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Coronavirus: School children continuing to be cared for in hubs in Harrogate

Coronavirus: School children continuing to be cared for in hubs in Harrogate

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Jacob Webster at 3:11pm 15th April 2020. (Updated at 3:12pm 15th April 2020)

Children of critical workers are continuing to be cared for at hubs in Harrogate as uncertainty surrounding school closures swells with the national lockdown looking set to be extended for another three weeks.

  • Children of key workers in Harrogate are being cared for at hubs across the district. 
  • It's as the UK lockdown looks set to be extended for another three weeks.  
  • But children could be back in school sooner than expected amid fears of an economic slump.  

The government is tomorrow expected to announce that the current restrictions will stay in place until at least May 7  – and some ministers are reportedly pushing for children to be back behind their desks around that time.

It comes amid fears that the UK is heading for a huge economic slump and children may be back at school sooner than they thought to free up their parents to go back to work.

In the meantime, students who have now been away from their classrooms for four weeks are being sent online learning materials – whilst two new council-run hubs in Harrogate and Ripon opened their doors for children of key workers for the first time at the weekend.

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Adrian Clarke, Principal Education Adviser at North Yorkshire County Council, said the emergency education plans which snapped into action have so far been a success and will continue to run until schools reopen their doors to all students.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: 

"Our education and childcare hubs for critical workers are operating very well and we continue to be grateful to the dedicated staff supporting this important service. They are playing a vital part in helping many other frontline and key workers fight the impact of the outbreak in North Yorkshire.

“Feedback on the virtual and home learning packages for parents and carers is positive and schools, settings and the LA have a raft of support mechanisms in place to help parents and education providers during this difficult period.”

He added:

“Looking ahead and regarding the question of when schools will reopen to all pupils – that is a matter for government and we continue to follow all the latest advice and guidance as it is issued on that subject.”

One headteacher at a county council-run school in Harrogate has told how he has made the most of the internet to ensure around 300 children continue to learn during lockdown.

Chris Parkhouse, headteacher at Grove Road Community Primary School, said:

“After the very sudden closure of schools, our aim was to utilise some of the online learning platforms, that we already had up and running, to ensure that we were still going to be able to be in daily contact with the children and our families.

“By sending video messages, reading stories and sending audio clips for feedback for example on our YouTube channel, we are doing everything we possibly can to continue to inspire our children at home, help them to be passionate about their learning and share this with their families.”

When schools were locked down on March 23 – meaning GCSE and A-Level exams were scrapped – there was suggestion they may be shut until September.

However, researchers from University College London have since argued keeping children out of school has not had much effect on the crisis.

The government says schools will remain closed “until further notice” and will only open their doors when scientific advice indicates it is “safe to do so.”