PARENTS won’t be fined if they choose to keep their kids at home once schools reopen over coronavirus fears.
Primary school kids are set to head back to classrooms in June if new cases of coronavirus keep going down, under the Government’s new plans.
Children in reception, years 1 and 6, will be the first students to be back behind desks as the nation slowly comes out of draconian lockdown restrictions.
Releasing kids back into schools is a top priority for the Government because it will allow parents to be able to return to work without the burden of home schooling and to stop children falling behind in their learning.
But union bosses and head teachers have said it is “reckless” to open schools to early, as social distancing measure may be impossible to enforce – particularly with younger children.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “We think that the announcement by the Government that schools may reopen from June 1 with reception and years one and six is nothing short of reckless.
“Coronavirus continues to ravage communities in the UK and the rate of Covid-19 infection is still far too great for the wider opening of our schools,” she said.
Dr Bousted urged the Government to meet tests set out by unions, which includes extra money for deep cleaning and personal protective equipment and local powers to close schools if clusters of infections break out.
Headteacher of Parklands primary school in Leeds Chris Dyson told The Guardian last week: “The simple fact is it’s impossible to socially distance primary school children.
“I’ve just been around all the classrooms with a tape measure to see how many children I can get in each room with a view to social distancing.
“My year 3 class is normally 25. I can only have five children if we are following the letter of the law and keeping 2 metres apart.”
The full-50 page document of the plans to ease lockdown was released this afternoon, detailing how and when classroom doors would be opened again.
Amanda Spielman, chief of the education watchdog Ofsted, said last week it is unlikely parents would be fined for not sending their kids to school.
The Government hopes they can get students back in time for there to be at least one month of teaching before schools’ doors close again over the summer – but class sizes will be reduced to allow for social distancing.
The guidance released today said: “Schools should prepare to begin to open for more children from June 1.
“The Government expects children to be able to return to early years settings and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes, from this point.
“This aims to ensure that the youngest children and those preparing for the transition to secondary school have maximum time with their teachers.”
It added: “The Government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible.”
The huge plan revealed:
- People won’t get the chance to see their relatives again properly for at least weeks to come – but ministers are looking at allowing one household to see another one
- Brits will be advised to wear face masks on public transport and anywhere where people can’t stay 2m apart
- The Government want all primary school kids to go back to school for a month before the summer holidays
- The public are now allowed to go outside for leisure reasons, but they can’t stay overnight for a holiday
- Sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast within weeks
Reopening schools is the second step of the three-phase plan to ease lockdown Boris Johnson outlined last night.
He said: “In Step Two, at the earliest by June 1 — after half term — we believe we may be in a position to . . . get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
“Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays.
“And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools.”
Secondary school pupils are not expected to return to schools before the summer break, but GCSE and A-Level students set to sit crucial exams next year could have “face to face” contact with teachers before the summer holidays.
The guidance insisted that all plans for reopening schools would be kept under constant review to ensure cases of coronavirus did not rise.