Schools in Cambridgeshire won’t reopen until ‘scientific evidence proves it is safe’, council leaders say
PUBLISHED: 17:00 22 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:08 25 May 2020
Council bosses in Cambridgeshire say they won’t advise any school to reopen until “scientific evidence clearly proves that it is safe to do so”.
Cambridgeshire County Council has said that “bespoke plans” for the safe return of pupils will be based on Government scientific advice which is expected to be released next Thursday (May 28).
It comes as primary schools in England have been encouraged to reopen on June 1 - with the return of reception, year 1 and year 6 first.
But ministers now face increasing pressure from education unions and councils who have urged plans to be revised.
Jonathan Lewis, service director for education at Cambridgeshire County Council, said for all schools to stick to the same reopening timeframe “isn’t feasible nor safe”.
“While there is no denying myself and all the headteachers I speak to want to see our pupils back and learning in our schools, we will only encourage pupils to return when the scientific evidence is clear that is safe to do so,” he said.
“Our headteachers have been working tirelessly to consider different models of phased reopening long before the government made any announcements.
“Some will be able to take pupils from June 1, but some will not. I can’t ask them all to stick to the same timeline – it simply isn’t feasible nor safe.”
Concerns were raised over maintaining social distancing between younger children and the level of care for those who fall into vulnerable “shielded” groups.
Mr Lewis continued: “I know this is a concerning and uncertain time, but I want to reassure them that our schools are putting pupils first and doing the right thing.
“They will update parents directly on their plans.”
Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, councillor Steve Count, also confirmed “the safety of our children, their families and school staff is always our number one priority”.
The council agreed that – in line with Government guidance – no penalty fines will be issued to any parent or carer who doesn’t send their child to school between now and the start of the next school year.
The final decision on when and how to open individual schools’ will rest with their headteachers and governing bodies.
Meanwhile, Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) which runs Sawtry Village Academy, near Huntingdon, said they were “not in a position to determine any specific timelines” of reopening.
Mark Woods, CEO of CMAT, said: “The reopening of all of our schools is fully reliant on satisfying the Government’s five key tests for easing restrictions and on any further announcements.”
Earlier this week the results of our poll on when children should return to school sparked a discussion on The Hunts Post, view it here: https://www.huntspost.co.uk/news/parents-concerns-over-june-school-return-1-6660857
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