Heads oppose a plan to reopen English primary schools to all students

Yesterday, June 1st, English primary schools reopened for the first time in months. This is after the lockdown restrictions were eased in the last few weeks and the Department for Education gave a greenlight on school reopenings.

The first classes to reopen were for the students in year 1 and year 6 across England. The first day of school post coronavirus saw many students failing to attend. In some schools, the class absentees were as much as 40 percent, with some recording as high as 70 percent of students absent.

Local media captured the moment the school gates were reopened for the first time since March 20th, when the lockdown for schools went into effect. Children lined up two meters apart as a safety measure to ensure they are protected from coronavirus. Although most schools remained open for children with disabilities and children of key workers, it was the first time in months, the country was having mass school attendance.

Push to reopen English primary schools

Increased push to reopen English primary schools to other groups and years, however, is facing opposition from headteachers across the country. The government is pushing schools to expand the reopening in the coming weeks to accommodate all students, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said there were mixed feelings about the reopenings. Although he admitted that some schools might reopen, it still remains to be seen if they will be on the majority side.

Barton said that he does not expect all schools to reopen this year. He also argued that some schools would also see a fall in attendance, with experts putting the figure of attendance between 40 to 70 percent. He was, however, optimistic that as the schools continue to push with the reopenings, parents will ease their nervousness and will finally release their children to attend schools.

Amidst opposition, the government has insisted that its goal is to see all English primary schools reopen for at least a month before summer. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has indicated that he understands the concerns parents are having with sending their children back to school. He assured them that the safety measures were a guiding pillar to the government policy on reopenings.


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