What to expect as Sunderland schools prepare to reopen after lockdown closures

Families should be able to regain a ‘sense of normality’ when schools reopen, city leaders have said.

Friday, 28th August 2020, 5:44 pm
Updated Friday, 28th August 2020, 6:01 pm
File picture from PA as school staff prepare for children returning to the classroom. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Youngsters across England are preparing to return to classrooms for the first time since lessons were cancelled in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus.

But while safety concerns may remain for some ahead of the education restart, city leaders in Sunderland have urged headteachers to do their best to avoid fining families who don’t head back straight away.

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Jill Colbert, chief executive at Together for Children, which runs children’s services in Sunderland, said: “Our education settings across the city are gearing up to welcome students back to school in September, with a number of safety measures put into place to ensure that they can return safely.

“We look forward to our children and young people being able to return to school in the new term and regain a sense of normality in their day to day lives.

“A return to school is incredibly important for the children and young people of Sunderland.

“Education is crucial for development and our schools not only provide this, but also promote positive health and wellbeing, something all of our children and young people across the city deserve.”

Safety measures for returning pupils have been left up to individual schools to determine, but education bosses have insisted each will have plans in place by September.

Practices including social distancing, class bubbles or groups and increased hand washing are expected to be adopted by most.

And others could turn to plans for staggered timings for start and finish times and lunch and break periods in an effort to minimise congestion inside and outside schools.

City leaders added: “With regards to attendance and fines, this type of enforcement is for each individual school to decide, however, we would always expect our schools to work closely to support families to prevent the need for enforcement.”

Government cash worth more than £40million has also been pumped into improving home-school transports across England.

In the North East, Metro operator Nexus and bus companies are expected to lay on extra services to further aid social distancing compliance.