We are living in extraordinary times. Widespread disruption and anxiety about COVID-19 has impacted on all aspects of daily life across global society. Gaps are widening as disadvantaged communities suffer the direct and indirect consequences of coronavirus most painfully.
The impact of COVID-19 has been far-reaching in the education sector. Schools have been at the forefront of the national response by remaining open to provide care for vulnerable pupils and for the children of critical workers. The ed-tech revolution has enabled home learning for many pupils – but has not reached a significant number. Teachers have worked tirelessly to provide lessons and materials. Pastoral staff have maintained regular contact with children and families. Schools have achieved a great deal in a few weeks since lockdown began on 23 March. However, we know that distance learning cannot be a complete long-term educational solution. Schools are a crucial part of our national fabric for many reasons, and the pandemic has illustrated just how much we need them. We need schools to be open and we must do everything within our power to ensure that they are safe.
As the phased reduction of lockdown comes on to the horizon, a substantial amount of planning is required to mitigate the risks of disease transmission. For schools, this planning is complex and varied. No two schools have the same buildings, staffing or community composition. There is no single solution that works for everyone.
We have developed the Reopening Schools Toolkit because we recognise that the challenges facing school leaders are complex and unprecedented. We have identified the key priorities that leaders will need to consider in their plans but have not prescribed solutions: those decisions are for leaders, who know their schools best.