Phased Reopening of Schools

The Coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency of a generation and, like you, I am deeply concerned about the impact it will have on people of all ages in our constituency. 

As the MP for Penrith and The Border, I am doing everything I can in Westminster and Cumbria to address the concerns of my constituents.  I am feeding in requests to Government for support for all areas of our economy and community and will continue to do so. Equally, I am feeding in to Government regularly and I have raised the concerns of the many parents, teachers and governors who have contacted me on the issue of the reopening of schools.

The Government believes it is important that we get children back to school as soon as it is safe to do so. As you know, since 23 March 2020 education and childcare settings have only been open to priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers). Now that we have made progress in reducing the transmission of coronavirus, the Prime Minister has set out plans for a phased reopening of schools and educational settings. 

From 1 June at the earliest, primary schools in England may be able to welcome back children in key transition years – nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. As the Prime Minister has said, progress will be monitored and schools will only reopen if the five key tests set by Government justify the changes at the time, including that the rate of infection is decreasing.

I know that keeping children and staff safe has been the upmost priority for Ministers in making decisions about opening schools for more children, but I also appreciate that teachers and parents may have concerns about these plans. It is very welcome that the latest scientific advice indicates that more children will be able to return to school from 1 June, but it will be important to continue to limit overall numbers in school and introduce protective measures to prevent transmission. An overview of the latest scientific information can be viewed using this link 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885631/Overview_of_scientific_advice_and_information_on_coronavirus_COVID19.pdf

In addition, sector representatives have attended an expert panel to be briefed on the science underpinning government decisions. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) regularly publishes papers outlining the scientific advice provided to the government. Further batches will be published in due course.

I am pleased that clear guidance has been published to help schools prepare for the wider reopening. The guidance providing details of what educational settings need to do, including advice on implementing social distancing and protective measures.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me and please keep safe.

With best wishes
Neil