The County Council is in the process of supporting schools to make sure every child in North Yorkshire can access remote learning, as schools close to all pupils except the children of critical workers and vulnerable students.
The county’s primary schools had been poised to return to face-to-face teaching this week, with secondary schools planning for a staggered return to the classroom, but following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday night, schools are currently expected to be closed to the majority of children until the end of the February half-term.
Consequently, schools in the county are now switching to remote learning for the majority of pupils and the County Council is in contact with schools to establish if there are any gaps in provision of equipment, including laptops and dongles to access the internet.
A scheme which saw laptops distributed to schools took place during the first lockdown earlier this year, but the council is awaiting details from the Government, to see if more devices will become available for children and young people who may have missed out on provision last year.
Remote learning is a mixture of online teaching and off-line tasks and will continue to follow the national curriculum and exam-based learning.
Stuart Carlton, Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services said:
Schools have been communicating with parents about the move to remote teaching, since the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday on the new national lockdown.
All of our schools are now working hard to move teaching for all year groups to remote learning, which is a mixture of online learning where appropriate and other types of work set for young people. To provide remote learning across a rural county comes with its own challenges and we will continue to make sure all pupils are equipped with the devices and internet access they need.
At the same time, schools will also be staying open to children of critical workers and vulnerable children in order to support those families which need it.
I would like to pay a particular debt of gratitude to headteachers, staff, governors and early years providers, who have worked tirelessly since March to rise to the many challenges the pandemic has brought with it and continue to do so.
We are also aware of the potential impact on mental health the closure of schools may have. All mental health services are available and accessible. We have been putting extra training and support in schools to support mental health in recent months and all mental health services will still remain available to any young person who needs it.
Any young person or family can speak to their school if they are concerned about mental health issues, or access some of our online support we have available.