Many York parents worried about plans to reopen schools

Photograph © Celia Ortega on Unsplash

Plans to reopen schools in York could see more temporary classrooms used and changes to school timetables.

But many parents say they are worried about sending their children back to class and teachers’ unions have opposed the government’s call for primary schools to begin opening from 1 June.

The government has said that if schools do reopen on June 1 for some pupils, protective measures will be put in place.

Guidance says that if schools do reopen for some pupils, protective measures will be put in place.

Cllr Ian Cuthbertson, executive member for education at City of York Council, said: “We are currently reviewing with our schools what is needed to help them safely reopen and we will work with them to find solutions to this challenge, including looking at temporary classrooms where that becomes necessary and support to adapt timetables to manage the school day.

“The continued health and safety of pupils, teachers and staff is our main priority.

“Decisions about how to safely implement the government guidance will be taken on an individual basis by settings and schools based on their circumstances.”

Odd for the children

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson wants schools to reopen. Photograph: Screengrab

He added that specific information about individual schools will be sent to parents over the next few weeks.

Cathryn Auplish from York said she does not feel confident about the government guidance and questioned if schools should be reopened regionally rather than nationally.

She said: “With the best will in the world, schools don’t have the space, the PPE or the staff to manage social distancing.

“I think it’s going to be odd for the children. After all this time of not seeing her friends my daughter will want to run up to them, cuddle them and play games with them.

“What effect is social distancing going to have on her perception of education?”

A York Facebook poll – with more than 2,000 votes – asked if they would feel confident sending children back to school.

Eighty per cent of people said they would not.

Local health advice needed

York councillor Bob Webb. Photograph: York Labour Party

Labour councillors have called for “more science” to back the decision to reopen schools.

Cllr Bob Webb called for local public health advice, saying: “We want the council to support each and every school with major concerns about child, teacher and parent and carer safety over the next few weeks given the unenviable position they’re now in.”

“This includes receiving public health advice locally on York’s own specific circumstances, so they are better able to make informed decisions.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said getting children back to school is “vital” for their educational development and he has welcomed the efforts by many schools in England to prepare for a wider reopening.