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Two thirds of parents say they’ll refuse to send children to school on June 1

A child works in schools as experts suggest it would be unsafe to reopen them on June 1

Some pupils could return to classes from June 1 – but many fear it is not safe (Picture: PA)

Parents and scientific experts have come out against official coronavirus advice, suggesting that the phased reopening of schools on June 1 is ‘too early’.

Some 59% of parents will not be sending their children back on that date, according to a poll by ITV.

And with the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) panel advising that individual schools should decide when to reopen, an ‘independent SAGE’ — led by a former chief scientific adviser — has said the move should be pushed back.

A report from Sir David King, who is chairing the separate ‘independent’ group, suggests delaying the reopening of schools by two weeks ‘approximately halves the risk to children’.

It comes amid a clash between some teachers and unions and the Government, with many expressing health concerns about pupils returning amid an easing of the Covid-19 lockdown. However, but other experts have warned that time away from the classroom could be harming pupils’ longer term prospects.

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ITV’s poll today suggests some 82% of parents are concerned about their child’s health if they return – and the same proportion sympathise with teachers who refuse to go to work.

The governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland are not planning to reopen schools until August.

Professor Yvonne Doyle, who is on the Government SAGE panel, said today that ‘ultimately’ it would be for individual schools to decide themselves whether they are ‘ready’ to reopen. She labelled it a ‘difficult’ decision and said advice had been taken from other countries. 

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Sir David agreed that decisions on reopening should be ‘made at the local level’.

But, he argued: ‘We considered that there were two major requirements for a school reopening. 

‘The first is that this reopening should be based on evidence of low Covid-19 infections in the local community and the ability to respond rapidly to new infections through a test, track and isolate strategy. 

‘Currently, regrettably, there is no evidence that these conditions are met and it is therefore not safe, we have to emphasise, to open until they are met.’

His group suggested that a two week delay would also more time to set up an effective test, trace and isolate programme.

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Its report also suggested local innovation to help the education sector – suggesting requisitioning facilities like local sports clubs and football stadiums. 

The report proposes local innovation is required to provide educational opportunities for all children with suggestions including requisitioning of community facilities, sports clubs, school playing fields, and football stadiums for use by schools.

The Government has backed a phased approach to reopening school and had suggested that Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils could be allowed back into schools from June 1.

However, it has since admitted that this may not happen following a backlash.

Children appear to be less at risk from coronavirus than adults, but there are fears that they could spread the disease and struggle to social distance. 

A Department for Education spokesperson said: ‘We want children back in schools as soon as possible because being with their teachers and friends is so important for their education and their well-being.

‘Plans for a cautious, phased return of some year groups from June 1, at the earliest, are based on the best scientific and medical advice.

‘The welfare of children and staff has been at the heart of all decision making.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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