UNIONS are STILL refusing to support pupils going back to school – and say a new ‘one-metre plus’ social distancing rule isn’t a ‘magic bullet’.
Boris Johnson today revealed the strict two-metre rule will be relaxed on July 4 in a bid to kick-start the economy.
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The Prime Minister, photographed with youngsters at a Hertfordshire school, says he aims to get every pupil back to class in September [/caption]
The PM has been locked in battle with teaching union bosses who have refused to back plans to get schools fully open[/caption]
It’ll be replaced with a ‘one-metre plus’ distance, which allows Brits to get closer to one another – but only with ‘mitigations’ like masks in place.
And the Prime Minister said education will begin in September with “full attendance” across both primary and secondary schools.
But the chief of a school leaders’ union has hit out at the plans – and says it’s “pure fantasy” for the PM to say all children will be accommodated in the autumn.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “There has been a lot of conjecture that relaxing the two-metre social distancing rule to one metre will allow all children to return to school in September.
“This is pure fantasy.
“It may be possible to accommodate more pupils in classrooms with a ‘one-metre plus’ separation, but not all pupils.
“There just isn’t enough space in many classrooms to do this.
“It isn’t a magic bullet.”
He insisted the Government provide a “proper strategy” that is “based in reality”.
And Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said more teachers and more space will be needed even with the new relaxed rule.
“If social distancing of one metre remains in place, that will still be difficult for schools,” she said.
The Prime Minister told the Commons today: “Primary and secondary education will recommence in September with full attendance and those children who can already go to school should do so because it is safe.”
New figures show that more than three in four primary schools reopened their doors to more children last week
Approximately 78 per cent of education settings that normally have children in nursery, Reception, Year 1 or Year 6 were open to at least one of these year groups on June 18.
This is up from June 11 when over two in three primary schools opened more widely to pupils.
Schools, colleges and nurseries closed more than 13 weeks ago due to the Covid-19 outbreak, remaining open only for vulnerable youngsters and the children of key workers.
Since then, Government officials have been locked into disputes with unions over when schools will reopen.
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Last month, union chiefs demanded a 169-point checklist was completed before teachers returned.
Among the health and safety concerns are guidance on whether it is safe to mark books, ensuring every classroom is supplied with tissues and whether families should provide their own water bottles.
And furious MPs hit back, claiming teachers’ unions are scaring parents by pushing the view that schools are “death traps”.
But a new study by Cambridge University found the risk to children is very low – and youngsters are more likely to be hit by lightning than die of coronavirus.
More than three in four primary schools opened their doors to little ones last week[/caption]
Schools, colleges and nurseries closed more than 13 weeks ago, remaining open only for vulnerable youngsters and the children of key workers[/caption]