Head teacher Charlotte Beyazian places plastic bags containing materials on the tables for each pupil to help provide a teaching environment safe from coronavirus for pupils and teachers at La Petite Ecole Bilingue at Kentish Town, north London.(Photo: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
Eastern Eye Staff
PRIMARY SCHOOLS in England are to reopen to some pupils from June 1, Boris Johnson announced on Sunday (24).
Only reception pupils aged 4-5 in the first year of school, those aged 5-6 in year one, and those aged 10-11 in their final primary year will return initially, the prime minister told a news conference.
“In line with the approach being taken in many other countries, we want to start getting our children back into the classroom,” he said, adding that the government would remain in consultation with unions and headteachers over this planned easing up of the coronavirus lockdown.
“While of course we realise social distancing may not be possible, especially when teaching young children, government guidance has been published that gives advice to teachers.”
Secondary school pupils will come back later, with “some contact” between teachers and older children preparing for exams from June 15, he added.
Reopening schools has been controversial, with Britain having the highest coronavirus death rate in Europe and the second-highest in Europe.
According to the latest government figures, nearly 37,000 people have died after testing positive. Broader statistics including suspected cases puts the figure at over 41,000.
Teaching unions last week urged the government to reconsider plans to reopen, as it gradually eases lockdown restrictions, given lingering concerns over health and safety.
Several local authorities across England have already ruled out a return on June 1, and schools remain shut in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where education is a devolved matter.
Schools will return part-time in Scotland from August 11 while Wales has not set a date for a return.
In Northern Ireland, pupils will only come back from September.
On Friday, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said: “Evidence remains inconclusive on both the susceptibility and infectivity of children.”
But, it added: “The balance of evidence suggests that both may be lower than in adults”.