Schools reopening – how will social distancing work? – The Sun

WITH reports the Government is considering reopening some of the UK's schools in June, many parents will be wondering how headteachers will enforce stringent social distancing.

It's understood students aged between four and 11 will return to class first, followed by Year 10 and 12 pupils. Here's what we know so far.

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What will classes look like when schools reopen?

Boris Johnson is to reveal his "road map" out of lockdown on Sunday – and he's expected to address when schools will return.

However, the Government is reportedly hoping pupils will be able to return to classes in June – although nine out of ten parents say they would be unhappy with schools reopening soon after lockdown is eased.

When students do go back, there are likely to be some big changes inside classrooms.

For example, class sizes may be reduced.

This is one of the measures now adopted in schools across Europe as they begin to reopen.

Pupils have recently returned to schools in Wuhan, where coronavirus first took hold.

Many of the schools that are now open in the area have restricted the number of pupils allowed into classrooms in order to ensure there can be adequate social distancing.

Will all pupils return at the same time?

This currently seems very unlikely.

At the moment, it's understood primary schools will return first, followed by Year 10 and 12 pupils, who will return to secondaries during a staggered recall.

Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman says there is a “great deal of logic” in first moving younger kids back into the classroom first.


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And in early May, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said schools can't possibly all return at once because it would risk a second spike of coronavirus.

He said many students will still be learning from home even if some children return to classrooms.

Ministers have asked scientific experts to draw up a list of options for schools to return that will keep the R rate of transmission low.

How will children be kept two metres apart?

This is likely to be a really tricky issue for both Government officials and, in time, teachers.

It's understood we could follow the example set by schools in Europe, where desks are spaced two metres apart and break times are staggered to keep students separate.

There are also smaller classes to ensure children can sit apart.

On May 7, children returned to school in Germany – and youngsters were taught how to practise social distancing.

Pupils wore masks and lined up at 5ft intervals in the playground before being allowed in.

When youngsters return in the UK, it's likely similar measures will be followed.

Will children have to wear masks at school?

This isn't yet something the Government has offered specific guidance on.

However, it's a definite possibility.

Adult Brits are going to be told they'll need to cover their faces in some workplaces and on public transport, and officials are stockpiling masks for the purpose.

Countries around the world are largely insisting children wear masks.

In France, secondary school children can return to school in May – but only if they wear a mask.

In Germany it's already mandatory everywhere to wear cloth masks on public transport and in shops, and youngsters returning to school have had their faces covered.

Older students in China's biggest cities are starting to go back to school. All are wearing masks and sitting separately from each other in class.

Will children get school meals?

The Government has so far issued very specific guidance about school meals on its website, although the issue has not yet been addressed for pupils returning to class.

Under normal circumstances, schools are not expected to provide free school meals to eligible children who are not attending due to illness or if the school is closed.

However, during the pandemic, schools are expected to continue providing support.

Officials also say schools open for the vulnerable children, as well as key workers' children, should provide meal options for staff and youngsters, as well as free schools meals for eligible pupils.

Families in need can also apply for vouchers for major supermarkets through the website.

Can parents be fined if they don't send their kids back after lockdown?

There was a suggestion in April that this was a possibility – but Ofsted chief Amanda Speilman has since clarified it's "extraordinarily unlikely".

Ms Speilman said that there will still be some children who will likely be schooled at home if they have family members who are vulnerable.

She told Sky News' Sophy Ridge show: "Given that there will be substantial numbers of children in households where somebody is at high risk, I think it is extraordinarily unlikely that anybody would start at the stick end of the spectrum rather than the carrot."

Matt Hancock had earlier refused to comment on whether those who decide not to send their children in may face fines.

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