Reopening schools in September is a “top priority” for the government and it will be safe, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said.
It comes after teachers’ unions called for clarity amid an increase in the number of coronavirus cases and the decision to suspend the easing of the lockdown in England.
“We have to get the kids back to school in September,” Jenrick said.
Schools are expected to open in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to all pupils at the start of the next term.
They closed in March except for the children of key workers, but some reopened to certain annual groups before the summer break.
However, unions have raised questions about plans to reopen schools, after England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned the country was ‘close to the limit’ of opening up the company. .
And earlier this weekend, two scientists briefing the government said it may be necessary to find compromises around easing the lockdown – for example, some restrictions may need to come back into force in order to allow students to return in the classroom safely.
Asked by the BBC on the matter, Mr Jenrick said: ‘We have to get the kids back to school in September.
“It is so important for the future of our children and for our whole country that they have face to face contact with their teachers in class.
“We are working closely with principals and teachers’ unions to make sure that all the necessary steps are in place during the summer so that the children can return in September and this is a top priority for the government.
He said he believed the schools “will be safe in September”.
“We have published some very detailed guidelines and of course we will continue to work with principals during the month of August as they finalize their own plans for how their schools can operate in any way. security according to guidelines.
“This is a really important issue for the country. All parents know that no matter how much work has been put into distance learning over the past few months, it is no substitute for getting children back to class.
Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, told Observer ministers on Sunday that they will have to convince staff and parents that it is still safe to reopen schools next month.
Mr Jenrick also dismissed newspaper reports that it was planned to introduce shielding for people above a certain age as “speculation”.
“One would expect the government to consider all the options that might be available,” he told Times Radio. “It’s not something that is actively contemplated. ”
On Friday, the prime minister said further easing of the lockdown would be delayed.
The measures to come this weekend, including the reopening of casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and certain local services, as well as the return of indoor shows and pilots of large gatherings in sports venues and centers conference, have been postponed for at least a fortnight.
Mr Johnson said on Friday he needed to ‘step on the brake pedal’ to ease restrictions following an increase in coronavirus cases.
The latest figures show a further 74 deaths were reported in the UK on Saturday, bringing the total number of people who have died after testing positive for the virus to 46,193. The latest government statistics also showed that 771 new cases had been confirmed.
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