Will schools be going back in May? Will schools open over the summer holiday?

22 April 2020, 07:23

When will the schools go back?
When will the schools go back? Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Will schools be going back in May after the half-term following 'phasing' proposals being considered the Government?

The UK has been on full coronavirus lockdown since March with school closures being one of the biggest adjustments to homes in the UK - so when will pupils be going back to school properly?

It's now being suggested schools will reopen in May, following the half term, as part of the new phasing proposals but is that true? And will schools be open in the summer as a result of the lockdown?

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Here's everything you need to know about school closures including whether schools are going back in May and the idea of summer school:

Could schools be reopening in May?

It had previously been suggested that pupils would not be back at school until at least after the Whitsun half-term which starts on May 25.

But according to reports in the media, there are concerns in Government that unless pupils go back to school restrictions on the workforce cannot be eased until their children are back in full-time education.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party leader, said: "Schools are important because they enable parents to go back to work, particularly primary schools because those are the children who are too young to be left at home alone. Reopening primary schools is the key to unlocking labour."

At the moment the national coronavirus lockdown has been extended until at least May 7.

Will schools open over the summer holiday?

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told reporters at the Downing Street daily briefing that there are no plans to open schools over the summer period.

How will schools be reopened?

Reports suggest the Government plan to introduce a three-phase "traffic light" strategy which could see some schools reopen from May 25.

The plan could see students being taught in different age groups, or attending school every other week in order to maintain social distancing.

The 'traffic light' approach would first see primary school children back in class and those in years 10 and 12 who are due to sit GCSE or A-level exams next year.

According to The Sunday Times, there may also be re-opening of non-essential shops such as clothing stores and garden centres where social distancing can be observed, and non-urgent operations in the NHS restored.

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How long have schools been shut for in the UK?

Schools across the UK closed to most pupils on Friday, March 20, however, some schools remained open to children whose parents are key workers "critical to the Covid-19 response", who cannot be safely cared for at home.

What has the Government said on schools opening again?

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson dismissed suggestions schools could open soon, saying: "No decision has been made on when we will reopen schools.

"I can reassure schools and parents that they will only reopen when the scientific advice indicates it is the right time to do so."

There have been reports that three school start dates have been drawn up ready for the Prime Minister's consideration on his return to work following his own battle with coronavirus.

The dates have been reported as May 11, June 1 or the start of September.

Next year's exams may also need to be pushed back to allow students to catch up.

What have unions said?

One teachers' union has written to the Government to say its members were "disturbed" by suggestions that schools could reopen.

The letter from the National Education Union read: "Given that, in reopening schools and colleges, you would be asking our members to take an increased risk, we believe they have a right to understand fully how any such proposal belongs within an overall Government strategy to defeat the virus."