Primary school children who are returning to school next month will be taught in “protective bubbles” of no more than 15 pupils and desks will be spaced as far apart as possible, in accordance with the Government’s new guidance.
The new details published by The Department for Education (DfE) on Monday evening, advise schools to stagger assemblies, lunch and break times, as well as drop-off and pick-up times, to limit the spread of infection.
The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: “The latest scientific advice indicates it will be safe for more children to return to school from 1 June, but we will continue to limit the overall numbers in school and introduce protective measures to prevent transmission.
“This marks the first step towards having all young people back where they belong – in nurseries, schools and colleges – but we will continue to be led by the scientific evidence and will only take further steps when the time is right.”
”We will continue to limit the overall numbers in school and introduce protective measures to prevent transmission.Gavin WilliamsonEducation Secretary
Schools are also being told to consider introducing one-way circulation, or placing a divider down the middle of the corridor, to keep young people apart.
Education settings which cannot achieve the small groups required due to limited classroom space or staff numbers should discuss options with their local authority or trust, the guidance says, adding that solutions might involve children attending a nearby school.
More than 440,000 people have signed a petition urging the Government to give parents a choice on sending their children back to school if they reopen. The Government has said families who choose to keep their children at home when schools reopen will not face fines.
However, parents will be strongly encouraged to take up these places, unless the child or a family member is isolating, or the child is particularly vulnerable.
The Government guidance acknowledges that young pupils will not be able to remain two metres apart from each other and staff.
Schools have been told they should abandon the two-metre physical distancing rule required among the staff in favour of keeping small groups that will be half the size of normal primary school classes – and these small groups should not mix with other pupils during the day. The advice set by the DfE suggests that nurseries and schools should remove soft furnishings and toys that are hard to clean.