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When could schools reopen after coronavirus outbreak?

PUBLISHED: 16:17 23 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:17 23 April 2020

June 1 has been suggested as a possible date schools could return - but teaching unions have expressed caution. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

June 1 has been suggested as a possible date schools could return - but teaching unions have expressed caution. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

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June 1 is the earliest realistic date schools could open following the coronavirus crisis, a former Suffolk principal and headteachers’ union leader has said.

Geoff Barton, former headteacherl in Bury St Edmunds and general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. Picture: Phil MorleyGeoff Barton, former headteacherl in Bury St Edmunds and general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. Picture: Phil Morley

However Geoff Barton said that while it is “absolutely reasonable that we are starting to think about what it will look like when the day comes and we do start reintegrating children”, he added: “We need to be very cautious.”

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Schools and colleges across the UK closed their doors to the majority of pupils, apart from the children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters, from March 23. The government put the Covid-19 lockdown in place later that day.

GCSEs and A-level exams have been cancelled.

MORE: 5 ways teenagers can take care of their mental health during extended lockdown

There has been no official guidance on when schools and colleges will reopen, but children are now returning to nurseries and schools in some other European countries.

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The National Education Union (NEU) warned that an early return could result in an “increased risk” to school staff and children, while some fear about not only enforcing social distancing in classrooms but also in corridors and playgrouds.

MORE: Sign up for all the latest coronavirus news in Suffolk here

Mr Barton former headteacher of King Edward VI Upper School in Bury St Edmunds, and currently the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, suggested staggering the return of pupils could be a possible solution.

“I think across the teaching profession there is a level of anxiety about people running away with themselves in terms of when schools can open because it will be good for the economy,” he said.

“We need to be very cautious about it. But I think it is absolutely reasonable that we are starting to think about what it will look like when the day comes and we do start reintegrating children.”

MORE: All of the coronavirus news in Suffolk

Copleston High School principal Andy Green has warnd that schools may need to find innovative ways of teaching students at home for the foreseeable future in case of prolonged coronavirus restrictions, or further lockdowns in the future to cope with future waves of the illness.

“If your online learning programme is not of high quality, when you’re in a lockdown of four, five or six weeks at a time then students are going to really suffer and miss out,” he said.


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