Pupils from key year groups are returning to school for the first time this week since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March.

Many primary schools in the city held training days on Monday to prepare teachers and other staff for the return of additional nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils from Tuesday.

Most primary schools in city are now open to more pupils from those eligible year groups, and full details of pupil attendance rates will be known in a few days’ time. On 15 June, secondary schools will begin to provide some face to face contact time for students in Years 10 and 12.

Early suggestions are that schools in Wolverhampton are now welcoming over 2,000 pupils through the doors each day, compared to around 1,000 at most during the lockdown. The majority of pupils in the eligible year groups are expected to come in for face to face learning for part of the week and to be home schooled for the rest of the week.

The Government formally gave the go ahead to plans to open schools to more pupils last Thursday night, and the City of Wolverhampton Council has been working closely with providers to ensure that there is a common approach to welcoming pupils back to local schools which puts safety considerations first.

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "Education is vitally important for all children and young people, and so we have been very keen that they are able to return to school as soon as it is safe for them and their teachers to do so. 

“Our schools have safely supported well over a thousand vulnerable children and the children of key workers throughout the pandemic; the challenge has now been to ensure they can safely welcome more pupils.

"We’ve been working closely with schools, headteachers, unions, parents and health and safety and public health experts from the council to agree a cautious, measured approach to the expansion of school provision here in Wolverhampton, and together we are doing all we can to ensure our city's schools are a safe place for children and young people to learn and to play.”

Every school has undergone cleaning and is required to complete a detailed risk assessment that shows what steps they are taking to promote the safety of pupils and staff, and to limit the risk of transmission of coronavirus. These are being reviewed by the council's health and safety team. 

Everyone in school will need to follow strict hygiene guidelines. Children and adults will wash their hands regularly throughout the day and classrooms and equipment will be cleaned before they are used by a new group of children. 

To enable social distancing the council has recommended that pupils be taught in groups of up to 10. Schools can, however, have larger groups of up to 15 if their classrooms are big enough. These groups will not mix with other groups during their time in school.

In addition, if anyone shows symptoms of coronavirus they will need to self isolate in line with the latest national guidelines.

Councillor Hardacre added: “The response from those working within the education sector to this crisis has been phenomenal, and I’m proud of the way we’ve come together to open schools to more children from this week. We also know that many pupils aren’t going back at this time, and schools will continue to support parents and carers to educate their children at home over the coming weeks.”

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at Coronavirus advice and information. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus from the NHS.  

The council’s Stay Safe, Be Kind campaign offers clear and simple advice about how people can help themselves, and how they can support others who may be particularly vulnerable at this time. For more information, please visit Stay Safe, Be Kind