Schools in Halton are taking a sensible and cautious approach and are engaging with the Council, parents, staff and trade unions.

The Council’s Director of Public Health, Eileen O’Meara, said: “Alongside my fellow Directors of Public Health across Cheshire and Merseyside, I am confident that a phased return of pupils back to school can be safely managed.

“Where head teachers and councils in the region have rightly paused to consider if they should expand the number of children coming back to school, I support the decision locally to now proceed with a phased return. This includes our secondary year 10 and 12 groups.

“Evidence from the North West Scientific and Advisory Cell (STAC), demonstrates that there is very low transmission from child to child and children to adults in schools. I am also assured that plans are in place to manage any suspected cases of COVID-19 in schools, with each school having prepared robust risk assessments alongside the Council. There will be strict adherence to the health and safety arrangements made in each school, alongside containment arrangements such as ‘bubbles’ of staff working together.

“Everyone has a role to play in keeping schools safe and I would like to make clear that the public should continue to observe social distancing, use face coverings where social distancing isn’t possible and continue good hygiene practices.”

Based on the above and all the relevant advice, schools are evolving their risk assessments.

Most schools are currently working towards extended opening not later than 22 June 2020.