Update from NYCC

Date: 29 May 2020

With another glorious weather forecast for the weekend ahead, at the risk of repeating myself, we need to continue to emphasize the message that we should all ‘think ahead to limit the spread’. Now that we can drive further and have an increased amount of physical freedom, it gives us more scope than ever to find space to relax and exercise away from potential crowds and, therefore, away from the risk of inadvertently contracting or spreading the virus which remains amongst us. With further relaxation to the lockdown rules due to come into play next week, I would ask you to, please, make sure you stick to the very simple, but proven to be effective, measures of staying two metres apart and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.
A particular issue that is always present in summer months but is, perhaps, more of a potential danger during lengthy periods of good weather and the current lockdown, is the temptation to cool off in rivers, reservoirs and the sea. We know that most people behaved responsibly during the last sunny weekend and avoided busy areas but some large groups did gather to swim and drink in places like the Threshfield Quarry lagoon near Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales and Richmondshire Falls on the River Swale.
We have over 100 scenic and beautiful reservoirs that we want walkers, cyclists, runners, picnic-goers and others to enjoy this summer within the agreed guidelines but we really need people to obey the signs and not swim in them. Open water may look tempting to cool off in warmer weather but they can be full of hidden dangers, including submerged items and vegetation that you can get caught up in. It’s also likely to be much colder that you expect – some reservoirs have temperatures as low as 12ºC, which is colder than rivers in summer time and they are much deeper with depths of up to 50m. Although they have fewer currents than rivers, there are still underwater currents generated by pipework, which is an invisible danger. Even strong swimmers can be affected by cold water shock. So, please, if you are spending time near water this weekend, make sure you read all the local safety information.
Monday will see a big step forward towards the new normal as we see many of our primary schools reopen their doors, with new social-distancing in place, to children in reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Each school has carried out a risk assessment to plan bespoke safety measures. So far 110 primary schools in North Yorkshire – just over a third – have confirmed they will be opening on Monday, June 1 and an additional 24 primary schools are planning to open from June 8; other schools are initially opening so staff can plan how teaching will take place in their individual settings with social distancing rules in place.
Schools in North Yorkshire are using a variety of approaches to make sure that the children’s well-being and safety is protected as an absolute priority. In some schools, children will be taught in small “bubbles” –spending the day with the same, small group of other children and teacher, who stay separate from other bubbles in school. Teaching tools, toys, surfaces and any other items that the children will touch will all be sanitised with everybody continuing to do regular hand-washing.
Schools are working to make sure that the children are properly settled in and that they feel secure and ready to begin formal learning again. We do encourage parents to send their children to school but those who decide to keep them at home won’t be penalised.
We are working with all other primary schools towards their reopening in the coming weeks. Secondary schools will be opening from June 15 to allow students in key year groups – Year 10 and Year 12 – to have contact with teachers as they study for exams they will sit next year.
So, a busy time for all of us and, while we work at such pace, I will finish this message as I started, with a strong reminder that we mustn’t forget how essential it is that we all continue to follow the 2 metre social distancing rule. If you are bored with hearing that from me, why not take a couple of minutes to hear it from five-year-old, Henry Sangster, from Richmond Methodist Primary School which will be re-opening on Monday. If Henry can get his two-year-old sister to comply instantly, I’m sure we can all do the same! Thank you, Henry – you have a bright future ahead of you! https://youtu.be/iRaoP3W3h7s