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Coronavirus: Have your say on the school return date debate

PUBLISHED: 16:41 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:48 16 May 2020

Schools are due to reopen on June 1 for some pupils. Picture: Tim Goode/PA

Schools are due to reopen on June 1 for some pupils. Picture: Tim Goode/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

When will it be safe for pupils to return to school?

That’s the issue parents and teachers, plus government and union officials, are facing after prime minister Boris Johnson revealed some pupils could go back to the classroom as early as June 1.

This would be for children in reception as well as those in Year 1 and Year 6.

England’s deputy chief medical officer said “the age groups that have been chosen are those who... are most likely to miss out on the longer term for education”.

Missing out on schooling could have implications for the education and health of youngsters, Dr Jenny Harries said, but added that there was a “difficult balance”.

It comes as another public health expert said that parents may have to accept “some risk” when sending their children back to school.

Dr Andrew Lee, reader in global public health at Sheffield University, said that schools will have to “find a way of living with the virus”.

Secondary school pupils, meanwhile, have already been told their GCSE and A-level exams will not take place this summer.

Nine unions have issued a joint statement calling on the June 1 date to be delayed, saying: “We all want schools to reopen, but that should only happen when it is safe to do so.

“The government is showing a lack of understanding about the dangers of the spread of coronavirus within schools, and outwards from schools to parents, sibling and relatives, and to the wider community.”

It comes after the Department for Education (DfE) issued guidelines on Monday which said primary school class sizes should be limited to 15 pupils and outdoor space should be utilised.

The advice, on how to safely reopen schools, calls for lunch and break times to be staggered, as well as drop-off and pick-up times, to reduce the number of pupils moving around.

What do you think should happen? Have your say by completing our survey.


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