A letter to residents from John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets

Mayor John Biggs at MP

Dear resident

Supporting pupils to return to school safely

Despite the challenges of the Coronavirus our teachers and school support staff, parents and young people have shown common sense and great resilience during the lockdown.

With most people staying at home, parents and schools have had to adapt to home schooling together with the many other changes and stresses in our daily lives. I know that’s not been easy.

Most schools have stayed open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Our dedicated teachers and school staff have worked to introduce new ways of managing the school day to limit the spread of coronavirus. They have also provided support to children not in school, which has included lots of excellent work and learning but which is obviously far less good than being at school.

The Government have asked that schools begin to open to more pupils from June. The council has been working closely with schools, our public health team, teachers and trade unions to develop options for a phased increase in pupil numbers if the Government, and crucially we locally, feel that this could be managed safely. The council, our schools and I are committed to the mental and physical health and safety everyone in our schools.

Like parents, I want to see local children back in a safe learning environment where they can catch up with missed learning and not slip behind. This is really important, but our top priority has to be the safety of pupils and our staff (and their families). And so, schools should open only when they are confident these risks can be safely managed. They, with our support, will complete a risk assessment to ensure measures are in place to manage the process safely. These risk assessments will be reviewed regularly, and pupil numbers will only increase when it can be managed safely.

This means that on the 1st of June we are not expecting schools to start admitting a significant number of pupils beyond children of key workers and those who are vulnerable straight away.

As schools are so different, the return of pupils will vary between them. If you are a parent, your individual school will contact you once they have made their arrangements.

Be assured we will not compromise on safety.

We understand families who live in inter-generational households or with a person who is shielding might be particularly concerned about any return to school. If this is the case the council’s Family Information Service can provide advice on 020 7364 6398.

The council will continue working closely with our schools and trade unions, and you, to ensure every step is taken to manage the safety of our schools during this difficult time.

Yours Sincerely

Mayor John Biggs

Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets

Posted on Friday 22nd May 2020