Forty per cent of children offered places at Devon's primary schools have come back to school

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Tuesday 2nd June 2020 2:35 pm
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Cllr James McInnes ()

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Around 40 per cent of children offered provision in Devon’s schools have taken up their places, but significantly more children were in school on Tuesday than on Monday.

185 of Devon’s 320 primary schools are offering parents wider access to provision across some or all Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, as well as classes for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Other schools are planning staged openings with some provision over the coming week.

Pupil numbers of attendees at schools are 151 per cent up on just before half term and the take-up from the wider rollout is around 40 per cent of families who were offered provision from this week.

Significantly more children were in school today than yesterday and joined the children of key workers and vulnerable children who have been in class throughout the pandemic, a county council spokesman said, with schools are also experiencing a big increase in the children of key workers attending classes since half-term – nearly a third up on last month.

Devon County Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for schools, Cllr James McInnes, said: “This is the start of a slow process of children going back to school.

“I understand parents are very concerned about COVID-19 and some parents are choosing not to send their children back to school just yet, but the county council has been working as one with our local authority headteachers and our academy headteachers and every school has done their own COVID-19 assessment.”

Cllr McInnes said heads, teachers and teaching assistants had worked incredibly hard to put safety measures in place. Children would usually be taught in one place in classes of 15 or under with one teacher and there would be staggered breaks and meal-times to ensure pupils stayed in their own bubbles. Where the school lay-out allowed, one-way systems were being set up.

He added: “You have to remember that most of our schools have actually been open throughout this pandemic with teachers looking after the children of key workers and vulnerable children. Unfortunately we are going to have to live with this virus for some time and that’s why we have to take these small steps.

“You must also look at this in the context of Devon which has had one of the lowest incidences of COVID-19 in the country. Devon County Council is also one of 11 Beacon councils who are setting up local track and trace systems which will be tailored to every local area.

“So I think, over the coming weeks, you will see more schools open and more children attending.”

There have been no deaths from coronavirus in any of Devon’s hospitals in the past five days, with the last death at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital having occurred on May 8, while there have just been nine new case of coronavirus recorded across the whole of the county, including Plymouth and Torbay, in the last seven days.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw tweeted today that of the 121 cumulative COVID-19 related deaths that have occurred in 2020 in Devon, more than 50 per cent have been in care homes and there has not been a single death of anyone under the age of 50.

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