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Coronavirus: Islington NEU claims it’s ‘morally irresponsible’ to send kids back to school before it’s safe

PUBLISHED: 15:36 01 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:35 02 June 2020

A stock image of students in a classroom. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

A stock image of students in a classroom. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

PA Archive/PA Images

Islington National Education Union estimates just a “handful” of schools in the borough will welcome back all students in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 this week.

The government has urged primary schools to reopen to these year groups from June 1, while other classes could return as early as June 22 if things go according to plan.

Year 10 and 12 students could return to school from June 15.

NEU claims it is too early for students and staff to safely return to school and council leader Richard Watts has advised schools against “rushing” to reopen to “hit arbitrary deadlines set by ministers”.

An Islington NEU spokesperson said: “We think in this situation it’s morally irresponsible for any headteacher to open his or her school. This is about the life and death of our members, children and the wide community. [...]

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“By the middle of the week probably half of Islington schools would have brought some kids back, but we think it’s very unlikely that more than a handful of schools will bring all the reception, Year 1 and 6 that the government wants.”

Cllr Watts previously said each governing body will oversee a “phased return depending on the circumstances of each individual school with health and safety of the whole school community being the top priority”.

Thornhill Primary School is set to welcome Year 1 back in the week starting June 8 and will then have a “two-week review cycle”, after which it will consider reopening to Year 1 kids.

It would then wait another two weeks before deciding if it’s safe for Year 6 to return.

In contrast, Copenhagen Primary School will reopen to Year 6 children only from June 3, initially from 10am to 2pm, and only from Tuesday to Friday.

Headteacher Amardeep Pansear said: “At this moment in time, we do not think it is appropriate to reopen for nursery, reception or Year 1 pupils. We will review this decision weekly in order to increase capacity as soon as possible.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson previously said tests will be made available for parents and pupils who need them by June 1. He added: “I know there will be some natural nervousness about sending some more pupils into school. But I’d like to encourage parents to consider the full benefits of being back at school, not just for their children’s education but also their wellbeing.”


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