Parents across Suffolk have been thanked for their flexibility during the uncertain Covid-19 pandemic – and school chiefs have asked parents to continue to be understanding heading into the new term in September.

Three lockdowns which forced thousands of pupils to do school work from home, see short notice changes in guidance, testing requirements and instances where pupils have been required to self-isolate have all made for an unpredictable school experience during the crisis.

Suffolk County Council’s assistant director for education and learning, Adrian Orr, has thanked parents for their patience and understanding, but asked that flexibility continues when the new term starts in September.

“We need to acknowledge the fabulous flexibility parents have shown in times of difficulty when their work life has been affected,” he said.

“I suspect a lot of people furloughed were at home worrying about their job – furlough was not a holiday.

“A really big ask [for September] is an understanding of flexibility from parents and families if they have to make changes at short notice because of a pingdemic or because the infection plays out.

“We know this virus does not work in a uniform way. You can have schools close to each other – one really affected by it and one not, but it is to do with the difference in communities that children come from.

“A biggie that will really help schools and colleges is a continued support and patience of parents and families if we have to make changes rapidly.

“The other things the schools wanted through the final period [of last term] and through September is the opportunity for as normal a running of school as possible.

“Schools really just need to be able to get on with the job at the start of term. We want to get students in, settled, curriculum well and truly underway, their autumn term assessments underway, the planning underway.”

Additional guidance is expected from the Government on the return to schools, and changes to self-isolation rules planned for August 16 means entire bubbles may not have to isolate if one tests positive when the new term starts.

But it has been acknowledged that the so-called ‘pingdemic’, any uptick in the virus prevalence, or short-notice changes in Government guidance may create last minute headaches for schools, families and pupils.

Mr Orr said the authority was continuing to hold weekly drop-in chats for schools facing difficulties, while a weekly meeting of sector leads will also continue until otherwise needed to ensure Suffolk’s education system runs as smoothly as possible.