I believe it is important that we get children back to school as soon as it is safe to do so. As you know, since 23 March 2020 education and childcare settings have only been open to priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers). Now that we have made progress in reducing the transmission of coronavirus, the Prime Minister has set out plans for a phased reopening of schools and educational settings.
From 1 June at the earliest, primary schools in England may be able to welcome back children in key transition years – nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. I have received assurances from the Prime Minister that progress will be monitored and schools will only reopen if the five key tests set by Government justify the changes at the time, including that the rate of infection is decreasing.
I know that keeping children and staff safe has been the upmost priority for Ministers in making decisions about opening schools for more children, but I also appreciate that teachers and parents may have concerns about these plans. It is very welcome that the latest scientific advice indicates that more children will be able to return to school from 1 June, but it will be important to continue to limit overall numbers in school and introduce protective measures to prevent transmission. An overview of the latest scientific information can be viewed using this link - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885631/Overview_of_scientific_advice_and_information_on_coronavirus_COVID19.pdf
In addition, sector representatives have attended an expert panel to be briefed on the science underpinning government decisions. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) regularly publishes papers outlining the scientific advice provided to the government. Further batches will be published in due course.
I am pleased that clear guidance has been published to help schools prepare for the wider reopening. The guidance providing details of what educational settings need to do, including advice on implementing social distancing and protective measures.