GAVIN Williamson today accused unions of scaremongering about the dangers of reopening schools.
The Education Secretary warned families were being put under pressure by claims about the risks.
Teachers’ unions want to boycott plans to reopen schools gradually on June 1, claiming it is unsafe.
Darren Northcott, from the NASUWT trade union, yesterday said it would be very difficult to get children back before schools break up for summer, claiming there were “so many unanswered questions”.
But Mr Williamson hit back, insisting pupil safety was at the heart of his proposal.
He told the Commons yesterday: “The only consideration behind this decision is what is in the best interests of children and those who work in schools.
“And we all recognise the importance of children being able to return to schools.
“And sometimes scaremongering and making people fear is really unfair and not a welcome pressure that is to be placed on families, children and teachers alike.”
Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield said: “The benefits of going back to school before summer will be enormous. Each day that passes is an opportunity missed.”
But Downing Street is facing a big battle with the school unions who have united to oppose the plan to reopen primaries on June 1.
All seven unions have demanded the Government “steps back”. Instead, they are demanding six strict safety tests are met.
In a joint statement, they said: “While we know that children generally have mild symptoms, we do not know enough about whether they can transmit the disease to adults.
“We do not think that the Government should be posing this level of risk to our society.”
They complained teachers were the only workers not being protected under social distancing rules.
And they also want the right to close schools if Covid outbreaks occur plus money for school cleaning, PPE and risk assessments.
The Department for Education’s chief scientific adviser Osama Rahman admitted to MPs yesterday there was mixed evidence on children’s role in spreading the bug and confidence in findings was low.