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Teaching unions condemn Johnson's ‘reckless’ plan to reopen schools

TEACHING unions have condemned Boris Johnson’s “reckless” plan to start reopening schools in England from June.

The Prime Minister announced on Sunday night that a phased reopening of schools could begin as early as June 1, starting with reception, Year 1 and Year 6 classes.

Officials made clear that nurseries would also be covered in the initial phase, with an ambition that all primary school children would return to class by the summer.

For secondary school pupils, Mr Johnson said: “Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays.”

But NEU joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted called the plan “nothing short of reckless.”

She said: “Coronavirus continues to ravage communities in the UK, and the rate of Covid-19 infection is still far too great for the wider opening of our schools.

“If schools are reopened to blatant breaches of health and safety, we will strongly support our members taking steps to protect their pupils, their colleagues and their families.

“The worst outcome of any wider reopening of schools is a second spike of Covid-19 infection.”

She urged the government to meet five criteria set out by teaching unions that include the provision of extra money for deep cleaning and protective wear and local powers to close schools if clusters of Covid-19 infections break out in a particular area.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned that “social distancing is extremely difficult” with children in reception and Year 1.

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said the announcement was likely to “provoke confusion” among teachers.

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