Boris Johnson has promised a full return to the classroom five days a week for all children in the Autumn term, which will begin in September. The
Boris Johnson has promised a full return to the classroom five days a week for all children in the Autumn term, which will begin in September. The move comes after the Government has faced intense pressure from school leaders, unions and parents to ensure children do not miss any more valuable teaching time. Under the new guidance, self-contained classes or “bubbles” – which are not allowed to mix – will be expanded to all children back to the classroom.
What happens if your child’s school has confirmed cases?
The Department of Education has revealed that “small groups” of pupils and staff members may have to self isolate for up to 14 days if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in the school.
The Department added that “where there are two or more confirmed cases in a two-week period, health protection teams may ask a large number of other children or young people to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure”.
School leaders have also been told that there will be no need for pupils of any age to social distance when they return to school.
This includes in the classroom, where children will not be required to sit far apart.
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Schools will be given testing kits to give to parents in a bid to keep track of children exhibiting symptoms..
Attendance to school will be compulsory this time, as opposed to the recent reopening of schools in which parents could choose whether or not their children went in.
Parents could be handed penalty notices and fines if they refuse to comply with the rules.
The safety plans, issued by the DoE, say that “given the improved position, the balance of risk is now overwhelmingly in favour of children returning to school”.
What do schools think of the plans?
Head teachers have voiced their concerns about fines being dished out to parents if they do not send their children back to school.
Michael Ferry from St Wilfrid’s Secondary School in Crawley, West Sussex, said the threat of fines was “ludicrous” and that he will not be issuing them “in any shape or form”.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Ferry said: “A significant amount of our community has been affected by the closure of Gatwick airport and if I fine parents £120, I’m effectively saying I’m taking away eight school meal vouchers – because that’s what it amounts to.”
The school worker also warned that the school “cannot be full” on a daily basis if pupils and teachers are to abide by any social distanctng measures.
However, not everybody feels the same way, and some teachers think that going back in September could work as long as clear guidance is in place.
Ashley Harrold, head teacher of the Blatchington Mill School in Brighton, said schools could “overcome” the challenges around capacity, but admitted that there were still “legitimate questions around safety”.
His school had drafted four plans designed to bring all pupils back without affecting the curriculum.
Mr Harold told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “If we just get some clear parameters of what is safe on site, we will find ways to make this work but at the moment we are playing a really complicated board game without site of the rules.”