May 20, 2020 10.30 am This story is over

Decision to re-open “ultimately rests with schools” says county council

Various councils and residents have expressed concerns over the safety of staff and students

Lincolnshire County Council is letting schools decide for themselves whether they open or not in June as an increasing number of authorities across the country have chosen not reopen them.

Under government plans, school children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in England could return to their desks on June 1 if cases of coronavirus continue to fall.

However, around 11 councils, including Calderdale, Bury, Liverpool and Leeds, so far have opposed the plans due to safety concerns or fears they might not be ready.

However, county bosses say the decision rests with the schools themselves.

Martin Smith, interim assistant director for education, said: “Local schools are carefully considering the proposals, and working hard to make sure they can keep the school environment as safe as possible, if the plans are given the go ahead, whilst still supporting home learning for pupils who won’t be returning yet.

“Decisions regarding re-opening ultimately rest with schools, and we are continuing to work with them to ensure their plans are well-considered and supported.”

Assistant director of public health at the council Tony McGinty said he understood the concerns over reintroducing groups of people together who had been apart during the virus.

However, he added: “We have to balance that with the risk to children and young people of a continued break in their education.”

He said there was a lot of work going on nationally and that there was also a need to see what the science said as the situation continued.

Mr McGinty previously said Lincolnshire’s schoolchildren would not be “used as guinea pigs”.

However, both teachers and parents have spoken to The Lincolnite about their own concerns.

Many feel infection rates are not yet low enough, and the safety of both staff and pupils was being unnecessarily compromised.

A number are concerned about the difficulty of young children maintaining social distancing.

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