The government has scrapped plans for all primary pupils in England to return to school before the end of term, reports the BBC.
The initial aim was for all children to spend four weeks at primary school before leaving for the summer holidays. It is no longer considered feasible, however, with schools now granted “flexibility” over whether to admit more pupils.
The news comes after health secretary Matt Hancock announced that England’s secondary schools might not fully reopen until September “at the earliest”.
In England, primary pupils in reception, year 1 and 6 started returning to school last week. DfE figures based on 4 June reveal that 52% of primary schools opened for extra pupils and 11% of primary pupils were in school – around one quarter of the year groups that could have returned.
A total 659,000 children were in all schools on 4 June, including children of key workers. That’s nearly 7% of pupils who would typically attend – up 2.6% from before half term.
The scrapped plans confirm what head teachers and governors have been saying for some time: it is not possible to greatly increase the space each class needs to adhere to social distancing rules, and bring everyone back. There’s simply not enough room.
When Number 10 continued with the plans they lost the backing of many parents, teaching staff and teacher unions.
There are concerns that having more children in schools could raise the rate of Covid-19 infections among pupils, staff and wider communities. Yet, on the other side of the argument, parents are worried about how they are going to continue managing with children at home and keeping up with their educational needs
There are growing calls for the government to start thinking more strategically and creatively. What is needed, argues BBC education reporter Hannah Richardson, is a national plan that recognises the scale of the problem and matches the scale of the support the economy has seen.