Coronavirus: Schools in England reopening on 1 June confirmed, PM says

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Media captionPM: Phased reopening of schools to begin from June 1

Parents and teachers should prepare for the phased reopening of schools in England to start on 1 June as planned, the prime minister has confirmed.

Boris Johnson said the government intended to reopen for early years pupils, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

The week after, up to a quarter of Year 10 and Year 12 will be allowed “some contact” to help prepare for exams.

The government will support any school “experiencing difficulties” to reopen as soon as possible, he said.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing, Mr Johnson said he was setting out the government’s intention so teachers and parents could “plan in earnest” for school to resume in just over a week.

He said the formal decision would be taken as part of the three-week review into the lockdown measures, which the government is legally required to carry out by Thursday.

Mr Johnson said reopening schools was a crucial part of the next phase of the government’s response to the pandemic because “the education of our children is crucial for their welfare, their health, their long-term future and for social justice”.

“So in line with the decisions taken in many other countries, we want to start getting our children back into the classroom in a way that is as manageable and as safe as possible,” he said.

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Schools have been preparing measures to teach safely during the pandemic

The proposal had prompted concerns from teaching unions, head teachers and many local authorities. A BBC Breakfast survey with responses from 99 councils found that only 20 were advising schools to open more widely on 1 June.

Another 15 said they would not be advising schools to reopen to more pupils and 68 said they could not guarantee reopening for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 as the government intended.

The timetable also sets England apart from other parts of the UK, where schools are not expected to open until later. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted after the prime minister’s briefing “to avoid a resurgence we must move carefully”.

But Mr Johnson said teaching unions, head teachers and local authorities would be able to “ask questions and probe the evidence” further over the coming days and said that “detailed guidance” had been published setting out how to ensure safety.

That included smaller classes, staggered times for breaks, drop-offs and pick-ups, and reducing the use of shared items, the prime minister said.

Staff and students would have access to coronavirus testing, he said, and “if they test positive we will take the appropriate reactive measures”.

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