UNION heads and community leaders in Cumbria have praised teachers’ efforts in the ‘successful’ return to schools, following several months of closure owing to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Schools in Cumbria began to reopen this month.

This follows a Government U-turn, as Number 10 had initially looked to return certain cohorts to classrooms before the summer break.

Although Covid-19 transmission rates have begun to rise rapidly again in Barrow over previous days, the infection rates across the county have remained relatively low this month.

This has been put down, in part, to the efforts of teachers across Cumbria in ensuring the requisite preparations have been in place.

Andy Brewerton, head of Cumbria’s National Education Union (NEU) branch, said of educators’ work in the county: “Teachers have done extraordinarily well in ensuring the return to schools has gone as smoothly as possible.

“The low infection rates in most parts of Cumbria - i.e. that rates haven’t shot back up in most parts of the county compared with the way they have in other parts of the country once schools reopened again - are testament to their successes in this respect.”

Mr Brewerton noted the 'hard preparation work' that helped lay the ground for this month's return over the summer months.

The union head also noted school workers' efforts having been 'complicated further' by the fallout from secondary pupils' exam results last month.

“There was a lot of hard work going on with heads and school staff before centres began to reopen,” he said.

“That hard work is paying dividends now.

“I think the biggest problem for educators and for schools going forward - and I imagine it will continue to be biggest problem - is parental worries in terms of testing and when and/or whether to send their children or other children home.

“It’s been a real dilemma for a lot of teachers - and there’s often no clear way of dealing with some of these scenarios when they arise. So it’ll continue to be difficult in that respect. I think heads will continue to feel pressure in terms of sending kids home.

“Apart from that, and from the challenges of getting hold of tests, it’s all gone very well, I think.

“There are still a few lingering concerns around less ‘centre-stage’ issues cleaning.

“But these are challenges that are not insurmountable - and the successes of the return are testament to all the hard work and successes of schools’ preparation work which has been taking place throughout the spring and summer months.”