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Government 'revised plans to reopen schools 41 times because of errors,' NEU warns

THE government has revised its plans to reopen schools 41 times since May 12 because of errors in judgement, the National Education Union (NEU) warned today. 

Schools will reopen for a larger number of pupils tomorrow as ministers claim their five “key tests” required for the easing of lockdown have been met.

The tests are ensuring the NHS can cope, a “sustained and consistent” fall in deaths, infection rates dropping to “manageable levels,” ensuring testing and PPE demands are met and ensuring adjustments would not risk a peak. 

But NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted said the tests have not been met — and pointed out that members of the government’s own scientific advisory body, Sage, have voiced the same opinion.

The scientists have warned that ministers are taking a risk by easing lockdown restrictions from today.

More than 20 councils across England are also advising schools not to open to more pupils this week, according to a PA survey, with some citing fears that the NHS Test and Trace system will not be “robust enough” to help.

Speaking on the Sophy Ridge show on Sky News yesterday, Ms Bousted said children should instead return to school on June 15 when the infection rate should be lower.

She said: "The government’s plans on reopening schools since they were first produced on May 12 have been changed 41 times. 

“And that’s because they’ve constantly had to be revised as things they have forgotten, things they didn’t know, and things they got wrong had to be added in.

“That’s hugely added to the stresses of school leaders and teachers, because we have a government who they think is just making it up as it goes along.”

Ms Bousted added the government’s latest plans have “given up on social distancing in schools” by favouring “cohort distancing” where children are taught in groups of 15 by one teacher.

She warned: “Those children live in families who from tomorrow will be able to go out and socialise with six other people.”

The NEU is continuing calls on the government to “step back from the brink” and stop wider school reopening.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds warned that parents must not be put in a difficult position if they feel it is unsafe for them to send their children back to school.


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