Published: Friday, 26th February 2021

Dear parents, carers, and families across Royal Greenwich,

As I’m sure you are now aware, the Government have announced that schools will be reopen to all children and young people from March 8th.  

We have always been clear that the best place for our children and young people is in the classroom, but at certain stages of the pandemic this simply hasn’t been possible. Following the Government announcement, I wanted to write to assure you we are doing all we can to make this return as safe and smooth as possible and our teams have already been meeting with headteachers.  

However, the safe return of children requires each and every pupil and family to do their bit to support us and it is essential that we have your full support in doing so. 

For months now, kitchens and living rooms have been classrooms and canteens. You have juggled homeschooling with day jobs and all the stresses that the pandemic brings. I want to thank you for all you have done, and I know that none of us want to be back in this situation ever again.  

But, if we are going to ask you to pack schoolbags and send students off every morning, we need to be certain it is safe. That is why, more than ever, the next few weeks will be a true team effort from each of us.  

The sacrifices you have all made are finally starting to pay off and we’re pleased to say that infection rates, locally, are falling. But it is vitally important that we reward the efforts of everybody involved in the rollout by getting the reopening of schools absolutely right. We are also still living in a time with significant restrictions and it is important that you help us ensure children and young people understand that as well.  

In Royal Greenwich we will be doing everything in our power to protect students and teachers. All our schools are completing in-depth risk assessments, and every learning environment will have their own unique measures in place to ensure it is as safe as possible. Testing will be critical in schools remaining safe. All school staff will have regular testing provided by their schools.  

I would also like to ask everyone to ensure that they utilise the community testing we have in the borough and get your whole families tested in advance of returning to school. This is going to be part of how we live moving forward, and it will be vital to get used to it. You can access more details of our local testing here.   

Secondary school pupils can have community testing prior to the return to school and they will be required to undertake three tests in the first weeks as they return to the classroom. Schools will arrange testing as they return on March 8 and your school will send you more detail about their arrangements. Regular testing will be essential if we are to keep the infection rates down and all return to enjoying life.   

Rest assured we will be monitoring borough data very closely. We will look at infection rates, at vaccinations, at absences - and we will be doing everything we can to make it as safe as possible. I have asked our teams to get information together so we can publish this weekly and give you a sense of what is happening in the borough. We have also written to every headteacher to ensure they are passing information to us so we can identify any issues and act immediately.  

We understand that this is an anxious time for many, but it is also a hopeful time as we do all we can to get our lives back on track.  We will be in constant communication with our schools and we will bring you all the information we can to keep you and your children safe.    

I have called for teachers and school staff to be vaccinated as a matter of urgency, but the Government has so far decided against that being a priority. Your contribution to keep the borough safe is vital so please do ensure social distancing is maintained, face coverings are worn and continue to wash your hands.  

I’m incredibly proud of everything we have achieved together so far and I hope we can continue in the same spirit moving forward.  

You can find more information about how our schools will stay safe here. 

Cllr Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich                  Cllr Matt Morrow, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People