HEADTEACHERS have warned of ghost schools when they eventually reopen as parents are too afraid to send their kids back when classes resume.
Staff have been measuring corridors for one-way systems and booking in deep cleans as they prepare to reopen their doors to all pupils.
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Boris Johnson is expected to announce a new timetable on Sunday which will outline when pupils are likely to return to classes – with suggestions it be as early as June.
As it stands, less than two per cent of kids are attending school during the coronavirus pandemic.
But a recent study by Mumsnet found just one in five parents thinks schools should reopen now, while less than half would send their child back straight away.
Headteachers told The Times some parents may need persuading as many have lost loved ones to the killer bug.
Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, headteacher of Anderton Park primary school in Birmingham, said: “Many of our families are grieving for lost relatives and have seen very poorly family members struggle to breathe for weeks.
“Most have said they will not send the children back in June or maybe even until there’s a vaccine.
“Elaborate plans for extended opening could be meaningless if parents choose health over a few hours in school.”
According to research carried out by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, keeping near-empty schools is costing £1billion a week.
Ms Hewitt-Clarkson added: “The inequality gap has widened in front of our eyes.
Elaborate plans for extended opening could be meaningless if parents choose health over a few hours in school.
“While some children have violin lessons, karate, yoga and ballet via Zoom, effortlessly in between meals and snacks from a well-stocked organic pantry and a romp around a large garden, too many children rely on food banks and a parent’s phone shared between several children.
“Home learning works well for those who need it least. We are discussing how we talk to children about their time at home without rewarding those who have completed a lot of work when those who have not are blameless.”
Desmond Deehan, executive head of two schools in South East London, said they will have more than one entrance for students to ensure they stick to social distancing.
He added: “There’s no point social distancing if they all meet up at the gates before and after school. We will consider checking temperatures as students enter, and there will be a maximum of ten in any class.”
Others said they will staffer lunch to avoid crowding and will introduce new rules about sport facilities and libraries.
OPEN IN JUNE?
It is widely believed the government will push for schools to reopen in June, first to those in Year 6, followed by other primary years and then those studying their GCSEs and A-levels.
However, two leading unions have said that schools should not reopen before September and the government must not force parents to send their kids back.
Patrick Roach, the general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, urged the government to end speculation on the reopening of schools and move it back to the next academic year.
In a letter to education secretary, Gavin Williamson, seen by the Guardian, Roach said opening schools prematurely could be “extremely damaging”.
He said: “With the highest Covid-19 mortality rates in Europe, it is clear that the government must continue to adopt an extremely cautious approach which does not contribute to further deaths and a further intensive wave of spread of the virus in the UK.
“The NASUWT urges the government to end speculation on the reopening of schools beyond the current restrictions prior to September 2020.”
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Schools will remain closed, except for children of critical workers and vulnerable children, until the scientific advice indicates it is the right time to reopen.”
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