Local MP, Huw Merriman, has welcomed the return of students to schools and colleges as part of the first step in easing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in England.
Getting children back to face-to-face learning has remained the national priority throughout lockdown. Following the successful rollout of the COVID vaccination programme to the first four priority groups, the Government has now been able to begin the cautious lifting of lockdown restrictions in England, which has seen millions of students return fulltime to the classroom.
Ensuring children can return to school and college safely has been at the forefront of the Government’s approach. In addition to pre-existing safety measures, pupils and staff will now have access to twice-weekly COVID testing to help identify more cases and break the chains of transmission. Nearly 57 million lateral flow tests have already been delivered to schools and colleges across the country.
The return to face-to-face learning is strongly supported by the Government’s scientific advisors. The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said the combination of the lowest levels of infection since early autumn, the implementation of extra safety measures, and the early natural firebreak of the Easter holidays mean that everything is now strongly in favour of pupils returning to the classroom.
Commenting, Mr Merriman said:
“The last few months have been incredibly challenging for both students and teachers here in East Sussex and across the country, and I pay tribute to the way that they have adapted to these difficult circumstances.
“Ensuring children can safely return to school and college has rightly been the priority throughout lockdown. It is vital that we do this not only for their education, but for their wellbeing and mental health.
“With precautionary measures and twice-weekly testing in place, the lowest rate of infection since September last year, and 90% of the mortality risk having received their first vaccine, now is the right time for children to return to the classroom.”
The return to face-to-face education has been supported with a £1.7 billion package, focusing on an expansion of one-to-one and small group tutoring programmes across all age groups, summer provision for those pupils who need it the most, and flexible additional one-off funding for schools to use in the best interests of their most disadvantaged pupils.