Opinion: Schools should reopen when safe

PUBLISHED: 08:30 30 May 2020

Wes Streeting MP, urges government to reassure parents about safety of schools.

Wes Streeting MP, urges government to reassure parents about safety of schools.


Like many parents and teachers in Redbridge, I am deeply concerned about the prospect of schools returning on June 1.

In recent weeks I have heard from hundreds of parents, teachers, and others across the sector and the overriding message is clear: people want schools to re-open, but only when it is safe.

There is no doubt that the sooner children can get back to school, the better. Such an extended period outside of school is detrimental to children’s education, wellbeing and overall development, especially for our most disadvantaged children.

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However, the safety of children, their families, school staff and the wider community remains the most critical issue.

Ambiguity surrounds the proposed social distancing measures, which in classes of four to six-year-olds does not seem feasible and there aren’t enough teachers to facilitate major reductions in class sizes.

Creating one-way systems are recommended, but many schools cannot support this due to size and layout. In busy, and often crowded schools, adhering to these rules would be almost impossible.

Teachers have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to support the students and families and we owe it to them to ensure they are not at risk.

The government needs to provide parents, students, teachers and the wider community with clarity and confidence that schools will be safe. I trust our headteachers and parents to make the right decision for their children and will be keeping up pressure on the government to do the right thing.

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