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Class sizes limited to 15 and staggered drop-off times for England schools

Class sizes limited to 15 as English schools come back for 1 month before summer

Children returning to schools in England next month will be taught in “protective bubbles” of no more than 15 and kept apart from others in order to minimise risk and keep pupils safe, according to new government guidance.

Assemblies, breaks and lunchtimes will be staggered to keep the number of pupils coming into contact with each other to a minimum, and each class will have the same teacher at all times and work in the same space to limit risks of infection.

How will schools be kept safe

The advice also suggests nurseries and schools should remove soft furnishings and toys that are hard to clean. Schools should also consider introducing one-way circulation, or placing a divider down the middle of corridors.

Headteachers will be advised to stagger drop-off and home times to reduce gatherings of parents and children around the school gates. Cleaning will be increased, corridors should be one-way where possible, doors should be kept open and staff should ensure toilets do not become overcrowded.

The National Education Union rejected the reopening plans as “reckless”.

Those who cannot keep pupils in small groups have been told to discuss options with their local authority or trust, with the possibility of sending some children to nearby schools.

Returning to schools seems optimistic as well as safe

The government expects children to be able to return to nurseries and childcare settings, and for Reception, Year One and Year six pupils to be back from 1 June.

Parents will be “strongly encouraged” to send their children to school unless the child or a family member is shielding or the child is particularly vulnerable due to an underlying condition, but schools and local authorities will not be asked to issue school attendance orders or fines if children do not attend.

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: “The latest scientific advice indicates it will be safe for more children to return to school from 1 June, but we will continue to limit the overall numbers in school and introduce protective measures to prevent transmission.”

The DfE said that pupils eligible to return on 1 June will have access to testing if they display   symptoms, alongside symptomatic members of their household.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I know how hard schools, colleges, early years settings and parents are working to make sure children and young people can continue to learn at home, and I cannot thank them enough for that.

“But nothing can replace being in the classroom, which is why I want to get children back to school as soon as it is safe to do so.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “It seems wildly optimistic, to the point of being irresponsible, to suggest that we will be in a position to return all primary children to school within the next seven weeks.”

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