In new Government guidance published this week there are plans for a phased return for primary aged school children, and early years settings.
The proposed phased return for early years settings and schools is aimed from the start of June with children returning to early years settings, reception, year one and year six in smaller sized groups of no more than 15 children. There would potentially be staggered pick-up and drop-off times and break times to maintain social distancing.
The guidance states: “This aims to ensure that the youngest children, and those preparing for the transition to secondary school, have maximum time with their teachers.”
There is a secondary goal of getting all primary school children back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if possible, but this will be subject to review. The focus on younger children is due to evidence suggesting they may be less likely to catch COVID-19, have fewer contacts outside school and be more likely to suffer a detrimental effect if they don’t go to school.
The guidance, Our plan to rebuild: the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, comes in a new 50-page document to accompany the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday for plans to ease the lockdown.
Secondary schools and further education colleges should also prepare to begin some face to face contact, in small groups, with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have key exams next year to support remote, home learning.
Separate guidance says face masks are not encouraged in schools or nurseries unless pupils shows symptoms of COVID-19. It says: “The majority of staff in education settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain a distance of two metres from others.” If a school or childcare worker or student lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable they should only attend if they can practice rigorous social distancing.