Thank you for writing to me about coronavirus and schools. I have read your email carefully and noted the key points that you raise.
I appreciate your strength of feeling on this matter and I am very sympathetic to your concerns. Keeping children and staff safe is of the utmost importance.
The current position is as follows. From the week commencing 1st June at the earliest, the Government is asking primary schools to prepare to welcome back children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, alongside the priority groups currently at school. The Government has announced that they are hoping to bring all primary year groups back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if possible, although this will be kept under review. Additional year groups will only go back if the most up to date assessment of the risk posed by the virus indicates it is appropriate to have larger numbers of children within schools. As I say, keeping children and staff safe is a key priority.
The Government’s approach is underpinned by the latest understanding of the science, which indicates the need to take a phased approach in order to limit the risk of increasing the rate of transmission above 1. Early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development, and the three year groups within primary have been prioritised because they are key transition years.
The Government is continuing to limit the number of children returning so that settings can reduce the number of people in classrooms compared to usual and put protective measures in place to reduce risks. Children and young people will need to stay within their group wherever possible and we will ask settings to implement a range of protective measures including frequent cleaning, reducing ‘pinch points’ and utilising outdoor space. In early years settings, existing space requirements and staff:child ratios for these age groups should allow for small group working. Staff and children in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with coronavirus symptoms, as will members of their households, and the track and trace approach will be applied to any confirmed cases.
Those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, or are living with someone who is, are not expected to attend. Anyone with concerns about underlying health conditions should follow the Government’s protective measures guidance. This approach is in line with other countries across Europe, who have begun to bring pre-school and school-age children back in a phased way and are focusing on primary schools and younger children.
The Government is reviewing the impact of these measures closely, working with sector leaders and scientific advisors. For more information please see below some useful links:
With best wishes and my thanks again for sharing your thoughts and concerns with me.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking