PARENTS have been anxiously awaiting the news about whether their children will return to school this September.
With that news now confirmed, we look back at when the schools closed months ago to curb the spread of coronavirus.
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When did schools close in the UK due to coronavirus?
The coronavirus pandemic resulted in schools shuttering from March 20.
The move came two weeks before kids were meant to break up for the Easter break.
There were exceptions though – vulnerable children and key workers' kids were able to continue attending school during lockdown.
While the government did initially ask key workers to keep kids at home if possible, this proved difficult for the likes of NHS staff and police officers.
Thus, since March 23, nurseries, schools and colleges remained open only to this "priority group" – vulnerable kids, and children with a parent who is a critical worker.
What's happened since schools closed?
- March 18: PM Boris Johnson announces schools are to shut their gates "for most pupils until further notice"
- A-level and GCSE exams are cancelled – also on March 18 – to help curb the killer bug
- March 20: Schools are closed as part of the UK's "national fightback against the coronavirus", says Johnson. Virtual lessons become the norm as kids continue lessons from home
- April 3: English assessment authority Ofqual says A-level and GCSE grades will be given as predicted grades by teachers in the first instance, with these recommendations then moderated by exam boards to provide a final grade
- May 10: Johnson announces that schools in England might reopen to more children from June 1
- May 13: Teachers union NASUWT joins other unions to call for the Government to step back from the June 1 reopening of schools
- The unions' May 13 statement adds that “school staff will not be protected by social distancing rules. Classrooms of four and five-year-olds could become sources of Covid-19 transmission and spread. We do not think that the government should be posing this level of risk to our society"
- May 22: UK's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) says reopening schools on June 1 is too early. In a draft report, it also recommends a two-week "postponement" to halve the health risk to children and allow more time to set up "an effective test, trace and isolate programme in all areas"
- May 27: The PM tells the liaison committee that reopening schools is safe if people wash their hands and keep their distance. The government’s plan is to keep pupils in smaller “bubbles” which don’t interact with other groups, to control contact, and limit spread
- June 1: Some primary schools and nurseries reopen in England for children in reception, nursery and Years 1 and 6
- June 9: Gavin Williamson scraps plan to bring primary school children back before summer holidays.
- June 28: In the PM's New Deal plan, he announced a massive school rebuilding programme. On top of the long-term investment schools will receive £560m this year for running repairs and upgrades, and colleges will get £200m.
- June 29: In an interview with LBC, Williamson warned that children who do not attend school when it is brought back will be fined.
- July 2: In an announcement to the House of Commons, Williamson announced that schools will be reopened to all in September. Schools will have a number of adjustments in order to keep the virus at bay.
Why have some schools not reopened on June 1?
Despite the government's push, scores of primary school are refusing to reopen classrooms.
The BBC said its survey of 150 councils "revealed many are not guaranteeing" to have kids back at school.
Less than half of those authorities confirmed they could not guarantee schools would reopen to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils, it added.
The Sun Online understands from some concerned parents and school staff that fears remain over the spread of the bug.
Their worries come as some experts on the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage), which is informing the Government's coronavirus response, have also warned that ministers are taking risks with easing the lockdown further, and reopening schools.
The National Foundation for Educational Research surveyed more than 1,200 school leaders and found headteachers were expecting 46 per cent of families to keep pupils at home.
Another survey of councils by the Press Association news agency revealed that dozens of local authorities across England, mainly in the north, were advising against a return to school on June 1 amid safety concerns.
Some raised concerns the test and trace programme is not yet "robust enough" to sufficiently reduce Covid-19 transmission in schools, where social distancing is hard to maintain with kids.
When will primary schools be open to all year groups?
All schools in England will reopen this September, according to the education secretary Gavin Williamson.
Mr Williamson confirmed that current restrictions on group sizes in schools, colleges and nurseries will be lifted to allow all children and young people to return to the classroom.
However, parents who do not send their children to school will receive a fine.
The Education Secretary stressed that the government is doing "everything we can to make sure schools, nurseries, colleges and other providers are as safe as possible for children and staff".
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