PLANS that could see schools re-open in Worcestershire from June 1 have alarmed the county’s Labour opposition who fear staff, parents and children could be put at risk.
Instead they’ve called called for a consensus between the local authority, parents and teachers before any return is put in place.
“We want children to go back to school as soon as possible but what I think both parents and staff want is best practice and you do not necessarily need to follow the dates on a calendar to achieve that,” said County Councillor Robin Lunn (Redditch North) the Leader of the Labour group at County Hall.
He also questioned the wisdom of signalling the return of Reception and Year 1 children as they would have little concept on social distancing.
“Year 6 can understand the importance of social distancing and will be able to respond accordingly, but I think the entire thing is back to front,” said Coun Lunn.
“I cannot understand why the government is not sending back Year 10 and Year 12 children, who will be sitting their GCSEs and A Levels next year.
“They would absolutely understand the significance of social distancing.”
He added that Redditch, with its three-tier system, was being affected more than most by the government’s position and middle schools appeared to have been forgotten about.
“We have to get to a position where the staff feel comfortable and if parents feel the school has done everything possible to safeguard everyone then you will get more of them sending their children back.”
A final decision on whether schools re-open for a phased return from June 1, if science shows it is safe, is set to be made in the coming days.
Meanwhile more than 420,000 people have signed a National Education Union petition saying schools should only reopen when certain tests can be met which prove it is safe.
Coun Lunn said his group supported the NEU’s five tests for whether schools should reopen; much lower recorded Covid 19 cases than currently seen, a national plan for social distancing within schools agreed by relevant parties, comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff, protocols in place to test a whole school or college where a case occurs and vulnerable staff must continue to work from home.
“We call on Worcestershire County Council to ensure these conditions are met, so any return to school in June does not leave parents or staff worried about catching Covid 19 and ensures a safe and secure environment,” he said.