These are the classes schools will reopen for in June - and if parents can keep their children at home

Monday, 1st June 2020, 3:02 pm
Updated Monday, 1st June 2020, 3:02 pm
Will you be sending your child back to school? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Will you be sending your child back to school? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Following the latest lockdown review on 28 May, the Prime Minister announced a further relaxation of restrictions, including the reopening of schools.

From Monday 1 June, some primary schools in England will reopen their doors to pupils after being closed for more than nine weeks.

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But is it safe for pupils to go back?

Which schools are reopening?

Primary schools in England will reopen for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from the start of June, following ten weeks of absence for many pupils.

While schools have remained open during the UK lockdown for children of key workers, and for vulnerable children, millions more primary pupils are now being invited to go back.

However, despite the UK government allowing select groups of pupils to return to school, a survey from the National Foundation for Educational Research suggested that 46 per cent of parents in England will opt to keep their children at home.

The study also found that half of parents in schools in disadvantaged areas will choose not to send their children back to school, while 25 per cent of teachers are expected to be absent due to personal health issues, or unwell family members.

The reopening of schools is also likely to see many local variations, with many schools in England making their own arrangements over when and which year groups can return, as well as how many days per week.

Can I keep my child at home?

It is currently not compulsory for parents to send children back to school.

This temporary arrangement is expected to continue in England during the summer term, and the usual sanctions for non-attendance will not apply.

Some areas around the UK have already opted to delay the reopening to pupils, with more than 20 councils across England - predominantly in the north - advising schools not to open from 1 June.

The risk of infection from coronavirus to pupils in the classroom is “very, very small, but not zero”, according to the government’s scientific advisory group Sage, while teachers would not be at above-average risk compared with other occupations.

The government also said its five key tests for easing lockdown restrictions have now been met, meaning it is safe for schools to start welcoming pupils back, providing safety measures have been put in place.

Secondary schools in England will be permitted to reopen to Year 10 and Year 12 from Monday 15 June, although only a quarter of pupils from those years will be allowed in school at any one time.

Will my child be safe?

Plans have been put in place to help minimise the risks to pupils and staff as schools reopen their doors.

New safety measures include keeping classroom doors and windows open to encourage air flow, introducing one-way systems around school buildings, and permitting no more than 15 children per classroom.

Pupils will be asked to say two metres apart from each other where possible, and regular hand-washing will be encouraged throughout the day.

Break and lunch times will also be staggered, and pupils will be given different arrival and departure arrangements to avoid large gatherings of people.

There will be a reduction in the sharing of classroom equipment, such as books and toys, and pupils will have fewer items to take home with them.

Parents are also advised not to gather outside school gates, or in the playground, when collecting their child, and carers should only enter the school building by appointment.

If any pupils or staff, or anyone in their household, develop symptoms of coronavirus, they will be asked to stay away from school and self-isolate at home.

What about elsewhere in the UK?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that schools in Scotland will reopen at the beginning of the autumn term on 11 August.

This will be done using a blended model, where pupils will do a mix of school and home learning.

In Wales, schools will not reopen to pupils on 1 June, with a date for children to go back yet to be confirmed.

In Northern Ireland, pupils who are preparing for exams, along with those about to move to post-primary education will return to schools in late August, while there will be a phased return for everyone else in September.