The council has today advised that Brighton & Hove schools and council nurseries should start opening more widely for pupils from Monday 15 June.
The priority now is for a phased return for the years previously identified by the government.
Infant and primary schools are asked to take in nursery years, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils.
Secondary schools are asked to provide face to face support for young people in Year 10 and 12 during this summer term.
Public health advice
Our previous position that reopening to more pupils should not take place was based on advice from the council’s Public Health team that there was not reasonable assurance all the government’s five tests were met locally, in particular around the Test and Trace programme.
In a meeting this morning, councillors and senior education officers heard the latest updates from the council’s Public Health team.
Over the last ten days, the council’s Public Health team has been closely monitoring the progress of the Test and Trace programme and how this is working in Brighton & Hove.
Our Public Health colleagues now have sufficient reassurance that this service is in place to test anyone with symptoms of the coronavirus and trace their close contacts.
Alistair Hill, Director of Public Health, today said: “It’s our goal for more children to be back in school in as safe an environment as possible as soon as possible. I am sufficiently reassured that necessary measures are now in place, especially around Test and Trace, to mitigate risk. Control measures for potential outbreaks are also clear.”
This situation is continuing to develop and is under constant review.
Councillor John Allcock, Chair of Young People, Children and Skills committee, said: “We give our full thanks for all the hard work that is being done during such a challenging and changing time. Our education leaders are showing leadership and good judgement at each stage of the pandemic. It is now time to move forward responsibly and the first step is opening schools in a measured and cautious way to the priority year groups.”
Pupils in the priority age groups are expected to return in a gradual way, with numbers being different from school to school. Individual school risk assessments will inform how best to manage this. Control measures are also in place in case of outbreaks, which will be managed working with the Public Health England Health Protection team for Sussex and Surrey.
Parents and carers can decide whether to send their children back in. While we would like to see as many pupils as possible back in schools, individual family choices will be respected and no fines will be issued for non-attendance this term.
Councillor Allcock added: “Being in school is good for personal wellbeing as well as learning. We hope as many children as possible in the specified age groups will go back this term. The next challenge will be what happens in the long-term and how we expand the offer to more children in the months ahead. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to support our schools and early years providers.”
We recognise that schools and early years settings have been open throughout the pandemic, including the school holidays. Childcare has been provided for children of keyworkers and for vulnerable children, including SEND pupils, since schools closed to most pupils at the end of March. The system in place to support this small number of children attending school is well established and will continue.
We encourage schools and council run nurseries to follow our latest advice. We would like to be clear that the final decision on whether to open an individual school lies with the head teacher, in consultation with their governing board.
Non-council early years settings can make their own decisions based on their risk assessments. Some early years settings have already opened to more children.