Public Health England South East & Brighter Futures for Children press release

Schools across Reading are being thanked for the work they have put into delivering education for children in extremely difficult circumstances at the end of a very challenging term.

Public Health England (PHE) South East and Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) are joining forces to send out a positive message highlighting everything that schools have done over the past three months, in particular the extra tasks they have had to take on because of COVID-19.

PHE SE Regional Director Dr Alison Barnett said the last few months had been “pretty tough” but that she was proud of how education providers had risen to the task. Following months of closure and the complexity of delivering high-quality education to pupils at home, returning all students to classrooms in September was a logistical challenge like no other.

“It has certainly been a difficult year – for teachers, pupils and for parents,” she said.

“Our Health Protection Teams have been in daily contact with schools and know the pressure that they have been under – but we also found they have increasingly grown in confidence in managing cases themselves.

“Although numbers remain high across Reading, staff and parents have consistently gone above and beyond to make sure pupils have been able to learn as safely as possible and I want to thank them for these efforts.

“The risk to children of becoming severely ill from coronavirus remains very low and the impact of being out of school can be profound and life-long. To ensure we can continue to control numbers and protect our loved ones, it is vitally important that schools, parents and pupils keep to the COVID-19 guidelines as much as possible, both over the holiday period and when they return for the new term in January.”

Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at BFfC, said she was enormously impressed by the commitment of Reading’s schools throughout the pandemic.

She said: “I would like to thank headteachers, teachers and school staff for the role they have all played in keeping schools open despite all the challenges they have faced

“It is vital that, in order to keep schools as safe as possible, parents continue to keep children home from school if unwell and to get them tested.

“It is also worth remembering that about one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it unintentionally.

“This is why it is so important to continue to follow the advice, such as wearing face-coverings and socially distancing at the school gates and anywhere else where staff, parents and students may mix in the final days of term.

“We want to do all we can to protect our community and look forward to more time with friends and family in 2021.”

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said: “Children’s education is so important, and I know it has been a huge joint effort to keep schools open this term and to provide distance learning when required.

“It has been an extraordinarily difficult period for all school staff and I would like to thank them for their commitment and dedication throughout the pandemic. I would also like to acknowledge the challenges faced by parents and children over the last few months and thank them for their understanding and co-operation.”

Notes to editors

  • Covid-19 guidance for schools is available at Gov.UK.
  • Public Health England (PHE) exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health & Social Care.
  • Follow us on Twitter: @PHE_SouthEast