Councillor Evonne Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People:

Evonne Williams
Evonne Williams

Soon, children and young people across the country will be returning to school for the autumn term, which will be a very different experience to any year before.

The Council is working with schools, health and safety teams and transport providers to support them to have the correct measures in place to make this return as safe as possible.

Even with this preparation, it is completely understandable that going back to school could cause anxiety for parents, carers and children alike. In these strange and uncertain times, everything will feel very different and we may find that children will need reassurance before they head back to the classroom.

One of the best ways to ease concerns is to discuss the way children might be feeling with them. Try to explain the situation as fully as possible without increasing their anxieties, and make sure they know that you and their teachers are there to talk through any questions they might have.

This considered, children and young people are likely to be more reassured if they fully understand the new guidance in place. Talk it through with them before their first day back, and make sure they understand the importance of us all keeping our distance and washing our hands. This might be hard for them to accept, as they will have to keep their distance from friends, but if they are prepared for this before their first day it will make for a much smoother transition.

Parents and carers also need to be careful to look after themselves by being as prepared as possible – ensure that you are as up to date on the latest information so you feel as ready as you can for that first day back.

Consider transport to school and the best ways to remain as socially distanced as possible. If you are car-sharing, remember to open windows and wear face coverings, and leave seats free to allow space. Remember not to park near school, if possible, and if you’re able to walk, cycle or scoot to school, even better.

We have to remember how vital these measures are to keep us safe. Although positive COVID-19 cases are low at the moment, the virus is still in circulation. Our best method of defence is through following the Public Health guidance: keeping our distance, washing our hands, and by wearing face coverings if you are able. We are all able to help by doing the right thing for Derby.

That said, I think it is important that we’re more patient with each other than usual during this period. It will take time for children and young people in particular to settle into a new rhythm of learning and socialising under the guidelines – there will, inevitably, be teething problems initially. With consideration and care for each other, we will be able to get through this.

Lastly, I want to thank you all. Firstly, teachers and all school staff for their tremendous hard work throughout this period to keep things as consistent as possible for our children. And to our parents and young people for continuing to do the right thing for Derby by keeping themselves and others safe and well.