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The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 issue 31: School return comes under spotlight

How to support pupils and staff returning to school comes under the spotlight in the latest issue of The Manchester Briefing.

The fortnightly briefing, produced by Alliance MBS and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, brings together international lessons for local and national government recovery and renewal in the wake of the pandemic, and has been running ever since the start of the crisis.

A screenshot of the latest Manchester Briefing

As schools begin to re-open in the UK, the latest Briefing discusses the importance of considering the wide range of needs and emotions of young people and staff whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic.

In particular it discusses potential demand for social services to which schools may refer children and families, and the need to create additional capacity where forecasted demand exceeds current capacity.

It also discusses the importance of working closely with schools to monitor school attendance and identify children who have not returned, and of enhancing partnerships between schools and social services to ensure any child who needs additional support is identified and appropriate support is offered.

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This week’s Briefing also outlines some key challenges faced, and the coping strategies used, by LGBTIQ+ people during COVID-19. It discusses how the pandemic has emphasised the necessity for more nuanced and inclusive crisis response and recovery strategies that encompass LGBTIQ+ needs and that recognise diversity within minority communities.

To improve the care and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ people during COVID-19 and other future crises, the Briefing offers various recommendations. For instance short term actions include appointing an LGBTIQ+ liaison to COVID-19 recovery committees to ensure that recovery and renewal efforts consider the needs and capacities of LGBTIQ+ populations. It says this role can provide an important link between government and non-government organisations and LGBTIQ+ community and volunteer groups, who have filled critical gaps in support during the pandemic.

Longer term actions include building strategic partnerships through productive dialogue with LGBTIQ+ people themselves, and the groups and organisations that represent them, to develop inclusive and efficient strategies. Developing an international standard to adequately respond to the needs of LGBTIQ+ people and prevent the creation of new inequalities during crises is also discussed.

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Commuter behaviour

The Briefing also considers the impact of COVID-19 on commuter behaviour. Although home-based working has become the norm for a large percentage of the population, many workers have had to be physically present in their usual workplace, and many who have had to travel to workplaces during the pandemic have changed their mode of transport due to potential infection risks, delays and inconvenience due to cancelled or reduced public transport.

The report considers whether traffic congestion and the demand for parking space will increase dramatically as restrictions ease, and the impact this could have. In particular it discusses the idea of a travel awareness communication campaign, prior to an ease of restrictions, in order to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable travel for improving air quality and reducing pollution.

It also looks at measures such as expanding and improving cycling and walking space around workplaces, the impact of congestion charge policies, and whether new policies such as a workplace parking levy should be introduced.

The Manchester Briefing is aimed at those who plan and implement recovery from COVID-19, including government emergency planners and resilience officers. The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to the pandemic.

Download this week's Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 (issue 31)

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