THE government is pushing on with its phased plan to send children back to school in June.
On Sunday, Boris Johnson confirmed young children will return to the classroom on June 1, with Years 10 and 12 to return two weeks later.
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When will secondary schools reopen?
Secondary school pupils could go back to the classroom from June 15.
It will be two weeks after primary counterparts are due to return to school on June 1, the government said – despite a fiery row between ministers and unions.
Secondaries will start reopening so Year 10 and Year 12 can have “some contact” to help prepare for GCSEs and A-levels, Boris Johnson said at the Downing Street daily update on Sunday.
Pupils transitioning to secondary school, and those approaching GCSEs and A levels are taking priority in the gradual return to normality.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: "Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools will work towards a phased return of more children and young people without a focus on specific year groups."
Speaking yesterday, Mr Johnson said: "As part of step two we set out plans for a phased reopening of schools, because the education of our children is crucial for their welfare, their health, for their long term future, and for social justice.
“So in line with the approach being taken in many other countries, we want to start getting our children back into the classroom in a way that is as manageable and as safe as possible.”
On May 11, the government's online advice for parents and carers of Years 10 and 12 pupils said: "We do not expect these pupils to return on a full-time basis at this stage".
Children and young people who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should continue to shield and should not be expected to attend.
How will social distancing work?
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson assured teachers and parents the June 1 returns would be the first phase of a "controlled and careful" return to schooling with a range of protective measures.
These include keeping class sizes small, making sure pupils stayed within small groups, observing strict hygiene and cleaning measures, and having breaks and mealtimes staggered to reduce crowding.
Schools and other settings should communicate their plans to parents once they have had a chance to work through them in detail.
For secondary schools and colleges, classes will be halved, the government said.
That means that classrooms and workshops will be rearranged "with sitting positions two metres apart.
"Where very small classes might result from halving, it would be acceptable to have more than half in a class, provided the space has been rearranged.
"Support staff may be drawn on in the event there are teacher shortages," the advice added.
Williamson said if scientific advice proposed a "limited number" of children could be sent back to school, it was his duty to allow this to happen.
"Of course safety comes first but we must also be aware of the potential damage to a child's education from not getting them back in the classroom," he added.
England is the only part of the UK asking schools to begin phased reopenings from the start of next month, raising fears among teachers' unions about the risks of infection from the coronavirus.
Will parents be fined for not sending children to school?
Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.
But the government advised parents and caregivers to "notify your child’s school or college as normal if your child is unable to attend so that staff are aware and can discuss this with you".
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