The Prime Minister announced last week that it won’t be possible to increase the number of pupils attending schools immediately after half term, as had previously been hoped.
Instead, the Government has indicated that the earliest that more pupils will be able to return to school will be Monday 8 March – though schools will continue to welcome vulnerable children, the children of critical workers and those that do not have digital access at home until then. Currently around 1 in 10 pupils are physically in school in Wolverhampton.
Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "As we have seen throughout this pandemic, Covid-19 is making it very hard for any of us to plan very far into the future and given that infection rates, while coming down, are still very high, it is sensible to act in a cautious manner.
"While there are too many unknowns to say at this stage that schools will definitely welcome back more pupils from 8 March, we do at least have some clarity about the Government's position. Importantly, we have been assured that schools, parents and carers will be given at least 2 weeks’ notice of schools reopening to more pupils, which will enable them to prepare for a return to face to face education.
"The Department for Education has also confirmed that schools will close to all children over February half term. They will reopen to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers from 22 February, and all other pupils will continue to receive high quality remote education at home.
"What all this means is that those parents and carers who have been doing such a sterling job helping their children to continue their learning journey at home will have to keep up the good work for a few more weeks.
“Education is vitally important for all children and young people and we know how hard it has been for parents to juggle home schooling with other commitments, not least work and childcare. We will continue to do all we can to support our schools, parents and carers, and we hope it won't be too much longer until all pupils are able to return to their classrooms."
The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages. Further details of the lockdown restrictions currently in place, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at COVID Alert.