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Schools across Portsmouth have been thanked for the work they have put into delivering education for children in extremely difficult circumstances at the end of a very challenging term.

Public Health England (PHE) South East (SE) and Portsmouth City Council joined forces to send out a positive message highlighting everything that schools have done over the past three months, in particular the extra tasks they have had to take on because of Covid-19.

PHE SE Regional Director Dr Alison Barnett said the last few months had been “pretty tough” but that she was proud of how education providers had risen to the task. Following months of closure and the complexity of delivering high-quality education to pupils at home, returning all students to classrooms in September was a logistical challenge like no other.

“It has certainly been a difficult year – for teachers, pupils and for parents,” she said.

“Our Health Protection Teams have been in daily contact with schools and know the pressure that they have been under – but we also found they have increasingly grown in confidence in managing cases themselves.

“Although numbers remain high across Portsmouth, staff and parents have consistently gone above and beyond to make sure pupils have been able to learn as safely as possible and I want to thank them for these efforts.

“The risk to children of becoming severely ill from coronavirus remains very low and the impact of being out of school can be profound and life-long. To ensure we can continue to control numbers and protect our loved ones, it is vitally important that schools, parents and pupils keep to the Covid-19 guidelines as much as possible, both over the holiday period and when they return for the new term in January”.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education at Portsmouth City Council, said that she was also impressed with how the schools in the area had taken on the challenge of ensuring children continued to get their education even in the midst of the pandemic.

“Children’s education is so important and we know it was a huge joint effort to ensure that the majority of schools were able to stay open throughout the last few months,” she said.

“I would like to thank everyone involved, from head teachers to cleaning staff – everyone had a role to play.

“In order to keep our schools as safe as possible, please continue to keep children home from school if unwell and get them tested.

“It’s also worth remembering that about one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it unintentionally.

“This is why it is so important to remember to continue to follow the advice like wearing face-coverings and socially distancing at the school gates and anywhere else where staff, parents and students may mix in the final days of term.

“We want to do all we can to protect our community and look forward to more time with friends and family in 2021.”

For parents and carers who are unsure whether a child is unwell and should go in to school or stay at home, our parent guidance webpage can help: www.portsmouth.gov.uk/parentguidance