The government’s plan for schools in England to reopen on June 1 could be altered due to ongoing safety concerns from parents and staff.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said he accepted that there may not be a ‘uniform’ return to schools on one day. He said: ‘I don’t think any of us want to put either children or our dedicated teaching staff in any danger at all, and the question of being safe is clearly paramount.
‘So we’re all working towards June 1 and planning for that return, but I accept the point that there may well be issues from employers that need to be addressed which might not mean we’ll see a uniform approach on June 1.’
He noted that the decision would ultimately ‘depend on the views of employers’, adding: ‘I’m not going to sit here and pretend that suddenly on June 1 everything will be uniform, I don’t know, it’s my hope.
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‘But these conversations need to continue and we need to listen very carefully to the concerns of employers and staff.’
Buckland also appeared on Sky News this morning, whereby he described the reopening of schools in England as a ‘mixed pictured’. He said: ‘We always said that June 1 was conditional, not just on the R rate, but on the need to make places of work safe.
‘I’m hearing what’s being said by a range of different employers and representatives of our brilliant teachers, who are already working with key workers’ families and vulnerable children to provide education services – let’s not forget that.’
The Justice Secretary went on to mention the British Medical Association’s (BMA) change in stance, stating that they had issued ‘really helpful advice’ this morning.
The BMA had previously been against the reopening of schools on June 1, but has now said children can return ‘so long as it is safe to do so’.
The union acknowledged that there is ‘growing evidence that the risk to individual children from Covid-19 is extremely small’.
Discussing the U-turn, Buckland said: ‘I think bit by bit we’re seeing a position emerging that, where it is safe and if people feel safe to be able to work in those environments, then that can happen from June. But as I said the picture is a mixed one at the moment.’
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