This week has been a significant milestone for children, young people, parents and carers across the borough, as all year groups returned to school.
I have been really pleased to see that so far, school attendance levels are very high, and actually similar to what we would expect on a ‘normal’ return after the summer break. It is, of course, early days, but a very encouraging start, which is so important for our young people. These numbers certainly reflect the huge joint effort of colleagues to support schools, build confidence and keep communicating. My thanks go to all our schools who have worked so hard to minimise risk and make it safe for our young people and staff, as well as to parents and carers who have supported their children’s learning at home over such a long period.
I’m also pleased to announce that The Core Library will reopen next week, and our larger community libraries will follow in the coming weeks. In order to keep everyone safe, there are some major changes including new opening hours and a new Grab and Go service designed to encourage customers to select books quickly.
Customers will also need to wear face coverings of course and sign in, in line with the NHS Test and Trace system. Some of the libraries won’t be reopening yet as they are too small to accommodate social distancing, so please do check to find out what is happening with your local library before you set off. You can find out more here.
In recent years, libraries may have been under threat elsewhere, but we are proud of ours and have expanded the library service and invested in it. I was really sad that Covid-19 stopped us being able to enjoy our excellent libraries, and I know that many of you have very much missed your visits. Although things will be different, I hope that you are able to enjoy using them again.
As more businesses have opened up under difficult circumstances in our local communities, it is so important that we support them and help the economic recovery across the region.
As part of our ‘Support Local’ campaign, we are encouraging residents to think local… support local! Posters reminding people that our centres are ‘open for business’ are now displayed at some of our retail locations across the borough. These posters also encourage residents to follow Covid-19 guidance by wearing a face covering and to be kind and keep a safe distance from others.
Whether you are returning to your office, or working from home for the foreseeable future, please, please do what you can to support the fantastic businesses in our town and local centres.
Yesterday, I met up with other West Midlands leaders, as we do every week (sometimes twice a week) to compare what is happening across the region. Our infection rate in Solihull is, so far, at a relatively low level, but there are some common trends everywhere, which prompted me to issue a news release.
We appreciate how hard this has been for everyone and I know you are doing the right thing for Solihull. Thank you. I am really pleased that we are, bit by bit, making changes, as outlined above, to get back to where we all want to be. However, we must keep doing the key things to protect each other – social distancing, washing hands frequently, wearing face coverings and at the first sign of Covid-19 getting a test!
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 4 September 2020