Although there is not yet a specific date for returning from school, worried parents are concerned about the risk of letting their children mingle with others.
At the daily coronavirus briefing this afternoon, Matt Hancock was confronted with two questions from the audience.
The first asked whether parents would be fined for not sending their children to school when the learning centers reopened.
Hancock vowed that the government would only allow students to return when it was safe to do so – and did not rule out the possibility of fines.
He said, “We are not going to reopen schools if it is not safe.
“Of course, as we reopen the schools, our goal is to return to the norm and the position as before.
“I am confident, because we will only do this when it is safe, then it will be completely reasonable and normal to send your children back to school. “
Professor Powis added: “Science is always evolving in terms of transmission between children, so we have to be careful when we think about reopening schools and we will have to think carefully and advise the government with appropriate information on how this may occur. “
Currently, only the children of key workers attend school, with most children attending home school.
The other public question was about using Nightingale’s hospitals to reduce wait times at the NHS.
Professor Stephen Powis said that NHS Nightingale hospitals should be kept “as an insurance policy for the next two months” until a lasting reduction in hospital admissions is achieved.
Hancock said the government “will do what we need to do to reduce the waiting lists for the NHS when it reopens.”
Hancock added: “But the Nightingales were designed very specifically for intubated patients and therefore under anesthesia. They are therefore specially designed for Covid. “
Professor Powis added, “These hospitals are designed in a particular way for a particular purpose and that does not necessarily mean that they would be suitable for other types of NHS activities.
“Now, of course, we also have to keep them as an insurance policy for the next month or two, because we have to be confident, as I said, in the five tests that we have a reduction sustained hospital admissions.
“But of course, we always keep things ahead of schedule. “