English primary schools to partially reopen from June 1: UK PM

By: AFP      Published: 09:51 PM, 24 May, 2020
English primary schools to partially reopen from June 1: UK PM

Primary schools in England are to reopen to some pupils from June 1, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday.

Only reception pupils aged 4-5 in the first year of school, those aged 5-6 in year one, and those aged 10-11 in their final primary year will return initially, he told a news conference.

Secondary school pupils will come back later, with "some contact" between teachers and older children preparing for exams from June 15, he added.

Reopening schools has been controversial, with Britain having the highest coronavirus death rate in Europe and the second-highest in Europe.

According to the latest government figures, nearly 37,000 people have died after testing positive. Broader statistics including suspected cases puts the figure at over 41,000.

Teaching unions last week urged the government to reconsider plans to reopen, as it gradually eases lockdown restrictions, given lingering concerns over health and safety.

Several local authorities across England have already ruled out a return on June 1, and schools remain shut in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where education is a devolved matter.

Schools will return part-time in Scotland from August 11 while Wales has not set a date for a return.

In Northern Ireland, pupils will only come back from September.

On Friday, the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said: "Evidence remains inconclusive on both the susceptibility and infectivity of children."

But it added: "The balance of evidence suggests that both may be lower than in adults".