walking or cycling to school is a great way to build regular exercise into our daily routines, that will have lasting benefits for our mental and physical health and for the air quality in our borough.”
For more information visit: www.hounslow.gov.uk/Back-to-School