Primary schools could reopen from June 'at the earliest' under new lockdown rules

10 May 2020, 20:03

Primary schools could reopen from June 1 at the earliest
Primary schools could reopen from June 1 at the earliest. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson said today that the government would be looking at reopening primary schools from June 1 "at the earliest".

The prime minister said that the date after half-term was being looked at as a target to start re-opening shops and primary schools.

Mr Johnson said: "We believe we may be in a position to begin the phased re-opening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

"Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport."

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Mr Johnson stressed that the measures would be dependent on the R rate coming down as well as the overall number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Mr Johnson said: "I must stress again that all of this is conditional, it all depends on a series of big ifs.

"It depends on all of us - the entire country - to follow the advice, to observe social distancing, and to keep that R down."

Following the Prime Minister's announcement that schools could begin a phased reopening in June, one headteacher expressed concerns about how social distancing could be managed, particularly with younger children.

Bryony Baynes, headteacher of Kempsey Primary School, said: "I'm slightly flabbergasted. I understand that we need to begin the sense of returning to normality, and I understand that a big part of returning to normal is getting the school back up and going.

"However, how on earth are we to manage social distancing between reception and year one pupils when most of them are aged four and five?

"Boris has made a very general statement tonight and then he's gone off and all of my parents will now be clamouring for details.

"I don't know how to manage that and I don't know how to manage getting the reception class into school and keeping them safe."

He also said that he wanted to impose quarantine measures on people arriving to the UK by air.

"To prevent re-infection from abroad, I am serving notice that it will soon be the time - with transmission significantly lower - to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air," he said.

"And it is because of your efforts to get the R down and the number of infections down here, that this measure will now be effective.

"And of course we will be monitoring our progress locally, regionally, and nationally and if there are outbreaks, if there are problems, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes."