The UK government has decided to reopen schools at the primary level from June 1, which means UK schools to reopen amid a pandemic; a concern for all. A decision informed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taken considering the lowering number of new coronavirus cases in the country.
Even though the schools will reopen for young children in pre-schools and primary Reception, years 1 and 6, as per the BBC report, the class sizes will be much smaller.
The proposed class size is capped at 15 students per class to ensure that proper social distance can be maintained between pupils in the classrooms.
To keep infection at bay, regular school activities such as lunch breaks and assemblies will have to be replanned to keep the number of students coming in contact with each other to a minimum.
And, though parents are encouraged to send children to school, they will not be reprimanded for not sending a child with underlying health conditions to the school soon upon the lifting of the shutdown.
Nonetheless, the decision of opening schools amid pandemic is receiving criticism from parents and Unions alike.
Unease Amongst Teachers
The National Association of Head Teachers has said that reopening the schools at present is not feasible. The 15 students per class condition is also difficult to meet since a two-meter distance between students as advised would mean that teachers will not be able to accommodate 15 pupils in a class.
As per BBC reports, the Union told the MPs that there is confusion amongst teachers regarding social-distancing measures as they have not been provided any comprehensive guideline regarding the whole process of return.
Parents are wary of sending their young ones to schools. Most feel that children at the primary level are too young to understand and maintain proper social distance. Therefore, the government must reconsider the decision for student protection against the virus.
On the other hand, mental health experts have urged the UK government to prioritize play upon learning once children start school. Experts from the University of Reading believe that the return to school will be mentally challenging for most students, especially when they are expected to maintain a two-meter distance from their peers.
Child psychologists have suggested that children be allowed to play in small groups or pairs, so that they do not feel lonely and isolated. However, there is still uncertainty among the masses as far as the lifting of the school shutdown is concerned.
For now, the decision stands with schools opening on June 1 for younger pupils, even with parents and teacher unions feeling concerned.