Schools 'to be ordered to reopen'

Thursday, March 19th, 2020 4:25pm

By Eddie Bisknell, Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

Derbyshire schools which have already closed or partially closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and staffing issues are to be ordered to reopen.

The county’s education chief, Jane Parfrement, has written a letter to headteachers and school governors to clarify the ongoing situation.

This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that schools will be closed to the vast majority of students “until further notice”.

Children of “key workers” and those on Education, Health and Care Plans who have special educational needs, would remain in school.

Ms Parfrement, the executive director for children’s services at Derbyshire County Council, has shed further light on the closures.

The county council is responsible for around 300 schools – including thousands of teachers.

She wrote that the authority had “no prior notification from the Government” before yesterday’s announced closures.

Ms Parfrement wrote that key workers will include: Teachers; teaching assistants supporting kids with EHC Plans, health workers, social care workers, foster carers, blue light services (police, fire, ambulance), delivery drivers and utilities engineers.

She says based on each school’s circumstances, they should also consider children of shop owners which provide vital supplies in the community.

Ms Parfrement wrote: “Derbyshire has had very few schools which have completely closed and those that have will need to reopen to accommodate the young people in the above categories.

“We recognise that this is causing a huge challenge for many including our very small and rural schools, special schools and also for the support centres.”

Ms Parfrement wrote: “There is also an expectation from the Government that schools will be able to accommodate these young people during the Easter period too. We are seeking clarification from the Government on this.”

She encourages headteachers to work together in clusters and share staff – such as teaching assistants – and that schools should be prepared to be closed to most students “for some time” and “for the foreseeable future”.

The following schools are just some of those in Derbyshire which had already closed or partially closed before yesterday’s announcement, and which will have to reopen for specified children:

  • Glossopdale
  • Parkside, Chesterfield
  • Highfields, Matlock
  • St Philip Howard, Glossop
  • John Port, Hilton
  • Dronfield Henry Fanshawe
  • New Mills School
  • Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Ashbourne
  • Belper School
  • Buxton Community

Ms Parfrement also said: “We are in unprecedented times and the current situation regarding Covid-19 is rapidly developing.

“As a local authority we have been following Government advice and working with a huge range of partners to try and keep services running.

“You and your staff are at the forefront of working with young people and I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my thanks for all of your hard work and commitment.”

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