Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, schools for most children across the UK have been closed for the last six weeks. As the economy falters, the Government is now eager to get them open, so that parents can return to work.
The Education Sectary, Gavin Williamson, has indicated that the Government wants to open all school and nursery settings, possibly by June. Raising concerns from the education sector and others that premature action could potentially increase the spread of the virus, putting more lives at risk. The Scottish Government is already stating that it will refuse to open schools, in Scotland, until later in the year.
“We will work with the education sector to consider how best to reopen schools, nurseries and colleges when the time is right.” – Education Secretary @GavinWilliamson at yesterday’s #coronavirus press conference. pic.twitter.com/hbwdgfJ4Gb
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) April 20, 2020
Debates range about the right time to fully open schools. Most have continued to provide education to a small number of vulnerable children, and those of key workers, who have been allowed to attend school throughout the Coronavirus crisis.
Ryecroft Middle School is just one of the 24,323 schools across England who shut its doors to the majority of pupils on the 23rd March. It has remained open for children in need and those of emergency workers. With most classrooms empty, and a shift to distance learning, it’s been an unprecedented time for school staff. There are concerns now as to how they can make social distancing work, when all their pupils return, as Matthew Hall Deputy Head explains:
“I need to be sure that staff and pupils will be safe”.
Headteacher Ryecroft Middle school
Headteacher Rachel Baramuszczak said “We need to see very clear guidance from the Government, who need to talk to the teaching Unions about reopening. I need to be sure that staff and pupils will be safe”.
Many Schools are now looking to the Government for clearer advice, as to when it is safe for them to reopen and how to protect their pupils from the Virus. However, a survey by the National Education Union, who represent 450,000 teachers and staff, showed that 92% of their members would not feel safe opening schools so soon. The Union is now advising teachers not to engage in plans to reopen schools on June 1st.