Most schools in England are slated to reopen on Monday as the government eases the lockdown – despite unions and councils warning that it is not safe.
A 2000 National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) Member Survey found that nine in 10 plan to open on June 1, but with fewer children than government advised, despite fierce opposition teachers’ unions.
This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the five key tests required by the government to facilitate the lockout have been completed – and that schools can admit more students from next week.
The 450,000-member national education union (NEU) said today that the date was not sustainable.
” [It] is not viable, it is not practical, it is not ethical, we will not do it, “said Mary Bousted, co-secretary of NEU, to The Times.
Primary schools across England will reopen for children in reception, year 1 and year 6 from 1 June
Other unions, including the head teachers ‘union NAHT and the teachers’ union NASUWT, have raised concerns about the reopening of schools on June 1 with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Thursday.
The poll also found that three in four chiefs will ignore government advice to which students can turn and make their own rules for class scheduling.
The Brighton and Hove Council, Sheffield City Council, North Somerset Council, Darwen Council, Blackburn Council and Lancashire Council announced today that they have told schools in their area not to reopen on Prime Minister.
The fourteen rebel councils so far …
Sunderland City Council
Liverpool City Council
Brighton and Hove
The six councils join eight others who have already announced that they will not open schools in their areas because they did not think they could do so safely.
Sheffield City Council specifically mentioned concerns that the NHS test and traceability system might not be “robust enough” to be in place next week.
Primary schools across England will reopen for children in reception, year 1 and year 6 from 1 June.
But Sheffield City Council said it “did not yet feel confident that the time was right” to admit more children and advised schools and kindergartens “to delay the increase in numbers” until June 15.
Sheffield Advisor Abtisam Mohamed, a member of the education and skills cabinet, said, “We have been briefed by Sheffield director of public health, Greg Fell, who has reviewed the local position, and he does is not convinced that the recently announced test and trace program will be sufficiently well established and robust enough to be in place on June 1.
“He advised that the testing and tracing system should be in place and functioning effectively for 14 days before schools and day nurseries start to increase their numbers. “
Mohamed continued, “We are not sure yet when this is the right time and we advise our schools and nurseries to delay the increase in numbers until June 15.
“For the maintained schools, where the board is the employer, we are asking schools not to increase the number of children attending more widely.
“For all the other schools, academies and nurseries in Sheffield, we strongly recommend that you also delay their wider reopening until June 15. “
British Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson speaks at daily press conference on the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19)
Brighton and Hove’s board also said on Friday it would advise its schools not to reopen on Monday due to concerns over the government’s recently launched testing and tracking program.
North Somerset advises all of its schools to delay the reopening until June 8 as a “precautionary measure” following a Covid-19 outbreak at Weston General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare.
The ministers were pressured by unions and councils, who urged the government to reconsider plans to open schools more widely.
Other boards ultimately left the decision to the principals, but urged caution and said that for a few years, social distancing might not be possible.
Earlier this week, Conservative-led Lancashire County Council advised schools not to open more students on Monday, but said the final decision was ultimately up to the principals.
Durham County Council also advised against reopening it wider next week, saying June 15 is a “more realistic date,” but as the Lancashire County Council has left the final word to individual schools.
Meanwhile, the director of the Cavendish Close Infant School in Derby told Derbyshire Live that plans to reopen had been abandoned after a staff member contracted Covid-19 and had to self-isolate.
Education unions – including head teachers ‘union NAHT and teachers’ union NASUWT – expressed concern over school reopening on June 1 with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Thursday .
Nine unions representing school leaders, teachers and support staff said they “stressed the importance of monitoring the impact of more students coming back to school” and listening to the staff experience.
A joint statement issued by the Congress of Trade Unions (TUC) on Friday said: “We will work closely with the Department to ensure that the guidelines are a living document, informed by all those providing care and treatment. education in every school in the country.
“Over the next two weeks we will work with our members to submit their experiences of reopening schools and discuss these issues with the Secretary of Education.”
Before Monday, Downing Street suggested that teachers who refuse to attend schools for safety reasons will have to be settled.
Asked whether they would be deemed to have violated their conditions of employment, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “The school leaders, I am sure, will have conversations with their own staff in the manner usual.
“The secretary of education has been working closely with schools and unions for 10 weeks. He met with the unions again yesterday.
“Our approach throughout this process has been to work closely with schools, school leaders and teacher representatives to ensure a safe and gradual safe return.
“I’m sure the school leaders will have had discussions with individual teachers. “