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60-70% of Cambridgeshire primary schools reopen to three year groups

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About 60 to 70 per cent of primary schools in Cambridgeshire are believed to have reopened to further pupils today (June 1) in line with government advice.

The government said it wanted primary schools to reopen to children in reception, Year 1 and 6, alongside other priority groups who have been attending school throughout the pandemic.

A pupil walking to school (35761919)
A pupil walking to school (35761919)

The majority of pupils have been out of schools since March owing to the lockdown imposed in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council said: “We are working through data now and we anticipate between 60 to 70 per cent of schools in the region have returned today.”

The councils said on Friday (May 29) that they have supported schools to develop “their own individual bespoke plans for phased extended reopening”, adding: “For some, this will be from Monday, but for others it may be slightly later”.

The councils said: “Every maintained school across our region has carried out a set of risk assessments, considering all aspects of their buildings, equipment and their revised approach to deliver learning while adhering to social distancing and maintaining the social ‘bubble’.

“Both councils have reviewed these assessments, and have full confidence in the rigour that has been applied by each school. The risk assessments have also been shared with unions.

“Taking into account national government guidance, and local public health information, it is the view of Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council that schools can begin to start welcoming back more pupils from Monday, where their risk assessments have shown they are in a position to do so.”

Jonathan Lewis, service director for education at Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said on Friday: “Our schools have been magnificent in their response to the pandemic so far. As have parents and carers, who have kept learning alive at home, and shown great tolerance and patience over the last few months.

“The safety of our children, their families and our school staff is, and always will be, our number one priority. I have confidence in the guidance set out by Government and Public Health colleagues, combined with the level of diligence and rigour applied by my colleagues in schools.

“Our schools are different shapes and sizes, and each has its own individual circumstances – so some may not be in a position to reopen fully on Monday, but they won’t be far behind. The government has asked that children should be taught in ‘bubbles; of up to 15 pupils – in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough these groups will all be between 8 – 12 pupils.”

Protesters against the reopening of primary schools on June 1 outside Shire Hall in Cambridge
Protesters against the reopening of primary schools on June 1 outside Shire Hall in Cambridge

He said the council would support schools if they identify reasons not to open in risk assessments.

“Schools are committed to keeping parents informed of their plans and they will be your point of contact,” added Mr Lewis.

“I want to reiterate to parents and carers: it is your final decision on whether to send your children to school or not. We will not penalise any parent who doesn’t send their child to school in this academic year.

“We will, of course, continue to keep a close eye on infection rates and any implications at a local level. Our communication with schools will continue. The hard work does not stop here.”

One education union, the National Education Union, announced over the weekend that it is against the wider reopening, after it said four members of the government’s scientific advisory body expressed concerns over the strategy.

A protest was held outside Shire Hall in Cambridge last week by a group opposed to schools reopening on June 1.

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