Approach to schools reopening
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that schools could begin to reopen from 1 June, the county council has been working closely with schools and Trade Unions to understand how this should happen in Cumbria.
Given the wide diversity of schools in Cumbria there will not be one single approach to reopening that applies to all schools. Instead, individual schools, and school clusters, will make their own decisions following a risk based assessment process. Support will continue to be available to schools from the council and from public health experts to complete this assessment.
This will enable schools to consider the potential risks and issues carefully before reaching a decision. This includes things like: how social distancing can be implemented, site safety, the availability of staff and resources, safe transport, emergency procedures and supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), mostly in the form of hand sanitiser, gloves and face masks
The council’s key message for parents is that there will be different arrangements in different areas and it is vital that they carefully read the communications from their child’s school about what is happening locally.
Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning, said: “The council has worked closely with schools to provide support and guidance all the way through this situation and the approach to reopening builds on that good work.
“There is such wide variety in our schools in terms of their buildings and the communities they serve that it is sensible for each to make its own decision about reopening, supported by expert advice from the council and public health.
‘Respect our communities’ message repeated for bank holiday
Visitors to South Lakeland are being urged to behave with respect towards local communities as we look ahead to the bank holiday weekend and school half-term next week. The new national guidance around travel restrictions now permits unlimited travel time to exercise and unlimited exercise time.
Cumbria’s multi-agency Local Resilience Forum, which includes SLDC, is repeating its calls for people to stay local for their exercise and not rush back to the Lake District just yet.
The messaging appeared to have worked well last weekend and the Resilience Forum reported that the impacts were not as bad as feared.
Areas including the Glebe at Bowness and Tarn Hows were busy and there were high numbers of motorbikes in some areas, but monitoring by LDNPA suggested overall numbers in the national park were lower than expected.
In response to the new government guidance, SLDC has made a number of changes to car parking arrangements, has re-opened its marina facilities at Ferry Nab, Bowness-on-Windermere, and has updated guidance on use of public open spaces managed by the council.
The overall message remains ‘Please don’t head back to the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales just because you can, we are not ready for you yet.’
Nearly all attractions, shops, public toilets and accommodation providers are closed, for now.
For those that do decide to visit the area there are three key messages:
RESPECT our communities
- Be considerate and don’t do things that increase the risk or cause problems for local people, particularly the vulnerable. For example, avoid using paths through farmers yards, park considerately, keep your dog on a lead and take your litter home.
- Plan ahead and avoid busy places.
- Consider the lack of toilet and washing facilities and don’t behave in an anti-social manner.
RESPECT the risk
- South Lakeland and Cumbria continues to record new cases of the virus every day and the threat has not gone away
- Don’t take risks on the fells, on the water or on the roads. Stay within the limits of your ability and equipment at all times.
- If you get into trouble, help may take longer to arrive and you will put unnecessary additional pressure on local health and emergency workers as well as volunteer mountain rescue and coastal rescue services.
RESPECT the rules
- Observe all social distancing rules
- The government guidance is clear that there should be no overnight stays, no camping, no visiting second homes
- Avoid crowds
- Wash hands regularly
To help manage visitor car parking, agencies that operate car parks in the national parks, including the National Trust, United Utilities, local councils and both the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, have agreed to re-open any closed car parks and re-introduce parking charges where they had been suspended to support key workers in the Coronavirus response.
This is to remove the incentive of free parking that may attract more visitors, but also to provide adequate parking to avoid vehicles being left on grass verges or in side streets or residential areas.
SLDC has reintroduced parking charges on all its car parks within the Lake District National Park.
Parking charges will continue to be suspended on SLDC car parks outside the national parks (in Grange, Milnthorpe, Kirkby Lonsdale, Kendal and Ulverston) until June.
NHS staff, care workers and NHS volunteer responders involved in the Coronavirus response will be able to obtain a key worker parking pass from their employer under the government guidance, which will allow them to park for free on all SLDC car parks.
Passes are available through NHS Trusts, local authorities and the Royal Voluntary Service. For further details visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-health-care-and-volunteer-workers-parking-pass-and-concessions
Any SLDC parking permits that expired at the end of March can still be used until the end of May.
Revised signs have been erected in car parks to ensure social distancing and signs in car parks where charges have been reintroduced will strongly encourage pay-by-phone and contactless payments to reduce risk of virus transmission.
A new web page is being promoted by the LDNPA www.saferlakes.co.uk which encourages people travelling to the Lake District to park safely and avoid the more popular destinations.
Parks and playgrounds
Government advice is that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, and has updated its rules so that, as well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors.
SLDC has put up new signs in parks and public spaces that it manages urging compliance with social distancing guidelines and use of personal sanitisers after contact with any shared surfaces.
SLDC is reminding everyone that play areas managed by the council will remain closed in line with the government’s latest guidance.
Ferry Nab Marina, Bowness
Clarification received from government has confirmed that all forms of water sports practiced on open waterways, including sailing and windsurfing, are now allowed.
As a result SLDC has re-opened its marina facilities at Ferry Nab, Bowness.
Signage has been erected urging users of the facilities to observe social distancing guidelines and to use personal sanitisers after contact with any shared surfaces.
More details about specific Covid-19 arrangements at the marina, including about arrangements for launching boats and staying overnight on boats, can be found on the SLDC website: https://www.southlakeland.gov.uk/leisure-culture-and-events/windermere-lake/ferry-nab-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/
For more details on messages for visitors to the Lake District, see: www.saferlakes.co.uk
Handyperson scheme resumes
A scheme that supports elderly or vulnerable residents with practical help around their homes is re-starting after being suspended due to Coronavirus restrictions.
South Lakeland District Council’s (SLDC) Handyperson Scheme offers assistance with small jobs around the home to help people maintain independent living and quality of life.
When running normally, the service provides help with anything from changing a lightbulb to putting up shelving, installing hand rails and small repairs such as unblocking sinks. The work is free of charge and only materials need to be paid for.
The scheme was suspended in line with government guidance following the Coronavirus outbreak, but following a review this week in light of new government advice SLDC has decided to partially reintroduce the service and accept referrals for external work only.
This would include jobs such as clearing gutters on bungalows, fitting outside grab rails and installing a key safe.
No work will be undertaken at the current time that would require entering a resident’s property, even if that is just to access the back, for example to fit a grab rail on the outside back wall of the home.
Each request through the Handyperson Scheme will be carefully screened by council staff to ensure the job can be carried out in accordance with these restrictions and while observing social distancing before the job is passed on to the contractor.
Assistance under the Handyperson Scheme is available to people who are unable to undertake the task themselves and have no other person available to help them with the task and reside in the South Lakeland area, who:
· are aged 65 and over; or
· have a disability or are vulnerable; or
· are being discharged or have recently been discharged from hospital; or
· are at high risk of falling due to a medical condition; or
· potential victims of crime, who are referred by the police
Works are limited to a maximum of three hours on site if one handy person visits, or 1.5 hours if two handy people visit.
The scheme is supported by Cumbria Constabulary and Age UK, and the fitting of minor security measures is also included in the scheme.