Schools and colleges in Surrey are due to welcome all pupils back through their doors for the start of the school year this week. Schools and colleges have been building on measures they introduced before the summer break to accommodate all year groups back into class.
Surrey County Council has been working with schools and colleges to introduce measures including ‘bubbles’ of students and teachers, social distancing measures and one-way systems within school buildings and grounds. Schools and colleges will continue to operate regular hand-washing, cleaning and sanitising regimes.
Surrey County Council Member for All-Age Learning, Julie Iles said:
“Most people that I’ve spoken with see this as a very welcome return to school this year although I appreciate that it is going to feel a bit different.
“It is vital that children and young people can get back to their full education. School and college is an important place for their social development, as they get to see their friends and teachers again. It also provides a routine – something we know is important for children and their families too.”
“We have a much better understanding of what’s necessary to provide a safe environment in school now. Schools and colleges have been working hard, building on the measures they introduced before the summer, to accommodate all students safely.”
For many students, staggered start and finish times will apply to manage arrival and departure at the beginning and end of the day. Pupils are advised to walk, cycle or scoot to school or college where possible.
Where public transport must be used, pupils, parents and carers must follow national guidelines, including on the wearing of a face covering for adults and children over the age of 11. Pupils travelling on public buses and trains are also advised to maintain social distancing from other pupils outside of their own ‘bubble’.
The council is arranging extra buses where the demand is expected to be. Bus companies and the council will monitor bus usage to make sure extra capacity is being provided in the right area at the right time. This may mean that there is a wait for some services at busier times, so pupils and other bus users should allow extra time for their journey. All bus users are advised to check with bus providers for any changes in services on a school or college route before travelling.
Additional bus and car traffic on the roads means all road users are advised to consider walking or cycling when travelling to work or during peak hours if possible. They should consider travelling outside of peak school rush hours where feasible, and allowing more time for their journeys.
Some schools have introduced revised drop-off locations for pupils accompanied to school, to avoid crowding close to school gates. For pupils who need to be driven to school, drivers are advised to park away from the school and complete the journey on foot where possible.
Councillor Iles added:
“Please be mindful of the need to socially distance and follow guidelines when travelling to school and college. Together, we can keep Surrey safe and allow our children to get back to education safely.”
Surrey County Council is continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Surrey carefully. It will continue to review the guidance and work closely with schools and colleges to allow education to continue in as safe a way possible.
More information is available at www.surreycc.gov.uk/coronavirus
If you feel anxious about going back to school or college, advice and support is available from the NHS Surrey and Borders Partnership at https://www.sabp.nhs.uk/