Back to school in South Tyneside: Class 'bubbles' and extra buses among safety measures being put in place as children return to classes

Extra hand washing and ‘bubbles’ are expected to greet South Tyneside pupils returning to schools in September.

By James Harrison
Friday, 28th August 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 28th August 2020, 12:04 pm

Youngsters across England are preparing to return to classrooms for the first time since lessons were cancelled in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus.

But with safety concerns remaining for some families ahead of the education restart, borough bosses have insisted support is in place to manage the process.

Moira Smith, cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families at South Tyneside Council, said: “All schools have their own risk assessments and arrangements in place and parents are encouraged to speak to their school direct.

A generic stock photo shows Primary School children at work in a classroom.

“We have supported schools with their risk assessments and a number of measures such as enhanced hygiene measures and students working in ‘bubbles’ will be in place to minimise the spread of the virus.

“While we understand the concerns that some parents understandably have, I would like to reassure parents that schools have worked with Public Health England, the Department for Education and Health and Safety guidance has been taken on board in order to create school environments that are as safe as possible.”

All bar one of the borough’s schools are expected to reopen in the week starting September 7.

As well as social distancing measures, class ‘bubbles’ or groups and increased hand washing, schools could also turn to plans for staggered start and finish times and lunch and break periods in an effort to minimise congestion inside and outside schools.

Nationally, government cash worth more than £40million has also been pumped into improving home-school transports across England.

In the North East, Metro operator Nexus and bus companies are expected to lay on extra services to further aid social distancing compliance.

Ministers have also confirmed this week pupils in secondary schools in areas placed under a local lockdown will have to wear face coverings in school corridors, although this does not currently apply to South Tyneside.

Cllr Smith added: "It is important for young people's education and wellbeing that they attend school.

“Both the Council and our schools look forward to welcoming students back and supporting them and their families positively in these challenging times."

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