By KLTV Newsdesk
Kirklees Council has said it will support local schools to re-open safely when the time is right for their pupils, staff and families.
This follows government confirmation yesterday evening that its five tests had been met and that primary schools would be free to start welcoming back more children, starting next week.
Most primary schools in Kirklees have remained open throughout lockdown for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
Now that its five tests have been met, the government has said that pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 can start returning when their school is ready.
Over recent weeks, the council has been supporting schools across Kirklees to prepare for safe re-openings.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Shabir Pandor said: “My priority is the health and safety of children, parents, teachers and all the staff who work in schools and who come into contact with schools.
“Government announcements are important, but it’s local schools who know their situation best and decide on the best course of action.
“That’s why the council has been listening to their individual concerns and helping them overcome the barriers to a phased return to school when they are ready.
“For some schools, this will be later than June 1st.
“Our commitment to supporting schools will continue. This isn’t about deadlines, it’s about the long term wellbeing of children, families and schools staff in Kirklees.
“We trust the judgement of teaching professionals and parents to do what’s best for children and we will continue to help all of them in any way we can.”
Last Friday, over a hundred schools were represented at an online conference with council education officials and public health experts to help them prepare for the phased re-opening.
Schools discussed their preparations, including social distancing measures, plans for supporting vulnerable staff and pupils and strict guidelines on hygiene.
The council will continue working with schools on all those issues and more as it gives information, advice and practical help to schools in every part of Kirklees.
Cabinet Member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, Cllr Carole Pattison, who hosted last Friday’s conference, said: “Teachers and school staff have been doing a brilliant job throughout this crisis.
“They’ve continued to teach the children of key workers and children who need their support the most.
“Almost overnight they had to find ways of teaching children who haven’t been able to come to school.
“Now they are working hard to make schools safe for a phased return.
“These are all immense challenges, but teachers and staff have risen to every one of them.
“It’s vital for the wellbeing of children across Kirklees that we listen to schools and work with them. The government announcement means we are moving into the next phase of our response.
“We will continue to give advice and practical support to our family of schools so that they can re-open safely and at the right time.”