Blackburn with Darwen - Press Release - 10th July
News release, Friday 10 July 2020
Working together to avoid a second lockdown
As cases of Coronavirus show a moderate rise in Blackburn with Darwen, community leaders are working together to remind local people of the importance of sticking to the government’s rules – or risk facing a situation such as in Leicester.
Although lockdown easing measures are being gradually introduced nationally, it is vital that everyone in the borough continues to adhere to social distancing guidelines and maintains good hygiene when outside of their homes.
To help keep the virus under control in Blackburn with Darwen, a mobile testing site for Coronavirus will be set up in Blackburn from Saturday, July 11th.
Testing will take place in the car park at Witton Park Academy between 11am and 6.30pm every day for the next seven days.
This will be a drive-through testing site and appointments are not needed. The testing unit will be in the main car park at the school.
People will be expected to carry out their swabs themselves, which will then be handed to staff to store safely and send for processing. It is free and is open to all ages.
You will also need to fill your details in for the testing staff to contact you with the results.
Traffic controls will be at the entrance and people will be directed by medical staff to the testing centres.
This temporary site will be in addition to the existing testing facility on Old Bank Lane at Royal Blackburn Hospital, which are still available for residents to use.
The Government has rolled out a full COVID-19 testing programme and you can find out more at www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health, said: “This temporary testing site is open to those in this area of Blackburn and also the wider borough for those who feel they need a test.
“Sites like this allow people to quickly get a test and find out whether they need to quarantine with their household or seek treatment if needed.”
“Whilst we haven’t had the level of outbreak seen in Leicester and other areas, we are aware of our raised rate of confirmed cases according to recent data. We are therefore introducing a range of measures to mitigate risks in a proportionate and phased way – and the mobile testing unit is one of them.
“We have also published our outbreak management plan, are stepping up our local prevention work week-on-week with vulnerable settings and are strengthening our communications with key groups. We are working closely with the local NHS to make Pennine Lancashire ‘second wave ready’ and are making plans to increase the availability of local testing for higher risk groups.
“My message continues to be: stick to two metres social distancing wherever possible, increase daily handwashing and wear a face covering in all enclosed public spaces. For settings such as places of worship, pubs, workplaces and schools, continue to follow the national guidance on making your spaces Covid-safe.
“Above all else, we need to work together to keep Blackburn with Darwen a Covid–safe borough. It’s up to us all to stick by the rules and protect each other.”
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of the Council, added:
“We are grateful to the majority of residents who have strictly adhered to the government’s guidance around staying at home as much as possible, and being sensible when they do need to go out.
“No one in Blackburn with Darwen wants to find ourselves in a situation like in Leicester. Please continue to do your bit to stick to the rules to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
The Council is working with key partners to remind local people of the rules:
COVID – 19: Wider School Opening (19.06.2020)
Unless there is any announcement over the weekend, St.Francis will commence wider opening from Monday 22nd June. EYFS and Key Worker bubbles on Monday 22nd June and then Year 1 bubbles from Wednesday 24th June.
COVID – 19: Wider School Opening - 12.06.2020
Once again, I would like to say how sad we all felt not to be able to open wider to more children last Monday 8th June, however, it was right for us to follow the advice of Blackburn with Darwen’s Public Health department. As you are aware, the current phased wider opening of school is now set for the 22nd June. Blackburn with Darwen’s Public Health department are meeting again on Friday 19th June to discuss the most recent data and to make a final decision relating to the wider opening of schools at a local level.
Reception and Year 1 parents/carers were invited to complete a form online for wider opening on 8th June. This is the information we will use to plan for WB 22nd June and by Thursday 18th June, information will be sent to you about your child’s bubble. If you have told us you wish a place for your child, you do not need to do anything. If you have changed your mind and no longer wish the place that you have requested, please contact the school office to explain this so we can adjust our planning and preparation accordingly.
The guidance at the moment has not changed and therefore, wider school opening will see children operating within bubbles of 10 children. Unfortunately, at present, the amount of Key Worker, EYFS and Year 1 bubbles mean that Year 6 children will not have the opportunity to return to school prior to the Summer holiday. This decision has not been taken lightly, however, it is in line with our risk assessment that has been approved by the Local Authority. If the situation changes and we are in a position to allow some Year 6 children to return, we will of course make contact and sort the appropriate arrangements.
Families with children in Year 2, 3, 4 and 5…please know we have not forgotten you, however, as you know there are no plans to enable a return to school for these year groups prior to the Summer holidays.
You may be wondering about the government’s new announcement about a Summer ‘catch-up’ programme. I am unsure what this offer will look like, however, St. Francis will be closed over the Summer holiday for normal school holiday closure. This is because the St. Francis staff have worked tirelessly since the start of partial forced closure and the school has never closed. If the Local Authority are tasked by central government to provide a scheme, I will provide you with these details.
You may already have questions around what school will look like in September 2020 for the new academic year. These are likely to be the same questions I have! I am hoping that the government will set out a proper and thorough strategy for schools to aid the planning of a smooth transition into the new school year. This will obviously very much depend upon the coronavirus pandemic, especially the ruling around social distancing.
I have created a section on our school website called ‘COVID-19 Information’. This is where all important information relating to this time will be kept. If you think that certain information, not currently on this website section, would be useful to have, please contact me and I will do my best to build this section of the website to ensure it is as useful as possible. I have placed information relating to domestic abuse, online safety and other aspects of support that can be accessed on this page.
A huge thank-you to the families who are continuing with home learning tasks. You are doing a sterling job. Many of you are becoming very skilled at juggling balls and spinning plates. It cannot be easy so please ensure you take time to look after yourself. Thank you to all the families who are interacting with staff via emails and telephone…it is so lovely to hear all your news.
Unfortunately, the number of domestic abuse incidents are on the rise. Please find below useful contact numbers if you are suffering domestic abuse. There is no excuse. Please seek help.
Blackburn with Darwen Help Hub
The Blackburn with Darwen Help Hub is here to help the local community who may need some support, this can be help with accessing food and other essential supplies to help get through these challenging times. There will also be staff and volunteers who can make phone calls to check on people to keep their spirits up while isolating at home. People can get in touch with the Help Hub: By filling in this online form or By calling 01254 588111. Please keep updated on the latest via: www.theshuttle.org.uk and www.blackburn.gov.uk. We will be making contact with partners who may be able to take some referrals to provide localised support.
Blackburn Youth Zone
Blackburn Youth Zone are currently providing meals for children during the week for families who are in need. Please email them on email@example.com to organise meals and collection. If you are struggling, please do contact school and we will see what we can do to help.
Shelter are an excellent charity, who can help with anything housing related, universal credit and benefits. If you are in need, please contact them by telephone on 0344 515 1831. Their website is: https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help/local_services/blackburn
Free School Meals - Has Your Financial Position Changed?
All children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 receive 'Universal Infant Free School Meals', meaning parents/carers are not required to pay for school dinners if their child has a school dinner.
'Universal Infant Free School Meals' is different to 'Free School Meals'
Free School Meals
If you are eligible for ‘Free School Meals’, you MUST apply for this. The criteria and information on how to apply is below. If you are awarded this, you will not be required to pay for school dinners from Reception to Year 6 and the school will receive a small amount of money that can be used to support your child’s provision.
Are you eligible for Free School Meals? ****PLEASE APPLY EVEN IF YOU SEND YOUR CHILD WITH A PACKED LUNCH OR YOUR CHILD GETS UNIVERSAL INFANT FREE SCHOOL MEALS AS THE SCHOOL WILL STILL RECEIVE A SMALL AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT CAN BE USED TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD****
Children whose parents receive the following support payments are entitled to receive free school meals:
Please note: if you receive Working Tax Credit you will not be entitled to free school meals.
Please go to: https://www.blackburn.gov.uk/schools-and-education/school-meals to apply for 'Free School Meals'.
If you have any questions or difficulties, please contact the school office on 01254 201419 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional Staying Safe Online Links
Childline (https://www.childline.org.uk/) - for support
UK Safer Internet Centre (https://reportharmfulcontent.com/) - to report and remove harmful online content
CEOP (https://www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/) - for advice on making a report about online abuse
Internet matters (https://www.internetmatters.org/) - for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
London Grid for Learning (https://www.lgfl.net/online-safety/default.aspx) - for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
Net-aware (https://www.net-aware.org.uk/) - for support for parents and careers from the NSPCC
Parent info (https://parentinfo.org/) - for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online