Get children back to school but in 'structured safe way' say Mansfield governors

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A ‘safe and steady staggered return’ is needed when children go back to school in March, say unions, governors and parenting experts in Mansfield.

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s roadmap for emerging from pandemic restrictions, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said today (Monday): “A cautious approach is the right way to balance getting the country moving again and limit virus spread, restrictions were relaxed too quickly last time.

“Ensuring staff are encouraged to have the vaccine by their employers and paid wages in full if they need to isolate, ministers can drive infection rates down even further. The government should also follow the lead of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by applying the steady approach to schools with a phased reopening. Along with toughening safety measures, that’s the way to keep staff, pupils and everyone else safe.”

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Cllr John CoxheadCllr John Coxhead
Cllr John Coxhead

Brad Houldsworth, a governor at a Mansfield primary school, said: “Personally, it’s disappointing to read about the proposed full re-opening of schools on March 8, instead of a safe and steady phased return. A staggered return, with rota’s and a full extensive return plan, this is what is needed.

"The advice and recommendations from many unions of blended learning and year-group rotation has been completely ignored by the government. I’m worried for the mental wellbeing of staff, parents and most importantly, children. It’s better to see a two-week window between today’s announcement and the proposed full-return of children into all school settings.”

Anne Callaghan, Mansfield Woodhouse former ‘supernanny,’ who supports children and parents in schools, said: “It is important for children to get back to school for their emotional, mental health and well-being. As good as homes are, they can’t give the children the same routine and structure as schools. We are are seeing more issues.

"Teachers should have had the opportunity to be vaccinated during the half term. That would have allayed a lot of fears. It’s important they can work safely. I think the government should leave it to individual headteachers to make the decision exactly how the children go back at their own schools.”

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Anne CallaghanAnne Callaghan
Anne Callaghan

And Councillor John Coxhead, a governor at a school in Mansfield Woodhouse, said: “We need to be cautious, we don’t want to undo all the good work keeping down Covid 19. I’d prefer to see a phased return of children.”