County makes plans for reopening schools amid safety warnings

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Schools have been closed to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers since 23rd March

HAMPSHIRE schools are preparing to reopen partially next month amid warnings over the safety of staff and pupils.

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Education bosses across the county have confirmed that schools are looking at how they can safely reopen to more pupils, writes Maria Zaccaro of the Local Democracy reporting Service.

The news comes as talks between teachers unions, the government and scientific advisor are ongoing after the Prime Minister announced that children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 could return to school on 1st June.

Cllr Roz Chadd, member for education and skills in Hampshire County Council’s Conservative ruling cabinet, described Boris Johnson’s date as an “ambition”.

She said: “The final decision to do this will be made by the government and will be based upon an analysis of scientific advice, nearer to that date.

“All schools have been asked to prepare for opening for these year groups and have been sent detailed guidance by the Department for Education.

“In Hampshire, headteachers and their staff are currently analysing that advice and planning to make sure they can open safely.”

She added: “If the government confirms that schools should reopen on a phased basis, and continue support for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, each school will inform its parents and carers of the arrangements they are able to put in place, having conducted the necessary risk assessments.”

But Cllr Keith House, Liberal Democrat opposition leader at the county council, raised concerns over the government’s proposal.

He said: “I am very concerned that the government’s plans have not been thought through both in terms of managing limited school space for young children and for the safety of staff.

“This needs much more careful thought by the government before schools are asked to reopen.”

The government had previously said its approach is based on scientific advice. The Department for Education was approached for comment.

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