Michael Fabricant: Children can handle social distancing when schools reopen

Youngsters returning to school next month will have no problem maintaining social distancing rules, an MP has said.

Primary school children are set to return to classes from June 1
Primary school children are set to return to classes from June 1

Schools are set to reopen from June 1 for pupils in reception and years 1 and 6, under Government plans to ease coronavirus lockdown measures.

The plans have been opposed by trade unions and some Labour councillors, who have urged local authorities not to reopen schools over safety fears.

But Lichfield's Conservative MP Michael Fabricant says he is convinced youngsters can return to school safely next month – with low pupil numbers meaning social distancing measures can be adhered to.

He said social distancing was crucial for safety and that it would largely "depend on the layout of the school".

"Clearly, this will be easier in schools with spacious modern classrooms than in some old, Victorian built schools," he added.

"But with years 2,3,4, and 5 not being asked to return yet – around half of each school’s students – this will help in ensuring a two metre separation can be maintained."

Mr Fabricant has backed Staffordshire County Council's plans over the reopening of schools.

The authority says it anticipates that in line with Government guidelines, the "majority of schools will be open in some way" from June 1, with the decision about how and when they open left up to individual schools.

But Labour councillors in Stafford have urged the authority to follow trade union advice to keep schools closed until "it is demonstrably safe" for them to reopen.

In a letter to Councillor Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, the Stafford Borough Council Labour group said: "Returning to school is vital for young people, especially for those of our students who are less advantaged.

"It is not, however, acceptable to sacrifice the welfare of young people, educators, their friends and families, and the wider community.

"Everyone looks forward to when all schools can be safely reopened. However, until then, the safety of our young people and the wider community should be paramount."

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