Tameside's public health director has praised schools across the borough for their "excellent preparations" as they gear up for a wider reopening from next week.
Tameside Council's Director of Population Health, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, has written to all headteachers to confirm her advice that schools can start welcoming back more pupils from Monday (22 June) - news which was publicly announced on Tuesday.
It follows a decreasing trend in the coronavirus infection rate, progress on contact tracing and outbreak management and the preparatory work done within schools.
Dr de Gruchy told headteachers: "You have made excellent preparations for this, including undertaking and completing risk assessments and instituting the necessary infection control measures to make wider opening as safe as possible."
She stresses that the wider opening - which was initially due to take place in the week commencing 8 June before being delayed - should only be done at the pace that individual schools and childcare settings feel confident to manage safely.
Schools have been contacting parents and carers to inform them of their individual plans.
The advice from Dr de Gruchy is that it's encouraged that all eligible children who are able to attend school do so, but it's also understood that decisions are determined by individual family circumstances.
Dr de Gruchy’s letter adds: "All Tameside schools and many early years settings have remained open throughout this ‘closure period’ and we are incredibly proud of this. The efforts you have made to support key worker children and to encourage the attendance of vulnerable children have been exemplary.
"Attendance at Tameside schools has been consistently above the national average. Indeed over the last two weeks, and notwithstanding the delay to our wider opening, attendance has increased further."
Pupils from Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will now begin gradually returning, with some face-to-face support also given to year 10 and 12 pupils to supplement their remote education.
Cllr Leanne Feeley, Tameside Council Executive Member for Lifelong Learning, said: "Our schools have worked tremendously hard, in partnership with us, to prepare to welcome back more pupils in a safe and sensible manner. I’m delighted that more children will now be able to meet their teachers and classmates again and benefit from returning to school."
The council say Population Health will "continue to monitor the situation and advise schools".
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