Archive for May, 2020

Supporting our schools

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

I have spoken about the incredible work that schools and their staff have been doing during the pandemic in a previous post. The continued efforts of staff and leaders in schools and education settings since the start of the pandemic have been humbling and inspiring to us all. We have seen scores of examples of great practice and efforts by individual staff and schools as a body, which have been shared with the wider education sector.

Most schools have remained open to support vulnerable children and the children of key workers, which has allowed essential staff to get to work and help keep things going during the pandemic. Teachers have also been working hard to make sure that those children at home can still get the best education possible which is really important.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been in regular contact with our schools, making sure they are kept up to date with the latest information from Government and making sure they have everything they need to operate safely.

Following the latest Government guidance, we are now working with primary schools to give them the support they need so they can open safely to nursery, reception, year one and year six pupils from 1 June. Our health and safety teams continue to offer advice on social distancing measures as well as access to a pack of personal protective equipment should someone fall ill.

Schools know what is best for their staff and pupils, so it will be up to each individual school to make the decision about when and how they can open. Our understanding is that the majority of schools will be open in some way, and will be letting parents know what will be happening over the coming days.

I trust this gives you some reassurance, and that you will also join with me in thanking our schools on behalf of the children and families of Staffordshire for their response to date, and the work they are planning for the next phase.

Be assured, we will continue to support our schools in these very challenging times. And if we continue to follow all the official advice on Coronavirus and pulling together we will beat the pandemic.

Increased funding for care providers, and re-opening of tips and country park carparks

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I said that we would do everything it takes to protect our communities and our vulnerable residents. Supporting our care sector to help manage the impact of the crisis has been and remains a key part of this.

Funding to the sector has now increased to £20m and is supporting a raft of measures to ease the pressure on care homes and care providers.  Ensuring those who need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) most, such as our frontline workers, has been essential in fighting the pandemic. As such, this funding will help with the distribution of more than 700,000 free emergency items such as gloves, masks and aprons, to ensure every care home in Staffordshire has what it needs.

With some of the travel restrictions now being lifted, from today, we will also see the reopening of our recycling centres. We know these have been a much-missed service during the lockdown as people no doubt have been decorating their houses and doing extra work in their gardens.  We are expecting lots of visitors to the sites, so we’re asking people in the early days, to only visit if it’s a priority.  Please be patient and follow the new rules put in place to adhere to social distancing.

We’re also introducing a phased reopening of county council’s country park car parks. This follows the Government’s updated guidance on exercising and staying safe during the pandemic.

While we appreciate that people will be keen to get out and about, social distancing remains critical and why we’re asking people to continue following the ‘two metres apart’ rule and stay alert to passing the virus on.   Please note that some facilities at the country parks will also remain closed, like toilets as well as visitor centres and children’s playgrounds.

Even though it may seem like we’ve moved past the worst part of this pandemic, it’s important that we continue to follow the official Public Health England advice on Coronavirus to ensure we don’t see a rise in the number of cases.

Updated Coronavirus guidance announced

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

On Sunday evening, the Prime Minister set out a new coronavirus roadmap for the country and is calling for people to follow the updated advice.

A new strapline ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’ is being backed up with five stages of alert for the country ranging from One (Green) to Five (Red). Britain is currently in Stage Four.

The key points are:

  • People should: Still stay at home as much as possible, work from home if they can, follow the 2m social distancing rule, limit social contact, wash their hands regularly, self-isolate if they or a member of their household shows symptoms.
  • Those who can’t work from home are being actively encouraged to return to work from Wednesday, but not by public transport
  • People can exercise more than once a day and play sport – but only with own households
  • From June 1 some shops and primary schools may reopen
  • From July at the earliest some hospitality venues may reopen

It’s really important that we all use our common sense and follow the latest advice, wash our hands regularly and keep a safe distance to safeguard ourselves, our families and our communities if we are to get through this and avoid a second peak in the pandemic.

Over  the coming weeks and months we will all be treading a very fine line as we gradually reopen the county and the country but this is absolutely not a green light for everyone and everything to go back to as we were before the pandemic.

We continue to work with residents, businesses, partners and staff on our own recovery planning and will align this with the Government’s roadmap once more detailed information is available.

In the meantime, please continue to follow the official Coronavirus advice here and together we’ll defeat the pandemic.

Marking VE Day anniversary online

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

Friday is the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and marks the end of World War II.

This could be the last memorable milestone when we remember those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for the country and our freedom while some of them are still with us.

But as we celebrate with them, we also find ourselves in a battle with a very different enemy, that of Coronavirus. In this fight it is our NHS staff, our Care workers and essential workers who are leading the charge to beat the pandemic and with our staunch community spirit, it’s a battle that we’ll win.

With people no longer able to attend physical commemoration events because of the travel restrictions, a series of online and virtual activities have been organised. Live streams, war poetry, stories, and a huge UK-wide rendition of Vera Lynn’s ‘ We’ll Meet Again’ are amongst the activities.

Following the two minute silence, at 11am on Friday, which I would encourage people to do, there is also a VE Day 75 livestream, sharing stories and memories from those who served during the Second World War. Our libraries service will also be joining in with war poetry readings, e-book recommendations, sharing of old photos and memories and chat on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

While it will be sad not to be able to attend physical events, there is plenty happening online and I would urge people to take some time to pay tribute to those brave men and women who fought for freedom from the Nazi tyranny in the second world war and sacrificed their lives for our country and our freedom.