Great Britain

Schools to reopen in September even if other parts of society are locked down, government source says

SCHOOLS are to reopen in September "come what may" even if other parts of society have to be shut down, it has been claimed.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson today unveiled plans for a full return to the class room from the beginning of the academic year.

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An increase in the current 15-child limit on class sizes has been signed off by Public Health England.

“Schools will reopen in September, come what may,’ a cabinet source told the Daily Mail.

“Everyone can see how important it is, not just to children’s education but to the ability of parents to get back to work.

“Obviously we have to see what happens to the epidemic but the plans are there now for a safe return.

“Schools will be expected to teach the full curriculum.

“This is a full return – we want all children back at all schools, learning the full curriculum. Yes, there will be differences but they should not impact on education.”

Under plans for how schools could operate after September, just two pupils testing for Covid-19 within two weeks could result in entire year groups having to self isolate.

Schools in England have been told to use “year bubbles” to get every child back learning this September.

They have been urged to separate entire year groups with staggered start and finish times to keep them apart during breaks and lunch.

The move would see bigger schools enact bubbles of 30, with entire classes kept together to keep them safe.

Secondary school pupils could be isolated in their year groups - limiting their interactions with students of different ages.

Despite the new measures, the Government has also told schools to focus on core subjects, with a full curriculum possibly not back til 2022.

Measures include:

At the moment parents are not being fined if they don't send their kids in during the pandemic.

Only kids in reception, year one and year six have been allowed to return to the classrooms since the coronavirus outbreak, but other years can come back if there's space.

Secondary schools in England have also been allowed to reopen for some students from Years 10, 11 and 12 since June 15.

The Government had to abandon plans to get every primary school child back in for a month before the summer.

But not all schools have reopened fully. Some do not have the staff and others do not have the space.

The Prime Minister had previously revealed his “ deep frustration” at some schools failing to reopen.

Appearing on Times Radio, he said: “Everyone needs to understand that schools are safe. If they can go back they should go back.

“It would be very helpful if our friends in the teachers union delivered that message, and some councils.

“Everybody must go back in September.”

The PM earlier claimed parents would be forced to send their kids back to school in September.

Boris said school closures during the coronavirus pandemic were a "massive problem".

Mr Johnson said it would be "the law" for kids to be in class by September.

The latest Government figures show that around a third (34 per cent) of all Year 6 children attended school on June 18, up from 26 per cent on June 11.

Attendance was around a quarter (26 per cent) in Year 1, up from a fifth the previous week, and 29% in Reception, up from 22 per cent on June 11, the figures show.

He also said teaching unions - who don't want schools reopened yet due to safety fears - should "take their responsibilities seriously".

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said a return to schools in the autumn has to be done in a way that does not spark a new wave of coronavirus infections.

He said: "That is what the Government guidance is aimed at achieving.

"The processes involved are logistically problematic, so this is going to be the art of the possible, rather than an ideal solution.

"We are urging the Government to have a plan B in place in the event that we arrive at September and the situation with coronavirus is too precarious to allow a full reopening.

"Frankly, it seems to be on a knife-edge at the moment."

Boris Johnson will announce a £1 billion school-building programme

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