Headteachers in Wandsworth will be able to decide whether it is safe enough for pupils go back to school by June 1, according to a new letter from the borough’s education leads.
The news comes after a BBC Breakfast survey showed two thirds of councils could not guarantee schools in England would reopen to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on June 1.
In a joint letter to parents, Wandsworth cabinet member for schools Cllr Will Sweet and the borough’s director of children’s services, Ana Popovici, said: “Every school is different. As a council, we support our headteachers and governors in the decisions they make for their schools and communities to stay well and stay safe.
“They will need to amend timetables and, if necessary, consider which pupil groups to welcome back first. We will not apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to reopening.
“All schools have undertaken risk assessments and are introducing the most rigorous steps to ensure the highest standards of hygiene, including regular cleaning and hand washing.
“They will make the best possible arrangements for social distancing based on their own unique settings. This has been supported by expert advice from the council’s director of public health.
“Some parents and carers might have concerns about their children going back to school. We can assure you that no decision will be taken lightly.
“If your school welcomes back your children on Monday, June 1, then it is because its headteacher and governors have judged it is safe to do so.”
The council yesterday announced nine measures “to give schools the maximum possible opportunity to welcome children back to school next month”.
These include making parks, outside facilities and council buildings such as children’s centres available free of charge to schools, if they need extra space.
The council will also procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for any school that needs it and work with SEN transport providers to keep vehicles safe for the most vulnerable children.
Free mental health support will be made available to Wandsworth teachers, and the council will provide its own free school meal vouchers scheme to support the national system when necessary.
It has already provided nearly 1,000 laptops, data vouchers and dongles for Wandsworth children, through the council’s own Power to Connect scheme with Battersea Power Station and the government’s programme.
There will also be an expansion of the ‘School Streets’ programme to block traffic outside any schools that require it for social distancing during drop-off and pick-up times, but car parking will be provided for teachers.
Cllr Sweet praised the new package of measures, adding: “Schools are working so hard at the moment to get ready for June 1. As a council, we wanted to make a bold, strong offer to give them the maximum support possible in their decisions to re-open.”